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  Play Details

Sweet Bird of Youth

Goodman Theatre
170 N. Dearborn Street Chicago

Into a tiny Gulf coast hamlet drifts an improbable couple: the Princess Kosmonopolis, a Hollywood legend fleeing the disastrous premiere of her latest epic, and Chance Wayne, a young actor-turned-gigolo who has brought his new benefactress to his hometown in hopes of reclaiming his former glory. But when a youthful mistake surfaces that threatens Chance’s plan, the pair are forced to confront their crumbling dreams. Laced with humor and Williams’ “characteristically gorgeous lyricism” (The New York Times), Sweet Bird of Youth is a sensual, haunting theatrical journey that will captivate and seduce you.

Thru - Oct 28, 2012



Price: $27-$89

Stage: Albert Theatre

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 312-443-3800

Running Time: 3hrs, 10mins

www.goodmantheatre.org


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  Sweet Bird of Youth Reviews

Chicago Tribune - Highly Recommended

"... Cromer, wisely, does not formatively approach this messy, lyrical play with his trademark truth-tellers' scalpel. Rather, with the help of his designer James Schuette and composer Josh Schmidt, he mostly embraces its florid, fluttering nature in a fabric and video-fused production that, like the play, always feels slightly out of control and, well, unfinished. (If this production moves elsewhere, the trick will be to smooth and focus and cohere without removing the potent patina of panic). Schuette, who designed both set and costumes, takes an overtly operatic approach with the former and a mostly naturalistic one with the latter. The huge design boldly embraces the different environments of the drama, setting Boss Finley's place on a rectangular pedestal, far upstage, allowing for a sharp contract with the way the more vulnerable characters talk directly to the audience downstage, often bathed in a sudden, awkward spotlight."
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Chris Jones


Chicago Sun Times - Somewhat Recommended

"...too often the whole experiment turns into the echo of an overheated B-movie of the 1950s, and unintentionally exposes what many consider Williams’ messy excesses. The production’s erratic rhythms (including the first of two intermissions that break the flow but obviously are required for a set change) are frustrating. And the propulsion needed to drive the story to its horrific climax never quite coalesces."
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Hedy Weiss


NewCity Chicago - Highly Recommended

"... Having directed a brilliant revival of “A Streetcar Named Desire” at Writers’ Theater a few seasons back—which has also since played the Williamstown Theatre Festival—it was a natural for David Cromer to return to Tennessee Williams. With all the resources of the Goodman Theatre at his disposal, and back in his hometown after successes in New York and Los Angeles as well as a 2010 MacArthur “Genius” grant, Cromer has turned to Williams’ last real success, “Sweet Bird of Youth.” Although Cromer was originally slated to direct the play last year on Broadway, New York’s delay is Chicago’s gain."
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Dennis Polkow


Centerstage - Recommended

"... Director David Cromer sacrifices humanity for theme in this production. The towering projections of Princess Kosmonopolis’ close-up and Boss Finley’s speech, along with the gratuitously rotating stage in Act III, don’t so much as emphasize the show’s subjects of beauty, power, and time as much as beat the audience over the head with them. Cromer downplays the interiority of the characters, turning everyone into control-seeking, lustful demons. Sure, Princess Kosmonopolis is a self-professed “monster”, but even King Kong had soft spots."

Kristin Walters


Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Yet with eerie, atmospheric work by his designers, James Schuette (set and costumes), Keith Parham (lighting) and Maya Ciarrocchi (projections), Cromer’s harrowingly staged third act invokes a stark sense of inescapable inevitabilities: the march of time, the specter of missed chances and the churning whirlpool of forces larger than individual willpower. Lane’s luminous, mesmerizing Del Lago finds her escape from Wayne’s world with an assist from outside influences, while Wittrock’s Wayne brings us with him to his final fate. Strong supporting work by Chicago actors John Judd, Colm O’Reilly and Jennifer Engstrom help give Cromer’s Bird its wings."
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Kris Vire


Chicago Theatre Addict - Somewhat Recommended

"... Yes, the notions of the fickleness of age and opportunity are provocative and well-worth dramatizing, but in Sweet Bird,particularly this overstuffed production, it feels like an idea puffed up with high drama and distracting theatrics."
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Bob Bullen


Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"... The surprises keep on coming, however, from Diane Lane in a brilliant performance as waning film star Alexandra del Lago, who begins this tale as a stoned, suicidal hellcat dependent on Chance’s ministrations. It’s a wonder to watch as she strengthens Alexandra degree by sardonic degree, in a fabulous arc of wit-gathering, shrewd intelligence, a ready grasp at luck and brutal determination to survive. She may be on the lam as the Princess Kosmonopolis, but Lane’s Alexandra del Lago, like Maggie in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” is stronger than anyone gives her credit for."
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Nancy Malitz


Stage and Cinema - Somewhat Recommended

"...Sweet Bird of Youth is not top drawer Tennessee Williams. The play has some of Williams’ lyricism and humor, and at least one sharply etched character, but its Southern Gothic excesses are a self-parody of the playwright’s Never-Never Land Deep South. The much anticipated Goodman revival—largely based on the red hot director David Cromer at the helm and Diane Lane as the featured star—has its moments, but it’s an uneven presentation that doesn’t compensate for the script’s weaknesses."
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Dan Zeff


ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"... Sweet Bird of Youth features Williams’ lyrical language and deep sense of internal pain that often become a part of his characters. Lossofbeauty and feelingsof unworthiness are themes Williams like to explore. He also most effectively uses direct address toward the audience to hammer home comments. Thethree hour, two intermission drama flowsnicely into a breezy evening of theatre."
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Tom Williams


Chicago Stage Standard - Somewhat Recommended

"... Goodman Theatre's new production of "Sweet Bird of Youth" is billed as a star vehicle for Diane Lane and Finn Wittrock, and both serve admirably as Tennessee Williams' legendary characters Chance Wayne and The Princess Kosmonopolis. Wittrock is physically chiseled and emotionally tortured, and his relationship with the perfectly vulnerable Lane is effectively rendered. But their lovely scene work is undercut by design choices which render director David Cromer's evening only intermittently effective."

David Zak


Chicago Now - Somewhat Recommended

"...SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH is a real looker for the sheer pageantry. It just doesn’t resonate with true grit. This is definitely the prettiest Tennessee Williams’ play that I’ve ever seen."
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Katy Walsh


Around The Town Chicago - Recommended

"... What this play represents, as told by Williams is two different personalities who are bent on the same mission; to regain what is now being lost due to age. Alexandra, the power of stardom that she once had and for Chance, an opportunity to regain what he had in his youth and get back the love and adoration of the girl he loved years ago. The time is the 1950′s , so the South was still in turmoil and the corrupt Boss Finley, Heavenly’s father, has decided that he cannot allow Chance to ever see his daughter again and better yet, to be tossed from the city. John Judd, as always, does a strong job as Boss and Vincente Teninty as his son Tom Junior. Most of the charcaters in this show are really here to paint the pictures of what took place and to give us the background. The major characters are in fact Chance and Alexandra, but a strong ensemble of players make the production and the story telling work."
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Alan Bresloff


Chicago Theatre Review - Recommended

"...For those who enjoy Tennessee Williams, this production does offer stunning visuals and moments of beautiful acting and story telling. Parham and Schuette create a shadow effect in act two that will take your breath away. However, this production is not for the faint of heart. The three acts and two intermissions run over three hours in total."

Cat Wilson


   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the opening night judges of The Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee. The entire production is then eligible for nomination for awards at the end of the season.
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