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Queen Of Mist
Queen Of Mist

Queen Of Mist
Firebrand Theatre at The Den Theatre
Thru - Jul 6, 2019

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Firebrand Theatre at The Den Theatre

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune- Recommended

"...It's hard to overpraise what Robertson is doing, although part of the pleasure is the rare chance to see her work in such an intimate setting. At this point in her career, Robertson fully is the equal of those more famous Broadway divas. This we know. What becomes clear with "Queen of the Mist," though, is her willingness both to advocate for her all-consuming character, and, where necessary, send her off down the river into her own self-delusion. Honestly, it's a sight to see."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Reader- Somewhat Recommended

"...The most annoying thing about Queen, though, is its failure to address the big event. The show is a tease: It's about going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, except it's really not because we never hear a word about the actual experience. On her speaking tour, Taylor is confused when people ask her to describe how it felt to defy death and plummet hundreds of feet into a roiling abyss. Why does she make the unbelievably peculiar decision not to talk about the thing that she decided to do so she could make money talking about it? LaChiusa never explains."
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Catey Sullivan

Windy City Times- Somewhat Recommended

"...Still, Annie Taylor is hard to like. Despite her occasional charm and need to be forceful in a man's world, Taylor is her own worst enemy. LaChiusa attempts to redeem this lonely figure—and Taylor must have been terribly lonely—with a Christian epiphany at her death, but it doesn't feel earned and takes too long. The opening sequence ( "There is greatness in me" ) also is long, using 25 minutes to establish Taylor's quirky, troubled character which we understand in half the time. Tough editing requires cutting out good material if it's repetitive and dissipates dramatic tension. Composer LaChiusa always writes his own book and lyrics and, therefore, lacks a tough editor."
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Jonathan Abarbanel

Around The Town Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...Barbara E. Robertson is masterful in her portrayal of Anna, with her animated way of connecting with the audience and her beautiful singing voice. Every segment of the action revolves around her natural charm. More than anything, she exudes “There is greatness in me.” Other great characters include Liz Chichester, who plays Carrie Nation, and Max J. Cervantes, who, in the role of Frank Russell, does a fine job of bouncing off Barbara Robertson’s high energy."
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Julia W. Rath

NewCity Chicago- Somewhat Recommended

"...Equally audacious is the mission of Firebrand Theatre, the producing company. Dedicated to promoting feminist musicals, the group has staged a handful of dazzling productions in their short existence, garnering a reputation as a company to watch. Alas, even the best theaters come across a bump in the road. For Firebrand, the Chicago premiere of “Queen of the Mist” is that bump."
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Sheri Flanders

WTTW- Highly Recommended

"...“There Is Greatness In Me” is the defining song in “Queen of the Mist,” the musical by Michael John LaChiusa now receiving its Chicago premiere in a riveting Firebrand Theatre production that releases the full “greatness” in Annie by way of an electrifying, often heartbreaking (and vocally grueling) performance by veteran Chicago actress Barbara E. Robertson. Her portrayal is just the latest reminder of her extraordinary gifts."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Theatre Review- Recommended

"...Michael John LeChiusa’s musical musing about the seductive power of achieving fame and fortune has been given a powerful, respectable Chicago premiere by Firebrand Theatre. Beautifully directed with stark focus and poetic lyricism by Elizabeth Margolius, and intimately staged within Lauren M. Nichols’ creative, barrel-like scenic design, this musical is sumptuously lit by Cat Wilson. The musical, which sports a magnificent cast led by Chicago theatrical legend, Barbara E. Robertson, and musically supported by Charlotte Rivard-Hoster’s powerful backstage orchestra, shows us a woman who learns, too late, that yearning for fame and fortune may not be life’s ultimate goal."
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Colin Douglas

The Fourth Walsh- Somewhat Recommended

"...If La Chiusa had a collaborator with editing power, QUEEN OF THE MIST would be a tight 90 minutes, no intermission show. It's not. The second half of the show has Robertson asked repeatedly to describe her Falls' experience. She repeatedly refuses. Her rationale is by telling her story, she gives it away. This odd choice by La Chiusa waters down the storytelling. His last, long twenty minutes is a series of confusing musical numbers about hallucinating and dying. Even though they are sung superb, they seem superfluous and painfully prolong the inevitable conclusion."
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Katy Walsh

Chicagoland Musical Theatre- Somewhat Recommended

"...Clearly Taylor had the gumption and stuff to be the perfect lead for any musical. But unfortunately, the historians of the past century didn’t agree. There’s very little source material about Taylor’s life and inner workings. The only in-depth, comprehensive source this author could find about Taylor was her own short autobiography written after her plunge over the falls. The lack of access to detail shows in the musical, which oftentimes feels stuck somewhere between a sung biography and a hazy metaphor for the poor treatment of bold women."
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Jane Recker

Storefront Rebellion- Somewhat Recommended

"...Director Elizabeth Margolius's dreamlike staging uses the Den's awkwardly long-and-narrow Bookspan Theater more effectively than most productions I've seen in that space, with Lauren Nichols's cleverly contoured set suggesting the confines of Anna's barrel. Brenda Winstead outfits the cast in handsomely cool remixes of period styles, andI was particularly taken by the final moments of Act I, in which Margolius visually suggests Annie's custom-designed carriage by surrounding Robertson with her castmates brandishing half-moon hoop bindings, wending to and from as we imagine the barrel tumbling. But while the second act painstakingly recounts her post-Niagara frustrations, we just don't get enough sense from LaChiusa of what sent Anna over the edge in the first place."
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Kris Vire

Chicago On Stage- Highly Recommended

"...Robertson is backed by a solid ensemble of excellent performers including Max J. Cervantes, Neala Barron, Liz Chidester, Liz Bollar, Hannah Star and Maryam Abdi, who play all of the secondary roles and serve also a musical narrators of a sort, bringing beautiful and at times eerie life to LaChiusa’s music and lyrics. (Brianna Buckley will replace Bollar in the ensemble on June 15.) Elizabeth Margolius’s dreamlike direction combines with Cat Wilson’s lights and Lauren Nichols’ curved set (designed to resemble the inside of a barrel) to give the entire production an ethereal feel: we are somewhere within Taylor’s thoughts and dreams, experiencing the world as she does. "
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Karen Topham

PicksInSix- Highly Recommended

"...The remarkably talented ensemble—with hearty featured turns for Maryam Abdi, Liz Bollar, Liz Chidester and Hannah Starr—unravel LaChiusa’s unique characters in telling that part of the tale. But a simple gravestone erected years after Annie died a pauper’s death says it all: Annie Edson Taylor—First to go over the Horseshoe Fall in a barrel and live--October 24, 1901."
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Ed Tracy

Picture This Post- Recommended

"...While this reviewer didn’t find much in the music that sticks enough to take it home, in real-time the delivery by all the outstanding voices on the stage is powerful. These are great voices! More, Director Elizabeth Margolius uses an exquisite eye to move this talented cast as an ensemble on the bare bones inside-a-barrel set, which you too will likely consider brilliant in its simplicity by show’s end (Set Design: Lauren Nichols)."
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Amy Munice