Rachel Weinberg

Rachel Weinberg Native Chicagoan Rachel Weinberg has been one of the most frequent contributing critics for Broadway World Chicago over the past three years. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Rachel previously worked on the digital marketing team at Goodman Theatre and spent a season as a Marketing Apprentice for Roundabout Theatre Company in New York City. She earned her undergraduate degree in Communication and Spanish from the University of Pennsylvania. You can find her online at RachelWeinbergReviews.com and follow her on Twitter @RachelRWeinberg.


MOST POPULAR ARTICLES
LAST 30 DAYS

BWW Review: BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL at Porchlight Music TheatreBWW Review: BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL at Porchlight Music Theatre
Posted: Nov. 1, 2017


BWW Review: THE MINUTES at Steppenwolf Theatre CompanyBWW Review: THE MINUTES at Steppenwolf Theatre Company
Posted: Nov. 22, 2017


BWW Review: About Face Theatre and Theater Wit's Chicago Premiere of SIGNIFICANT OTHERBWW Review: About Face Theatre and Theater Wit's Chicago Premiere of SIGNIFICANT OTHER
Posted: Nov. 13, 2017


LAST 365 DAYS

BWW Review: HIR at Steppenwolf Theatre CompanyBWW Review: HIR at Steppenwolf Theatre Company
Posted: Jul. 10, 2017


BWW Review: PARADE at Writers TheatreBWW Review: PARADE at Writers Theatre
Posted: Jun. 3, 2017


BWW Interview: Autumn Hurlbert Discusses Adventures and Laughs On Tour with SOMETHING ROTTEN!BWW Interview: Autumn Hurlbert Discusses Adventures and Laughs On Tour with SOMETHING ROTTEN!
Posted: Jun. 29, 2017


BWW Interview: THE KING AND I's Manna Nichols Chats About The Relevance of This Classic MusicalBWW Interview: THE KING AND I's Manna Nichols Chats About The Relevance of This Classic Musical
Posted: Jun. 1, 2017


BWW Review: MOBY DICK at Lookingglass Theatre CompanyBWW Review: MOBY DICK at Lookingglass Theatre Company
Posted: Jun. 22, 2017


BWW Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS National Tour at the Oriental TheatreBWW Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS National Tour at the Oriental Theatre
Posted: Jul. 29, 2017


BWW Review: THE MINUTES at Steppenwolf Theatre CompanyBWW Review: THE MINUTES at Steppenwolf Theatre Company
November 22, 2017

Tracy Letts's world premiere THE MINUTES, now making its debut at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, unfolds in an unsuspecting manner. Both because the play has a smart structure that shifts over the course of the 100-minute runtime and also because the content left me contemplative for days after seeing it. Here Letts uses the framework of a small town's council meeting as a microcosm of a larger discussion on the current political climate (though this play is not overtly about Trump's presidency) and the desire to cling to certain ideologies in the name of order and group preservation, though those long-held beliefs may not be true.

BWW Review: About Face Theatre and Theater Wit's Chicago Premiere of SIGNIFICANT OTHERBWW Review: About Face Theatre and Theater Wit's Chicago Premiere of SIGNIFICANT OTHER
November 13, 2017

On the page, Harmon so beautifully expresses the nuances of shifting friendships and the fear of being left behind by those one holds dear, and he also nails so completely the complex neuroses that come with dating, loneliness, and being lost in one's own head. Director Keira Fromm and an outstanding local cast bring Harmon's expertly crafted words to life, finding both maximum amounts of humor and gut-wrenching emotion in the piece.

BWW Review: BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL at Porchlight Music TheatreBWW Review: BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL at Porchlight Music Theatre
November 1, 2017

Under the direction of frequent company collaborator Brenda Didier, BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL electrifies the mainstage at the Ruth Page Performing Arts Center, Porchlight's new home. Based on the eponymous film about an adolescent boy from a working class British mining town who aspires to be a ballet dancer, this production finds the deep emotional core in its story about community and acceptance. With music by Elton John and book and lyrics by Lee Hall, this BILLY ELLIOT bursts with heart and passion.

