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Articles tagged with: William Shakespeare

American Players set to dedicate a new stage after $8 million renovation of outdoor venue

Jun 17, 2017 – 11:55 am
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Preview: At the outset of its 38th season, American Players Theatre has the look of a company starting afresh. Its 2017 summer at Spring Green, Wis., about 30 miles west of Madison, opens on a brand-new stage, the centerpiece of an $8 million renovation of both production and public facilities. “Our theater was literally falling down,” says APT artistic director Brenda DeVita. “This renewal has given us, and our audience, a theater that is better is so many ways.”

‘Love’s Labor’s Lost’ at Chicago Shakespeare: Delectable comedy made clear, biting and dark

Feb 18, 2017 – 7:37 pm
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Review: Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s new production of the Bard’s “Love’s Labor’s Lost” is a joyous voyage of discovery, a comedic delight that strips away the thicket of a problematic play and leaves us with the bare sober truth of human folly. Deftly edited and wittily directed by Marti Maraden, it brings together an acting ensemble so well integrated that the whole rollicking night feels like the work of a practiced improv troupe. ★★★★★

Shakespeare 400 Chicago: ‘The Winter’s Tale’ brings remembrance of Bard near final curtain

Dec 20, 2016 – 2:22 pm
A WINTER’S TALE by Shakespeare,          , Writer - William Shakespeare, Director - 
Declan Donnellan, Designer - 
Nick Ormerod
, Cheeck by Jowl, 2015, Credit: Johan Persson/

Review: Chicagoland theater buffs have spent a goodly part of the last year reveling in the many and wondrously diverse events of Shakespeare 400 Chicago. This circle of opportunity, revelation and indeed riotous and profound fun – engineered mainly by Chicago Shakespeare Theater and its artistic director, Barbara Gaines — comes to a close Dec. 21 with the final performances of “The Winter’s Tale.” It’s a crackling production by the British company Cheek by Jowl, and one that brings the yearlong observance back to its auspicious starting place. ★★★★

English kings in bloody struggles for power: Part 2 of Chicago Shakespeare’s history saga

Sep 27, 2016 – 3:50 pm
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Review: Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s outsized and smartly honed two-part miniseries “Tug of War,” focusing on the endless cycle of royal usurpation and bloodshed in the Bard’s history plays, comes to its conclusion with a sequence that illuminates the brief reign and unsurprising death of horseless Richard III at Bosworth Field. For my part, I shall not ask with the great songstress Peggy Lee, “Is that all there is?” My question is: When will we be able see it again? ★★★★

In unvarnished look at ‘Merchant of Venice,’ there is little room for the quality of mercy

Aug 11, 2016 – 12:32 pm
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Review: In a tradition dating back to Shakespeare’s own time, “The Merchant of Venice,” which frames bitter hatred between Christians and Jews in a metropolis of a distant era, has been labeled as comedy. I doubt that anyone who sees the brutally frank Shakespeare’s Globe production now running at Chicago Shakespeare Theater will come away laughing. ★★★★★

‘Othello’ at Chicago Shakespeare: Evil cedes center stage to a figure tragic and splendid

Mar 24, 2016 – 10:04 pm
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Review: What is so striking about the current, altogether marvelous production of “Othello” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater is that the beleaguered Moor is no mere catalyst in the very events of which he is the object, but rather presents himself as a man – a great military general — worthy of his reputation. In the person of James Vincent Meredith’s Othello, and in the care of British director Jonathan Munby, Shakespeare’s play for once does not seem to be first and foremost about Iago. ★★★★★

In Russian troupe’s ‘Measure for Measure,’ virtue and its opposite bear a close kinship

Jan 29, 2016 – 5:14 pm
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Review: One well might argue that Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure” is a less than perfect play. But the neatly framed picture of hypocrisy at its core is so clear, indeed so ringingly universal in its human embrace, that it resonates in any culture. Witness the Russian-language production (with English supertitles) that officially popped the cork Jan. 27 on Shakespeare 400 Chicago, a yearlong aggregation of events dramatic and otherwise spearheaded by Chicago Shakespeare Theater. ★★★★

