Theater Reviews

Fall Preview

Fall Preview

by Anne Spiselman The big news this autumn is the arrival of Broadway sensation “Hamilton,” but we’re equally excited about the many homegrown world premieres, collaborations between theater companies, and plays using puppetry, as well as a typically impressive array of classics, musicals, and almost anything else you can imagine. Here’s what’s happening at some(…)

Review:  “Byhalia,  Mississippi”

Review: “Byhalia, Mississippi”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf 1700 Theatre, 1700 N. Halsted St. When: through Aug. 21 Tickets: $30-$35 Phone: 312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic I missed the well-reviewed world premiere of Evan Linder’s “Byhalia, Mississippi” at the Den Theatre (and simultaneously in a few other cities) early this year, so I was happy to see that(…)

Review: “Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys”

Review: “Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys”

RECOMMENDED Where: Raven Theatre Company, 6157 N. Clark St. When: through Aug. 27 Tickets: $42 Phone: 773-338-2177 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic An infamous miscarriage of justice and media circus comes theatrically to life in the aptly if lengthily named “Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys (An Evening of Vaudeville and Sorrow)” at Raven(…)

Review: “War Paint”

Review: “War Paint”

RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre, Albert Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through Aug. 21 Tickets: $44-$182 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Given the level of talent involved in the creation of the world premiere of “War Paint” at Goodman Theatre, the show is a little disappointing. Two-time Tony Award winners Patti LuPone and(…)

Review: “Between  Riverside and Crazy”

Review: “Between Riverside and Crazy”

RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. When: through Aug. 21 Tickets: $20-$89 Phone: 312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Nothing is as it seems in Stephen Adly Guirgis’s 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning “Between Riverside and Crazy,” the messy dysfunctional extended-family drama enjoying a well-acted Chicago premiere directed by Yasen Peyankov at(…)

Review: “Thaddeus and Slocum: A Vaudeville Adventure”

Review: “Thaddeus and Slocum: A Vaudeville Adventure”

RECOMMENDED Where: Lookingglass Theatre Company, Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. When: through Aug. 14 Tickets: $40-$75 Phone: 312-337-0665 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic In an interview in the program for the world premiere of “Thaddeus and Slocum: A Vaudeville Adventure” at Lookingglass Theatre Company, playwright and ensemble member Kevin Douglas says “This(…)

Review: “The Book of Mormon”

Review: “The Book of Mormon”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: The PrivateBank Theatre, 18 W. Monroe St. When: through Aug. 14 Tickets: $45-$120 Phone: 800-775-2000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic “The Book of Mormon” is exceedingly funny, but if you go to Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone’s send-up of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints without already knowing(…)

Review: “Company”

Review: “Company”

RECOMMENDED Where: Writers Theatre, Nichols Theatre, 325 Tudor Court., Glencoe When: through Aug. 7 Tickets: $35-$80 Phone: 847-242-6000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic When Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s “Company” premiered on Broadway in 1970, it was very different from the musicals that had gone before. Neither a “book” musical telling a linear story nor(…)

Review: “Man of La  Mancha”

Review: “Man of La Mancha”

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Where: The Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Dr., Lincolnshire When: through Aug. 14 Tickets: $50-$55 Phone: 847-634-0200 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Like the title character in Miguel de Cervantes’ “Don Quixote,” director Nick Bowling has made a leap of faith in “Man of La Mancha” at The Marriott Theatre, and it pays off(…)

Review:  “Chimerica”

Review: “Chimerica”

RECOMMENDED Where: TimeLine Theatre Company, 615 W. Wellington Ave. When: through July 31 Tickets: $22-$51 Phone: 773-281-8463 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Lucy Kirkwood’s “Chimerica,” a London hit and winner of the 2014 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play, is a not unfamiliar blend of mystery-thriller and newspaper procedural sparked by the iconic photo(…)

Review:  “Bat Boy: The Musical”

Review: “Bat Boy: The Musical”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Griffin Theatre Company at The Den Theatre’s Heath Main Stage, 1329 N. Milwaukee Ave. When: through July 24 Tickets: $39.50 Phone: 866-811-4111 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Judging by the riotous audience response at the performance I attended (not the opening), Griffin Theatre Company’s Chicago premiere of “Bat Boy: The Musical” has(…)

Review: “Death of a  Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody”

Review: “Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody”

RECOMMENDED Where: Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe When: through Aug. 14 Tickets: $35-$80 Phone: 847-242-6000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic The test of a good parody is that it makes me laugh so hard the tears start rolling down my cheeks. “Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody,” which is inaugurating Writers’(…)

Review: “The Ben Hecht Show”

Review: “The Ben Hecht Show”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Grippo Stage Company and Piven Theatre, Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes St., Evanston When: through July 17 Tickets: $35 Phone: 800-838-3006 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Don’t go to “The Ben Hecht Show,” the solo outing written and performed by James Sherman, expecting the famous journalist, novelist, playwright, screenwriter, director, and(…)

Review: “The House That Will Not Stand”

Review: “The House That Will Not Stand”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. When: through July 10 Tickets: $15-$60 Phone: 773-871-3000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Marcus Gardley’s “The House That Will Not Stand” could be a fascinating play about a little-known piece of African American history, but it isn’t. Instead, Gardley combines a convoluted plot, one-dimensional characters,(…)

Review: “The SpongeBob Musical”

Review: “The SpongeBob Musical”

RECOMMENDED Where: Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St. When: through July 10 Tickets: $33-$100 Phone: 800-775-2000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Nothing succeeds like excess could be the guiding principle behind the pre-Broadway world premiere of “The SpongeBob Musical,” the stage version of Nickelodeon’s popular animated television series “SpongeBob SquarePants” that started in 1999 and(…)

Review:  “Hauptmann”

Review: “Hauptmann”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: City Lit Theater, 1020 W, Bryn Mawr Ave. When: through July 10 Tickets: $29 Phone:773-293-2382 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Like his first play, “Never the Sinner,” revived last fall by Victory Gardens Theater, John Logan’s “Hauptmann” is a hybrid of character study and courtroom drama. The original production by Stormfield Theatre(…)

Review: “Constellations”

Review: “Constellations”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf Theatre Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. When: through July 3 Tickets: $20-$89 Phone: 312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic I have a friend who is a very accomplished artist, but sometimes I find the conception behind his art more interesting than the execution. That’s how I felt about British playwright(…)

Review: “Soups, Stews, and Casseroles: 1976”

Review: “Soups, Stews, and Casseroles: 1976”

RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre Owen Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through June 19 Tickets: $10-$40 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Rebecca Gilman has a knack for making political and social problems personal, and in “Soups, Stews, and Casseroles: 1976” the big issue she’s tackling is the corporate takeover of America and its(…)

Review: “One Man, Two  Guvnors”

Review: “One Man, Two Guvnors”

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Where: Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. When: through June 12 Tickets: $45-$65 Phone: 773-753-4472 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic I generally don’t like farce, but Richard Bean’s “One Man, Two Guvnors” is one of the funniest shows I’ve seen at Court Theatre—or anywhere. Director Charles Newell has assembled a cast of Chicago’s(…)

Review: “Tug of War:  Foreign Fire”

Review: “Tug of War: Foreign Fire”

RECOMMENDED Where: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier When: through June 12 Tickets: $85-$100 Phone: 312-595-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic It takes chutzpah to turn Shakespeare into an anti-war advocate and his history plays into a quasi rock epic, but that’s pretty much what Chicago Shakespeare Theater artistic director Barbara Gaines does with “Tug of(…)