It’s easy to understand why Goodman Theatre’s production of Meredith Wilson’s 1957 Broadway hit The Music Man, just a week into its original run, has already been extended for a second time. The feel-good show has mass appeal and a recognizable name--one of those plays that falls into the “timeless classic” category (even if there’s nothing “timeless” about its outdated jokes and gender politics). But as far as Goodman’s production itself goes, there’s not much new to draw audiences in; despite a few high notes and standout performances, Mary Zimmerman’s revival overall lacks the essential chemistry and magic that has historically helped 21st century audiences overlook the show’s flaws.
In a 2012 interview with RadioFreeEurope, the three founding members of Pussy Riot stated that the only performances they would ever put on were illegal ones. Even after an outpouring of support from world renowned musicians and dozens of offers to share their message on stage with the likes of Madonna and Bjork, Pussy Riot stayed steadfast in their idea that their music was that of protest and rebellion.
History, it’s said, is written by the victors. It’s no surprise, then, that in the gentrification of Chicago neighborhoods, displacement has created (and continues to create) a wealth of lost stories, an erasure of places and people whose lives were shaped by their community. Teatro Vista and Collaboraction’s production of Sandra Delgado’s La Havana Madrid, though, is thankfully here to remind us of a few.
Fear is the strongest human emotion. Even a modicum of it can pierce our most base intellectual faculties and lead us to think (or worse, do) truly horrible things. Left unchecked, fear can grow in to a devouring madness that devolves us to base instincts. Despite the sophistication and elegance of modern society, every person always carries with them a simple set of animalistic drives: companionship, protectiveness, lust, aggression. Steve Yockey's Wolves is a deliciously dark contemporary fairy-tale that illustrates what happens when we let these impulses consume us and the damage done in the process. Exit 63 Theatre’s telling of this tale is a fantastic rendition that will leave you devastated and horrified in the best possible way.
Heading into Goodman Theatre’s production of The Winter’s Tale, I knew little about the play save for its reputation as one of William Shakespeare’s most confounding works. Written in the Bard’s later years, its drastic tonal shifts refuse neat categorization into “tragedy” or “comedy,” and critics have endlessly pondered both Shakespeare’s intentions and the play’s performance value as a result. Under the artful direction of Robert Falls, though, Goodman’s production takes this Shakespearean challenge head-on, embracing both its intense drama and humor. Falls’ take is stylistically stunning and wonderfully acted, but the adaptations’ own inconsistencies diminish its overall effect.
As irregular weather and natural disasters become evermore prevalent worldwide, so, it seems, does environmental dystopian fiction. And while many of these stories are preoccupied with doomsday drama, Lucy Kirkwood’s The Children is not one of them; rather than focusing on grisly details and destruction, the script delves instead into how humanity both changes and remains the same in the face of devastation--how we desperately hold on to connections and relationships despite the knowledge of pending doom. It’s a deeply moving and thought-provoking script, one that propels its viewers deep into the recesses of what ifs, but Steppenwolf’s production lacks a certain intensity to make the earth-shattering impact forecasted in Kirkwood’s text.
The Second City made a wise decision bringing Annaliese Toft back to direct the newest e.t.c. revue after she helmed the wonderfully orchestrated Gaslight District. Their 43rd revue, Grinning from Fear to Fear, is even more cohesive and hilarious, and much of the infectious energy is due to Toft’s lead. A wonderful ensemble and tonally balanced scenes add to an unforgettable evening of theatre, providing a strong reminder of why The Second City is among the most respected comedic institutions in the world.
You've most likely heard of Windy City Playhouse's long-running Southern Gothic by now. But if you haven't yet RSVP'd to the birthday party at the home of Ellie (Sarah Grant) and Beau (Michael McKeough), you're missing out on the unique, immersive experience that makes this world premiere such a must-see.
Though film adaptations of popular musicals oftentimes miss the mark, there are a select few whose iconic renditions make bringing them back to the stage challenging. Do you emulate the film’s popular choices? Do you try a completely different approach? Can the Grease finale work without leather pants?!
If you’re like me, you might have heard about the Mars One mission in passing back in 2015. The concept was that kind of science-fiction that seemed tantalizingly close to reality; a one-way manned mission to Mars and the promise of being the first humans on the red rock. You might have read the People article interviewing the semi-finalists or potentially heard about the immediate financial troubles of the initiative. More likely, though, you might have asked yourself the more abstract, philosophical, and somewhat obvious question: if given the opportunity, would you give up everything to make history?
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