BWW Review: THE INVISIBLE HAND at Steep Theatre CompanyBWW Review: THE INVISIBLE HAND at Steep Theatre Company
October 9, 2017

Under the deft direction of Audrey Francis, Steep Theatre Company treats audiences to an intimate, intense Chicago premiere of Ayad Akhtar's THE INVISIBLE HAND.

Highlights from Broadway In Chicago's Annual Summer Concert at Millennium ParkHighlights from Broadway In Chicago's Annual Summer Concert at Millennium Park
August 15, 2017

Broadway In Chicago's Summer Concert on Monday drew probably the largest crowd for the event I have seen in several years of attendance (and they were definitely a fired-up bunch). Musical theater fans across Chicago clamored to see Broadway In Chicago's showcase of ten upcoming touring shows (with a bonus appearance from HAMILTON's Chris De'Sean Lee, who co-hosted with usual emcee Janet Davies of ABC7). Here's my take on the highlights of the concert and which touring musicals should top your must-see list for the coming season.

BWW Review: HAIR at Mercury Theater ChicagoBWW Review: HAIR at Mercury Theater Chicago
August 6, 2017

Mercury Theater's revival of the iconic rock musical HAIR infuses some peace, love, and sunshine into this Chicago summer. While Gerome Ragni and James Rado's lyrics still resonant today, this production stays firmly rooted in the late 1960s. Brenda Didier's direction, Robert Kuhn's costumes, and Jeffrey D. Kmiec's set design all have a 'traditional' feel-at least traditional by the show's standards. Certainly HAIR's call for peace and embrace of the Tribe's diverse identities echo the present and remind us of the progress yet to be made, but this staging does not underscore that relevance based on production choices.

BWW Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS National Tour at the Oriental TheatreBWW Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS National Tour at the Oriental Theatre
July 29, 2017

Christopher Wheeldon's visually stunning production of AN AMERICAN IN PARIS has come dancing into Broadway In Chicago's Oriental Theatre. Wheeldon's complex and extensive choreography is the most striking and entertaining element of this new musical, based upon the classic Gene Kelly film and with a new book by Craig Lucas that weaves together George and Ira Gershwin's lush song catalog. AN AMERICAN IN PARIS enjoyed a successful Broadway run in 2015, and this touring company can certainly keep up with Wheeldon's moves as well as the original ensemble.

BWW Review: HOW TO BE A ROCK CRITIC Rocks SteppenwolfBWW Review: HOW TO BE A ROCK CRITIC Rocks Steppenwolf
July 11, 2017

"This music is magical. My writing is stilted." So proclaims Erik Jensen as famed rock critic Lester Bangs in HOW TO BE A ROCK CRITIC, now playing as part of Steppenwolf's Lookout Series. This thought has likely crossed the mind of all art critics out there (certainly it has crossed mine), and it embodies the spirit of this 80-minute solo play as it charts Bangs's career. Jensen and co-playwright Jessica Blank (the pair are also married) give us a portrait of Bangs-who died of a drug overdose at age 33-that demonstrates the passion, creativity, and self-destructive nature that defined him. This solo play provides an overview of Bangs's trajectory and allows audiences to learn about the rock music he loved, aided by David Robbins's sound design.

BWW Review: HIR at Steppenwolf Theatre CompanyBWW Review: HIR at Steppenwolf Theatre Company
July 10, 2017

Taylor Mac's HIR, now in its Chicago premiere at Steppenwolf under the direction of Hallie Gordon, proves itself to be a complete whirlwind from the beginning. Collette Pollard's strikingly realistic living room/kitchen set is in a tornado-like state when the curtain comes up at the top of the play, with heaps of clothes scattered around, a large tower of miscellaneous household appliances and craft supplies barring the front door, and a general lack of discernible counter and floor space anywhere. This state of disarray echoes the chaotic state of the dysfunctional family at the center of HIR: order has gone entirely to the wayside. Paige (Amy Morton, a commanding spitfire from the start) resides in this mess of a house with her transgender son Max (an earnest and likable Em Grosland) and her husband Arnold, who is deeply mentally incapacitated as a result of a severe stroke (Fran Guinan in a shocking and haunting performance). When Paige and Arnold's eldest son Isaac (Ty Olwin) arrives home from war, he finds a home and family that he no longer recognizes.