‘The Tempest’ at Chicago Shakespeare: Magic rules on Prospero’s island, by wand and word

Sep 18, 2015 – 9:31 pm
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Review: In double magic that beguiles ear and eye with levity and levitation, Chicago Shakespeare Theater has invoked a rare vision of the Bard’s lyrical play of vengeance transcended by forgiveness, “The Tempest.” Co-directed with no slight imagination and great sleight of hand by Adam Posner and the magician Teller (he of Penn and Teller fame), CST’s season opener is pure enchantment – as credibly human and affecting as it is vibrant, fanciful and fresh. ★★★★★

Theater 2015-16: Presto! Chicago Shakespeare season blows in with super-magical ‘Tempest’

Sep 2, 2015 – 11:40 pm
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8th in a series of season previews

‘Lear’ at Chicago Shakespeare: A worthy king rules over concept that Frankly doesn’t sing

Oct 4, 2014 – 9:33 am
Crazed, rejected Lear (Larry Yando, right) confronts wild nature with his devoted Fool (Ross Lehman). (Liz Lauren)

Review: Were it not for Larry Yando’s crushing turn in the title role, Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s “King Lear” would amount to little more than an ill-advised concept played out by a cast that largely misses both the pulse and the pressure of Shakespeare’s language. Setting aside for the moment this production’s manifold curiosities, at its core reigns the regal figure of Yando, whose portrait of Lear – as imperious fool stripped to his humiliated soul – is an experience not to be missed. ★★★

Theater 2014-15: Chicago Shakespeare bounty runs gamut from ‘Lear’ to Jane Austen musical

Aug 17, 2014 – 1:18 pm
Larry Yando in the title role of 'King Lear' at Chicago Shakespeare autumn 2014. (JeffSciortino)

Fifth in a series of season previews: Chicago Shakespeare Theatre honors its namesake this season with an autumn production of “King Lear,” the fantastic adventures of “Pericles” and a contemporary sequel to “Macbeth” that wryly ponders the chaos that befalls Scotland upon that usurper’s demise. Capping the season will be the world premiere of the musical “Sense and Sensibility,” composer-lyricist Paul Gordon’s adaptation of the Jane Austen novel.

Juliet shines sun-bright in American Players’ earthy view of Shakespeare tragedy

Jul 2, 2014 – 2:41 pm
It's love at first sight for Juliet (Melisa Pereyra) and her Romeo (Christopher Sheard). (Carissa Dixon)

Review: Care as we may for the oft love-struck young swain in Shakespeare’s great tragedy “Romeo and Juliet,” it is Juliet whose desperate predicament holds our hearts in thrall. A successful staging requires, above all else, an irresistible Juliet, radiant indeed as the eastern sun, and American Players Theatre’s affecting summer run boasts just such a blazing star in Melisa Pereyra. ★★★★

London Aisle: At Shakespeare’s Globe, bloody revenge served au naturel in ‘Titus Andronicus’

Jun 17, 2014 – 12:20 am
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Review: To watch a production by Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on its home turf, an open-air replica of the Bard’s original playhouse, is to sense the Elizabethan theater as a living, breathing – not to mention grunting and sweating – organism. Amid the swarming actors, you’re on top of the action; or make that, in the recent instance of that spectacle of maim and slaughter “Titus Andronicus,” the mayhem. ★★★★

Under new director, American Players Theatre shows changed outlook with Mamet opener

Jun 14, 2014 – 8:07 am
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Preview: As if running up a banner announcing its annexation of the New World – where, of course, it is located – the classically oriented American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wis., opens its 2014 summer with a new commitment to Americana, leading off with no less bracing a representative than David Mamet’s “American Buffalo.”

