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Cratchit's Christmas Dinner: Grocery Shopping in the Goodman Theatre's Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol at Goodman TheatreNobody talks about food more than a hungry author, so who can blame Charles Dickens for incorporating so many descriptions of sumptuous meals into his novels? A Christmas Carol revels in Fezziwig's holiday feast for his employees, in the meager-but-sufficient repast of the Cratchits and the bounty of rich comestibles enthroning the Ghost of Christmas Present.
.... Read More


A Long Hellcab Ride: Richard Cotovsky Takes the Wheel Again After Twenty Years

Hellcab at Profiles TheatreOn the list of Chicago's longest-running holiday shows, Hellcab (originally titled Hellcab Does Christmas) falls fifteen years behind the Goodman's Christmas Carol, but a few years ahead of The Christmas Schooner. What distinguishes Hellcab from its seasonal compatriots, however, is its setting. Instead of Victorian London, or a turn-of-the-century Michigan logging community, Will Kern's play looks at.... Read More


Ring Dem Bells: Swinging Hammers in Il Trovatore's Anvil Chorus

Il Trovatore Lyric OperaPeople who profess to know nothing of grand opera recognize the "Anvil Chorus" from Verdi's Il Trovatore immediately—if only the Marx Brothers and Bugs Bunny versions. This rousing ensemble number (properly called "Vedi! Le Fosche Notturne"), set in a Romani encampment, features two eight-measure passages where the orchestra mimics the ring of the blacksmiths' hammers as they.... Read More


Irish Cats Have Nine Lives: Feline Cameo in AstonRep Lieutenant of Inishmore

The Lieutenant of InishmoreThe words "dead cat" will likely inspire amusement in all but the most devout aelurophiles, but in The Lieutenant of Inishmore, the untimely demise of two felines launches a chain of events that will end in their bereaved owners enacting terrible vengeance on the murderers of innocent creatures. More difficult than the quantities of simulated gore, gunfire.... Read More


Congressional Expectations: Baby On Board in Both Your Houses

Both Your HousesMaxwell Anderson, writing in 1931, probably never anticipated married women, let alone expectant mothers, holding down executive positions in Washington DC, but when Linda Gillum—cast as Greta "Bus" Nillson, the savvy secretary who helps the idealistic crusader of Both Your Houses battle his weasely colleagues—announced that she would be visibly pregnant on opening night, the creative staff.... Read More


Fight Like A Fish: Swimming Against the Current in The Clean House

Brutus from The Clean House"Life is a joke, so why not die laughing?" is the moral of The Clean House, as well as the rallying cry of the newlywed cancer-stricken Ana—whose recently-acquired family encompasses her doctor/husband, his ex-wife, his former sister-in-law, and their housekeeper. Her rejection of the depression associated with lingering disease is symbolized by her pet fish ("a fighting.... Read More


An Eye For An Eye: The Wounded Hero of Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre Lifeline TheatreThe Romantic sensibility reflected in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre mandates that the title character's final step toward conquering her horrific early childhood memories is the rescue of her chosen consort from his demons, the latter manifested, literally, upon his physical being. Edward Rochester, we are told, refused to flee the fiery destruction of his unhappy home until.... Read More


Second-Hand Smoke: Acting Tobacco Consumption in Cole Theatre's Ecstasy

Ecstasy - Cole TheatreAudiences are usually willing to suspend disbelief for whiskey decanters filled with tea or beer bottles containing diluted coca-cola, but the working-class youths in Ecstasy, Mike Leigh's time-capsule portrait of England in 1979, also consume copious quantities of tobacco, a substance nowadays inspiring such alarm—despite its legal status and widespread popularity in the United States—that special care.... Read More


Tragic Repasts: Feeding the Audiences at All Our Tragic

All Our TragicThough the tradition dates from antiquity, for modern audiences, it all started in 1980 with the Royal Shakespeare Company's eight-and-a-half-hour Nicholas Nickleby, a sprawling adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel that launched a fashion for marathon productions of duration sufficient to require at least one extended intermission for playgoers to fortify themselves with nutrition more substantial than lobby.... Read More


Stitchery Ex Machina: Old-Fashioned Sewing in Intimate Apparel

Intimate Apparel Eclipse Theatre CompanyIt commands the stage picture, positioned firmly downstage center where you can't miss it—an iron-filigree, treadle-propelled Singer sewing machine of the sort nowadays most often found in rural attics, disabled and rusted-out, useful only as a trellis for climbing house plants. Not this one, however! No, this vintage homemaker's helper gleams as temptingly as when first sent forth.... Read More


