Theater Reviews

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,(…)

Review “The Whipping Man”

RECOMMENDED Where: Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie When: through Feb. 24 Tickets: $25-$72 Phone: 847-673-6300 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic The Whipping Man” at Northlight Theatre tackles such an intriguing and unfamiliar subject that it’s relatively easy to forgive a few shortcomings. Ignoring the old injunction to(…)

Review “The Aliens”

SLIGHTLY RECOMMENDED Where: A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells St. When: through March 3 Tickets: $25-$30 Phone: 312-943-8722 If you think of Annie Baker’s “The Aliens” as a trio of interconnected character studies, the two-hour-long Chicago premiere at A Red Orchid Theatre may be tolerable. But if you’re expecting a play with anything resembling(…)

Review “Other Desert Cities”

RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre Albert Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through Feb. 17 Tickets: $25-$86 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Family secrets are at the core of “Other Desert Cities,” but what drives Jon Robin Baitz’s old-fashioned well-made play are the political and personal conflicts among the characters and a potent moral(…)

Review “A Grand Night for Singing”

RECOMMENDED Where: Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport Ave. When: through March 10 Tickets: $25-$59 Phone: 773-325-1700 The Mercury Theater is kicking off its first subscription season of musicals with “A Grand Night for Singing,” the Rodgers and Hammerstein revue that made its Broadway debut in 1993. Directed and choreographed by Kevin Bellie, this is a(…)

Review “Skylight”

RECOMMENDED Where: Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. When: through Feb. 10 Tickets: $45-$65 Phone: 773-753-4472 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic The last scene of David Hare’s “Skylight” at Court Theatre is so touchingly funny, sweet and sad that it would be worth waiting for even if the tumultuous two hour-plus encounter between ex-lovers beforehand(…)

Review “The Motherf**ker with the Hat”

RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf Theatre Company Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. When: through March 3 Tickets: $20-$86 Phone: 312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic If you’re captivated by damaged, self-deluded, dysfunctional urban characters, then Stephen Adly Guirgis’ “The Motherfu**ker with the Hat” is one for you. Savvily staged for Steppenwolf Theatre by ensemble member Anna(…)

Review “The Book of Mormon”

RECOMMENDED Where: Bank of America Theatre, 18 W. Monroe St. When: through Sept. 8 Tickets: $45-$115 Phone: 800-775-2000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic I’ve been trying to figure out what has made “The Book of Mormon” such a phenomenal hit. Sure, the multiple-award-winning musical with book, music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and(…)

Review “The School for Lies”

RECOMMENDED Where: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Courtyard Theater, Navy Pier When: through Jan. 20 Tickets: $58-$78 Phone: 312-595-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Some adaptations of famous plays are faithful and others are free, but David Ives’ “The School for Lies” goes several fathoms beyond any version of Molière’s “The Misanthrope” you’ll ever see. Watching Director(…)

Review “The Letters”

RECOMMENDED Where: Writers’ Theatre, Books on Vernon, 664 Vernon Ave., Glencoe When: through March 3 Tickets: $35-$70 Phone: 847-242-6000 Now that Writers’ Theatre is proposing to build a shiny new theater in Glencoe, I think Artistic Director Michael Halberstam and his cohorts deserve a special shout out for their consistently canny programming in the tiny(…)

Review “Singin’ In The Rain”

RECOMMENDED Where: Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace When: through Jan. 13 Tickets: $35-$46 Phone: 630-530-0111 There are several reasons to make the trip to Oakbrook to see Drury Lane Theatre’s production of “Singin’ In The Rain,” the 1983 musical based on the beloved 1952 film, but the top one is the performance(…)

Review “War Horse”

RECOMMENDED Where: Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St. When: through Jan. 5 Tickets: $42-$172 Phone: 800-775-2000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Just in case you haven’t heard, “War Horse” is all about the horses. Mainly Joey, a gorgeous chestnut half-thoroughbred who’s incredibly expressive from each twitch of his ears to every flick of his(…)

Review “It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play”

RECOMMENDED Where: American Theater Company, 1909 W. Byron St. When: through Dec. 30 Tickets: $35-$40 Phone: 773-409-4125 There are three main reasons to catch American Theater Company’s “It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play,” which is competing for your attention, as it has in years past, with American Blues Theatre’s delightful radio adaptation of the(…)

Review “The Nutcracker”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: The House Theatre of Chicago at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division St. When: through Dec. 30 Tickets: $25-$35 Phone: 773-769-3832 Anyone who is familiar with The House Theatre of Chicago won’t be surprised to learn that the iconoclastic company’s version of “The Nutcracker” is nothing like the ballet. Based on E.T.A. Hoffmann‘s(…)

Review “A Christmas Carol”

RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearnborn St. When: through Dec. 29 Tickets: $25-$82 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic In honor of the 35th anniversary of Goodman Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol,” I looked up my Hyde Park Herald review of the first production in 1978. Boy, was I a grinch (or is that(…)

Review “Jeff Garlin: ‘Closer Than I Appear’”

RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. When: through Dec. 16 Tickets: $25 Phone: 312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Reviewing a Jeff Garlin show is almost an exercise in futility, because it changes every night. The Second City alum, co-star of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and frequent voice-over artist (in Pixar films)(…)

Review “Failure: A Love Story”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Victory Gardens Richard Christiansen Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave., upstairs When: through Dec. 30 Tickets: $35-$50 Phone: 773-871-3000 ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic If Victory Gardens Theater were presenting “Failure: A Love Story” as a work-in-progress to supplement its regular reason, I’d be perfectly comfortable with the decision. Staged by director Seth Bockley(…)

Review “The Odd Couple”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie When: through Dec. 16 Tickets: $25-$74 Phone: 847-673-6300 What do you do when you plan a whole production around a pair of stars and one of them has to pull out shortly before the opening? That was the panic-inducing(…)

Review “Wasteland”

RECOMMENDED Where: TimeLine Theatre Company, 615 W. Wellington Ave. When: through Dec. 30 Tickets: $32-$42 Phone: 773-281-8463 ext. 6 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Prisoners of war from different backgrounds bonding in times of duress is an old theatrical theme, but playwright-actor-director-teacher Susan Felder gives it an interesting new spin in “Wasteland.” And the world(…)