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  Lindiwe at Steppenwolf Theatre


Steppenwolf Theatre
1650 N. Halsted Chicago

The evocative live music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo forms the foundation of this Steppenwolf world premiere production written and co-directed by ensemble member Eric Simonson. As the story travels from Chicago's Kingston Mines to South Africa and beyond, Lindiwe's love story challenges us to define the boundaries between this world and the next, all the while exploring the sacrifices we make for love.

Thru - Jan 5, 2020

Price: $50-$114

Stage: Downstairs Theatre

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 312-335-1650

Running Time: 2hrs

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  Lindiwe Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"...There is a show here — and, frankly, much could be transformed simply by adding more fresh music and cutting globs of text. But the best story begins and ends with the stars."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...But “Lindiwe” is a clear case of a whole that’s greater than its parts. That’s largely owing to South African star Tembe’s radiant stage presence, along with the inarguably joyful spirit and hushed, penetrating harmonies of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. And despite the occasional clumsy step, at a macro level, Simonson and Berry get at something vital about the way those we’ve lost never fully leave us — they’re always there in our heads and hearts, ready to hum us another tune."
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Kris Vire

Daily Herald - Recommended

"...Performed in the group's distinctive, hushed style, the melodies are so lilting, so mellifluous and so joyful they about took my breath away. In the captivating Nondumiso Tembe, whose boundless charm nearly equals her lustrous voice, the production has a leading lady who is simply luminous as the titular Lindiwe. When Tembe and Mambazo sing -- accompanied by guitarist Buddy Fambro, drummer Erik Hellman and bassist Frank Russell -- "Lindiwe" soars. During the nonmusical moments, however, the show stumbles. Ultimately, "Lindiwe" fails to live up to its promise owing to a problematic narrative that is both muddled and repetitive."
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Barbara Vitello

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...The music is glorious, especially when Tembe is singing. But what could be a heartfelt meditation on the connections that love, music, and love of music build between people and across time bogs down with too much self-conscious story and not enough song."
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Kerry Reid

Windy City Times - Recommended

"...Like cotton candy, Lindiwe is sweet but melts away quickly. You'll enjoy familiar blues tunes "Sweet Home Chicago" and "Caledonia," and you'll want to take home LBM home; however, the show's message and even its dramatic conflict are slight, making the production's intermission unnecessary. Lindiwe and Adam are a Black/white couple, but that's neither the story nor message. And Ladysmith Black Mambazo is in a supporting role. Indeed, you may be disappointed that they sing mostly snatches of songs rather than complete numbers."
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Jonathan Abarbanel

Stage and Cinema - Recommended

"...Can lightning strike thrice? Over two decades later, it’s happened again — a third collaboration between author/director Eric Simonson and the world-famous, nine-member Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Like The Song of Jacob Zulu in 1992 and Nomathemba in 1996, Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s world premiere Lindiwe, co-directed with Jonathan Berry, is imbued with the ensemble’s seamless a cappella harmonies, playful grace, and propulsive dance routines, theatrical enough in their own irrepressible right."
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Lawrence Bommer

Splash Magazine - Highly Recommended

"...This infectiously joyous piece is a slightly wacky tale melding magical realism, a clear-eyed cultural commentary on the sinister nuances of apartheid, a mixed-race love story threatened by death and conducted in the thrall of immigration paranoia, a musicology lesson and a disquisition on the importance of family. Given this much flavoring, a wise audience member will let herself go, groove to the song and dance, and not worry overmuch about the play’s deliberate non-linear storytelling mode."
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Debra Davy

Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Try thinking a mixture of” Chicago Blues” and “Sounds of South Africa” and a cast that includes 9 men who form an ensemble that truly is remarkable ( and yet, they hardly speak), and you have the amazing “Lindiwe” written by Eric Simonson, now on the Steppenwolf Theatre main stage. This is another World Premier for Chicago, and one that I am proud to have witnessed. The story is a true love story with music that is written by Ladysmith Black Mambazo ( who is powerful and has a great vocal range)."
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Alan Bresloff

NewCity Chicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...There’s no denying that this is a room of confident and talented artists who are, unfortunately, working in service of something that has no cohesion, no throughline and, most painfully of all, no clear purpose. The most interesting thing about “Lindiwe” is the way it accidentally acts as a conversation piece with another show currently in our city: Jackalope Theatre Company’s “P.Y.G: or The Mis-Edumacation of Dorian Belle,” a hilarious and insightful play that questions what it means for black artists to placate white people. But “Lindiwe” doesn’t have to question it. It just up and does it."
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Ben Kaye

Chicago Theatre Review - Recommended

"...But the evening belongs to the internationally known choral group known as Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Their lush musical performances, often featuring the accompaniment of exquisite vocalist, Nondumiso Tembe, is the draw. Seeing and hearing this troupe of talented singers, who perform primarily in the Zulu vocal styles of Isicathamiya and Mbube, is a life-changing experience. That the music is set against a smart, imaginative folktale, created by Eric Simonson, makes this a satisfying two hours of entertainment that will beguile audiences of all ages."
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Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Somewhat Recommended

"...Notwithstanding all the above negativity, there are still reasons to attend "Lindiwe." Nondumiso Tembe is a tremendous talent, wowing the audience with her passionate, expressive, jubilant voice and impressive acting chops. And Ladysmith Black Mambazo is a joy to the eye and the ear, making the group's diminished stage time all the more perplexing. There likely are some spectators who enjoyed the tribulations of the young lovers and were willing to give the confounding plot a pass. That's their prerogative. I savored the pleasures of the music while pondering what might have been with a coherent story."
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Dan Zeff

In The Loop Magazine - Highly Recommended

"...A remarkable fusion of music and drama, "Lindiwe" is many things: a transcontinental, trans-racial love story; a devotional to the beauties of musical expression; a profound commentary on the political callousness of nations and borders; and lastly, a spiritual fairy tale. Told in a nonlinear fashion, Simonson's narrative tracks the musical triumphs and personal tribulations of Lindiwe, a South African singer who, while touring the United States with the legendary vocal ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo, falls in love with Adam, a Chicago-based blues drummer."
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Peter Thomas Ricci

Chicago On Stage - Recommended

"...Lindiwe, with a book by Eric Simonson, who co-directs with Jonathan Berry, may not be as successful as the first collaboration, The Song of Jacob Zulu, but it is still a completely enjoyable piece. Despite a story that seems cobbled together from various sources (including the Greek myth of Orpheus, currently featured in the Tony Award-winning Hadestown) to create a platform for its music, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and powerhouse performer Nondumiso Tembe are so wonderful that you honestly don’t care if the plot works or not."
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Karen Topham

TotalTheater - Recommended

"...Well, that was how the story spooled out-sort of-on the second of the two press openings for Lindiwe, but evidence of hasty rewrites following the first points toward more textual changes before this ambitious project proceeds farther on its journey. The a cappella chorale harmonies of the internationally celebrated Mambazos, their all-male vocals augmented by the sweetly soaring treble of the title heroine, are always a delight, and there's no denying the global appeal of a scenario encompassing both African Zulu ballads and American blues standards like "Caledonia" and "Sweet Home Chicago" making for plenty to sit back and enjoy until the script finds its own voice."
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Mary Shen Barnidge

Picture This Post - Somewhat Recommended

"...Anyone who thinks they don’t love a capella music has likely never heard a Ladysmith Black Mambazo serenade, is this writer’s thought, both before and after hearing and seeing LINDEWE. Now, nine men are joined by a diminutive songstress with oversized vocal talent and range, Nondumiso Tembe in the title role."
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Amy Munice

  Lindiwe 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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