Despite 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
Two 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
The 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
Its 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
Nearly 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
The reason behind Terrence McNally's A Perfect Ganesh being so rarely performed is not its now-outdated fantasy of India, but that its story's narrator and facilitator is the Hindu deity Ganesha, remover of obstacles and, thus, patron of lovers and travelers.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
The "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
It'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
They are most often seen at the theaters, performing front-of-the-house chores—checking coats, dispensing refreshments, passing out playbills, tearing tickets and guiding patrons to their seats. They are usually dressed in smart black-and-white ("full penguin" jackets at the Symphony Center, business casual khakis and henleys at Theater Wit, by request of its owner, Jeremy Wechsler). The majority of them.... Read More
Terrence McNally's Lips Together, Teeth Apart is located in and around a luxury beach house in the swankiest part of New York's Fire Island, occupied on a Fourth of July weekend by two couples sunk in their respective funks despite the revelry surrounding them. The Eclipse Theatre Company's production occupies a third-floor studio with a stage measuring.... Read More
Patrons of A Red Orchid's off-the-street theater are accustomed to scenery unfolding like pop-up puzzles on a shallow stage featuring only a little over a hundred square feet of walk-around floor space. Even so, the scenic design for Ethan Lipton's Red Handed Otter, set in a basement security center for an unnamed property (most likely a mall),.... Read More
Elton John, step aside! Liberace, eat your heart out! You, too, Cher! France's last royal highness and her posse in David Adjmi's Marie Antoinette take fashionable excess to new heights—literally, with yard-high hair-dos, eight inch-high heels and dazzling mirrors on every surface.
"The goal was to create an atmosphere of extravagant luxury,".... Read More
In The Hammer Trinity, Chris Mathews and Nathan Allen's Tolkeinesque three-part fantasy epic, there are two scenes where the entire audience rises in unison to cheer the action transpiring on stage. The villain getting his comeuppance is one, of course, but before that climactic victory, there is the moment where July of the Seven Foxes summons forth the.... Read More
You'd never guess to look at the Baraboo/Dells region nowadays, but central Wisconsin was once a seemingly endless expanse of rocky glacial terrain teeming with wildlife and dotted with remote farming settlements barely hinting at the nearby state capitol. This is the setting of Amy Timberlake's One Came Home, a saga of feisty Georgie Burkhardt's search for.... Read More
Despite having been written over four hundred years ago, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is still invoked by star-crossed young romantics confronted with family opposition. The myth underscoring the courtship of the interracial same-sex sweethearts in Madhuri Shekar's A Nice Indian Boy, currently playing under the auspices of the Rasaka Theatre Company, has a shorter history, but resonates.... Read More
The frontier traditions shaping our nation's culture declare a saloon to be more than simply a liquor dispensary, instead ranking alongside the town church as a community social center, serving as ballroom, hotel, dining hall and funeral parlor as needed. Its elevated status may account for the number of American plays set in barrooms, from The Iceman Cometh.... Read More
The upper coastline of the Mexican Gulf forming the southern boundaries of five states—Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida—comprises a diversity of languages, having been at various times a port-of-entry for French, Spanish, German, Irish and Scottish settlers. The verbal landscape surrounding the Italian colony lending Tennessee Williams his setting for The Rose Tattoo encompasses the native.... Read More
Nobody 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
On 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
People 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