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J.B. In Treble Key: City Lit Stages All-Female Production of Archibald MacLeish Classic

J.B. at City Lit TheatreEven devout Bible scholars have been known to admit that the story of Job, as handed down by mortal scribes, does not show the Almighty at his best, instead portraying the Supreme Being as a swaggering gamer willing to inflict terrible injury on his most loyal supporter for no discernible purpose beyond a frivolous wager. Confronted in 1958.... Read More


You Oughta Be In Pictures: Invading Nirvana's Guide to Finding Gold in Them Thar Hollywood Hills

Invading Nirvana by Kevin TheisIn Invading Nirvana, Kevin Theis documents his adventures over three months in the fantasy realm of Hollywood, where, nearly a century after the sagebrush desert north of Los Angeles became the center of the newfangled "moving pictures," literally thousands of pilgrims converge daily to seek their fortunes on the screens of big films and tiny televisions.
.... Read More


Wonder Woman's Big Sister: Babes With Blades Celebrate Return of The Invisible Scarlet O'Neil

The Invisible Scarlet O'NeilIt's easy to walk away from The Invisible Scarlet O'Neil proclaiming the star of the show to be its special effects. When your heroine is a scientist's daughter turned social reformer after a laboratory mishap endows her with the power of—you guessed it—invisibility, saving the world from enemy aggression is a stroll through the funny-pages compared to.... Read More


The Scientific Miracle Stage Blood of Gravity and Momentum

Fight City at Factory TheaterThe five empty front row seats at the opening of Factory Theater's Fight City should have been a warning, but one spectator chose—bravely or foolishly—to ignore it. The reason behind this arrangement became apparent in the second act of Scott OKen's action-adventure showcase for unarmed stage combat, when a faux-punch executed near the curtain line sprayed audience.... Read More


A Voyage Of Derring-Do: The Fair Maid of the West Sails Again in Oak Park

The Fair Maid of the WestIt may be hard to believe nowadays, but the biggest worry of the CT20 company in 1994 as they prepared The Fair Maid of the West was finding enough actors trained in cloak-and-sword combat. When Thomas Heywood's original drama premiered in 1631, every male citizen was well-versed in the art of fencing, but changing social customs over.... Read More


And Your Little Dog, Too: Talented Terrier Tricks for Shakespeare In Love

Shakespeare In LoveThere's no denying the affection that theatergoers have for animals onstage, whether written into the scripts, as in Of Mice and Men or The Lieutenant of Inishmore, or rendered literal by directorial fiat, like the live snakes in the Joffrey Ballet's recent production of La Bayadere. So it was no surprise to see opening night audiences at.... Read More


Not Just Jocks In Frocks: Three Plays Highlight Women In Sports Today

Tight End in ChicagoAmerican Theater magazine wasn't giving away any secrets when it reported plays featuring narratives extolling athletic activities reaping the benefits of crossover marketing to audiences outside the usual theatergoing demographic. You won't find any argument disputing the timeliness of stories exploring the dark side of glory days under the stadium lights, either.

Whatever the deciding.... Read More


Not In Our Theater: Rehearsing Creepy Violence in By The Bog of Cats

By the Bog of CatsNobody expects Greek tragedy to be an exercise in polite restraint, but audiences at By the Bog of Cats, Marina Carr's updating of Medea, were still unprepared to witness acts of cold-blooded violence known to most American citizens only through hearing them described in accounts of war atrocities.

The play explores the conflicts arising.... Read More


Whistling The Wardrobe: The Dazzling Fashions of Priscilla and Brother's Keeper

My Brother's KeeperYou could hear the audience gasp at the 2016 production of The Other Cinderella when our much-abused heroine's drab household duster swirled gracefully into a princess-line gown as supple and shimmering as molten gold. The same response greets the entrance of Taylay Thomas, playing mid 20th-century Hollywood icon Dorothy Dandridge, in the currently-running My Brother's Keeper: The.... Read More


Don't Call Them Squats: Custom-made Environment for Refuge's High Fidelity

High Fidelity - Refuge TheatreThe storefront at 1415 North Ashland Avenue is crammed with bins of vinyl disks, cassette tapes and CDs. The walls and counter are decorated with vintage posters for music clubs like the Empty Bottle, Beat Kitchen and Double Door. Only the sixty-five chairs set up along two sides of the room offer a clue that this is not,.... Read More


This Way Out: The Three Faces Of Uncle Vanya

Vanya or, That's LifeNo one planned a Chekhov festival, but three sequential adaptations of Uncle Vanya in six months, all of them raising the question of what can be done to end the suffering of its author's unhappy characters, is too much of a confluence not to go unnoticed.