‘Henry V’ at Chicago Shakespeare: Noble production, except His Majesty is missing

May 23, 2014 – 10:51 pm
Henry (Harry Judge) exults as his troops rout the French at Agincourt. (Liz Lauren)

Review: Chicago Shakespeare’s vivacious production of “Henry V” poses something of a paradox: Much of its energy emanates from the youthful presence of Canadian import Harry Judge as the king – and what is least remarkable about this show is Judge’s surface-skimming account of the embattled monarch. ★★★

With Sir John Falstaff as an overstuffed delight, CST romps in ‘Merry Wives of Windsor’

Jan 4, 2014 – 4:36 pm
Mistresses Ford (Heidi Kettenring, left) and Page (Kelli Fox) with the antlered Falstaff (Scott Jaeck) at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. (Liz Lauren)

Review: You never know what pared-down, free-wheeling adaptation of Shakespeare you’re going to get at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. But even for CST, its 1940s setting of “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” complete with a musical track of period pop tunes, takes fast-and-loose into a new dimension. It’s also a complete delight. ★★★★

Shakespeare rules the playbill as Stratford unveils plans for its 2014 summer festival

Aug 22, 2013 – 11:19 am
Shakespeare c 1610, the recently discovered Cobbe portrait, believed to have been created  while he was alive (Getty Images - Wiki)

Report: While the Stratford Festival has shed its branding association with the Bard of Avon, any concerns that the festival might really be loosening its traditional ties with Shakespeare should be allayed by newly announced plans for the summer of 2014. The Bard abounds. The festival’s five Shakespeare productions will include two takes on “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” — a full-scale account and a “chamber” version for just four players directed by one of the world’s most innovative masters of stagecraft, Peter Sellars.

‘Two Gentlemen of Verona’ lights the open sky with crisp mirth at American Players

Jul 29, 2013 – 10:12 pm
Buddies Valentine (Travis A. Knight) and Proteus (Marcus Truschinski) become rivals in love in The Two Gentlemen of Verona at APT 2013 (Zane Williams)

Review: Traditional criticism hasn’t been altogether kind to Shakespeare’s early comedy “The Two Gentlemen of Verona,” which is often portrayed as a workshop effort that set the stage for the Bard’s later, more sophisticated riffs on the madness of love. But this summer’s sharply drawn, energetic and sly production at American Players Theatre makes a savvy, satisfying case for a comedy worth catching. ★★★★

Chicago Shakespeare returns Bard to parks with merry madness of ‘Comedy of Errors’

Jul 27, 2013 – 11:45 am
Madcap physical comedy is essential to the mix in 'The Comedy of Errors,' now in the parks, produced by Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Credit Chuck Osgood

Preview: What could be funnier, or crazier, a more riotous lark than Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s touring production of the Bard’s “Taming of the Shrew” in parks across Chicago last summer? The answer well may be this summer’s CST encore: 26 free performances in 18 parks of Shakespeare’s madcap farce “The Comedy of Errors.”

American Players Theatre offers Shakespeare, Friel, Stoppard in a festival mix in the woods

Jun 14, 2013 – 11:40 pm
Colleen Madden in Molly Sweeney at American Players Theatre credit Zane Williams

Preview: What’s in a name? American Players Theatre, which has been filling summers with drama since 1980 in the woods of Spring Green, Wis., doesn’t trade on the Shakespeare brand. But in every aspect of making theater, from staging to vocal delivery to its choice of plays, this ambitious enterprise hews to the Bard as its reference point. In the 2013 mix of eight plays, which opens June 15, APT includes a typical infusion of Shakespeare, a stylistic sweep from “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” and “Hamlet” to “Antony and Cleopatra.”

Role Playing: Ora Jones had to find her way into Katherine’s frayed world in ‘Henry VIII’

Jun 11, 2013 – 3:05 pm
Ora Jones as Queen Katherine in Henry VIII at Chicago Shakespeare Theater credit Liz Lauren

Interview: Ora Jones, so assured and imposing as Queen Katherine in “Henry VIII” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, was just as confident she had blown her audition for the part. And that wasn’t such a bad thing, she thought – because Katherine’s great speech in her trial scene, the very audition piece that Jones would come to deliver with authentic majesty, had left the actor essentially mystified.

