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  The Tempest at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

The Tempest

Chicago Shakespeare Theater
800 East Grand Avenue Chicago

Shakespeare's enchanted island is transformed in this inventive production from Aaron Posner and Teller (of the legendary duo Penn & Teller). Larry Yando returns to Chicago Shakespeare to take on the role of the mysterious sorcerer Prospero, who conjures a storm shipwrecking his old enemies. This classic tale of revenge is reimagined as a traveling tent show of trickery and amazement, underscored by the haunting ballads of Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan and the pioneering choreography of Pilobolus. In a production full of "such stuff as dreams are made on," sorcery gives way to inclinations of the heart.

Thru - Nov 8, 2015



Price: $48-$88

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 312-595-5600

Running Time: 2hrs, 30mins; one intermission

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  The Tempest Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Highly Recommended

"...But just as theater with actors playing at circus skills tends to pail when stacked up against a true fusion of those distinct arts, so every "Tempest" you ever saw with half-baked bits of magic will drop away when you catch sight of the full-blooded illusions created by Teller, the silent, white-magic half of the famed duo with Penn — his usual chatty collaborator with an affinity for the darker aspects of the noble art."
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Chris Jones


Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...Here, every element of the story comes wrapped in a “spell” of some sort, from the music (a brilliant use of the songs of Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan), to the movement (a monster formed with the interlocking bodies of two dancer-acrobats from Pilobolus), to the design (Daniel Conway’s beautiful set, best described as Victorian baroque nautical), to the actual acts of prestidigation designed by Johnny Thompson (including a levitation, a head-twisting body box and more). But best of all are the actors, who possess a sublime magic of their own, and find a way to turn all this artful “illusion” into profound emotional truth. Quite a trick, that."
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Hedy Weiss


Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...Yando is the perfect vessel for Prospero's contradictory nature. Best known for his annual gig as Scrooge in Goodman Theatre's A Christmas Carol, he's practiced at using his lean and hungry looks to express a deep orneriness before they crack open into his big, go-buy-that-goose grin. What happens to his Prospero, though, is far more various, ranging across stages of pain, rage, and melancholy to mischievous joy. He's positively convulsed at times with the strain of holding on to good intentions."
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Tony Adler


Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...So many different attractions could easily dissolve into an entertaining, but ultimately chaotic, circus-which is where Posner comes in, him of the daring Chekhov and Potok makeovers. Recognizing that increased time in the spotlight for non-verbal elements reduces that allotted for spoken dialogue, he pares down Shakespeare's text-already a fusion of such period literary fashions as vengeance dramas, fairy-tale fantasies and lost-voyage travelogues-into a streamlined narrative retaining all of the major themes while dispensing with verbiage rendered unnecessary by the aforementioned sensory diversions."
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Mary Shen Barnidge


Chicagoist - Highly Recommended

"...While still emotionally charged, Prospero's emotional arc can't help but be upstaged by this production's grandiosity-its defining elements that suggest there's more magic to do, and less soul to bare. But nonetheless, The Tempest is bold and compelling; just the type of "brave new world" that helps Shakespeare resonate with contemporary audiences."
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Melody Udell


Gapers Block - Highly Recommended

"...Chicago Shakespeare's bewitching new production of William Shakespeare's The Tempest was adapted and directed by Aaron Posner and Teller (the silent member of the Penn & Teller duo). The play has all of its poetry and more music and magic than traditional productions of this late Shakespearean tale of revenge."
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Nancy Bishop


Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...From the musicians (collectively and cleverly referred to in the program as “Rough Magic”) to the flawlessly executed tricks, this Tempest can be so visually and aurally absorbing you almost forget to pay attention to the words. This is especially true in a side-plot scene between Caliban and the comic-relief characters Trinculo (Adam Wesley Brown) and Stephano (Ron E. Rains), in which a talking handkerchief literally upstages plot machinations. But go in with your full attention at the ready. The illusions may be impossible, but the magic is real."
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Kris Vire


Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"...Co-directed with no slight imagination and great sleight of hand by Adam Posner and the magician Teller (he of Penn and Teller fame), CST’s season opener is pure enchantment – as credibly human and affecting as it is vibrant, fanciful and fresh."
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Lawrence B. Johnson


