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  Ah, Wilderness! at Goodman Theatre

Ah, Wilderness!

Goodman Theatre
170 N. Dearborn Street Chicago

On July 4, fireworks aren't the only flames burning for 16-year-old Richard Miller -- whose passion for poetry is rivaled only by affection for Muriel, the girl of his dreams. When her father forbids the young couple from dating, Richard embarks on an evening of unexpected rebellion. Relive the fireworks of first-time love in Eugene O'Neill's unabashedly romantic and sweetly funny Ah, Wilderness!, the revered playwright's only well-known comedy. Swoon over this delightful tale of adventure, angst and young romance at Chicago's Goodman Theatre.

Thru - Jul 23, 2017

Price: $25-$75

Show Type: Comedy

Box Office: 312-443-3800

Running Time: 2hrs, 20mins; one intermission

Goodman Theatre Seating Charts

Suggested Nearby Restaurant

  Ah, Wilderness! Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"..."Ah, Wilderness!" evokes one of the great shared pleasures of parenting: the chance to laugh at your spouse's little mistakes and neuroses, even as you feel sure that your kid will be just fine thanks to the loving glories of the person you married. It's a good message for Independence Day from Uncle Gene: none of us, really, can claim independence at all."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...A sweet but not saccharine family comedy, it is the portrait of an enduring marriage, adolescent angst and a long-thwarted romance. It also explores the abiding tension between the puritanical underpinnings of American society and the powerful urge to breathe free. And the superbly cast Goodman revival - shaped by the meticulous direction of Steve Scott (for whom this is a valedictory production, marking his retirement after nearly four decades with the company) - brings it to life with all the humor, pathos, heart and sheer old-fashioned goofiness it demands."
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Hedy Weiss

Daily Herald - Highly Recommended

"...But "Ah, Wilderness!" is more than a turn-of-the-last-century, coming-of-age tale. It's also a love story -- actually love stories. There's teenage love steeped in passion and melodrama. There's the sweetly bitter romance of a middle-aged man and woman whose window of matrimonial opportunity closed years earlier, but whose affection for each other remains. And there's the enduring love of a long-married couple doing their best to nurture their children and prepare them for life outside the family's nest."
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Barbara Vitello

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...The Millers' world as O'Neill wrote it is as white as it is old-fashioned. Scott has mitigated the monochrome with what you might call a modified colorblindness, creating some questions. What does it mean, for instance, that Essie and her brother are played by black actors and Nat and his sister by white ones? How does it happen that Norah the maid is the only character whose ethnicity is explicitly acknowledged? These are puzzlements. But it's also good to see the table pushed wider."
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Tony Adler

Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Steve Scott’s engaging production mostly keeps things jolly, though it can’t solve the fact that O’Neill leaves half of his large cast of characters with too little to do. Randall Arney and Ora Jones are genially endearing as Richard’s parents, a sort of tender photonegative of Long Day’s Journey’s Tyrones, and Kate Fry is affecting as Richard’s spinster aunt; Will Allan and Amanda Drinkall make hay of their characters’ respective single scenes. But the play rests on Richard’s shoulders, and the thoughtful Niall Cunningham carries it handily, crafting a vivid comic portrait of politely rebellious youth."
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Kris Vire

Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"...Fairly late in his career, Eugene O’Neill, that great purveyor of tragedy, penned a romantic comedy worthy of his darker plays. “Ah, Wilderness!” is that now-classic lark, and it once again bursts onto the stage at Goodman Theatre in a funny and affecting production that is arguably the crown jewel of Chicago’s theater season."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Stage and Cinema - Recommended

"...Full of feeling but never fluff, this summer-rich show works on most levels. Given O'Neill's many laughs of recognition, it could be funnier-but that might make it less real. It's a Procrustean choice for any director. In any case it's a perfectly accessible entry point for anyone who might be intimidated by the excesses of O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra, Strange Interlude, A Moon for the Misbegotten, and, of course, The Iceman Cometh. The "pipe dreams" in this busy homestead belong to everyone."
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Lawrence Bommer