Winston In America: Ronald Keaton's Churchill Moves to the Greenhouse

ChurchillHe was born to privilege in a time and a society where such accidents determined his future as surely as they restricted that of other citizens. He suffered devastating changes in fortune, distinguished himself in a wide range of endeavors and lived to the age of ninety. He was English, product of a culture Americans are fond of.... Read More


Washing With Sam: Bathing Beauty in The Late Henry Moss

The Late Henry MossSouth Pacific calls for a navy nurse to wash her hair onstage while singing a song, and in The Big Funk, a captive woman is given a shampoo and shower by a bevy of servants in full view of the audience, but for The Late Henry Moss, Yadira Correa's duties for the role of the mysterious Conchalla.... Read More


Rocking Out: Wearable Masonry in Monstrous Regiment

Monstrous Regiment Lifeline TheatreCastle walls are usually easy to replicate—you paint some plywood to look like fieldstone and mortar, or—if you want to get fancy—you paste some Home Depot fiberglass faux-fireplace surfacing material to the plywood. Lifeline Theatre's adaptation of Terry Pratchett's Monstrous Regiment, however, requires a wall to collapse into a pile of gravel at precisely the moment when.... Read More


Tony-Award Winning Musical Pippin Coming to Chicago

Pippin Musical in ChicagoBroadway In Chicago has announced that the Tony Award winning Broadway Musical PIPPIN will play Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre (151 W Randolph) for two weeks only, July 28 - August 9, 2015.

This all-new production of Roger O. Hirson and Stephen Schwartz's PIPPIN is directed by Tony Award winner Diane Paulus and features choreography.... Read More


Hey, Mister, Take My Picture: Audience Participation in The Inconvenience's Love Tapes

Love Tapes In Chicago"It's a modern mating ritual," Carl explains to his photographer in the quirky comedy Love Tapes co-authored by Penn Jillette and Steven Banks. He is referring to the videotape he plans to shoot of himself, posing as a metal-rocker wearing nothing but a Fender bass guitar, and then dispatch in reply to a likewise self-produced videotape from.... Read More


Jeff Awards 2014 Non-Equity Recipients

Jeff Awards in Chicago"The Mother," a stage tale of class warfare, and "Passion," a musical of love and obsession, took home top honors for Oracle Productions and Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre respectively Monday, June 2, at Park West during the 41st Annual Non-Equity Jeff Awards ceremony recognizing excellence in non-union Chicago theatre. Oracle, with five awards, and Theo Ubique, with four.... Read More


Harry, England and Saint George: Re-creating the Battle of Agincourt in Henry V

Henry V Chicago ShakespeareFor a play whose plot centers on one of English history's most decisive military campaigns in one of its longest wars, Shakespeare's Henry V is curiously short on violence, being more concerned with lessons in how to fight a war—and by extension, how to govern a country.

Oh, but who cares about the political.... Read More


Chasing The Night At Mister Cinders: Public House Theatre Brings Back Bouncers

Bouncers at Public House TheatreOn its surface, John Godber's Bouncers is simple enough—four doormen at the Mister Cinders dance club describe a typical Saturday night on the job—in doing so, they mimic the personalities of customers, staff members, and other auxiliary personnel. They also comment irreverently on the dead-end life that drives young working-class Brits to squander money and self-esteem in.... Read More


Back To The Future: Steampunk Invades Promethean's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are DeadNowadays we expect brain exercise from Tom Stoppard, but theatergoers in attendance at the 1967 premiere of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead were unprepared for three acts of Hamlet's school chums parsing ontological philosophy, with occasional forays into existential pragmatism—all proposing (so the author claimed) to look at Shakespeare's tragedy, not from the perspective of its powerful.... Read More


Coulda Been A Contender: the Mystique of Irish Boxing in Lay Me Down Softly

Lay Me Down SoftlySwordplay and shootouts, karate chops and full-cast tavern brawls, all are capable of dazzling audiences while in progress, but two men facing off, eye-to-eye, in a roped-off arena, is a picture that resonates with spectators long after the activity ceases and the show is finished. Skeptics seeking proof of the indelible impression engendered by pugilistic pageantry should note.... Read More


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