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Articles in Theater + Stage

In ‘Freud’s Last Session,’ an ailing analyst wrestles with death and a Christian convert

Mar 28, 2012 – 12:06 am
Freud's Last Session Featured Image Martin Rayner and Mark H. Dold Mercury Theater credit Carol Rosegg

Debating God at the Mercury. 3 stars.

It’s ‘The Seagull’ as smoke-and-mirrors romp in stylish Lunt-Fontanne frolic ‘Ten Chimneys’

Mar 25, 2012 – 10:36 pm
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Review: That master of the modern English comedy of manners, Noel Coward, might plausibly have written “Ten Chimneys,” the light-hearted toss of a play now occupying Northlight Theatre. It is so stylish, so wry, so – well, ephemeral. ***

August Wilson’s legacy resonates in vitality of African portraiture by playwright Danai Gurira

Mar 24, 2012 – 4:36 pm
Danai Gurira collage credit T Charles Erickson background

Report: All 20 precociously accomplished high school actors who took part in the August Wilson Monologue Competition at the Goodman Theatre were offered, as part of their winnings, free tickets to American playwright Danai Gurira’s “The Convert,” onstage at the Goodman through March 25. I hope they took the Goodman up on it. Wilson’s legacy is strongly continued with Gurira’s reflection upon her own African roots in a former capital of British colonialism.

Role Playing: Rebecca Finnegan finds lyrical heart of a lonely woman in ‘A Catered Affair’

Mar 21, 2012 – 7:34 pm
Rebecca Finnegan featured image by Brandon Dahlquist

Interview: So perfectly does Rebecca Finnegan blend her painful lyric pauses into the narrative flow of “A Catered Affair,” at Porchlight Music Theater, that you scarcely notice she has ramped up from speech to song. Then the swelling power of that voice grabs you, and you realize you’re watching something special: an accomplished actor who’s also a genuine singer.

Nathan Lane and straight man Brian Dennehy break the ice with a blitz of interview zingers

Mar 21, 2012 – 12:29 pm
Nathan Lane featured image

A bit o’ comic relief at the Goodman.

Williams’ ‘Camino Real’ reshaped as director sets lyricism on a collision course with libido

Mar 17, 2012 – 2:39 pm
Camino Real Featured Image Calixto Bieito Tennessee Williams Goodman Theatre 2012

Carnal carnival at Goodman. 3 stars.

Role Playing: Bill Norris pulled the seedy bum in ‘The Caretaker’ from a place within himself

Mar 13, 2012 – 4:56 pm
Bill Norris 550 featured image role playing

Interview: The scruffy creature with darting eyes who calls himself Davies looks like his last bed was a cardboard box on the street. He is the elusive but palpably real character at the core of Harold Pinter’s play “The Caretaker,” now on the boards at Writers’ Theatre, and he’s brought to wheedling, calculating life in a masterful piece of acting by Bill Norris.

Raven Theatre sifts through debris and debate of ‘The Price,’ but can’t deliver the payoff

Mar 11, 2012 – 2:10 pm
The Price by Arthur Miller at Raven Theatre Chicago John Steinhagen Chuck Spencer credit Dean LaPrairie

Arthur Miller on memory’s attic. 3 stars.

With a vision of grace in the Arizona desert, Strawdog draws life from ‘Petrified Forest’

Mar 7, 2012 – 1:58 am
Petrified Forest featured image Strawdog 2012 Caroline Neff Adam Shalzi Jamie Vann John Moran

Desperate souls in a diner. 4 stars!

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!

As German bombardment strands Leningrad, political fear feeds desperation in ‘Hunger’

Feb 27, 2012 – 5:50 pm
Ilya and Alena closeup feature first crop

Portrait of duress at Lifeline. 4 stars!

In Porchlight’s ‘Catered Affair,’ a musical about ordinary people proves a dramatic jewel

Feb 24, 2012 – 1:29 am
A Catered Affair Featured Rebecca Finnegan and Kelly Davis Wilson Photo by Brandon Dahlquist

A play verging on opera. 4 stars!

Darn that ‘Dream’ – Chicago Shakespeare does double take on Bard’s lovers, fairies

Feb 20, 2012 – 2:18 am
Midsummer Night's Dream Chicago Shakespeare Theatre 2012 featured image 2 credit Liz Lauren

It’s a midsummer night… 4 stars!

Wrestling with sins of the flesh, a porn star finds salvation comes at a cost in ‘Hesperia’

Feb 18, 2012 – 4:09 pm
Kelly O'Sullivan and Nathan Hosner in Hesperia Writers Theatre credit Michael Brosilow

Sex and religion at Writers’. 4 stars!

