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  A Wonder In My Soul at Victory Gardens Theater - Biograph

A Wonder In My Soul

Victory Gardens Theater - Biograph
2433 N. Lincoln Ave Chicago

Longtime hair salon owners, Bell and Birdie grapple with the decision to remain in their beloved Southside neighborhood or relocate under the pressures of gentrification and crime. Told through music, poetry and dance A Wonder in My Soul looks at one neighborhood's evolution through the eyes of two best friends and their lifetime of friendship. From the artistic team that brought you The House That Will Not Stand, The Gospel of Lovingkindness, and An Issue of Blood, director Chay Yew and playwright Marcus Gardley now explore Chicago history, beauty, and friendship.

Thru - Mar 19, 2017

Tuesdays: 7:30pm
Wednesdays: 7:30pm
Thursdays: 7:30pm
Fridays: 7:30pm
Saturdays: 3:00pm & 7:30pm
Sundays: 3:00pm

Price: $15 - $60

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-871-3000

Victory Gardens Theater - Biograph Seating Chart

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  A Wonder In My Soul Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Highly Recommended

"...Williams and Oglesby, who imbue this work with much of its moral authority, paint the picture of two women who were, in most practical senses of the word, immigrants to Chicago, lifelong friends who rode the rails north for opportunity and retained their love of their old Mississippi home. We see their younger selves (they're played with vibrancy by Donica Lynn and Camille Robinson)and thus the tough history of our city unfolding in their experience. We see the struggles of Bell's ambitious son (Jeffrey Owen Freelon Jr.) and her daughter, a police officer named Paulina (Lynn again). We watch the customers, which include a black Republican who likes to be known as First Lady (Linda Bright Clay)."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Recommended

"...Thanks Imagine a play that is one part August Wilson and two parts an African-American variation on "Steel Magnolias" and you will have some sense of what Marcus Gardley has concocted in his new play, "A Wonder in My Soul," now receiving an ebullient world premiere production by Victory Gardens Theatre."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...By the end, A Wonder in My Soul registers not so much as a powerful play but a hodgepodge of cliches and overly familiar references-it's desperately in need of more reflection, rumination, and lots of rewriting."
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Jack Helbig

Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...A text crammed with so much history is enough to make you want to take notes, especially since Birdie and Bell render it in the florid idiom of their Deep South childhood, where a problem is "serious as a pregnant mule" and a blizzard is "God's classical music"—language rolling forth under Chay Yew's direction like a warm breeze on a cold night. Jacqueline Williams and Greta Oglesby anchor the ensemble in the roles of Bell Grand and Birdie, flanked by a quartet of sturdy actors welcoming us to share in a richly textured cultural journey too frequently ignored in formal chronicles."
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Mary Shen Barnidge

Stage and Cinema - Recommended

"...Glowing with solid, never squishy, sentiment, traits to treasure, and telling songs (like Birdie’s homage to Ella Fitzgerald), Victory Garden’s sextet, lovingly shaped by director Chay Yew, deliver a Chekhov-rich 150 minutes. By play’s end love gets balanced against loss for a very satisfying reckoning."
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Lawrence Bommer

ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...A Wonder In My Soul is a most entertaining, often funny, wonderfully sung (not a musical but a play with songs) and a heartfelt drama about friendship, place and personal commitment as seen through social and political change. The dialogue is smart and witty and the acting is first class with Greta Oglesby and Jacqueline Williams leading the way. A Wonder In My Soul has heart and loads of soul! It is a wonderful "must see" play."
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Tom Williams

Chicago Stage Standard - Highly Recommended

"...Longtime hair salon owners, Bell and Birdie, grapple with the decision to remain in their beloved South Side neighborhood or relocate under the pressures of gentrification and crime. With the power of music and poetry A Wonder in My Soul evaluates one neighborhood’s evolution through the eyes of two best friends and their lifelong friendship. Marcus Gardley, playwright, sears into Chicago history and current events in this poetic piece of the south side. Gardley’s long established relationship with director Chay Yew has brought forth numerous works such as The House That Will Not Stand and An Issue of Blood"

Mary Crylen

Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Gardley also has music in his story, as one of the ladies came to Chicago in order to break into that business. The two women, who have shared many years together own a beauty salon on the South side. The play begins with Aberdeen, known as Birdie ( a powerful performance by Greta Oglesby) breaks the fourth wall and speaks to the audience, narrating a bit of the story, which also uses flashbacks. During the flashbacks, Birdie is performed by Camille Robinson (who has a powerful voice and an adorable stage presence). Birdie's best friend and partner, Bell is portrayed by Chicago favorite Jaqueline Williams. In the flashbacks, Bell is brought to life by Donica Lynn (who also, a sit turns out, has a solid vocal range).Both of these "flashback" actresses also have their own characters in the play, and are able to change costumes and identities with great ease. They are two terrific talents."
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Alan Bresloff

NewCity Chicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...Yew's direction is a hodgepodge of styles best exemplified by the various ways he works in the play's musical interludes. While some feel purely incidental others require switching to a level of suspension of disbelief usually reserved for musical theater. The talents of the ensemble are put to good use: Lynn's extraordinary voice, Freelon, Jr.'s oratorical capabilities, Clay's comic delivery. Oglesby and Williams carry the weight of the play's sentimentality with seeming ease. Their skills are almost enough to transform the saccharine into something more soulful."
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Kevin Greene

Chicago Theatre Review - Recommended

"...In short, ‘Wonder’ is a world-premiere show, and as with some premieres, it is still in need of editing and tightening; but as with his past work, it reaffirms Gardley’s status as one of our very finest playwrights, and I remain excited to see his future work."
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Peter Thomas Ricci

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Highly Recommended

"...Director Chay Yew nimbly guides his versatile and talented ensemble through scenes that vary from impromptu rhythm and blues singing and dancing to rueful political commentary to the bitter quarrel between Birdy and Bell that threatens their long friendship. Moods and time frames shift but the production unfolds with clarity that honors the joint skills of playwright, performers, and director."

Dan Zeff

Third Coast Review - Recommended

"...Victory Gardens’ latest production is entirely worth seeing. It’s laugh out loud funny, culturally relevant and provocative. Not every day do you find a play that is all these things while being a local production written by a local playwright featuring excellent vocal performances. The production is worth attending for Johnny Jamison’s wig design and flawless transitioning, which are veritable magic acts within the play."
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Emma Terhaar

Picture This Post - Somewhat Recommended

"...A Wonder In My Soul-Sisterhood, Music and Damn Good Hair is a solid pick for everyone who savors scenes that capture the zeitgeist of the moment. We are on the South Side. Obama is about to be elected. It's the final hour when Starbucks and other commercial chains totally vanquish the small Black-owned businesses that had been the motherlode of community and sustenance for prior generations. Gardley's script gives audience members a finely detailed Google Map street view of that place and time. If you feel deep nostalgia for those better times on the South Side, this is your show."
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Amy Munice

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   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 Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

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