Theater Reviews

Review: “Road Show”

RECOMMENDED Where: Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier When: through May 4 Tickets: $48-$68 Phone: 312-595-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s “Road Show” is moving in the right direction. The musical that started as “Wise Guys” (1999), then premiered at the Goodman Theatre as “Bounce” (2003) and(…)

Review: “Passion”

RECOMMENDED Where: Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre at No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood Ave. When: through April 27 Tickets: $34-$39, dinner $25 extra Phone: 800-595-4849 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic   Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s 1994 “Passion” is devilishly difficult, so kudos go to Theo Ubique and director Fred Anzevino for giving it a(…)

Review: “Chapatti”

RECOMMENDED Where: Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie When: through April 19 Tickets: $25-$75 Phone: 847-673-6300 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic   “Chapatti” could easily be performed by two actors with almost nothing in the way of sets, lighting, costumes or music. Christian O’Reilly’s tale of two lonely(…)

Review: “Venus in Fur”

RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre Albert Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through April 13 Tickets: $25-$86 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic   David Ives’ 2010 “Venus in Fur” is good not-so-clean fun. Using the 1869 novella “Venus in Furs” by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (for whom “masochism” is named) as a take-off point, Ives has created(…)

Review: “Water by the Spoonful”

RECOMMENDED WITH RESERVATIONS   Where: Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. When: through April 6 Tickets: $45-$65 Phone: 773-753-4472   By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic In the program notes for Court Theatre’s Chicago premiere of Ouiara Alegria Hudes’ “Water by the Spoonful,” director Henry Godinez says that plays get their message across most potently when(…)

Review “Dessa Rose”

Review “Dessa Rose”

RECOMMENDED Where: Bailiwick Chicago at Victory Gardens Richard Christiansen Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. When: through April 5 Tickets: $40 Phone: 773-871-3000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic “Dessa Rose,” the 2005 musical by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (“Ragtime,” “Once on This Island,” “Seussical!”), is appealing and annoying, and Bailiwick Chicago’s heartfelt production at Victory(…)

Review: “The How and the Why”

RECOMMENDED Where: Timeline Theatre Company, 615 W. Wellington Ave. When: through April 6 Tickets: $35-$48 Phone: 773-281-8463 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Sarah Treem’s “The How and the Why” is a combination of the captivating and the contrived. On the one hand, the writer, whose credits include HBO’s “In Treatment” and Netflix’s “House of Cards,”(…)

“Hedda Gabler”

RECOMMENDED Where: Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe When: through April 6 Tickets: $35-$70 Phone: 847-242-6000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic If you’re used to seeing “Hedda Gabler” with a Victorian aesthetic, reliance on subtext, and plenty of suppressed emotion, the production at Writers Theatre will come as something of a shocker. Sharply directed by(…)

Review: “Into The Woods”

SLIGHTLY RECOMMENDED Where: The Hypocrites at the Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport Ave. When: through March 30 Tickets: $22-$59 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic If you’re only vaguely familiar with Stephen Sondheim (music and lyrics) and James Lapine’s (book) “Into The Woods,” The Hypocrites’ production will serve as a reminder of how brilliantly the 1987(…)

Review: “Ain’t Misbehavin’”

RECOMMENDED Where: Porchlight Music Theatre at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. When: through March 9 Tickets: $43.50 Phone: 773-327-5252 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Porchlight Music Theatre is cannily celebrating Black History Month with Murray Horwitz and Richard Maltby, Jr.’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” the 1978 smash musical revue devoted to Thomas Wright “Fats” Waller, the(…)

Review: “Gypsy”

RECOMMENDED Where: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Courtyard Theater, Navy Pier When: through March 23 Tickets: $45-$88 Phone: 312-595-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic In most of the productions of “Gypsy” I’ve seen, Mama Rose is the iconic stage mother from hell relentlessly pushing her daughters to succeed in show business out of her own failed ambition. But(…)

Review: “The Little Prince”

RECOMMENDED Where: Lookingglass Theatre Company, Water Tower Water Works, 21 N. Michigan Ave. When: through March 16 Tickets: $45-$75 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Ever since it was published in 1943, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s “The Little Prince” (“Le Petit Prince”) has been captivating hearts and minds with its touching story of an aviator who crashes(…)

Review: “Rough Crossing”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: First Folio Theatre, Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 W. 31st St., Oakbrook When: through March 2 Tickets: $26-$37 Phone: 630-986-8067 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic In the right hands, Tom Stoppard’s “Rough Crossing” is hilarious. Based on Ferenc Molnar’s “Play at the Castle,” the delightful, verbally dense farce revels in witty word play(…)

Review: “Luna Gale”

Review: “Luna Gale”

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through Feb. 23 Tickets: $25-$81 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Playwright Rebecca Gilman is a master of audience manipulation. She’s amazingly adept at fleshing out a complicated social problem with well-conceived, often flawed characters, then letting its complexity unfold in such a way(…)

Review: “Tom Jones”

RECOMMENDED Where: Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie When: through Feb. 23 Tickets: $25-$75 Phone: 847-673-6300 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic I don’t know if Artistic Director BJ Jones had escape from brutal weather in mind when he chose “Tom Jones” for Northlight Theatre’s mid-winter production, but the play, adapted by Jon Jory from Henry(…)

Review: “The Phantom of the Opera”

RECOMMENDED Where: Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St. When: through March 2 Tickets: $23-$115 Phone: 800-775-2000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Fans of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera” won’t be disappointed by Cameron Mackintosh’s new touring version at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. Although the economics of touring may have dictated some(…)

Review: “Seven Guitars”

RECOMMENDED Where: Court Theater, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. When: Through Feb. 16 Tickets: $45-$65 Phone: 773-753-4472 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic I haven’t seen August Wilson’s “Seven Guitars” since its world premiere at Goodman Theatre in January 1995, and my opinion of the play hasn’t changed much since then. Court Theatre’s production directed by Ron(…)

Review: “Our Country’s Good”

Review: “Our Country’s Good”

RECOMMENDED Where: Shattered Globe Theatre at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. When: through Feb. 22 Tickets: $30 Phone: 773-975-8150 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic In his program notes for Shattered Globe Theatre’s commendable production of “Our Country’s Good,” director Roger Smart calls Timberlake Wertenbaker’s 1988 Olivier award-winning play, adapted from Thomas Keneally’s novel The(…)

Review: “Port Authority”

RECOMMENDED Where: Writers Theatre, Books on Vernon, 664 Vernon Ave., Glencoe When: through Feb. 16 Tickets: $35-$70 Phone: 847-242-6000 Conor McPherson is a superb storyteller, as anyone who has seen “The Weir,” “Dublin Carol,” “Shining City” or “The Seafarer” knows. Like his other early plays, “Port Authority,” first produced in 2001, shows off his mastery(…)

Review: “Tribes”

RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. When: through Feb. 9 Tickets: $20-$82 Phone: 312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Nina Raine’s “Tribes” is a very irritating dysfunctional family drama. But in a good way. Mostly. The provocative play is about extremely intelligent British intellectuals who are obsessed with language yet(…)