Theater Reviews

“Lost in Yonkers”

RECOMMENDED Where: Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie When: through June 8 Tickets: $25-$75, students $15 Phone: 847-673-6300 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic   I’ve seen lots of productions of Neil Simon played for laughs. Northlight Theatre’s “Lost in Yonkers” isn’t one of them. Sure, the Pulitzer Prize-winning(…)

Review: “In the Garden: A Darwinian Love Story”

RECOMMENDED Where: Lookingglass Theatre Company, Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. When: through June 15 Tickets: $45-$70 Phone: 312-337-0665 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic   The very best thing about the world premiere of Sara Gmitter’s “In the Garden: A Darwinian Love Story” at Lookingglass Theatre Company is Andrew White’s performance as Charles(…)

Review: “The Sound of Music”

RECOMMENDED Where: Lyric Opera of Chicago, Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive When: through May 25 Tickets: $29-$199 Phone: 312-332-2244 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic I had very high hopes for “The Sound of Music,” the second annual installment in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s five-part American Musical Theater Initiative. After all, the resources available(…)

Review: “The Way West”

RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. When: through June 8 Tickets: $20-$78 Phone: 312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic   To some extent, we each create the myth of our life that helps us make it through the day, and we assume that this is a relatively healthy — or(…)

Review: “Russian Transport”

RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. When: through June 8 Tickets: $20-$78 Phone: 312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s theme for the season is “Getting Ahead: How Far Will You Go?” Keep this in mind while you’re watching Erika Sheffer’s “Russian Transport,” and you’ll have less trouble(…)

Review: “Road Show”

RECOMMENDED Where: Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier When: through May 4 Tickets: $48-$68 Phone: 312-595-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s “Road Show” is moving in the right direction. The musical that started as “Wise Guys” (1999), then premiered at the Goodman Theatre as “Bounce” (2003) and(…)

Review: “Passion”

RECOMMENDED Where: Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre at No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood Ave. When: through April 27 Tickets: $34-$39, dinner $25 extra Phone: 800-595-4849 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic   Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s 1994 “Passion” is devilishly difficult, so kudos go to Theo Ubique and director Fred Anzevino for giving it a(…)

Review: “Venus in Fur”

RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre Albert Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through April 13 Tickets: $25-$86 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic   David Ives’ 2010 “Venus in Fur” is good not-so-clean fun. Using the 1869 novella “Venus in Furs” by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (for whom “masochism” is named) as a take-off point, Ives has created(…)

Review: “Chapatti”

RECOMMENDED Where: Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie When: through April 19 Tickets: $25-$75 Phone: 847-673-6300 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic   “Chapatti” could easily be performed by two actors with almost nothing in the way of sets, lighting, costumes or music. Christian O’Reilly’s tale of two lonely(…)

Review: “Water by the Spoonful”

RECOMMENDED WITH RESERVATIONS   Where: Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. When: through April 6 Tickets: $45-$65 Phone: 773-753-4472   By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic In the program notes for Court Theatre’s Chicago premiere of Ouiara Alegria Hudes’ “Water by the Spoonful,” director Henry Godinez says that plays get their message across most potently when(…)

Review “Dessa Rose”

Review “Dessa Rose”

RECOMMENDED Where: Bailiwick Chicago at Victory Gardens Richard Christiansen Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. When: through April 5 Tickets: $40 Phone: 773-871-3000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic “Dessa Rose,” the 2005 musical by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (“Ragtime,” “Once on This Island,” “Seussical!”), is appealing and annoying, and Bailiwick Chicago’s heartfelt production at Victory(…)

Review: “The How and the Why”

RECOMMENDED Where: Timeline Theatre Company, 615 W. Wellington Ave. When: through April 6 Tickets: $35-$48 Phone: 773-281-8463 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Sarah Treem’s “The How and the Why” is a combination of the captivating and the contrived. On the one hand, the writer, whose credits include HBO’s “In Treatment” and Netflix’s “House of Cards,”(…)

“Hedda Gabler”

RECOMMENDED Where: Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe When: through April 6 Tickets: $35-$70 Phone: 847-242-6000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic If you’re used to seeing “Hedda Gabler” with a Victorian aesthetic, reliance on subtext, and plenty of suppressed emotion, the production at Writers Theatre will come as something of a shocker. Sharply directed by(…)

Review: “Into The Woods”

SLIGHTLY RECOMMENDED Where: The Hypocrites at the Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport Ave. When: through March 30 Tickets: $22-$59 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic If you’re only vaguely familiar with Stephen Sondheim (music and lyrics) and James Lapine’s (book) “Into The Woods,” The Hypocrites’ production will serve as a reminder of how brilliantly the 1987(…)

Review: “Ain’t Misbehavin’”

RECOMMENDED Where: Porchlight Music Theatre at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. When: through March 9 Tickets: $43.50 Phone: 773-327-5252 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Porchlight Music Theatre is cannily celebrating Black History Month with Murray Horwitz and Richard Maltby, Jr.’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” the 1978 smash musical revue devoted to Thomas Wright “Fats” Waller, the(…)

Review: “Gypsy”

RECOMMENDED Where: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Courtyard Theater, Navy Pier When: through March 23 Tickets: $45-$88 Phone: 312-595-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic In most of the productions of “Gypsy” I’ve seen, Mama Rose is the iconic stage mother from hell relentlessly pushing her daughters to succeed in show business out of her own failed ambition. But(…)

Review: “The Little Prince”

RECOMMENDED Where: Lookingglass Theatre Company, Water Tower Water Works, 21 N. Michigan Ave. When: through March 16 Tickets: $45-$75 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Ever since it was published in 1943, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s “The Little Prince” (“Le Petit Prince”) has been captivating hearts and minds with its touching story of an aviator who crashes(…)

Review: “Rough Crossing”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: First Folio Theatre, Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 W. 31st St., Oakbrook When: through March 2 Tickets: $26-$37 Phone: 630-986-8067 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic In the right hands, Tom Stoppard’s “Rough Crossing” is hilarious. Based on Ferenc Molnar’s “Play at the Castle,” the delightful, verbally dense farce revels in witty word play(…)

Review: “Luna Gale”

Review: “Luna Gale”

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through Feb. 23 Tickets: $25-$81 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Playwright Rebecca Gilman is a master of audience manipulation. She’s amazingly adept at fleshing out a complicated social problem with well-conceived, often flawed characters, then letting its complexity unfold in such a way(…)

Review: “Tom Jones”

RECOMMENDED Where: Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie When: through Feb. 23 Tickets: $25-$75 Phone: 847-673-6300 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic I don’t know if Artistic Director BJ Jones had escape from brutal weather in mind when he chose “Tom Jones” for Northlight Theatre’s mid-winter production, but the play, adapted by Jon Jory from Henry(…)