Splash Magazine - Highly Recommended

"...This is a play that sped by its 2 ½ hours in duration. It was fun, the issues it raised were intelligently addressed if not resolved, the whole a fine explication of it's human relationships; in particular, it makes very telling points about the importance and strength of extended and committed family life. Goodman Artistic Director Robert Falls, long experienced at bringing O’Neill to life at this theater, has produced another successful-and sophisticated- interpretation. It's highly recommended."
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Debra Davy

ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...This show is a true ensemble triumph with a nice pace and an honest warmth. It reminds us of the nostalgic time when goodness and total honesty ruled. Our time with the Millers garners laughs. Who thought he could write such a funny and warm comedy?. O’Neill must have been sober in 1933 when he penned Ah, Wilderness! in only a month. Steve Scott’s production is a fitting end to his more than 30 years of fine creative work. See Ah, Wilderness! and discover why Eugene O “Neill is the greatest American playwright of the 20th Century."
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Tom Williams

Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...There are many “coming of age” plays, and one of my favorites is now on the stage at The Goodman Theatre ( in the Albert). It is Eugene O’Neill’s “Ah, Wilderness”. Here is a story that was written almost a hundred years ago, and while the language and lifestyle is not quite the same in today’s world, the basic idea is very real, even in today’s “hi-tech” world."
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Alan Bresloff

NewCity Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...The production’s fifteen-member cast provides a lesson in ensemble acting, with no weak links or grandstanding. Larry Bates as the naughty uncle deserves mention for the Falstaffian brio he brings to his very funny drunk scene. Amanda Drinkall is solid and sexy in the role of Belle, the town floozy with a heart of zinc."
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Hugh Iglarsh

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...Eugene O’Neill’s lone, lighthearted play features, for him, an uncharacteristic happy ending. It’s really less of an actual comedy and more of an elegy for a forgotten, idyllic way of life. This luscious production, especially as guided by the gentle, respectful and sensitive direction of Steve Scott, is a tender retrospective portrait about growing up at the turn of the century. It’s a look at a simpler time, a much longed-for past of small town family values and adolescent angst. Featuring a gorgeous, detailed oceanside scenic design by Todd Rosenthal, lit with fireworks and seashore brilliance by Aaron Spivey and cloaked in colorful, elegantly tailored, period-perfect costumes by Amy Clark, this wonderful summer entertainment longingly recalls a bygone era when life’s biggest challenge involved winning the heart of the girl you loved."
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Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Recommended

"..."Ah, Wilderness" is not one of O'Neill's most significant plays but it's appeal is understandable in providing audiences with a comfy viewing experience. But it would be worth seeing the key performers from this show in a major league O'Neill revival, say a fresh look at "Strange Interlude" to remove the bad taste of that odious guest staging at the 2009 Goodman O'Neill celebration. ."

Dan Zeff

Third Coast Review - Recommended

"...The 2.5 hour play (one intermission) is carefully directed by Steve Scott, who grasps the nuances needed in performances by Richard as well as his parents, Nat Miller, a newspaper publisher (Randall Newsome) and Essie Miller (Ora Jones). Essie fusses, as only a mother can, over her children’s absences and Richard’s choice of reading matter (Oscar Wilde, Bernard Shaw, Swinburne and The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám)."
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Nancy Bishop

The Hawk Chicago - Recommended

"...While it is invigorating to see performers of color in roles that have been played a million times by white performers, that is simply not enough to justify the production. Stand-outs include Ora Jones and Randall Newsome, who have irresistible chemistry, as well as Amanda Drinkall and Ayssette Munoz who shine in their singular scenes. Larry Bates also excels as Sid, the source for the majority of the production's humor. The designs are all astounding, and director Steve Scott knows how to stage a pretty picture. It's a shame that he didn't do more to make the play feel more relevant."
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Jason Berger

Picture This Post - Highly Recommended

"...Niall Cunningham as Richard Miller captures the innocence of young love. The teenager feels that his entire world is crashing down around him, and simply does not care who else he brings in the process. The honesty in Cunnigham's character particularly shines in his final monologue about his love for Muriel, as this literature-enthusiast struggles to find the words to describe the depth of his emotions. Ayssette Muñoz as the female young lover was sweet, and her Muriel created a lovely counterpart to Cunningham's slightly more immature teenager."
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Lauren Katz

  Ah, Wilderness! Photo Gallery

   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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