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  The Originalist Reviews
The Originalist
Court Theatre

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune- Somewhat Recommended

"...So you're not getting a profound work of theater. But you are in the presence of a thoroughly enjoyable performance from Gero, who not only looks like Scalia, but who embodies his signature mix of personal charm and rigid intellectual fervor. It's a terrific piece of acting and, when combined with all the ideas about American democracy that dance and bubble on the surface of this play, it holds your attention and tickles your mind. Far more than most new plays. So huzzah for the power of ideas and a work actually willing to confront the liberal intellectuals in the seats."
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Chris Jones



Chicago Sun Times- Recommended

"...It's a bit sentimental, but not too much, and ultimately, in addition to the strong acting and the refined simplicity of Molly Smith's direction and Misha Kachman's set design (a couple of chandeliers, a red curtain and a few pieces of furniture), it won me over to this play. It depicts robust, aggressive, passionate disagreement in a context of respect and developing friendship. It accepts power and winning as measures of success, but decency and kindness as even more important measures of a person. In that regard, it feels like a play we need right now."
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Steven Oxman



Chicago Reader- Highly Recommended

"...The play's premise could have been lifted from a 1940s screwball comedy-verbally adept conservative white male judge hires an equally verbally adept liberal, female, African-American law clerk (played ably here by Jade Wheeler, who also originated the role in 2015)-and Gero's Scalia often feels like a Spencer Tracy to Wheeler's Katharine Hepburn, though they never pair up. Still, their constant sparring does have a rom-com feel to it, and that adds yet another layer to this rich, fascinating, exceptionally well-written and well-acted play."
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Jack Helbig



Chicago On the Aisle- Somewhat Recommended

"...Which brings me back to my original proposition: Gero’s finely crafted Scalia would be better served without any of these trappings. Did I mention he’s an opera lover, and a devout Catholic? He first walks into view immersed in music from Verdi’s “La traviata.” The best line in the play comes in response to Mozart’s Mass in C minor, heard in the background. To Cat, a fallen Catholic, Scalia observes: We cannot see heaven, but in Mozart’s music we can hear it. For another fleeting moment, we glimpse the light of drama."
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Lawrence B. Johnson



Let's Play at ChicagoNow- Highly Recommended

"...Edward Gero masterfully coveted Justice Scalia with so much vigor and character that he surely needs to be awarded for his stellar performance nominated. Gero was invited to meet with several of the actors and members of the original production crew to help outline his character; which prepared him for the role. Jade Wheeler should be praised for holding her own spurring against the law giant. She was incredible with her tenacity with getting her point across. Together, Mack and Wheeler are spectacular!"
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Rick and Brenda McCain



Around The Town Chicago- Recommended

"...Edward Gero is masterful in the role of Antonin Scalia, bringing passion and excitement to his character. In preparation for the role, he studied Scalia in action in the Supreme Court and met with him for lunch. This dedication shows in his wonderful portrayal."
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Michael Horn



NewCity Chicago- Somewhat Recommended

"...But "The Originalist" does not deliver the customary satisfaction through exploration of the case, choosing instead to go the even more hackneyed route of reconciling unequal rivals on emotional stakes that never obtain palpable tension. In other words, "The Originalist" attempts to vindicate Scalia's impact on American law by arguing he was a pretty nice guy."
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Irene Hsiao



WTTW- Recommended

"...The operative conceit in “The Originalist” is this: As Justice Scalia, in his late 70s, prepares to enter a new term at the Supreme Court, he invites Cat (Jade Wheeler) to interview for a much-coveted job as his law clerk for the coming year. Like him, Cat is a whip-smart, fiercely ambitious and competitive Harvard Law School grad – an only child, a Catholic, and someone who can give as good as she gets (perhaps too brashly, given the difference in their age and status). An African-American and a lesbian, Cat also is diametrically opposed to Scalia’s opinions on all major issues."
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Hedy Weiss



Chicagoland Theater Reviews- Recommended

"...“The Originalist” triumphs by uniting a stimulating script with a fascinating central character and an exceptional lead performance. It’s no mean dramatic accomplishment to elevate a potentially elitist topic into a drama that is challenging and literate and most of all, can entertain a broad-based audience. Love him or hate him, Antonin Scalia is wonderful company for an evening. For this boon to audiences, Edward Gero and John Strand deserve much thanks."
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Dan Zeff



Third Coast Review- Recommended

"...The Originalist poses two strong intellects against each other. Scalia has 50 years of jurisprudence on Cat, but she holds her own with him and he demonstrates that he respects her intelligence. Strand points toward this congruence from the beginning, and the play ends a little too happily-ever-afterish. That soft ending is what keeps The Originalist from being a four-star production for me."
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Nancy Bishop



Picture This Post- Recommended

"...Do plan to leaf through the copy of the US Constitution handed to you with your program with new eyes, renewed reverence, and passion. That you will likely do so speaks to the considerable power of this play. Plan to be engaged anew in the visions of our founding fathers. Then, plan also to shout Bravo! Brava! in opera fan fashion."
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Amy Munice



PicksInSix- Recommended

"...I will leave the historical and legal commentary regarding the arc of the discussions in dialogue to the scholars in those disciplines. What I will say is that the heated discussions between Scalia, the late Supreme Court justice and Cat (Wheeler), a Liberal (capital "L") law clerk and the Conservative (capital "C") Brad, a recent law school graduate unwind and expose an array of the major positions in his judicial career. This is a fascinating, provocative evening of theatre!"
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Ed Tracy