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  Verboten Reviews

The House Theatre of Chicago at Chopin Theatre
Thru - Mar 12, 2020

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The House Theatre of Chicago at Chopin Theatre

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune- Recommended

"..."Verboten" is like the yin to the yang of the Green Day musical "American Idiot," an indictment of youth lethargy. By contrast, Neveu and Narducy see punk as a kind of rite of passage, a meeting point and a temporary escape valve for adolescents going through stuff at home. Unlike most musicals about the biz, we never even get to the agents and the other stultifying suits. The Cubby Bear is all."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times- Highly Recommended

"...Neveu’s script, written with input from and the blessing of Narducy and his real-life former bandmates Tracey Bradford Chris Kean, and Zack Kantor, smartly supports and subverts its young characters’ points of view. You can recognize the gentle absurdity of the kids’ outsized suburban ennui — the real-life adult versions of these young musicians are probably a little embarrassed by how embarrassed they were of their own parents at this age."
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Kris Vire

Chicago Reader- Somewhat Recommended

"...The score deserves another pass. The numbers that bookend the piece are extraordinary. The others, not so much. Percussively, they tend to sound similar. Finally, Allen has his cast emoting at an 11 throughout. That's impressive in terms of sheer stamina, but it makes for a static production. If tooth-gnashing and big, screaming feels are the default, they lose their intensity and their urgency."
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Catey Sullivan

Around The Town Chicago- Recommended

"...Punk rock is not my thing! When Michael Mahler guested on my radio show, he advised me that there was a great deal to be seen in The House Production that has just been extended until March 29th, "Verboten" with a book by Brett Neveu and music & lyrics by Jason Narducy. This is in fact Narducy's story. He grew up in a suburb of Chicago. As happens to many teens, life is somewhat senseless ( at least in their eyes) and so they seek a place to escape. Music or theater can be the perfect way. Actors become other than who they really are, and musicians find their words can fill the minds of others and ease their frustrations."
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Alan Bresloff

NewCity Chicago- Recommended

"...With all its narrative flaws (alongside lines of dialogue that oscillate between corny earnestness and unearned self-awareness), you’ll still likely find something to enjoy in “Verböten,” a musical about trying to find where you belong (a lesson I hope this show can discover for itself sooner rather than later). Especially noteworthy are Kieran McCabe and Krystal Ortiz as our two teen leads, bringing vocal prowess and gut-wrenching humanity to their respective arcs. They exist truly and wholly, living loud in living color within a musical that, at this stage, feels more like a pencil sketch."
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Ben Kaye

Chicago Theatre Review- Highly Recommended

"...This production is loud—so loud that the music often feels like just so much noise. Sometimes the balance between the instrumental and the repetitive lyrics makes it impossible to understand what the song is saying. But the songs in which the accompaniment is toned down a tad are treasures. The entire cast of this production is multitalented. They act and both sing and play—sometimes several different instruments. But it’s the story of a group of preteens with their individual problems, a need to create their own “family” with each other, and a passion to make music that hits home and makes this another must-see show by the House Theatre."
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Colin Douglas

The Fourth Walsh- Highly Recommended

"...Neveu digs deeper into the familial roots of Verböten. How did these thirteen year olds play clubs/bars? Neveu’s exploration of the relationships between teen and family tethered me to the show. Ortiz is the adopted daughter of loving parents (Paul Fagen and Jenni M. Hadley). Fagen and Hadley sweetly hover as attentive but respectful. Rogers tries to be the ‘cool’ dad to his not-having-it angry son Zack (Jeff Kurysz). And then there is Matthew Lunt (Chris) getting harsh guidance from his bitter, drunk sister (Marika Mashburn). The relationships follow the score with some head-banging grit and heart-tugging charm."
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Katy Walsh

Third Coast Review- Highly Recommended

"...The old rock trope says that punk music is "three chords and the truth." That holds true for the fact-based story about a kid punk band from Evanston in the 1980s, which just opened in a world premiere by House Theatre. Verboten is the name of the play and the band, fronted by Jason Narducy (12 years old at the time and 16ish in the play). Narducy created music and lyrics for the script written by Brett Neveu. Nathan Allen's direction gives the play a lot of heart as it tells the story of outsider teens with parents who just don't understand."
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Nancy Bishop

Chicago On Stage- Highly Recommended

"...Ultimately, the best thing about the crazy emotional swings of adolescence is that they pass, and this play ends up very uplifting despite not really resolving some of its darker issues. That is because, though the music is often angry, it is also celebratory: kids celebrating the freedom to express themselves as the people they are. They're at a stage in life when everything feels like the end of the world, and it certainly shows here, but the audience (mostly much older people, naturally) knows how to put it all in perspective, and this rocking, passionate, dynamic, and very familiar show is only a beat in time."
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Karen Topham

Picture This Post- Highly Recommended

"...With awareness, but never fear, of the corny or the stereotypical, VERBÖTEN knows when we need our funny bone to be struck and when our heart strings need to be played. Whether you purchase your ticket because you love punk music, or maybe because you love the nostalgia of '80s Chicago, it's the universal themes of growing and learning that will enthrall . VERBÖTEN is an absolute must see."
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Margaret Smith