Theater Reviews

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(…)

Review: “Danny Casolaro Died for You”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: TimeLine Theatre Company, 615 W. Wellington Ave. When: through Dec. 21 Tickets: $39-$52 Phone: 773-281-8463 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Two things really bother me about “Danny Casolaro Died for You,” which is having its Chicago premiere (and second production so far) directed by Nick Bowling at TimeLine Theatre Company. The first(…)

Review: “Always … Patsy Cline”

SLIGHTLY RECOMMENDED Where: Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre at No Exit Cafe, 690 N. Glenwood Ave. When: through January 31 2015 Tickets: $29-$34 Phone: 800-595-4849 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Ted Swindley’s “Always … Patsy Cline” takes its title from the “love always” sign-off the country singer used in her letters to uber-fan Louise Seger, but there’s little(…)

Review: “The Mousetrap”

RECOMMENDED Where: Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie When: through Dec. 14 Tickets: $25-$78 Phone: 847-673-6300 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Who doesn’t like a good whodunit for the holidays? That thought and Artistic Director BJ Jones’ realization that Northlight Theatre has never staged a “genuine mystery” in(…)

Review: “The Testament of Mary”

RECOMMENDED Where: Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. When: through Dec. 14 Tickets: $20-$60 Phone: 773-871-3000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic It’s not easy being an icon. Consider, for example, Mary, the mother of Jesus, immortalized forever in paintings and sculptures: Receiving the angel of the annunciation, holding her infant or crucified son, being(…)

Review: “Iphigenia in Aulis”

Review: “Iphigenia in Aulis”

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Where: Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. When: through Dec. 7 Tickets: $45-$65 Phone: 773-753-4472 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Court Theatre’s production of Euripides’ “Iphigenia in Aulis” achieves a remarkable balance of realism and ritual to bring a play that’s more than 2000 years old vividly to life in a way that(…)

Review: “The Night Alive”

Review: “The Night Alive”

RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. When: through Nov. 16 Tickets: $20-$82 Phone: 312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Playwright Conor McPherson is a master at creating ordinary men who’ve screwed up their lives. Usually suffering from grief and loss, they’re nearing the end of their resources when a twist(…)

Review: “King Lear”

Review: “King Lear”

RECOMMENDED Where: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier When: through Nov. 9 Tickets: $48-$78 Phone: 312-595-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic None of the productions of “King Lear” I’ve seen have provided a viscerally convincing reason for the title monarch’s misguided decision to divide his kingdom among his three daughters while he’s still alive. Until now.(…)

Review: “Both Your Houses”

RECOMMENDED Where: Remy Bumppo Theatre Company at Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. When: through Nov. 9 Tickets: $42.50-$57.50 Phone: 733-404-7336 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic An idealistic young congressman from a Western state comes to Washington, D.C., to help pass a bill he believes in only to find that his fellow legislators have(…)

Review: “Amazing Grace”

SLIGHTLY RECOMMENDED Where: Bank of America Theatre, When: through Nov. 2 Tickets: $33-$100 Phone: 800-775-2000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic The treatment of a minor character epitomizes one of the many problems with the slickly staged and well-sung pre-Broadway world premiere of “Amazing Grace,” the musical by Christopher Smith (music, lyrics, book) and Arthur Giron(…)

Review: “Smokefall”

Review: “Smokefall”

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre, Albert Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through Oct. 26 Tickets: $25-$81 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Plenty of contemporary plays are thought-provoking, but Noah Haidle’s “Smokefall” is that rare work that actually makes you feel the love, loss and mystery of life that are the subjects of(…)

Review: “A Kurt Weill Cabaret”

Review: “A Kurt Weill Cabaret”

RECOMMENDED Where: Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre at the No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood Ave. When: through Oct. 19 Tickets: $25-$29 Phone: 800-595-4849 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Kudos to Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre for having the moxie to include the entire “Mahagonny Songspiel” in “A Kurt Weill Cabaret.” The evening also benefits from the(…)

Review: “The Game’s Afoot”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace When: through Oct. 19 Tickets: $40-$50 Phone: 630-530-0111 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic If you’re a fan of mystery-thriller send-ups full of slapstick and sight gags, you’ll have a good time at Drury Lane Theatre’s production of Ken Ludwig’s “The Game’s Afoot.” The play(…)