Theater Reviews

Review: “Henry VIII”

RECOMMENDED Where: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Courtyard Theater, Navy Pier When: through June 16 Tickets: $58-$78 Phone: 312-595-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Seeing “Henry VIII” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. According to the press release, this is the first professional Chicago production in the 400 years since the play made its(…)

Review: “Speech & Debate”

RECOMMENDED Where: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Courtyard Theater, Navy Pier When: through June 16 Tickets: $58-$78 Phone: 312-595-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic I didn’t see American Theater Company’s Chicago premiere of Stephen Karam’s “Speech & Debate” in 2008, newly appointed artistic director P. J. Paparelli’s first production for the ensemble, but there seems to be(…)

Review: “The Misanthrope”

RECOMMENDED Where: Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. When: through June 9 Tickets: $45-$65 Phone: 773-753-4472 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic We’re conditioned to believe that classic comedies should have happy endings, but Moliere’s “The Misanthrope” doesn’t fit the mold. At least not on the surface. Rather than interpreting the play to suit our expectations,(…)

Review: “Head of Passes”

RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. When: through June 9 Tickets: $20-$78 Phone: 312-335-1650 Tarrell Alvin McCraney’s “Head of Passes,” which is enjoying a well-acted world premiere at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, explores the power of faith and prayer. Or the pitfalls, depending on the religious convictions, or lack thereof, viewers bring to(…)

Review: Stella & Lou

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie When: through June 9 Tickets: $25-$72 Phone: 847-673-6300 Northlight Theatre had a winner with Bruce Graham’s “The Outgoing Tide,” directed by Artistic Director BJ Jones and starring Steppenwolf Theatre’s John Mahoney, so it’s no surprise the theater would try(…)

Review: “The Pianist of Willesden Lane”

RECOMMENDED Where: The Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St. When: through May 25 Tickets: $45-$49 Phone: 312-988-9000 Hershey Felder has carved out a niche and gained a loyal local following with his dramatized musical biographies of famous composers ranging from Beethoven to Bernstein. Now he’s taking his passion for music and its power to(…)

Review: “Still Alice”

RECOMMENDED Where: Lookingglass Theatre Company, Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. When: through May 19 Tickets: $36-$70 Phone: 312-337-0665 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic If you think a play about a woman with early onset Alzheimer’s disease is going to be sad and depressing, you’d be right. But Lookingglass Theatre Company’s “Still Alice”(…)

Review: “The Birthday Party”

RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. When: through April 28 Tickets: $20-$78 Phone: 312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic The first — and best — production of Harold Pinter’s “The Birthday Party” I ever saw was at Court Theatre in 1978, in what was then the New Theatre in Mandel Hall. It(…)

Review “Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West”

RECOMMENDED Where: TimeLine Theater Company, 615 W. Wellington Ave. When: through April 14 Tickets: $32-$42 Phone: 773-281-8463 ext. 6 The exoticism and eroticism of the Far East as seen through the lens of the West, and the boorish misbehavior of Westerners who have no real understanding of the East are two tropes at the center(…)

Review “Othello: The Remix”

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Where: Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier When: through June 15 Tickets: $20-$35 Phone: 312-595-5600 By Anne Spiselman Theater Critic Even if you find the idea of hip-hop Shakespeare bizarre, you have to hand it to the Chicago-bred Q Brothers — known as GQ and JQ — for the audacity(…)

Goodman Theatre’s sixth Latino Theatre Festival

Goodman Theatre’s sixth Latino Theatre Festival kicked off March 23 to March 31 with the world premiere of “Pedro Paramo,” an exciting collaboration between the fest’s curator Henry Godinez, Chicago actors and musicians (from Sones de Mexico) and Cuba’s Teatro Buendia, which last appeared at the fest in 2010. Inspired by Juan Rulfo’s 1955 magical(…)

Review “Measure for Measure”

RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre, Albert Theatre 170 N Dearborn St. When: through April 14 Tickets: $25-$86 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Director Robert Falls’ production of “Measure for Measure” at Goodman Theatre is likely to create as much controversy as his 2006 “King Lear.” His decision to set the play amid the decay(…)

Review “Proof”

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Where: Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. When: through April 14 Tickets: $45-$65 Phone: 773-753-4472 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Court Theatre’s artistic director Charles Newell loves pushing the envelope. There’s no better proof than his production of “Proof,” David Auburn’s 2001 Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play about a 25 year old(…)

Review “Priscilla Queen of the Desert”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Parkway When: through March 30 Tickets: $28-$85 Phone: 800-775-2000 Everybody loves a show about drag queens that reaffirms family values. It makes them feel safe and promises a sequined spectacle replete with double entendres and sarcasm. “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” delivers. Based on the 1994 film,(…)

Review “An American Story for Actor and Orchestra”

RECOMMENDED Where: Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St. When: through April 14 Tickets: $60-$65 Phone: 312-988-9000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Hershey Felder has carved out a niche crafting portraits of famous dead composers, and Chicago audiences have enjoyed his individualistic interpretations of George Gershwin, Frederic Chopin, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Leonard Bernstein in(…)

Review “Julius Caesar”

Review “Julius Caesar”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Couryard Theater, Navy Pier When: through March 24 Tickets: $58-$78 Phone: 312-595-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Julius Caesar” never has been one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, and Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s latest production, from British director Jonathan Munby, does nothing to change that. My basic problem with the(…)

Review “Sweet Charity”

RECOMMENDED Where: Writers’ Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe When: through March 31 Tickets: $35-$75 Phone: 847-242-6000 Writers’ Theatre in Glencoe has been developing a fine track record for scaling back musicals for its intimate space, but “Sweet Charity” presents challenges that Director Michael Halberstam and his talented ensemble don’t quite overcome. Unlike, say, last season’s(…)

Review “Teddy Ferrara”

VERY SLIGHTLY RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre Owen Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through March 3 Tickets: $14-$45, students $10 Phone: 312-443-3800 The world premiere of Christopher Shinn‘s “Teddy Ferrara” in Goodman Theatre’s Owen Theatre raises some thought-provoking issues, but the poorly focused two-hour-and-40-minute play needs serious pruning. And despite some strong acting, the shortcomings(…)

Review “columbinus”

RECOMMENDED Where: American Theater Company, 1909 W. Byron St. When: through March 10 Tickets: $38-$43 Phone: 773-409-4125 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic American Theater Company’s world premiere of the revised version of “columbinus” is a powerful documentary-style performance piece and a call to step up efforts to stop the horrible violence plaguing our schools and(…)

Review “Disconnect”

SLIGHTLY RECOMMENDED Where: Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. When: through Feb. 24 Tickets: $20-$50 Phone: 773-871-3000 With a story line suited to a television sitcom and dialogue worthy of a Second City skit, Anapama Chandrasekhar’s “Disconnect” isn’t the ideal vehicle for heavy observations about consumerism and cultural differences or for the rather tragic,(…)