Theater Reviews

Review: “The Last Ship”

RECOMMENDED Where: Bank of America Theatre, 18 W. Monroe St. When: through July 13 Tickets: $33-$100 Phone: 800-775-2000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic The pre-Broadway world premiere of “The Last Ship” has moored at the Bank of America Theatre briefly before chugging off to New York in the fall, and although the musical’s engines aren’t(…)

Review: “Jack Lemmon returns”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St. When: through July 20 Tickets: $55 Phone: 312-988-9000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Anyone who has seen Hershey Felder’s one-man tributes to Beethoven, Bernstein and other musical greats will recognize the format of “Jack Lemmon Returns.” Only this time, as he did last season with(…)

Review: “Days Like Today”

RECOMMENDED Where: Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe When: through July 13 Tickets: $35-$75 Phone: 847-242-6000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Woe to anyone who tries to write a sincere musical about love these days. The topic has been so overworked in every medium that it’s almost impossible to find anything new to say, much(…)

Review: “Ask Aunt Susan”

SLIGHTLY RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre, Owen Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through June 22 Tickets: $10-$40 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic   The world premiere of Seth Bockley’s “Ask Aunt Susan” at Goodman Theatre gets off to a promising start but soon spirals into an incomprehensible, nonsensical mess. Loosely based on Nathanael(…)

Review: “Hair”

RECOMMENDED Where: American Theater Company, 1909 W. Byron St. When: through June 29 Tickets: $38-$43 Phone: 773-409-4125 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Leave it to American Theater Company artistic director PJ Paparelli to devise an iconoclastic way to present “Hair,” the “American Tribal Love Rock Musical” with a book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James(…)

Review: “The White Snake”

RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre, Albert Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through June 8 Tickets: $25-$86 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Mary Zimmerman really knows how to do endings. Whether you’re wowed by the Chicago premiere of “The White Snake” because you’re unfamiliar with her work, regard it as the mature expression of(…)

Review: “Henry V”

RECOMMENDED Where: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier When: through June 15 Tickets: $48-$88 Phone: 312-595-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic   I’ve always had a special affection for “Henry V.” That may be because it was one of the first Shakespeare plays I studied in school. Or because the lessons about integrity and good and(…)

Review: “M. Butterfly”

SLIGHTLY RECOMMENDED Where: Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. When: through June 8 Tickets: $45-$65 Phone: 773-753-4472 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic David Henry Hwang’s Tony Award-winning “M. Butterfly” is a masterful play about….well, so many things. Now more than a quarter of a century old, it merges Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly” and the real espionage(…)

“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: “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: “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: “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,”(…)