It’s all about the verbs, present and veiled past, as lies collide in ‘The Girl in the Yellow Dress’

Feb 13, 2012 – 2:05 am
Girl in the Yellow Dress Next Theatre credit Elissa Shortridge

Student-teacher clash at Next. 4 stars!

To beat of song and dance, ‘Ameriville’ sounds cautionary tales of life on the short end

Feb 9, 2012 – 12:56 am
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Stompin’ at Victory Gardens. 3 stars

Steppenwolf’s dark view of ‘Time Stands Still’ frames a close-up of war’s toll

Feb 4, 2012 – 9:45 pm
Time Stands Still Steppenwolf Featured Image credit Michael Brosilow Guinan Murphy

Some wounds heal slowly. 4 stars!

When ethnic roots snag the American dream, idealism stumbles in ‘Disgraced’

Feb 2, 2012 – 5:43 pm
Disgraced Featured Image American Theater Co 2012 credit Michael Brosilow

Meltdown at Amer. Theater Co. 5 stars!

It’s Mamet, so nothing’s plain as black/white when Goodman taps the bitter humor of ‘Race’

Jan 24, 2012 – 8:00 pm
Race, Goodman Theatre

Cynically, unbearably funny. 4 stars!

‘Mr. Rickey’ imagines a prelude to history, before Jackie Robinson joined the Dodgers

Jan 19, 2012 – 8:11 pm
Mr Rickey Calls Meeting featured image

Full count at the Lookingglass. 3 stars.

Role Playing: Diane D’Aquila’s twice regal portrait as lover-monarch in ‘Elizabeth Rex’

Jan 9, 2012 – 3:36 am
Diane D'Aquila featured image

Interview: Diane D’Aquila, who brings Queen Elizabeth I to regal and vulnerable life in Timothy Findley’s “Elizabeth Rex” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, says acting in this gripping, keenly honed production “is a like a dance out there, and it’s scary as hell.”

‘Penelope’ at Steppenwolf: Four guys in an empty pool, down to life’s last threads

Dec 22, 2011 – 3:38 pm
Penelope featured image Steppenwolf Theatre Yasen Peyankov Scott Jaeck Tracy Letts credit Michael Brosilow

And Odysseus is bearing down. 3 stars.

Role Playing: Dean Evans, in clown costume, enters the darkness of ‘Burning Bluebeard’

Dec 20, 2011 – 7:26 pm
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Interview: His clown suit, a bit tattered and soiled with soot, looks like it once might have been pure white. But the character Dean Evans plays in the Neo-Futurists’ production of “Burning Bluebeard” is decidedly dark, one might even say spectral.

‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ and a wonderful night when ATC revisits ‘radio’ parable of faith

Dec 19, 2011 – 4:02 pm
Wonderful Life featured image American Theater Company 2011

Capra’s film as oldie broadcast. 4 stars!

New talents refresh evergreen tradition in sharp-shooting musical ‘A Christmas Story’

Dec 16, 2011 – 4:26 am
A Christmas Story The Musical Clarke Hallum as Ralphie and kids Chicago 2011

Debut tour at Chicago Theatre. 4 stars!

Queen’s agony over love and duty gets royal treatment in CST’s searing ‘Elizabeth Rex’

Dec 11, 2011 – 3:52 pm
Diane D'Aquila Elizabeth Rex featured image Chicago Shakespeare Theater credit Liz Lauren

Shakespeare’s in the barn. 5 stars!

New York ‘Follies’ stars Broadway babies old enough to have a boffo then and now

Dec 7, 2011 – 1:32 pm
Follies Set-Ups

Appreciation: The showgirls of Broadway’s “Follies” have histories of their own. Hats off to these flawless charmers and their former selves in a present — and past — perfect production.

Goodman Theatre’s magical ‘Christmas Carol’ redeems sour Scrooge with heart and laughter

Dec 3, 2011 – 6:34 am
Scrooge Featured image

Festive retelling for all ages. 4 stars!

‘An Iliad’ reconsiders the poet who brought us Achilles, Agamemnon, Hector and all that

Nov 28, 2011 – 6:23 pm
An Iliad Featured Image Timothy Edward Kane credit Michael Brosilow

One-man invasion at the Court. 4 stars!

Role Playing: Dan Waller wields a personal brush as uneasy genius of ‘Pitmen Painters’

Nov 26, 2011 – 5:20 pm
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Interview: Actor Dan Waller describes himself as a simple guy who values friendship and the respect of his peers. That makes him a close kin to the North England coal miner, revealed as gifted artist, he portrays in Lee Hall’s play “The Pitmen Painters” at TimeLine Theatre.