‘Measure for Measure’ (read: laugh for laugh), Goodman’s screamer would be hard to top

Mar 21, 2013 – 10:57 pm
9Isabella (Alejandra Escalante) is offered a carnal bargain by Angelo (Jay Whittaker) in "Measure for Measure" at Goodman Theatre 2013 credit Liz Lauren

Review: ★★★★

Role Playing: Dion Johnstone turned outsider Antony to bloody purpose in ‘Julius Caesar’

Mar 19, 2013 – 1:29 pm
Actor Dion Johnstone

Interview: The actor who portrays Marc Antony in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” draws one of the greatest speeches in the Bard’s canon: the dramatically pivotal funeral oration for the slain Caesar. But that opportunity, says Dion Johnstone, whose eloquent and driven Marc Antony fires the current production at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, comes freighted with compact and perilous challenges. “From the moment Marc Antony enters the Senate and sees Caesar’s bloody corpse, with Brutus and the other assassins all still there, he’s in serious danger,” the actor says. “And despite his overwhelming grief, he has to think fast.”

Shakespeare and discounts at center stage, revamped Stratford opens for summer ’13

Jan 4, 2013 – 3:47 pm
Festival Theatre, 2010. Photography by Krista Dodson

Report: 25 percent off thru Jan. 31.

The New Season: Chicago Shakespeare offers a walk ‘In the Park with George’ and a premiere

Oct 2, 2012 – 12:32 am
Stephen Sondheim Sunday in the Park with George promotional montage Chicago Shakespeare Theater 2012

15th in a series of season previews: Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s 2012-13 season will extend artistic director Barbara Gaines’ deep exploration of the Bard with “Henry VIII” as associate artistic director Gary Griffin adds a Sondheim encore to last year’s hit production of “Follies.” And Gaines will direct what she calls “the funniest play I ever read” in the Chicago premiere of David Ives’ comedy “The School for Lies,” a romping modern spin on Molière’s “The Misanthrope.”

To cut, to shift, perchance to sharpen, Writers’ bold ‘Hamlet’ matches conviction with power

Sep 14, 2012 – 5:07 pm

Review: ★★★★★

The New Season: ‘Sweet Bird’ lifts Goodman into a lineup feathered with 3 world premieres

Sep 4, 2012 – 7:12 pm
Playwright Tennessee Williams

13th in a series of season previews: Three world premieres punctuate an ambitious slate of nine productions at the Goodman Theatre in the coming season. Two other shows are Chicago premieres. The red-letter lineup begins with Tennessee Williams’ “Sweet Bird of Youth,” following up on last season’s high-profile account of Williams’ “Camino Real.”

The New Season: To be or not to be (truthful) proves question of the year at Writers’ Theatre

Aug 17, 2012 – 1:15 pm
Hamlet to open Writers' Theatre season 2012-13 image courtesy Writers

Eighth in a series of season previews: Words, words, words. Are they the stuff of truth or the fabric of prevarication? Writers’ Theatre will bookend its 2012-13 season with both possibilities, swinging the spotlight from Shakespeare’s Hamlet in his quest for veracity to Corneille’s feigning manipulator in “The Liar.”

Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s 2013 season will restore focus on the Bard, classic drama

Jul 17, 2012 – 9:13 pm
Festival Theatre, 2003. Photography by Richard Bain.

“Romeo” and “Othello” top the list.

Chicago Shakespeare’s teen-length ‘Shrew,’ pulling out laugh stops, shows way to do Will

Mar 3, 2012 – 6:40 pm
Taming of the Shrew Featured Image Matt Mueller as Petruchio woos Ericka Ratcliff as Katharina Short Shakespeare! Chicago Shakespeare Theater 2012 credit Liz Lauren

Spunky side of the Bard. 4 stars!