BWW Interview: Autumn Hurlbert Discusses Adventures and Laughs On Tour with SOMETHING ROTTEN!BWW Interview: Autumn Hurlbert Discusses Adventures and Laughs On Tour with SOMETHING ROTTEN!
June 29, 2017

Autumn Hurlbert is taking it back to the '90s (namely, 1595) in the role of Portia as part of the first national tour of SOMETHING ROTTEN! This new musical chronicles a fictitious rivalry between playwright brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom who, at the advice of a fortune teller, create the world's first musical in order to compete with William Shakespeare. Hurlbert portrays the romantic, literature-loving Portia, who becomes Nigel's love interest. In advance of the tour's Chicago engagement, Hurlbert chatted about why she loves the show, her time on MTV's reality show LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL: THE SEARCH FOR THE NEXT ELLE WOODS, and what it is like to tour the nation with her husband and two-year-old son by her side.

BWW Review: MOBY DICK at Lookingglass Theatre CompanyBWW Review: MOBY DICK at Lookingglass Theatre Company
June 22, 2017

Following a successful 2015 run, that great white whale MOBY DICK has returned to Lookingglass in a highly physical, inventive, and visually compelling production that's fully in keeping with the company's aesthetic. David Catlin's adaptation of Herman Meville's sprawling novel surrounds audiences in the universe of those whalers on board the Pequod in search of that elusive creature. With Courtney O'Neill's artful and hand-crafted set design, the stage and audience reside in a whale 'skeleton,' which cleverly also becomes the structure of the ship. As is common with Lookingglass productions, MOBY DICK also makes use of some talented, athletic performers who take on stunning acrobatic feats (choreography by The Actors Gymnasium's Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi). But like any voyage, Catlin's script has a number of slower, narration-heavy moments that lack much action. MOBY DICK vacillates between moments of captivating artistry combined with heightened physicality and lengthy stretches of pure narration.

BWW Review: THE KING AND I at Broadway In ChicagoBWW Review: THE KING AND I at Broadway In Chicago
June 18, 2017

Bartlett Sher's 2015 Tony Award winning revival of THE KING AND I has sailed into Broadway In Chicago's Oriental Theatre in a triumphant touring production.

BWW Review: PASS OVER at SteppenwolfBWW Review: PASS OVER at Steppenwolf
June 14, 2017

Both beautiful and necessarily brutal, Antoinette Nwandu's PASS OVER is a play that's entirely essential to this moment.

BWW Review: NATIVE GARDENS at Victory Gardens TheaterBWW Review: NATIVE GARDENS at Victory Gardens Theater
June 12, 2017

The world premiere of Karen Zacarias's NATIVE GARDENS at Victory Gardens Theater provides ample humor and wit-even if the playwright's neighborly metaphor sometimes feels too on the nose.

BWW Review: RAGTIME at Griffin Theatre CompanyBWW Review: RAGTIME at Griffin Theatre Company
June 6, 2017

Just as Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens's 1999 musical RAGTIME traverses numerous locales on the East Coast and spans the years from 1906-1914, so too does director Scott Weinstein's dynamic staging make full use of The Den Theatre's Heath Mainstage. In Griffin Theatre Company's production, Weinstein's in-the-round staging often has actors dispersed among the audience (indeed, a handful of performers appeared right in front and me and even made eye contact during the performance). While this is an intimate production of a sweeping musical, this genius device lends RAGTIME the grand air it commands. The closeness of the action also lends pathos to this story of three American families-one white and privileged, one black, and one immigrant-as they navigate a changing country at the beginning of the twentieth century.

BWW Review: PARADE at Writers TheatreBWW Review: PARADE at Writers Theatre
June 3, 2017

PARADE is now in a blistering and beautifully minimalist production from director Gary Griffin. Though it is based off the real-life 1913 trial of Jewish pencil factory worker Leo Frank and was written by Jason Robert Brown and Alfred Uhry in 1998, this musical feels entirely of this moment. Set in Atlanta, Georgia, the musical follows Leo as he is imprisoned and put on trial after being falsely accused of the murder of Mary Phagan, a pre-teen girl found dead in the basement of the pencil factory. Georgia governor Hugh Dorsey wants to rapidly resolve the case and pins the blame on Leo-and coerces factory janitor Jim Conley to serve as an eye witness. The residents of Atlanta buy into Dorsey's false narrative, as they're distrustful of Frank and also want to see Mary's death avenged.

