Theater Reviews

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(…)

Review: “Domesticated”

Review: “Domesticated”

RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. When: through Feb. 7 Tickets: $20-$89 Phone: 312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Few playwrights are better at dissecting the dynamics of humans behaving badly than Bruce Norris (“Clybourne Park,” “The Pain and the Itch,” etc.), and in the Chicago premiere of “Domesticated” at(…)

Louis Armstrong Festival brings together local organizations to honor jazz legends

By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Louis Armstrong is coming back to Chicago’s South Side. Court Theatre is teaming up with other local arts organizations for the multidisciplinary Louis Armstrong Festival honoring the legendary jazz trumpeter, singer, and composer who first moved here from New Orleans as a young man in 1922 to join Joe “King”(…)

Review:  “Treasure Island”

Review: “Treasure Island”

RECOMMENDED Where: Lookingglass Theatre Company, Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. When: through Jan. 31, 2016 Tickets: $5-$85 Phone: 312-337-0665 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic The “Pirates of the Caribbean” film franchise has nothing on “Treasure Island,” Robert Louis Stevenson’s iconic story of “buccaneers and buried gold” originally serialized in a children’s magazine(…)

Review: “Gotta Dance”

Review: “Gotta Dance”

RECOMMENDED Where: Bank of America Theatre, 18 W. Monroe St. When: through Jan. 17, 2016 Tickets: $38-$105 Phone: 800-775-2000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic If you’re looking for a feel-good musical that shines a spotlight on talented veteran performers, boasts a high-profile creative team, and underscores the message that you’re only as old as you(…)

Louis Armstrong Festival brings together local organizations to honor jazz legend

by Anne Spiselman Louis Armstrong is coming back to Chicago’s South Side. Court Theatre is teaming up with other local arts organizations for the multidisciplinary Louis Armstrong Festival honoring the legendary jazz trumpeter, singer, and composer who first moved here from New Orleans as a young man in 1922 to join Joe “King” Oliver’s Creole(…)

Review: “The Lion King”

Review: “The Lion King”

RECOMMENDED Where: Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St. When: through Jan. 17, 2016 Tickets: $35-$180 Phone: 800-775-2000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Hard to believe “The Lion King” has been around for eighteen years. It may not feature the electronic wizardry of more recent shows (thank goodness), but the touring version that bowed in(…)

Review: “Baritones  Unbound”

Review: “Baritones Unbound”

RECOMMENDED Where: Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St. When: through Jan. 3, 2016 Tickets: $60 Phone: 312-988-9000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Baritones don’t get no respect—or at least not enough, which is a shame, because they are the uncommon voice of the common man. That’s the premise driving “Baritones Unbound,” a musical trek(…)

Review: “Fallen Angels”

Review: “Fallen Angels”

RECOMMENDED Where: Remy Bumppo Theater Company, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. When: through Jan. 10 Tickets: $42.50 – $52.50 Phone: 773-404-7336 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Noël Coward’s “Fallen Angels” comes across as a witty farce-satirizing holdover Victorian sexual mores, but it’s really something more. First produced in 1925, when the author was in his mid-twenties,(…)

“The Heir Apparent” and “A Q Brothers’ Christmas Carol”

“The Heir Apparent” and “A Q Brothers’ Christmas Carol”

RECOMMENDED “The Heir Apparent” Where: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Courtyard Theater, Navy Pier When: through Jan. 17, 2016 Tickets: $48-$88 Phone: 312-595-5600 “A Q Brothers’ Christmas Carol” Where: Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare, Navy Pier When: through Jan. 3, 2016 Tickets:$30-$48 Phone: 312-595-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic The two plays at Chicago Shakespeare Theater this holiday(…)

Review: “You Can’t Take It With You”

Review: “You Can’t Take It With You”

RECOMMENDED Where: Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie When: through Dec. 13 Tickets: $25-$79 Phone: 847-673-6300 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic When George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s “You Can’t Take It With You” premiered on Broadway in December 1936, it was just what people needed. The country(…)

Review: “White Christmas”

Review: “White Christmas”

RECOMMENDED Where: Drury Lane Theatre 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace When: through Jan, 3, 2016 Tickets: $50 – $65 Phone: 630-530-0111 “White Christmas” is an ideal musical for the holiday season. Based on the 1954 film starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Allen, the show, which started in San Francisco in 2004 and(…)

Review: “Pilgrim’s Progress”

Review: “Pilgrim’s Progress”

RECOMMENDED Where: A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells St. When: through Dec. 13 Tickets: $30-$35 Phone: 312-943-8722 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Brett Neveu’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” takes its title from John Bunyan’s 17th-century The Pilgrim’s Progress, a Christian allegory about man’s spiritual journey that is considered one of the most important religious works ever written.(…)

Review: “Never the Sinner”

Review: “Never the Sinner”

RECOMMENDED Where: Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. When: through Dec. 6 Tickets: $15-$60 Phone: 773-871-3000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic It isn’t easy to write a gripping courtroom drama when everyone knows the defendants are guilty and how the trial turns out. But that’s just what John Logan did with “Never the Sinner,”(…)

Review: “Agamemnon”

Review: “Agamemnon”

RECOMMENDED Where: Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. When: through Dec. 6 Tickets: $45-$65 Phone: 773-753-4472 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic According to an interview with Nicholas Rudall in the program for the world premiere of his new translation of Aeschylus’ “Agamemnon” at Court Theatre, the chorus in the play, written around 458 B.C., originally(…)

Review: “Good for Otto”

Review: “Good for Otto”

RECOMMENDED Where: The Gift Theatre, 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave. When: through Nov. 22, Dec. 3-20, Jan.14-Feb. 7 Tickets: $20-$35 Phone: 773-283-7071 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic If David Rabe weren’t a renowned playwright responsible for works such as “The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel,” “Sticks and Bones,” “Streamers,” and “Hurlyburly,” I doubt his “Good for(…)

Review: “Chapter Two”

RECOMMENDED Where: Windy City Playhouse, 3014 W. Irving Park Rd. When: through Dec. 20 Tickets: $25-$45 Phone: 773-891-8985 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Write about what you know is the advice often given to would-be authors, and playwright Neil Simon has proven better than most how autobiography—or semi-autobiography—can be the key to success. First produced(…)

Review: “Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin”

Review: “Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin”

RECOMMENDED Where: Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St. When: through Dec. 6 Tickets: $60 Phone: 312-988-9000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Hershey Felder has developed a sure-fire formula for bringing dead composers to life. Or almost. Whether it’s long-gone masters such as Beethoven and Chopin or 20th-century icons like George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein,(…)

Review: “East of Eden”

Review: “East of Eden”

RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf Theatre Company, 1650 N. Halsted St. When: through Nov. 15 Tickets: $20-$89 Phone: 312-335-1650 When Steppenwolf Theatre announced that it was kicking off its fortieth season with the world premiere of Frank Galati’s adaptation of John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden” directed by ensemble co-founder Terry Kinney, excitement ran high. Even theatergoers who(…)

Review: “Ride the Cyclone”

Review: “Ride the Cyclone”

RECOMMENDED Where: Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier When: through Nov. 15 Tickets: $30-$48 Phone: 312-595-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic In an interview in the program for “Ride the Cyclone,” Jacob Richmond, who co-authored the musical with Brooke Maxwell, says the inspiration was a desire to humanize the idea of a mass tragedy(…)