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  The Happiest Song Plays Last at Goodman Theatre

The Happiest Song Plays Last

Goodman Theatre
170 N. Dearborn Street Chicago

At the same time, halfway around the world in a cozy North Philadelphia kitchen, his cousin takes on a heroic new role of her own: as the heart and soul of her crumbling community, providing hot meals and a place to sleep for the needy. Set to the joyful sounds of traditional Puerto Rican folk music, this poignant new play from 2012 Pulitzer Prize winner (Water by the Spoonful) and Tony Award nominee (In the Heights) Quiara Alegría Hudes chronicles a year in the life of these two kindred souls as they search for love, meaning and a sense of hope in a quickly changing world.

Thru - May 12, 2013

Price: $27.50-$42.50

Stage: Owen Theatre

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 312-443-3800

Running Time: 2hrs, 25mins; one intermission

Goodman Theatre Seating Charts

Suggested Nearby Restaurant

  The Happiest Song Plays Last Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Highly Recommended

"...The upside of this genesis is that Hudes has become a better and better writer as she has forged this tale over these years - the qualitative difference between this script and "Soldier's Fugue" is really something. Hudes now is a very accomplished storyteller, a playwright with an emergent, fulsome American narrative, a young writer who knows that her best material is not so far away, as long as she is willing to put her family out there."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Somewhat Recommended

"...For those who still hold fast to their bleeding heart liberal dreams in the wake of the events of the past week (not to mention the past decade or more), a good portion of Pulitzer Prize-winner Quiara Alegria Hudes's play, "The Happiest Song Plays Last" - the third installment in "The Elliot Trilogy" - may seem like a soothing balm. For others it might feel, at best, like a deluded affirmation of wishful thinking. And some might even find it offensive."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...Hudes splits the narrative between Iraq War vet Elliot, making a docudrama about that war while the Egyptian revolution rages nearby, and his cousin Yaz, an urban earth mother who looks out for all the lost souls in her north Philadelphia neighborhood. Each story line features contrivances, implausibilities (Elliot's lover is shocked to learn that he killed Iraqis in Iraq), and mawkish cliches (a sweet simpleton, a ghost). The whole thing stupefied me. But then I missed the earlier plays."
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Tony Adler

Windy City Times - Recommended

"...Hudes makes no secret of her story's roots in the real-world experiences of her own family, so its atmosphere of nostalgic sentimentality is hardly unexpected. Edward Torres' direction affirms the romantic ambience invoked by John Boesche's scenic projections on the stucco wall connecting the widely disparate locales, further enhanced by the jabaro serenades of cuatro-guitarist Nelson Gonzalez. The ensemble led by Armando Riesco, as the haunted Elliot, and Sandra Marquez, as the harried Yazmin, lend depth to archetypes grown long familiar to American audiences. Ultimately, the aforementioned chronological dissonance makes for nebulous narrative, but the production's theatrical iconography redeems itself in the sheer warmth born of optimism and redemption."
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Mary Shen Barnidge

Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Hudes's characters and way with dialogue are as appealing as ever, though for those who aren't familiar with the preceding plays—particularly Water by the Spoonful, which has yet to be produced in Chicago (Court Theatre just announced it will have the premiere next spring)—it could be unclear at first why these two stories are being told together."
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Kris Vire

Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"...Ex-Marine Elliot bears a terrible burden, and he would like more than anything to unload it, or better bury it. This is the sorrowful lyric of Quiara Alegria Hudes' magnificent play "The Happiest Song Plays Last," and Goodman Theatre's fierce, funny, loving production is a highlight of the current season."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Stage and Cinema - Somewhat Recommended

"...Edward Torres' extraordinarily static staging works hard to make an even more static and discursive plot move along. Indeed, the strongest weakness of the evening lies in Hudes' inability to grasp the core of a sprawling story: Is Happiest Song about Elliott's coming of age and postwar redemption? Yaz' attempt to hold a community together (as well as the diminished Ruiz family)? A comparative exploration of the relativism of political protest? Or is it about the evocative power of jibaro music (which is used to bridge scenes that don't add up)? For the play to contain a much-needed focus, the answer cannot be "all of the above." But that is, alas, exactly what it is."
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Lawrence Bommer

Let's Play at ChicagoNow - Somewhat Recommended

"...I love the premise of everyone's personal quest to tell their stories. Even the interludes of the strolling musician Nelson Gonzalez sings about cultural heritage. It's just that stories within stories within stories get disjointed. The connection between the two primary storylines is two Puerto Rican cousins played by Armando Riesco (Elliot) and Sandra Marquez (Yaz). Director Edward Torres uses projected texting and Skype conversations to build the relationship. It doesn't work. Riesco, who effectively mimics a variety of accents on the movie set, sounds/acts like a punk from the 'hood. Marquez, on the other hand, has a Puerto Rican accent and a maternal presence. They don't seem like cousins that grew up together in the same neighborhood or the same family. Despite a Jibaros-looking headshot, Riesco's military buzz makes him look like a blond."
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Katy Walsh

  The Happiest Song Plays Last Photo Gallery

   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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