Chekhov's 1896 drama presents us with Vanya Voynitsky and.... Read More


Follow That Bus: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Parks in Uptown

Priscilla Queen of the DesertSeeing a car in the process of being towed is not an uncommon sight in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood, but In 2002, residents were startled to see a full-size Crown Victoria taxicab unloaded into the front door of the storefront at 4137 Broadway for a production of Will Kern's Hellcab. If that boat-in-the-bottle proved to be a tight fit—a.... Read More


Warm Plays For A Cold Winter: Honky Tonk Angels and La Gringa Offer Escape From the Chill

Honky Tonk AngelsFor attracting playgoers in the winter months, nobody can dispute the advantages offered by plays boasting locales where overcoats are strictly tourist garb, to be promptly shed upon leaving the airport. Two shows currently running into 2017 provide audiences an opportunity to escape freezing Chicago temperatures: UrbanTheatre's La Gringa transports us to a sunny island in the.... Read More


The Outs and Ins of Philip Dawkins

Philip Dawkins - PlaywrightI first encountered Philip Dawkins in 2007 at The Paper Machete, Christopher Piatt's "Live News Magazine." It was a back-to-school show, and Dawkins - who had then been teaching playwriting in the Chicago Public Schools for 10 years - opened his monologue with comments his students had written on a class feedback survey form. An.... Read More


Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen- And Ladies: Cross-gender casting in A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol at Goodman TheatreOver the 39 years that the Goodman Theatre has presented Tom Creamer's adaptation of A Christmas Carol, its various directors have reminded us that Charles Dickens' tale of a lonely misanthrope restored to humanity through divine intervention has its counterpart in every culture the world over. Indeed, to declare the themes of this popular fable universal, wholly.... Read More


Why You Should Give The Gift of Theatre

Chicago Theatre Gift CertificatesIf you are stuck figuring out what to buy family and friends this holiday season, think of live theatre to get you out of a gifting dilemma. Theatre gift certificates make great holiday presents. In fact, you are not just giving gifts; you are giving enjoyable experiences to your loved ones.

Extra Special.... Read More


Bottoms Up At Curtain Time: a Proliferation of Drinking Game Shows

Bye Bye Liver ChicagoOn a weekend night in Bucktown circa 2006, citizens might have seen a convoy of young clubbers marching to the Gorilla Tango playhouse at the junction of Milwaukee, Armitage and Western Avenues, laden with six- and twelve-packs of beer, liters of wine and fifths of sundry firewaters. Their destination wasn't a block party, however, but a show rapidly.... Read More


Theatre In Chicago's 2016 Holiday Show Round-Up

Holiday Plays In ChicagoThe holiday season has arrived and with it another season of spectacular holiday plays in Chicago. Along with traditional family favorites like "A Christmas Carol," "The Nutcracker" and "It's A Wonderful Life," Chicago theaters are presenting everything from elves in drag bars to interactive comedy to a Scrooge roast and much, much more. To see a complete.... Read More


Quicker Than The Eye: Dennis Watkins Brings Close-Up Magic to The Magic Parlour

The Magic Parlour in ChicagoThe term "Magic Show" most often calls to mind a series of elaborately-structured and lavishly-staged illusions. Rarely did these exhibits include a connective narrative providing continuity—until the House Theatre of Chicago made its debut in 2000 with Death and Harry Houdini, Nathan Allen's play combining the real-life biography with a fictional examination of the reasons behind the legendary.... Read More


Fighting Or Flirting? "Intimacy Design" in Hand to Hand

Hand In HandPlaygoers might be startled to see "violence/intimacy design" listed in the playbill for Akvavit Theatre's production of Hand in Hand. For centuries, the extent of sex-on-stage training for actors was learning how to kiss while facing the audience, but as playwrights demand ever-increasing levels of realism in scenes requiring physical interaction, whatever its motivation, the potential for.... Read More


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