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  The Dead at Court Theatre

The Dead

Court Theatre
5535 S. Ellis Avenue Chicago

Artistic Director Charles Newell and Music Director Doug Peck, whose professional collaborations include Porgy and Bess and Caroline, or Change, team up for a delightful reimagining of Court Theatre’s eccentric holiday classic, James Joyce’s The Dead. Filled with the warmth of a flickering hearth, the fervor of an Irish folk song, and the mystery of a snowy winter’s eve, this piece tells the tale of a group of family and friends as they gather to sing and dance in celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany in Dublin at the turn of the last century. Hauntingly beautiful and joyfully spirited, James Joyce’s The Dead offers a heartfelt accompaniment to the holiday season.

Thru - Dec 9, 2012

Wednesdays: 7:30pm
Thursdays: 7:30pm
Fridays: 8:00pm
Saturdays: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sundays: 2:30pm & 7:30pm

Price: $35-$65

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-753-4472

Court Theatre Seating Chart

  The Dead Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"... The piece is now about a man suddenly aroused by his wife (a good holiday message, for sure) but who finds, alas, that the source of his arousal is, well, not something he necessarily wanted to know. Somehow, the music and the drama needs to take us there, to the full meaning of Gabriel’s unhappy discovery, but the score, lovely as it is, doesn’t sufficiently drive the logic of the narrative, and so the show cannot. “The Dead” starts to feel like it’s moving in ever-looser circles when Joyce was really trying to guide us to the kind of deeper understandings, and more profound sadnesses, that so often emerge at the holidays, when we’re least able to fight back."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"... An artful adaptation by Richard Nelson of the remarkable 1914 short story by the Irish master of the title, the show features an eclectic score by Shaun Davey and Nelson composed of traditional Irish songs, an opera aria and original music paired with both existing poetry and new lyrics. And one of the many achievements of director Charles Newell and his remarkably multitalented cast is the way it makes the audience listen with an almost palpable intensity. Equally powerful is the way Newell keeps everything floating between action and memory, this world and the next, echoing how Joyce enveloped his story in a snowstorm, creating a blanketing effect that suggests both safety and peril."
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Hedy Weiss

Centerstage - Somewhat Recommended

"...Despite the talented musicianship and acting, the show never invited me in. Instead of a welcomed dinner guest, I felt more like a Peeping-Tom. Ultimately The Court Theater’s “The Dead” just never comes to life."

Kristin Walters

Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Philip Earl Johnson provides empathetic narration as Gabriel, the scholar conflicted about his place in his country and, as we learn, in his marriage, with Susie McMonagle turning in magnetic work as Gretta, rediscovering and then revealing a forgotten moment from her own past. The music, performed by the 13-member ensemble with Peck on an upstage piano, subtly transitions from Davey's resettings of lyrics adapted from traditional Irish songs and poems-as the guests of the Misses Morkan might have prepared-to Davey and Nelson's original numbers expressing the characters' inner yearnings. If the rousing, rebellious "Wake the Dead," led by Rob Lindley's vivacious Freddy Malins, doesn't wake something dead in yourself, see a doctor right away."
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Kris Vire

ShowBizChicago - Recommended

"...Though it may not seem like it from the title, James Joyce's The Dead is a nice addition to the onslaught of traditional holiday offerings. Moreover, The Dead lets us reflect on the authenticity in how we are expected to live our lives. Each of us, at one point in time will face an Epiphany. Mr. Joyce story reminds us that sometimes that Epiphany comes at a point of no return."
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Michael Roberts

Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"... As such, “James Joyce’s ‘The Dead’” is chamber music, with individual story lines that emerge, recede and echo while the party ebbs and flows. We learn much that is unspoken — that Julia (Mary Ernster) is dying; that Mrs. Malins (Rebecca Finnegan) adores her drunkard son in spite of herself; that Freddie Malins (Rob Lindley), no matter how plastered, can charm a crowd; that sweet-hearted Mary Jane (Regina Leslie) is running her aunts’ household now; that Bartell d’Arcy (J. Michael Finley) is that embodiment of delightful tenor clichés, a narcissist — and that young love springs eternal in the servants’ quarters."
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Nancy Malitz

Stage and Cinema - Highly Recommended

"...The casting at the Court is flawless. The dialogue may be casual but when spoken with an Irish accent the language somehow converts into poetry and the most banal lines sound witty and eloquent. And the entire Court cast delivered their brogues impeccably. But the glory of The Dead resides in the musical score by Shaun Davey and the lyrics by Davey and book author Richard Nelson. The music is an eclectic blend of traditional Irish songs-with lyrics adapted from Irish poetry and the James Joyce short story-and original numbers by Nelson and Davey. Virtually every character on stage sings at least one showcase number, with the first among equals being Mary Ernster in her sympathetic and sensitive portrayal of Julia Morkan. Susie McMonagle has some golden vocal moments as Gretta, and J. Michael Finley delivers a potent operatic number as D'Arcy."
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Dan Zeff

ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"... Lively conversation, food and drinkspark theoutbreakof songs as the ladies, the men and the studentseach gettheir songs sung in celebration of life, of tradition, and of nostalgic memories. Irish politics and memories of pastgreat singers are debated as the haunting ever-presenteffects ofthedeadare dramatized. The varied tunes underscore the story. When Freddy emotionally evokes his angst in the powerful “Wake the Dead”thegroupreacts in a frenzy.Thefrailty oflife is seen in the deterioration of the aging Aunt Julia. A past love is revealed by Susie McMonagle as she sings “Michael Furey.” Thejoyous spirit ofliving is balance with the richness of the past.Thisbeautiful show will get you reliving your past as you celebrate living with thisIrish clan. Letthecharm ofPhilip Earl Johnson together with the wholesomeness ofMary Ernster and the flamboyance of Rob Lindley bringyou into the celebration oflifewith reverence to the dead. This show will make you feel good. It is a flawless work of theatrical art. Don’t miss it."
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Tom Williams

Let's Play at ChicagoNow - Highly Recommended

"...Court Theatre presents THE DEAD. The Morkans are having a party. It's 1904 in Dublin, Ireland. To celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, Miss Julia and Miss Kate, along with their niece Mary Jane, throw their annual soiree. The coveted invitation gathers friends and family to an evening of music. The sisters encourage guests to express themselves in song and dance. As the neighbor downstairs shows his irritation, the revelers celebrate life by waking the dead. Some songs are playful. Some songs are nostalgic. Some songs are heart-wrenching. All the songs are personal inspirations. THE DEAD is an Irish awakening. Enchanting!"
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Katy Walsh

Around The Town Chicago - Recommended

"...During this time of the year, many of our local theaters bring us tradidional holiday fare, shows they do every year reaching both new and repeat audiences. The Court Theatre located in Hyde Park, is bringing back a holiday show, one that they did in 2002 and again in 2003, but with some changes. The production is James Joyce's "The Dead", but as a musical. The book by Richard Nelson with music by Shaun Davey with lyrics conceived by them is a combination of words taken right from Joyce's "The Dead" while others were written for this concept. The story takes place in Dublin Ireland, circa 1904 at an annual party to celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany. This is an annual event that has been going on some thirty years, where the guests drink, eat, dance and sing. This festival/celebration is the twelfth night of Christmas where the revelation of God in Human form is to take place."

Alan Bresloff

   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

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