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Blinded By Science: Disturbing the Universe in The Life of Galileo

The Life of GalileoThe word "science" calls forth many images. Henrik Ibsen cast it as the hero in An Enemy of the People, and Friedrich Durrenmatt, the villain in The Physicists. Its popular synonym, "technology," can be applied to Jonas Salk's polio vaccine or J. Robert Oppenheimer's atomic bomb. Are citizens who oppose unregulated experimentation promoting ignorance, however, or is their.... Read More


Stupid Scientific Expeditions: Victorian Souvenirs in The Explorers Club

The Explorers Club - Windy City PlayhouseThere was the moose in Lincoln Park's John Barleycorn pub, and the wild boar in Boystown's Chaps that once led a young cowboy to stand at full height atop a bar stool for a head-on view of the fierce tusks and snout, but animal-head trophies are something of a rare sight nowadays, most wild game hunters preferring to.... Read More


Heaven In A Second-Floor Walk Up: The Last Days of Mary-Arrchie Theatre's Angel Island

Mary-Arrchie TheatreUnlike moving into a new house, closing down a theater is not just a matter of giving the post office a forwarding address and handing over the keys to the new tenants. The second-floor loft over the convenience store at Broadway and Sheridan has been so long associated with the Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company (despite the difficulty playgoers unaccustomed.... Read More


Who Are You Calling Chicken? Fighting Fowl in Year of The Rooster

Year Of The RoosterPlays set in rural Oklahoma are rarely expected to be cheerful, but Eric Dufault's Year of The Rooster compounds the hopelessness by locating its economic and existential despair within the brutal culture of competitive cock-fighting. Though usually associated with Latin countries and illegal in the United States, this blood sport—its promoters remind us—was invented by the same.... Read More


Ten Isn't Enough: Chicago Theater in 2015

Mike Nussbaum in The PriceIt's the changing of another year, and that means retrospectives on the departing season—but how can anyone reduce our city's eight hundred-plus plays to a puny "top ten" list? When I think back on 2015, I recall several moments that don't fit the usual categories. Here, then, are my choices for recognition:



Hellcab's Endless Journey: Re-Tailoring Kern's Urban Odyssey

Hellcab in ChicagoThere's this taxicab driver in Chicago, you see, and today is Christmas Eve. From this simple premise, Will Kern forged a play (originally titled Hellcab Does Christmas, but soon re-christened just Hellcab) that appeared year-round from 1992 to 2002 under the auspices of the legendary Famous Door Company. The 1997 film version allowed audiences worldwide to follow.... Read More


Hamilton coming to Chicago

Hamilton in ChicagoThe blockbuster Broadway musical HAMILTON - with book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda - will play its first engagement outside New York this fall in Chicago. Performances begin September 27, 2016, at Broadway In Chicago's newly named The PrivateBank Theatre (formerly the Bank Of America Theatre).

With book, music and.... Read More


What's That Voice? Baritones Unbound Celebrates the Everymen of Music

Baritones Unbound in ChicagoThe show is called Baritones Unbound, but who first erected those boundaries? Was it the age of Romanticism that declared all heroes had to be young, blond and sing in tenor range? Was it the memory of the family patriarch's authoritative tones that rendered chest-based vocalizations the province of elders and villains? And when twentieth-century values bestowed.... Read More


What Time Is This: Recreating Period Authenticity in The Time of Your Life

The Time Of Your Life ChicagoSome plays can be relocated to other periods and locales with relative ease, but others are inseparable from their original milieu. Try to imagine Of Mice and Men or Cat On a Hot Tin Roof anywhere but where their authors decided to set them.

What makes the ambience of William Saroyan's The Time of.... Read More


Spontaneous Coward (Noel, That Is): Unplanned Noel Coward Festival Welcomes in the Holidays

Design For Living"All of Noel Coward's plays feature characters in—or out of—love." observes Derek Bertelsen, director of Pride Films and Plays production of Design For Living. While no one would ever mistake Coward's flagrantly unconventional lovers for your standard-issue Jack-and-Jill sweethearts, the cheerful amorality reflected in the English author's comedies appears to be responsible for Chicago's fall season boasting.... Read More


Million Dollar Quartet To Close After 7 Year Run

Million Dollar QuartetWith almost 3,000 performances, Million Dollar Quartet, Chicago's longest-running Broadway musical, is set to close on January 17, 2016. The Tony Award winning rock 'n' roll musical has been breaking box office records at the Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln Avenue where it will run for only a short time longer.

