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A Sexy A Sexy "Aida" in Oakbrook: Always Stirring, and Occasionally Stunning
by Paul W. Thompson - March 30, 2011

Two musicals which first firmly planted their roots in Chicago around 15 years ago achieved great acclaim on Broadway and elsewhere, and yet have never been far from our stages or our consciousness in Chicago. Both are about race relations in earlier times, and both continue to resonate with great success here. And both have received superior productions recently at the Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace. (more...)


It’s Chicago’s Musical, the 'Actors’ Musical.' WORKING Really Works! Review It’s Chicago’s Musical, the 'Actors’ Musical.' WORKING Really Works!
by Paul W. Thompson - March 05, 2011

The revised version of the 1970s musical "Working," that montage of monologues with the Frankenstein score that is usually called "the blue collar 'A Chorus Line'" (though it isn't), opened on Wednesday night in the town that originally birthed it, full of life and emotion and enough Chicago grit, grime and elbow grease to give it another 35 years in the repertoire, and then some. (more...)


"Guys And Dolls" Comes Out A Mid-Winter Winner At The Marriott!
by Paul W. Thompson - February 14, 2011

Seriously, "Guys And Dolls" at the Marriott Theatre is great. It's just great. Great, great, great. No, it's not perfect. And it's definitely old school--there's definite dialogue sections, song sections, dance sections, just like the shows from the Golden Age were supposed to have. But what songs! And what dances! (more...)


'9 to 5' National Tour: A Well-Earned 7 Review '9 to 5' National Tour: A Well-Earned 7
by M. William Panek - January 21, 2011

'9 to 5' is a campy evening of harmless fun and 15 original toe-tapping ditties supplied by Miss Parton herself. It's nowhere near a perfect show, but for a strong dose of women power, this tour is a sure bet. (more...)


'Boobs and Goombas:' Burlesque for the Digital Age Review 'Boobs and Goombas:' Burlesque for the Digital Age
by M. William Panek - January 16, 2011

In all, the detailed attention to all the Mario Bros. incarnations is what makes 'Boobs and Goombas' such a hoot. It isn't a highbrow or heady evening. It's a fun, video game throwback burlesque parody ... and how many of those can you say you've been to? (more...)


Entire Cast Keeps '...VIRGINIA WOOLF?' Feeling Brand New Review Entire Cast Keeps '...VIRGINIA WOOLF?' Feeling Brand New
by M. William Panek - December 18, 2010

Amy Morton is neither bawdy or large in Edward Albee's 'WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?,' but I'll go out on a limb in saying she delivers the most reinvented interpretation of a classic character Chicago has ever seen. (more...)


Travel Article: Chicagoan in NYC for the Weekend Review Travel Article: Chicagoan in NYC for the Weekend
by M. William Panek - December 16, 2010

This Chicagoan goes to New York over a winter's weekend to check out 'The Radio City Christmas Spectacular,' 'American Idiot,' 'The Phantom of the Opera,' and first preview of 'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.' (more...)


"Boojum!" What is it? Exactly. (An American Stage Premiere)
by Paul W. Thompson - December 02, 2010

This show has only been staged one other time in its entire existence, in Australia in 1986, and certainly deserves a wider viewing. It is "Boojum!: Nonsense, Truth and Lewis Carroll," and it is on the boards at the DCA Theater on Randolph Street (now through December 19), a co-production of Chicago Opera Vanguard and Caffeine Theatre. (more...)


'A Civil War Christmas' Proves A Hard History Lesson At Northlight Theatre  Review 'A Civil War Christmas' Proves A Hard History Lesson At Northlight Theatre
by Paul W. Thompson - November 25, 2010

Playwright Paula Vogel has wrought a researched and resonant snapshot of our nation's capital at a moment of waiting, a fullness not yet fulfilled. And that, unfortunately, describes the play as well. (more...)


The Verismo Opera Club Wades Into The Waters Of Chicago’s Off-Loop Opera Scene Review The Verismo Opera Club Wades Into The Waters Of Chicago’s Off-Loop Opera Scene
by Paul W. Thompson - November 22, 2010

Chicago is home to any number of small, hard-working, barely-funded opera and operetta companies, some professional, some all-volunteer, and these for the most part fly entirely under the radar of traditional media and even of the internet itself. Some of these companies have been around in one form or another for years, and others emerge quickly and vanish just as quickly. (more...)


Marriott's 'Music Man' Brings A Singing, Dancing Town To Vivid Theatrical Life Review Marriott's 'Music Man' Brings A Singing, Dancing Town To Vivid Theatrical Life
by Paul W. Thompson - November 17, 2010

Now through January 9, 2011, a most miraculous thing is happening onstage at the Marriott Theatre in far north suburban Lincolnshire, Illinois. An entire town is coming to life. Its citizens sing, they dance, they hum, they can't tell where talking starts and singing begins.... It's 'The Music Man.' (more...)


'Departure Lounge' Ready For Takeoff In Its U.S. Debut Review 'Departure Lounge' Ready For Takeoff In Its U.S. Debut
by Paul W. Thompson - November 10, 2010

Last Sunday night, Bailiwick Chicago celebrated the first anniversary of its reincarnation by presenting the American debut of the musical "Departure Lounge," a very English rumination from the pen of author, lyricist and composer Dougal Irvine on what it means to bridge the gap between youth and adulthood. (more...)


Lookingglass 'Peter' Is An Exciting, Troubling Trip Review Lookingglass 'Peter' Is An Exciting, Troubling Trip
by Paul W. Thompson - November 04, 2010

There seem to be numerous works of fiction, particularly series of books or stories geared to the child in all of us, which emerged from late 19th and early 20th century England. These works permeated the American psyche then, have yielded many stage and film adaptations in the intervening years, fixed in us an idea of what life in that era was like, and are with us still,... (more...)


