Theater Reviews

Review: “Outside Mullingar”

RECOMMENDED Where: Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie When: through April 19 Tickets: $25-$78 Phone: 847-673-6300 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic John Patrick Shanley’s “Outside Mullingar” is set from 2008 to 2013 and premiered on Broadway last year, but the old-fashioned romantic comedy could have been written half-a-century(…)

Review: “Two Trains Running”

Review: “Two Trains Running”

RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre Albert Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through April 19 Tickets: $27-$80 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic When I reviewed Goodman Theatre’s 1993 production of August Wilson’s “Two Trains Running,” I said it was a show you’d be very glad you saw but a little reluctant to recommend wholeheartedly to(…)

Review: “The Other Place”

Review: “The Other Place”

RECOMMENDED Where: Profiles Theatre Main Stage, 4139 N. Broadway When: through April 5 Tickets: $35-$40 Phone: 773-549-1815 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic When we first see Julianna Smithton in the Chicago premiere of “The Other Place” at Profiles Theatre, she’s a stunning 52-year-old blond in a sexy little black suit and spiked heels. A neurologist-turned-pharmaceutical(…)

Review: “First Wives Club: The Musical”

SLIGHTLY RECOMMENDED Where: Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St. When: through March 29 Tickets: $33-$100 Phone: 800-773-2000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic If a few great oldies, an emotional-button-pushing plot, and some solid performances were enough to guarantee success on the Great White Way, the pre-Broadway world premiere of “First Wives Club: The Musical” at(…)

Review: “Dunsinane”

Review: “Dunsinane”

RECOMMENDED Where: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Courtyard Theater, Navy Pier When: through March 22 Tickets: $58-$78 Phone: 312-595-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic One country invades another with the good intention of bringing peace, only to have the conflict spin out of control, leading to the destruction of whole villages, the murder of soldiers and civilians, and(…)

“West Side Story”

RECOMMENDED Where: Drury Lane Theatre, Oakbrook Terrace When: through March 29 Tickets: $45-$60 Phone: 630-530-0111 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic West Side Story” always lingers in my mind as one of the greatest musicals ever. Conceived and originally directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, the modern take on “Romeo and Juliet” by Arthur Laurents (book),(…)

Review: “Samsara”

VERY SLIGHTLY RECOMMENDED Where: Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. When: through March 8 Tickets: $15-$60 Phone: 773-871-3000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic In an interview in the program for the world premiere of “Samsara” at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, playwright Lauren Yee describes herself as someone “who starts the writing process without(…)

Review: “The Rose Tattoo”

Review: “The Rose Tattoo”

RECOMMENDED Where: Shattered Globe at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. When: through Feb. 28 Tickets: $33 Phone: 773-975-8150 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Tennessee Williams was hardly known for happy endings, but with “The Rose Tattoo” he came pretty close. While the semi-operatic, typically symbolic play is drenched in common Williams themes like loss(…)

Review: “White Guy on the Bus”

RECOMMENDED Where: Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie When: through Feb. 28 Tickets: $25-$78 Phone: 847-673-6300 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Think of Bruce Graham’s “White Guy on the Bus” as a parable about racism and revenge rather than as a realistic social drama, and you’re more likely(…)

Review: “Rapture, Blister, Burn”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre Albert Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through Feb. 22 Tickets: $25-$81 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic A preposterous premise and a pat ending are two of the problems with Gina Gionfriddo’s “Rapture, Blister, Burn,” but Goodman Theatre’s Chicago premiere is for the most part more amusing than(…)

Review: “Waiting for Godot”

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Where: Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. When: through Feb. 15 Tickets: $45-$65 Phone: 773-753-4472 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic I went to Court Theatre’s “Waiting for Godot” with a certain amount of skepticism. Having seen Samuel Beckett’s most famous play at least ten times, I wondered how director Ron OJ Parson and(…)

Review: “Lookingglass Alice”

Review: “Lookingglass Alice”

RECOMMENDED Where: Lookingglass Theatre Company, Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. When: through Feb. 22 Tickets: $45-$85 Phone: 312-37-0665 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Since it premiered in 2005, “Lookingglass Alice” has become a mainstay for Lookingglass Theatre Company, both in Chicago, where the current production is the fifth, and on tour. The(…)

Review: “H.M.S. Pinafore”

Review: “H.M.S. Pinafore”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: The Hypocrites, The Den Theatre, 1329-33 N. Milwaukee Ave. When: through Feb. 7 Tickets: $36-$50 Phone: 773-525-5991 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic If you’re a fan of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas, you should go to The Hypocrites’ “H.M.S. Pinafore” with an open mind, a very open mind. If you’re unfamiliar with the(…)

Review: “Airline Highway”

RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. When: through Feb 8 Tickets: $20-$86 Phone: 312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Lisa D’Amour is no Lanford Wilson. Not yet, at least. Although the world premiere of her “Airline Highway” at Steppenwolf Theatre has been compared to the company’s legendary productions of Wilson’s(…)

Review: “The Clean House”

Review: “The Clean House”

RECOMMENDED Where: Remy Bumppo at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. When: through Jan. 11. 2015 Tickets: $42.50-$52.50 Phone: 773-404-7336 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic In the right hands, Sarah Ruhl’s “The Clean House” can be profoundly moving, even transformative. I remember a stunningly staged Goodman Theatre production several years ago that struck(…)

Review: “Pericles”

RECOMMENDED Where: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Courtyard Theater, Navy Pier When: through Jan. 18 Tickets: $48-$78 Phone: 312-595-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic In an interview in the program for Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s “Pericles,” director David H. Bell describes the late play, probably written in 1608 or 1609 with a collaborator and often dubbed the first(…)

Review: “Newsies”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St. When: through Jan. 4, 2015 Tickets: $40-$130 Phone: 800-775-2000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic I’d recommend the touring production of “Newsies” for the choreography, the dancing, and the set. But not much else. Christopher Gattelli won a 2012 Tony Award Best Choreography for the Disney Theatrical(…)

Review: “Burning Bluebeard”

Review: “Burning Bluebeard”

RECOMMENDED Where: The Ruffians at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. When: through Jan. 4 Tickets: $36-$50 Phone: 773-975-8150 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic With all the accolades I heard heaped on The Ruffians’ “Burning Bluebeard” last year, I expected to be blown away by the reprise of the show about the 1903 Iroquois Theatre(…)

Review: “The King and I”

RECOMMENDED Where: The Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Dr., Lincolnshire. IL When: through Jan. 4, 2015 Tickets: $40-$48 Phone: 847-634-0200 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic If you’ve somehow forgotten why Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1951 “The King and I” is a classic, the savvy new production at Marriott Theatre will provide a potent reminder. The masterful musical(…)

Review: “A Q Brothers’ Christmas Carol”

Review: “A Q Brothers’ Christmas Carol”

RECOMMENDED Where: Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier When: through Dec. 31 Tickets: $30-$48 Phone: 312-595-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Every time I see a Q Brothers show, I wish I could have read the script in advance. It’s not that their adaptations of classics are hard to understand. On the(…)