Stage and Cinema - Recommended

"...As always, C.S.T. gives us grand stuff to see (sometimes at the cost of what we should hear): Daniel Conway’s carnival-gaudy set, a cross between a Kurt Weill cabaret and a travelling tent show, teems with playful props, busy curtains, clever trap doors and wizard lighting effects by Thom Weaver. Paloma Young’s vaguely 1930’s costumes, Johnny Thompson’s shocking-and-awesome magic design, and Ray Nardelli’s all-purpose sound design create a fun-house theme park it’s easy to get lost in."
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Lawrence Bommer


ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...Chicago Shakespeare prides itself on producing world-class shows on a level that appeals as much to novices as experts. The approaching four hundredth anniversary of Shakespeare's death and the associated commemorations provide them with further impetus for developing a new audience. Therefore, it makes sense that they would turn to Aaron Posner and Teller to direct this season's opener, The Tempest. Posner is famous for writing Stupid Fucking Bird, a modern adaptation of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull that humorously captured modern theatre goers' and practitioners' love-hate relationship with the influence old works have on their art form. Teller is famous for his stage magic with Penn Gillette, which The Tempest provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate. Together, their brainchild has the potential to fascinate newcomers and rejuvenate those who have been overexposed to the play, but the production still depends upon Larry Yando and Nate Dendy's performances as Prospero and Ariel to succeed."
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Jacob Davis


Chicago Stage Standard - Highly Recommended

"...Sometimes I get the joy of seeing a world premiere that makes me glad I am a human that lives in the center of a world class cultural capital. The opening of Chicago Shakespeare’s marvelous and magical The Tempest was just such a moment. On the sparkling lakefront, Aaron Posen and Teller (of Penn & Teller) have created a seamless experience of wonder and love."

Angela Allyn


Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...There is magic on our lakefront! Even people who are not fond of attending Shakespeare productions, will find themselves in awe of the current production at Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier of "The Tempest". This particular adaptation by Aaron Posner and Teller ( of the famed comic duo Penn and Teller) who also directed this wondrous work of art. While, most of us have never heard Teller speak (he is the silent one), in this production, he speaks with his heart and soul and the magic contained within. The only reason that this show does not have the fifth star is that the play itself is not a "fan favorite", but I must say, this version is by far one that MUST be seen!"
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Alan Bresloff


Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...From an entrancing, captivating cast, directed with intuition, spirit and flair by co-directors Aaron Posner and Teller, to an all-encompassing scenic and lighting design by Daniel Conway and Thom Weaver, this magical production evokes a traveling, Depression Era magical medicine show. It dazzles and delights, instructs and moves its audience with this timeless tale of romance, revenge and redemption. Bedecked with gorgeous costumes by Paloma Young and Rachel Laritz, with wig and makeup design by Melissa Veal, this is a must-see production, even for every theatergoer, especially if he’s decided that Shakespeare is too erudite for his taste. This is a production that will delight all the senses with much more than the usual magic to do."
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Colin Douglas


Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Highly Recommended

"...Presiding over the entire wondrous enterprise are Posner and Teller. They have unearthed flavors in Shakespeare’s text that enrich the play without overwhelming the show with self-indulgent concepts. Shakespeare’s lines have occasionally been moved to difference scenes but the characters are vividly alive, each scene is well thought out, and the language is spoken with clarity and understanding. On the evidence of this production and “Stupid F***ing Bird,” Aaron Posner has established himself as one of the most vibrant figures in American theater in the new millennium."

Dan Zeff


The Fourth Walsh - Highly Recommended

"...I've seen many seasons of Chicago Shakespeare Theater productions. I have my favorites. This THE TEMPEST is my absolute favorite of my favorites. It brings Shakespeare's poetic prose to life with magic, music and contortionists. It probably has spoiled me for my next Shakespearean performance and definitely for any future production of THE TEMPEST. I give this show my highest recommendation. This kind of magic won't last forever get your tickets NOW!"
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Katy Walsh


  The Tempest 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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