.... Read More


Fun Home, The SpongeBob Musical, Finding Neverland Coming to Chicago

Broadway In ChicagoBroadway In Chicago announced the upcoming 2016 season line-up. Broadway In Chicago's 2016 season will include the 2015 Tony Award-Winning Best Musical FUN HOME, the Pre-Broadway World Premiere of THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL, 42ND STREET, BULLETS OVER BROADWAY, THE SOUND OF MUSIC and FINDING NEVERLAND. The Broadway In Chicago 2016 Season line-up, including performance.... Read More


Going Down Swinging: Training the Pugs in Sucker Punch

Sucker PunchDespite the conspicuous presence of athletes wearing padded gloves and silk trunks, Roy Williams' Sucker Punch is a play about fighting, and not just boxing. When the slum-dwelling citizens seeking refuge from poverty and violence in Charlie Maggs' shabby gymnasium aren't mixing it up in the ring, they're practicing in anticipation of achieving their moment of glory,.... Read More


Equity Jeff Awards 2015 Recipients

Jeff AwardsTwo theatres in their first year of Equity eligibility received the most awards at the gala 47th Annual Equity Jeff Awards held at Drury Lane Oakbrook which celebrated a season of outstanding productions.

Newly Equity eligible, The Hypocrites earned six awards for "All Our Tragic", an epic 12-hour adaptation of the 32.... Read More


Diva Stunt-Double: Vocal Shape-Shifting in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice

The Rise and Fall of Little VoiceThe Rise and Fall of Little Voice is British playwright Jim Cartwright's modern-day fairy tale: its princess is a shy young woman dubbed "Little Voice"—or L.V.—by her boisterous mother, and her prison tower, the shabby public-housing apartment that they share. To muffle the sound of her careless parent's nightly carouses, Little Voice withdraws to her room and.... Read More


Singing Like A Seagull: Ukulele Music in Sideshow's Stupid F**king Bird

Stupid BirdIts technical name is "tenor archtop ukulele"—not the cigar-box toy we associate with raccoon-coated roaring-twenties college boys and backyard tiki parties, but a relative of the lute, the mandolin and a pre-World War Two jazz guitar. So why is a character from a fin-de-siècle Russian classic playing mid-eighties pop tunes on one? Well, it's because this isn't really.... Read More


Prayer and Kitchens: Cooking with Steppenwolf in Grand Concourse

Grand Concourse Steppenwolf TheatreNearly everything that happens in Heidi Schreck's Grand Concourse occurs in a kitchen—not a cozy gingham-curtained sanctuary of the kind often recreated in storefront theaters, but a stainless-steel urban-industrial scullery where meals for hoards of homeless diners are prepared daily by Sister Shelley and her assistants. Joey Wade's design for this oasis offering food for the body.... Read More


Pachydermal Puppetry: Creating the Hindu Elephant God in A Perfect Ganesh

A Perfect GaneshThe reason behind Terrence McNally's A Perfect Ganesh being so rarely performed is not its now-outdated fantasy of India, but that its story's narrator and facilitator is the Hindu deity Ganesha, remover of obstacles and, thus, patron of lovers and travelers. Why should so benevolent a spiritual icon present problems? Ganesha, you see, boasts a human body.... Read More


Angry Birds: Skyward Battle Cries in Conor McPherson's The Birds

The BirdsThe "bunker play" literary genre proposes a microcosmic society characters confined in restrictive quarters under duress arising from an outside threat. In Conor McPherson's The Birds (adapted from the short story by Daphne DuMaurier), what precipitates his three refugees securing shelter in an abandoned house on the New England coast are a series of concerted attacks by.... Read More


Gateway Theater: Windy City Playhouse Welcomes First-Time Audiences

Windy City PlayhouseIt's probably the most glamorous storefront theater in Chicago, its fašade recalling a Sinatra-era Hollywood lounge. Buildings of this vintage are nowadays most often found in the suburbs, refurbished with an eye to providing weary grandparents with nostalgic memories.

That's exactly what the Windy City Playhouse is not, though. Its quarters in what was.... Read More


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