'Seven Brides' At Drury Lane Triumphantly Turns Back The Clock Review 'Seven Brides' At Drury Lane Triumphantly Turns Back The Clock
by Paul W. Thompson - October 23, 2010

The lovely and nostalgic production of a new stage version of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" that opened this week at the Drury Lane Theatre in west suburban Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, very nearly returns the audience to the Broadway of the 1940s and early '50s. (more...)


Voices, Feet And The Beat Reign Supreme In Oakbrook's 'Hot Mikado' Review Voices, Feet And The Beat Reign Supreme In Oakbrook's 'Hot Mikado'
by Paul W. Thompson - August 22, 2010

In the spring of 1939, two musical adaptations of Gilbert and Sullivan's 1885 music theater masterpiece "The Mikado" opened on Broadway. One, which had originated in Chicago, was called "The Swing Mikado." The other, which producer Mike Todd created when he was prevented from producing "The Swing Mikado" himself, was called "The Hot Mikado." (more...)


Piven Produces The Thought-Provoking Sarah Ruhl Play Piven Produces The Thought-Provoking Sarah Ruhl Play "Late: A Cowboy Song"
by Paul W. Thompson - July 28, 2010

The increasingly popular and important playwright Sarah Ruhl, a Chicago native and finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for "In The Next Room: or the Vibrator Play," traces her theatrical origins, in part at least, to the Piven Theatre Workshop in Evanston, or, more exactly, to its Young People's Company.... (more...)


Writers' Stages a Stunning 'STREETCAR' Review Writers' Stages a Stunning 'STREETCAR'
by William Panek - July 24, 2010

Cromer's production of Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize winning 'A Streetcar Named Desire' -now in its third and final extension at Writers' Theatre- is nothing short of spectacular. Catch this train while you still can. (more...)


Is A New Company's 'Aida' Better Than Broadway's? You Be The Judge. Review Is A New Company's 'Aida' Better Than Broadway's? You Be The Judge.
by Paul W. Thompson - July 19, 2010

Now and for just two more weeks, an extraordinary, stylish and heartfelt production of Elton John's and Tim Rice's "Aida" is running at the very, very warm American Theater Company space in Chicago's North Center neighborhood. Courtesy of the reconstituted Bailiwick Chicago,... (more...)


Uniquely Original 'PARALLELOGRAM' at Steppenwolf Review Uniquely Original 'PARALLELOGRAM' at Steppenwolf
by William Panek - July 14, 2010

Steppenwolf's 'A Parallelogram' is a wonderfully-acted, well-designed, and smartly-written escape from the reality show marathons we've TiVo'd. (more...)


BWW Reviews: DiPietro's FUCKING MEN Makes Its Mark In Midwest Debut Review BWW Reviews: DiPietro's FUCKING MEN Makes Its Mark In Midwest Debut
by Paul W. Thompson - June 30, 2010

Just in time for the end of Pride Month, Tony-winning playwright Joe DiPietro ('Memphis') has worked with Bailiwick Chicago to produce the Midwest premiere (and only third production ever) of his 2008 play 'Fucking Men,' an adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler's 19th century play 'La Ronde' that is now stunningly and cleverly updated and turned inside out. (more...)


'FUERZA BRUTA:' A Theatrical Rave Review 'FUERZA BRUTA:' A Theatrical Rave
by William Panek - May 26, 2010

Without getting into the nitty gritties, you've never seen the Auditorium Theatre like this before. All you need to know is 'FUERZA BRUTA' is an interactive theatrical experience, the likes of which are few and far between here in Chicago. (more...)


That Marriott Magic Continues With A Snappy, Stylish 'Chaperone' Review That Marriott Magic Continues With A Snappy, Stylish 'Chaperone'
by Paul W. Thompson - May 10, 2010

The Marriott Theatre has done it again! This north suburban theater in the round (well, square, really) has a long history of producing the first Chicago area version of Broadway musicals newly released for licensing, usually soon after the end of a national tour. And so it is with the light-as-a-feather 'The Drowsy Chaperone,' the 2006 Tony-winning Broadway musical (it won for Best Book and Best Score, among others) that opened last Wednesday evening up in Lincolnshire..... (more...)


BWW Reviews: Flashes of Drama Illuminate Suburban I DO I DO Review BWW Reviews: Flashes of Drama Illuminate Suburban I DO I DO
by Paul W. Thompson - April 29, 2010

A very fine revival of the first two-person Broadway musical opened out in Munster, Indiana, on Sunday night. "I Do! I Do!," the show crafted by the "fanstastick" team of Tom Jomes (book and lyrics) and Harvey Schmidt (music).... (more...)


Non-Musical Non-Musical "Spring Awakening" Is A Classic, Yet Oh, So Relevant
by Paul W. Thompson - April 20, 2010

The Artistic Home, near the corner of Byron and Clark on the outskirts of Chicago's Wrigleyville neighborhood, is directly across the street from a cemetery. Well, three cemeteries, I think. And that is so appropriate, because, as you may know, that's where you end up at the end of this 1891 German dramatic classic by Frank Wedekind, being performed now through May 9, 2010 by the Promethean Theatre Ensemble. (more...)


Redtwist's 'PILLOWMAN' Embodies Everything Good Theatre Should Be Review Redtwist's 'PILLOWMAN' Embodies Everything Good Theatre Should Be
by William Panek - April 18, 2010

While its strong language and sometimes disturbing subject matter may not be for everyone, I cannot recommend this production enough. It's raw, it's edgy, and its sentiment towards the responsibility of art makes 'The Pillowman' an enthralling watch. (more...)


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