Theater Reviews

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(…)

“The Merry Wives of Windsor”

“The Merry Wives of Windsor”

RECOMMENDED Where: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Courtyard Theater, Navy Pier When: through Jan. 19 Tickets: $48-$78 Phone: 312-595-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic I’ve never really been able to warm up to “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” Legend has it that Shakespeare wrote the play to satisfy Queen Elizabeth I’s desire to see more of Sir(…)

“An Inspector Calls”

RECOMMENDED Where: Remy Bumppo at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. When: though Jan. 12 Tickets: $37.50-$52.50 Phone: 773-404-7336 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic You wouldn’t immediately think of “An Inspector Calls” as a holiday show, but J. B. Priestley’s 1945 play is akin to Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” — without the(…)

Review: “Appropriate”

RECOMMENDED Where: Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. When: through Dec. 8 Tickets: $20-$60 Phone: 773-871-3000 Everyone behaves inappropriately in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins “Appropriate” at Victory Gardens Theater, and they also attempt to appropriate evidence of a horrific history for their own ends. The playwright, too, could be accused of appropriation: He’s a young African(…)

Review: “Compulsion”

SLIGHTLY RECOMMENDED Where: Next Theatre Company, Noyse Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes St., Evanston When: Through Nov. 17 Tickets: $30-$40 Phone: 847-475-1875 ext. 2 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Some people are so aggressive, so adversarial and so driven to be their own worst enemy that it’s hard to have much sympathy for them. Such(…)

Review: “Northanger Abbey”

RECOMMENDED Where: Remy Bumppo at the Greenhouse Theater Center, Upstairs Mainstage, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. When: through Nov. 10 Tickets: $37.50-52.50 Phone: 773-404-7336 If you’re looking for light-hearted entertainment with a literary bent, Remy Bumppo’s lively production of “Northanger Abbey” is a good bet. Adapted by Brit Tim Luscombe and directed by Joanie Schultz, Jane(…)

Review: “The North China Lover”

RECOMMENDED Where: Lookingglass Theatre Company, Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. When: through Nov. 10 Tickets: $36-$70 Phone: 312-337-0665  Might as well admit it: I don’t really “get” Marguerite Duras. Maybe that’s why I can appreciate the care and complexity of Lookingglass Theatre Company’s world premiere stage version of “The North China Lover,” but(…)

Review: “Cyrano de Bergerac”

RECOMMENDED Where: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier When: through Nov. 10 Tickets: $48-$78 Phone: 312-595-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic If what you remember most about Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac is the tragic Cyrano-Roxane-Christian love triangle, the current production at Chicago Shakespeare Theater will come as a surprise.  Using a translation/adaptation by Anthony Burgess,(…)

Review: “The Wheel”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. When: through Nov. 10 Tickets: $20-$82 Phone: 1-312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic If you go to Steppenwolf Theatre’s American premiere of “The Wheel” just to see Joan Allen on stage there for the first time in more than two decades, you won’t(…)

Review: “Smokefall”

RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre, Owen Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through Nov. 3 Tickets: $10-$40 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Is life worth living and what makes it so? Those are the metaphysical questions at the core of Noah Haidle’s imaginative, engaging and often very funny “Smokefall” in the Goodman Theatre’s Owen(…)

Review: “The Table”

Review: “The Table”

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Where: Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier When: through Oct. 27 Tickets: $35 Phone: 312-595-5600 ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic The magic of theater is magnificently on display in “The Table,” the World’s Stage Series season opener at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Created by Great Britain’s Blind Summit Theatre, this 70-minute show(…)

Review: “The Old Man and The Old Moon”

RECOMMENDED Where: PinPen Theatre Co. at Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe When: through Nov. 10 Tickets: $35-$70 Phone: 847-242-6000 ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Imaginative storytelling and inventive stagecraft come together in the Midwest premiere of “The Old Man and The Old Moon,” PigPen Theatre Co.’s charmingly homespun play with music at Writers Theatre in(…)

Review: “Signs of Life”

SLIGHTLY RECOMMENDED Where: Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. When: through Oct. 27 Tickets: $45-$65 Phone: 773-871-3000 A musical about the Nazi ghetto of Theresienstadt (Terezin in Czech) is bound to be a tough sell, and unfortunately “Signs of Life” doesn’t pull it off.  Originally commissioned by Virginia S. Criste, who visited to(…)

Review: “Once”

RECOMMENDED Where: Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St. When: through Oct. 27 Tickets: $27-$95 Phone: 800-775-2000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic I was charmed by the 2007 indie film, “Once,” written and directed by John Carney and starring Glen Hansard as an Irish singer-songwriter “stopped up” by a romance-on-the-rocks and Marketa Irglova as the Czech(…)

Review: “The Crownless King”

RECOMMENDED Where: The House Theatre of Chicago at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division St. When: through Oct. 20 Tickets: $20-$40 Phone: 773-769-3832 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic At one point in “The Crownless King,” the second part of The House Theatre of Chicago’s fantasy-adventure trilogy that started last year with “The Iron Stag King,” our royal hero,(…)

Review: “4000 Miles”

RECOMMENDED Where: Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie When: through Oct. 20 Tickets: $25-$75 Phone: 847-673-6300 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic In the program notes for the Chicago premiere of “4000 Miles” at Northlight Theatre, playwright Amy Herzog explains that Vera Joseph, the feisty octogenarian grandmother in whose(…)