Theater Reviews

Review: “Butler”

Review: “Butler”

RECOMMENDED Where: Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie When: through April 17 Tickets: $25-$79 Phone: 847-673-6300 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic “Butler” is set in the commander’s office at Fort Monroe, Virginia, in the first month of the Civil War, but Richard Strand’s play has the same appeal(…)

Review: “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”

Review: “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”

RECOMMENDED Where: Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. When: through April 10 Tickets: $45-$65 Phone: 773-753-4472 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Of all the production I’ve seen of “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” a play so personal Eugene O’Neill didn’t want it ever to be produced (and stipulated it shouldn’t be published until 25 years(…)

Review: “The  Matchmaker”

Review: “The Matchmaker”

RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre, Albert Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through April 10 Tickets: $25-$82 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Don’t go to “The Matchmaker” expecting “Hello, Dolly!,” the beloved 1964 musical based on Thornton Wilder’s 1954 play. You’ll miss the songs and be less likely to appreciate the wit and wisdom(…)

Review: “Othello”

Review: “Othello”

RECOMMENDED Where: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier When: through April 10 Tickets: $48-$88 Phone: 312-595-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Rarely has a modern-dress production done more to clarify the relevance of one of Shakespeare’s plays than U.K. Director Jonathan Munby’s staging of “Othello” for Chicago Shakespeare Theater as part of the year-long Shakespeare 400(…)

Review: “Sunset Baby”

Review: “Sunset Baby”

RECOMMENDED Where: TimeLine Theatre Company, 615 W. Wellington Ave. When: through Apr. 10 Tickets: $38-$51 Phone: 773-281-8463 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Rage and the need for retribution drive Nina, the central character in Dominique Morisseau’s “Sunset Baby,” and in AnJi White’s stunning, unstinting, unsentimental performance, her determination comes through loud and clear. But White(…)

Review: “Cocked”

Review: “Cocked”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. When: through March 13 Tickets: $15-$60 Phone: 773-871-3000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic I hated “The Honeymooners.” While lots of people thought the popular 1950s television show was hilarious, I found Ralph Kramden, the bus driver played by Jackie Gleason, so loud and obnoxious,(…)

Review: “2666”

Review: “2666”

RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre, Owen Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through March 20 Tickets: $20-$45 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic The Goodman Theatre world premiere of “2666,” the late Chilean poet Roberto Bolaño’s massive 900-page novel adapted and directed for the stage by Robert Falls and Seth Bockley, is one of those(…)

Review: “Bye Bye Birdie”

Review: “Bye Bye Birdie”

RECOMMENDED Where: Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace When: through March 13 Tickets: $45-$60 Phone: 630-530-0111 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic I haven’t seen “Bye Bye Birdie” in many years and could easily go without seeing it again for many more. First produced on Broadway in 1960, the Michael Stewart (book), Charles Strouse(…)

Review: “If/Then”

Review: “If/Then”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St. When: through March 6 Tickets: $25-$98 Phone: 800-775-2000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic The national tour of the Broadway musical “If/Then,” at the Oriental Theatre for a brief run, boasts an interesting concept and strong credentials, but it’s disappointing for a variety of reasons. The show(…)

Review: “The Mutilated”

Review: “The Mutilated”

RECOMMENDED Where: A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells St. When: through March 13 Tickets: $30-$35 Phone: 312-943-8722 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic You can be forgiven if you never heard of Tenessee Williams’ “The Mutilated,” much less seen it. Premiering in 1966 with “The Gnädiges Fräulein” on a double bill dubbed “Slapstick Tragedy,” it(…)

Review: “Far From Heaven”

Review: “Far From Heaven”

RECOMMENDED Where: Porchlight Music Theatre at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. When: through March 13 Tickets: $39-$48 Phone: 773-327-5252 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Turning movies into stage musicals is a popular pastime, but it really serves a purpose only if the result improves on—or at least illuminates—the original. Alas, Scott Frankel (music) and(…)

Review: “Mothers and Sons”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie When: through Feb. 27 Tickets: $25-$79 Phone: 847-673-6300 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic In Terrence McNally’s 2014 “Mothers and Sons,” a bitter mother makes a surprise visit to the Central Park West apartment of her dead son’s former partner nearly a quarter of a century after(…)

Review: “Cabaret”

Review: “Cabaret”

RECOMMENDED Where: The PrivateBank Theatre, 18 W. Monroe When: through Feb. 21 Tickets: $25-$108 Phone: 800-775-2000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic If you didn’t see director Sam Mendes and co-director/choreographer Rob Marshall’s revisionist revival of “Cabaret” for Roundabout Theatre Company in 1998 (which built on Mendes’ 1993 London revival), or the revival of the revival(…)

Review: “The Duchess of Malfi”

Review: “The Duchess of Malfi”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W. Cortland Ave. When: through Feb. 20 Tickets: $20-$25 (2-for-1 on Fridays) Phone: 773-384-0494 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic I’m rather ashamed to say that “The Duchess of Malfi” is the first show I’ve seen at Trap Door Theatre, even though the company has been in Chicago for(…)

Review: “Another Word for Beauty”

Review: “Another Word for Beauty”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre, Albert Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through Feb. 21 Tickets: $25-$75 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic If you like documentary-style plays with lots of characters, a humanitarian message, and plenty of pageantry, the world premiere of José Rivera’s “Another Word for Beauty” at Goodman Theatre may be(…)

Review: “Beautiful—The Carole King Musical”

Review: “Beautiful—The Carole King Musical”

RECOMMENDED Where: Oriental Theatre. 24 W. Randolph St. When: through Feb. 21, 2016 Tickets: $30-$140 Phone: 800-775-2000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Unlike the many jukebox musicals that highlight the drive and inner demons that make their subjects different from the rest of us, “Beautiful—The Carole King Musical” presents the early career of one of(…)

Review: “London Wall”

Review: “London Wall”

RECOMMENDED Where: Griffin Theatre Company at The Den Theatre (upstairs), 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. When: through Feb. 14 Tickets: $36 Phone: 866-811-4111 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Though his name barely rings a bell today, John Van Druten (“Bell, Book and Candle,” “I Am a Camera”) was one of the most successful English playwrights of(…)

Review: “Satchmo at the Waldorf”

RECOMMENDED Where: Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. When: through Feb. 14 Tickets: $45-$65 Phone: 773-753-4472 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic “I am here is the cause of happiness” was a favorite saying of the late, great jazz trumpeter, singer, and composer Louis Armstrong, but the man who emerges in the Midwest premiere of Terry(…)

Review: “No Wake”

Review: “No Wake”

RECOMMENDED Where: Route 66 Theatre Company at The Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. When: through Feb. 7 Tickets: $35 Phone: 773-404-7336 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic William Donnelly’s “No Wake” tackles an excruciatingly painful subject in an unexpected way, and the 80-minute play’s strengths also are in some ways its weaknesses. Route 66(…)

Review: “Marjorie Prime”

Review: “Marjorie Prime”

RECOMMENDED Where: Writers Theatre at Books on Vernon, 664 Vernon Ave., Glencoe When: through Mar. 13, 2016 Tickets: $35-$70 Phone: 847-242-6000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Jordan Harrison’s “Marjorie Prime,”a 2015 Pulitzer Prize finalist, starts out as a deceptively genial comedy about aging and memory loss but ends up as a disturbing, depressing commentary on(…)