BWW Interview: THE KING AND I's Manna Nichols Chats About The Relevance of This Classic MusicalBWW Interview: THE KING AND I's Manna Nichols Chats About The Relevance of This Classic Musical
June 1, 2017

Following a Tony Award-winning Broadway run at Lincoln Center Theater in 2015 and 2016, Bartlett Sher's THE KING AND I is now hitting the road on a national tour and arrives in Chicago this month. In advance of the production's arrival, I spoke with cast member Manna Nichols. Nichols plays the role of Burmese princess Tuptim, who is presented to the titular King of Siam as a peace offering at the beginning of the show. She chatted about the relevance of this Rodgers and Hammerstein classic in 2017 and why she's drawn to the role of Tuptim.

BWW Interview: Lisa O'Hare and Bryce Pinkham Share Why It's 'Loverly' to Reunite for MY FAIR LADYBWW Interview: Lisa O'Hare and Bryce Pinkham Share Why It's 'Loverly' to Reunite for MY FAIR LADY
April 28, 2017

Shortly before performances began for MY FAIR LADY at Lyric Opera, I had the opportunity to sit down with Lisa O'Hare (Eliza Doolittle) and Bryce Pinkham (Freddy Eynsford-Hill) for a conversation backstage at the opera house. O'Hare and Pinkham are no strangers to working together, as they both originated roles in the 2014 Tony Award-winning musical A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER. Pinkham in fact revealed that one of the reasons he signed on to MY FAIR LADY was to have a 'front-row seat' to see O'Hare's take on Eliza, a role she has performed previously in the West End and in a 2008 U.S. national tour. While dressed in street clothes but still wearing faces full of stage makeup, O'Hare and Pinkham chatted with me about what it's been like to reunite, why they're excited to be involved in this staging of Lerner and Loewe's classic musical, and how it feels to perform on the Lyric stage. Read on for excerpts from the conversation.

BWW Review: Porchlight's MARRY ME A LITTLE is a Rhapsodic Love Letter to Sondheim's Song CatalogBWW Review: Porchlight's MARRY ME A LITTLE is a Rhapsodic Love Letter to Sondheim's Song Catalog
April 26, 2017

True blue fans of Stephen Sondheim (this reviewer included) will be drooling over Porchlight's latest offering MARRY ME A LITTLE. This two-hander revue showcases a number of Sondheim's finest trunk songs-early renditions of numbers that were cut from such musicals as FOLLIES, INTO THE WOODS and MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG. Conceived and developed by Craig Lucas and Norman Rene, MARRY ME A LITTLE (which has been revised for this production) introduces audiences to two lonely singles in New York City-known merely as "The Man" and "The Woman." Living just an apartment floor away, these two lament their loneliness, and it becomes up to audiences to decide if the relationship that transpires in the show is real or imagined. The details are a bit foggy as MARRY ME A LITTLE has no dialogue whatsoever, but the piece is ultimately designed to showcase Sondheim's work.

BWW Review: Will Davis Casts An Imaginative, Modern Lens on William Inge's PICNICBWW Review: Will Davis Casts An Imaginative, Modern Lens on William Inge's PICNIC
March 27, 2017

In putting together American Theater Company's current production of William Inge's classic play PICNIC, Artistic Director Will Davis said he wanted his cast "to reflect the playwright and the powerful forces in his own psyche that kept him from happiness and fulfillment." Indeed, the actors Davis has cast certainly unlock a great deal of humanity in PICNIC's characters. As outsider Hal, Molly Brennan delivers a particularly inspired performance and bestows an immense depth of feeling into her role. While this is the first time I've seen a staging of PICNIC, I imagine that Hal is often played more broadly and more stereotypically typecast as a "macho" man-aggressive and assertive. In Brennan's Hal, however, there is a beautiful earnestness and genuine desire for acceptance and belonging. This also makes Hal's desire for Madge (Malic White) a more powerful longing for human connection. Alongside Brennan, White's Madge also has a similar desire for understanding-though the role could be played more desperate still. White's self-assured take on the character does not allow Madge to emit as much desperation as she might.



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