The 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
The 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
Playgoers 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
Popular myth dictates that the "few good men" of the United States Marines, being trained in combat to the exclusion of other skills, spend most of their off-duty time in recreational activities based on perfecting their battle readiness, whether through martial sports or old-fashioned street brawling. This archetype also applies when the marines are female, as in Dustin.... Read More
"He had a funny kind of accent, but his clothes weren't from the Red Shields and his hair didn't look like his mother had cut it, so I guessed he was on the level when he strolled into my office, He came to the point right away. 'I can do magic tricks, play the saxophone and ukulele, I.... Read More
For an artist whose state-sponsored murals were denounced as "pornographic," and who never married (but was rumored to have fathered fourteen children), Gustav Klimt was actually one of the more low-profile members of the nebulous fin de siecle coterie dubbed "Symbolists" by art historians. The contradictions engendered in embracing an aesthetic mandating complete body-and-soul connection with his muse.... Read More
David Alex isn't your average workshop-hustling, grant-grubbing, chardonnay-swilling playwright, but while the term "hobbyist" can be invoked as a pejorative, its negative connotations are undeserved.
A former high school mathematics teacher and track coach, he has served on the administrative boards of several arts organizations, including the Joseph Jefferson committee. He has been married.... Read More
As the Broadway production nominated for the most Tonys in history and the winner of 11 Tony awards, Hamilton is sure to take your breath away no matter where you sit. However, if you want to take advantage of the full experience, use the following tips and seating chart when purchasing your Hamilton tickets to ensure you.... Read More
Moving to a new home is always an occasion for contemplation, whether coming after years of planning or launched in the heat of expediency. For the Strawdog Theatre Company, the prospect of abandoning an environment associated with a thirty-year history of hope, ambition and creativity cannot help but call forth memories.
To be sure, these.... Read More
Finally stepping out of New York, the record-breaking 16-Tony-nominated "Hamilton" is coming to Chicago, and Chicago couldn't be more excited. Reviewers have called the musical enthralling and impassioned, one going as far as to recommend mortgaging your house and leasing your children if necessary to obtain a ticket. For many, conjuring up an image of the founding.... Read More
The 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
There 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
Unlike 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
Plays 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
It'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:
STEREOTYPE-FREE ZONE AWARDS.... Read More
There'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
The 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
The 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
Some 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
"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