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  Grand Concourse at Steppenwolf Theatre

Grand Concourse

Steppenwolf Theatre
1650 N. Halsted Chicago

Having dedicated her life to religious service, Shelley runs a Bronx soup kitchen with unsentimental efficiency. Her brisk nature masks an unsettling fear that her efforts are meaningless. When Emma-a rainbow-haired college dropout-arrives to volunteer, her volatile mix of generosity and self-involvement pushes Shelley over the edge. With both humor and heart, Grand Concourse asks big questions about the value of compassion and the limits of forgiveness.

Thru - Aug 30, 2015

Price: $20-$89

Stage: Downstairs Theatre

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 312-335-1650

Running Time: 1hr, 45mins; no intermission

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  Grand Concourse Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...Her work has strength, struggle and sadness, and great vulnerability in its invulnerability, for Mayberry paints a woman who does not trust easily and who thus subjects herself to terrible disappointment when her defenses are breached. At the key moments in the show you see her blinking out at the world not knowing what to think. This is a great Steppenwolf performance; one just wishes all else was rising to that level."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...Heidi Schreck's beautiful tragicomedy of life, love, faith, mercy, work, aspiration, failure, truth, lies, rebirth and that whole crazy stew we refer to as "humanity." Yet one thing is for certain: It is not an overstatement to say that this play - now receiving its Chicago premiere, with four terrific actors thriving under the flawless, fast-paced direction of Yasen Peyankov - is one of those Steppenwolf Theatre productions that reminds you of why you go to the theater in the first place."
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Hedy Weiss

Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...Yasen Peyankov's earlier experiences with a theater company performing adjacent to a social-services facility ( not unlike that replicated onstage down to the last detail by Joey Wade ) informs his direction of Schreck's incisive symposium on moral crises arising from the conflict between good intentions and faulty execution. Mariann Mayberry, rapidly becoming Steppenwolf's foremost character actress, anchors an ensemble embracing the ambiguity of their painfully flawed personae with compassion as unflinching and unsentimentalized as the industrial kitchen fixtures—including fully functional stove, sink, fridge, microwave, chopping knives, paper-towel dispenser—found in mean-street outposts providing sustenance to starving souls, however you define that word."

Mary Shen Barnidge

Gapers Block - Recommended

"...Combined with Schreck's knack for dialogue and the gifts of the rest of the cast and crew, Mayberry delivers one of the summer's must-see performances. The New York Times called the original New York run "modest but likeable" last fall (as if the two adjectives were mutually exclusive), but ambition aside, the intersection of talent on display at Steppenwolf in Grand Concourse is genuinely impressive."
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Adam Morgan

Time Out Chicago - Recommended

"...Mayberry is excellent as ever as the flinty nun in a crisis of faith, and Schreck gives her some nice moments to play, like Shelley’s recollection at Emma’s prompting of the dream that she interpreted as her calling. Almanzar is an ingratiating presence, and Hopper imbues the too-expected character of lovable crackpot with dignity (Francis Guinan takes over as Frog from August 11 through the end of the run)."
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Kris Vire

Chicago On the Aisle - Recommended

"...The fascination of Heidi Schreck’s play “Grand Concourse,” now at Steppenwolf Theatre, lies not so much in the personal crisis of a nun whose faith is wavering as it is in the human response of a good person directly affected by unmitigated evil. That moral dilemma keeps us hanging on through the last syllable, or rather sigh, of this well-made drama."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Stage and Cinema - Highly Recommended

"...Every questing play needs to shake up whatever status quo it suggests, if only to avoid documenting "a day in the life" of-whatever. Emma's arrival does that with a vengeance. Grand Concourse (non-judgmentally named for its address) goes further. (But I won't: In a play this fresh there must be no spoilers.)"
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Lawrence Bommer

ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...Yasen Peyankov clearly directed this play with great attention to the characters’ moral struggles, and the pain they feel when they come into conflict. Following each performance that is part of the subscription season is a talk-back, and the one I went to, like the one following Congo Square’s Twisted Melodies, another play about mental illness, was among the best I’ve heard so far. That night’s audience was interested in why so many people had such different feelings about Emma and Frog. The difference in perception cuts to the heart of the relationship between culpability and response to harm, and it was a debate the audience was genuinely interested in having. So well-done to Steppenwolf for achieving the kind of engagement so many theatre artists claim to long for. Grand Concourse is a play that contains something close to everyone’s heart, and will remain with you for a long time."
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Jacob Davis

Chicago Stage Standard - Recommended

"...Steppenwolf’s production of Schreck’s Grand Concourse can feel predictable at times and is just a bit off on some of the emotional story lines that keep this play from soaring. But backed by brilliant designers and honest performances that relate to the humanity in everyone, the show still delivers a great performance. Schreck asks the audience to understand Shelley and follow her struggle. Despite Peyankov wandering a bit in the middle on the line of the play, he manages to deliver on Schreck’s message and give an ending that left me a bit stunned."

Jerald Raymond Pierce

Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"... Try to imagine being in a soup kitchen, a church run operation in a poor, but not out, neighborhood, working with volunteers with one goal in mind- making it through today, so you can do it all again, tomorrow! That is pretty much what Heidi Schreck’s play, “Grand Concourse” is about. This is a small cast play that deals with four personalities that are as far apart as they can be, but at the same time, they all share one emotion, Fear. Each has a fear that while different, brings them a bit closer during this time period that in the play is months, but for our purposes, around 90 minutes with no intermission."
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Alan Bresloff

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...Set on the Bronx street that gives the play its title, Heidi Schreck has created a very honest, often gritty, realistic world peopled by individuals who, like everyone, have their private secrets and personal problems. As the word "concourse" implies, this play is a coming together of a group of people; but, like another definition, it also portrays an avenue from which one can move from one place to another. All of the characters in this drama are changeable, mobile and, as the play progresses, driven to move on. Each character's boundaries of forgiveness are stretched and challenged. But with renewed understanding, their journey down the road to redemption takes each of them to a new, enlightened place. Fortunate and rewarded is the theatergoer who gets to travel by their side."
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Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Highly Recommended

"..."Grand Concourse" opened off Broadway in 2014 and the show is a savvy pickup for Steppenwolf. Playwright Schreck has a true ear for dialogue and cannily builds a narrative with nuance and naturalism. The play could just as easily have fit in the intimate Steppenwolf Upstairs but using the Downstairs theater allows for the creation of the remarkably complex yet realistic set that becomes an inanimate fifth character in the narrative. "Grand Concourse" may be physically small but its heart and mind are very large indeed."

Dan Zeff

The Fourth Walsh - Highly Recommended

"...GRAND CONCOURSE is about the reality of people helping people helping people. It’s rewarding and frustrating. And it can give you hope and makes you hurt. Although the show has a little tedium with the time-to-make-the-soup frequency, I thoroughly enjoyed it despite the ongoing whisperings of guests all around me. (Steppenwolf audiences are some of the worst behaved theatre goers.) Schreck wittingly dissects these lives. And after exposing everyone’s weaknesses, she gives us a poignant ending that I continue to noodle on."
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Katy Walsh

  Grand Concourse 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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