Theater Reviews

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(…)

Review: “Pullman Porter Blues”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: though Oct. 20 Tickets: $25-$75 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic I had high hopes for the Chicago premiere of “Pullman Porter Blues” at Goodman Theatre, but Cheryl L. West’s play with music disappoints in so many ways, it’s hard to know where to(…)

Review: “A Raisin in the Sun”

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Where: TimeLine Theatre Company, 615 W. Wellington Ave. When: through Nov. 17 Tickets: $35-$48 Phone: 773-281-8463, ext. 6 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic TimeLine Theatre Company’s production of Lorraine Hansberry’s seminal “A Raisin in the Sun” could be half as good as it is and still have a profound impact. Director Ron OJ(…)

Review: “The Mountaintop”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. When: through Oct. 13 Tickets: $45-$65 Phone: 773-753-4472 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic The hype for the 2010 Laurence Olivier Award-winning “The Mountaintop” emphasizes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s humanity and human frailty, but don’t be fooled: Katori Hall’s play ultimately is an exercise in hagiography.(…)

Review: “The Color Purple”

RECOMMENDED Where: The Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport Ave. When: through Oct. 27 Tickets: $22-$59 Phone: 773-325-1700 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic After the opening number of the new production of “The Color Purple” at the Mercury Theater, I was seriously worried. It had all the earmarks of a high school or college show. Bob(…)

Review: “Next to Normal”

RECOMMENDED Where: Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace When: through Oct. 6 Tickets: $35-$49 (lunch and dinner packages $50-$74) Phone: 630-530-0111 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic When the touring production of the Broadway hit, “Next to Normal,” came to downtown Chicago in 2011, I found Brian Yorkey (book and lyrics) and Tom Kitt’s(…)

Review: “Slowgirl”

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf Theatre Company Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. When: through Sept. 1 Tickets: $20-$78 Phone: 312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s production of Greg Pierce’s “Slowgirl” shows just how good a quiet little two-character play can be in the hands of the right director and actors. Sensitively directed(…)

Review: “Simpatico”

RECOMMENDED Where: A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells St. When: through September 15 Tickets: $30-$40 Phone: 312-943-8722 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Of all the familiar Sam Shepard themes that resonate in his 1994 “Simpatico,” none is more potent than the inevitability that a past filled with secrets will poison the present, resulting in(…)

Review: “Belleville”

RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf Theatre Company Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. When: through Aug. 25 Tickets: $20-$78 Phone: 312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic The American couple at the center of Amy Herzog’s “Belleville” is seriously screwed up, but nothing in the play or Steppenwolf Theatre’s production, ably directed by Anne Kauffman and expertly acted,(…)

Review: “The Comedy of Errors”

RECOMMENDED Where: Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks, various parks When: through Aug. 25 Tickets: free, no tickets required Phone: 312-595-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Chicago Shakespeare Theater kicked off its second summer of Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks on Sunday, July 28, at Eckhart Park in the Noble Square neighborhood, and a rollicking good(…)

Review: “Mojada”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. When: through Aug. 11 Tickets: $20-$60 Phone: 773-871-3000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic The interview with Luis Alfaro in the program for Victory Gardens Theater’s world premiere of his “Mojada” (“wetback”) provides some clues as to why his adaptation of the Medea legend just doesn’t(…)

Review: Review: “The Jungle Book”

RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through Aug. 18 Tickets: $27-$125 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Centering a whole show around a child can be a recipe for disaster, especially if it’s a coming-of-age story requiring the kid to grow and develop emotionally. But when you’re adapting the beloved 1967(…)

Review: “Big Lake Big City”

RECOMMENDED Where: Lookingglass Theatre Company, Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave, When: through Aug. 25 Tickets: $36-$79 Phone: 312-337-0665 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic The world premiere of “Big Lake Big City” opened at Lookingglass Theatre to great expectations. Local playwright Keith Huff catapulted to fame when his gritty two-character Chicago cop drama,(…)

Review: Tartuffe

RECOMMENDED Where: Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. When: through July 21 Tickets: $45-$65 Phone: 773-753-4472 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic At its best, Court Theatre’s “Tartuffe,” part of a two-play Molière festival that started with “The Misanthrope,” effectively pairs the wit of Richard Wilbur’s translation with canny physical comedy to illuminate the double-pronged satire(…)

Review: “The Liar”

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Where: Writers Theatre, Tudor Court Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe When: through July 28 Tickets: $35-$70 Phone: 847-242-6000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic The production of Pierre Corneille’s “The Liar” at Writers’ Theatre contains the funniest scene I’ve seen this season. It’s a duel between Dorante, the ingratiating pathological liar of the title,(…)

Review: “Yellow Moon”

RECOMMENDED Where: Writers Theatre, Books on Vernon, 664 Vernon Ave., Glencoe When: through Aug 4 Tickets: $35-$60 Phone: 847-242-6000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic David Greig’s “Yellow Moon” offers all the pleasures of a good story told well. And the Writers’ Theatre production, deftly tucked into the postage-stamp of a theater at the back of(…)

Review: “A Cole Porter Songbook”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Theo Ubique, No Exit Café, 6970 N. Glenwood Ave. When: through September 1st Tickets: $29-$59 (some prices include dinner) Phone: 800-595-4849 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Theo Ubique has carved out a niche with cabaret-style revues exploring the repertoire of individual songwriters for the theater ranging from Harold Arlen to Kurt Weill,(…)

Review: “Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story”

SLIGHTLY RECOMMENDED Where: Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St. When: through June 30 Tickets: $22-$85 Phone: 800-775-2000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic I’ve seen the 1989 juke box musical “Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story” several times, each time anticipating a lively nostalgia-filled evening showcasing many of the ground-breaking rock ’n’ roller’s terrific songs.(…)

Review: “Inner Voices”

Review: “Inner Voices”

RECOMMENDED Where: World’s Stage Series at Chicago Shakespeare Theater Courtyard Theater, Navy Pier When: through June 29 Tickets: $50-$70 Phone: 312-595-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Chicago Shakespeare Theater is celebrating the year of Italian culture in America by teaming up with the Italian Ministry of Cultural Affairs and the Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago(…)