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Pillars Of The Community
Ibsen Times Three: Traitor, An Enemy of the People and Pillars of the Community

The protagonists of Henrik Ibsen can be divided into individuals seeking personal happiness despite the disapproval of their society, and those seeking to change the society itself. Of the latter, An Enemy of the People and the play often considered to be its prototype, Pillars of the Community, have exercised the greatest appeal for audiences of.... Read More

BLKS Steppenwolf
Art Endured: How Chicago Theater Triumphed in 2017

Remember January last year? Not since the so-called "Death of Irony" in 2001 were so many gloomy prognostications uttered regarding the extinction of theater as a unifying experience—its goal, to encourage individuals in putting aside their differences and acknowledging the human values we all share.

We endured, however. Healing strategies were implemented. Let's look.... Read More

The Humans in Chicago
The Humans In Chicago

The Humans is set for Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre for a limited two-week engagement Jan. 30 - Feb. 11, 2018. The Humans premiered in Chicago at American Theater Company in 2014 under the direction of the late PJ Paparelli. The Broadway production, directed by Joe Mantello, won the Tony Award for Best Play in 2016.
.... Read More

Scrooge and the Ghostly Spirits
Holiday Messages Of Rebirth: Re-imaginings of Yuletide Classics Debut in Chicago Area Theaters

As the annual disputes over the species of animals gathered at the manger in nativity scenes attest, any story no longer protected by copyright can become fair game for adaptation, parody or flat-out rewrite. However this irksome this legal snare may be for the creators of literary classics, it now locates both Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol and.... Read More

Christmas Shows IN Chicago
Theatre In Chicago's 2017 Holiday Show Round-Up

Looking for an enriching and entertaining way to spend the holiday season? This year, celebrate the yuletide at the theatre. With dozens of holiday plays opening this holiday season there's plenty to see in Chicago's eclectic theater scene. Chicago theaters are presenting everything from the traditional holiday shows to transvestite reindeer to a site specific show taking place.... Read More

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

Even 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

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

In 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

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

It'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

Fight City at Factory Theater
The Scientific Miracle Stage Blood of Gravity and Momentum

The 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

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

It 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

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

There'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

Tight End in Chicago
Not Just Jocks In Frocks: Three Plays Highlight Women In Sports Today

American 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

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

Nobody 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

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

You 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

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

The 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

Vanya or, That's Life
This Way Out: The Three Faces Of Uncle Vanya

No 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

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

Seeing 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

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

For 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

Philip Dawkins - Playwright
The Outs and Ins of Philip Dawkins

I 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

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

Over 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