Theater Reviews

Review: “The Ben Hecht Show”

Review: “The Ben Hecht Show”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Grippo Stage Company and Piven Theatre, Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes St., Evanston When: through July 17 Tickets: $35 Phone: 800-838-3006 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Don’t go to “The Ben Hecht Show,” the solo outing written and performed by James Sherman, expecting the famous journalist, novelist, playwright, screenwriter, director, and(…)

Review: “The House That Will Not Stand”

Review: “The House That Will Not Stand”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. When: through July 10 Tickets: $15-$60 Phone: 773-871-3000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Marcus Gardley’s “The House That Will Not Stand” could be a fascinating play about a little-known piece of African American history, but it isn’t. Instead, Gardley combines a convoluted plot, one-dimensional characters,(…)

Review: “The SpongeBob Musical”

Review: “The SpongeBob Musical”

RECOMMENDED Where: Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St. When: through July 10 Tickets: $33-$100 Phone: 800-775-2000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Nothing succeeds like excess could be the guiding principle behind the pre-Broadway world premiere of “The SpongeBob Musical,” the stage version of Nickelodeon’s popular animated television series “SpongeBob SquarePants” that started in 1999 and(…)

Review:  “Hauptmann”

Review: “Hauptmann”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: City Lit Theater, 1020 W, Bryn Mawr Ave. When: through July 10 Tickets: $29 Phone:773-293-2382 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Like his first play, “Never the Sinner,” revived last fall by Victory Gardens Theater, John Logan’s “Hauptmann” is a hybrid of character study and courtroom drama. The original production by Stormfield Theatre(…)

Review: “Constellations”

Review: “Constellations”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf Theatre Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. When: through July 3 Tickets: $20-$89 Phone: 312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic I have a friend who is a very accomplished artist, but sometimes I find the conception behind his art more interesting than the execution. That’s how I felt about British playwright(…)

Review: “Soups, Stews, and Casseroles: 1976”

Review: “Soups, Stews, and Casseroles: 1976”

RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre Owen Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through June 19 Tickets: $10-$40 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Rebecca Gilman has a knack for making political and social problems personal, and in “Soups, Stews, and Casseroles: 1976” the big issue she’s tackling is the corporate takeover of America and its(…)

Review: “One Man, Two  Guvnors”

Review: “One Man, Two Guvnors”

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Where: Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. When: through June 12 Tickets: $45-$65 Phone: 773-753-4472 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic I generally don’t like farce, but Richard Bean’s “One Man, Two Guvnors” is one of the funniest shows I’ve seen at Court Theatre—or anywhere. Director Charles Newell has assembled a cast of Chicago’s(…)

Review: “Tug of War:  Foreign Fire”

Review: “Tug of War: Foreign Fire”

RECOMMENDED Where: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier When: through June 12 Tickets: $85-$100 Phone: 312-595-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic It takes chutzpah to turn Shakespeare into an anti-war advocate and his history plays into a quasi rock epic, but that’s pretty much what Chicago Shakespeare Theater artistic director Barbara Gaines does with “Tug of(…)

Review: “The Producers”

Review: “The Producers”

RECOMMENDED Where: Mercury Theater Chicago, 3745 N. Southport Ave. When: through June 26 Tickets:$30-$65 Phone: 773-325-1700 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Mel Brooks’ “The Producers” is a big musical that depends on a certain amount of spectacle, so there’s a risk involved in tailoring it to a relatively small stage like that at the Mercury(…)

Review: “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window”

Review: “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window”

RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre Albert Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through June 5 Tickets: $25-$75 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic If Lorraine Hansberry hadn’t died of cancer at age 34 a few months after the 1964 Broadway debut of “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window,” she might have revised the play, trimming(…)

Review: “The King and I”

Review: “The King and I”

RECOMMENDED Where: Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Dr. When: Through May 22 Tickets: $29-$199 Phone: 312-827-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic I expected the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I” to be the best I’d ever seen. It wasn’t. While the fourth installment of the Lyric’s American(…)

Review: “Hazel, A Musical Maid in America”

Review: “Hazel, A Musical Maid in America”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace When: through May 29 Tickets: $45-$60 Phone: 630-530-0111 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Everybody loves somebody with a can-do spirit. And that’s exactly the image Klea Blackhurst projects as the title character in the world premiere of “Hazel, A Musical Maid in America” at(…)

Review: “Mary Page Marlowe”

Review: “Mary Page Marlowe”

RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. When: through June 5 Tickets: $20-$89 Phone: 312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic In the first scene of the world premiere of Tracy Letts’ “Mary Page Marlowe” at Steppenwolf Theatre, the title character , age 40 (Rebecca Spence), sits in a booth at a diner explaining to(…)

Review: “The Life of Galileo”

Review: “The Life of Galileo”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Remy Bumppo Theatre Company at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. When: through May 1 Tickets: $42.50-$52.50 Phone: 773-404-7336 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Often called “the father of science,” Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was a brilliant Renaissance astronomer, physicist, mathematician, engineer, inventor and thinker. In Remy Bumppo’s production of Bertolt(…)

Review: “The Flick”

Review: “The Flick”

RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. When: through May 8 Tickets: $20-$89 Phone: 312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Annie Baker’s 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Flick” is about nothing and everything. Simultaneously. Set in a rundown, single-screen movie theater in Worcester County, Massachusetts in the present, the play brings together three underpaid,(…)

Review: “Hillary and Clinton”

Review: “Hillary and Clinton”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. When: through May 1 Tickets: $15-$60 Phone: 773-871-3000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Lucas Hnath’s “Hillary and Clinton,” which is having its world premiere at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, asks us to imagine an alternate universe—one of an infinite number of universes, some of(…)

Review: “Carlyle”

RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre Owen Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through May 1 Tickets: $10-$40 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Political parlor games seem to be proliferating in an election season where reality often is stranger than fiction. While “Hillary and Clinton” at Victory Gardens Theater postulates an alternate universe populated by(…)

Review: “Richard III”

Review: “Richard III”

RECOMMENDED Where: The Gift Theatre at Steppenwolf Garage, 1624 N. Halsted St. When: through May 1 Tickets: $30-$40 Phone: 312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic You’ve never seen a Richard III like Michael Patrick Thornton. The actor, who uses a wheelchair because of two spinal strokes in 2003, not only turns his disability into a(…)

Review: “Arcadia”

Review: “Arcadia”

RECOMMENDED Where: Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe When: through May 1 Tickets: $35-$80 Phone: 847-242-6000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic A friend who has never seen Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia” asked me what it is about and, although the 1993 play is one of my favorites, I had a hard time explaining. Besides setting the(…)