Articles tagged with: Stephen Sondheim
Review: By now, Lyric Opera of Chicago can claim an impressive string of spring musicals, hugely popular explorations of classic Americana that appear like shining exclamation marks at the end of regular opera seasons. The latest, “West Side Story,” well may be the finest. Indeed, you might be hard pressed ever to find a more profoundly satisfying account of this exquisite music-drama, which shares with its model, Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” both its bittersweet hope and its timeless tragedy. ★★★★★
Review: It has been only a half-season inauguration, this first series of plays in Writers Theatre’s splendid new building, but the finale, a sly and penetrating account of Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Company,” exemplifies how the main stage offers visitors an intimate, indeed an ideal, theatrical experience. ★★★★
20th in a series of season previews: Writers Theatre artistic director Michael Halberstam sees ideal choices in the two major productions planned for the spring 2016 opening of the company’s brand new home in Glencoe – Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia” and the Stephen Sondheim musical “Company.”
Review: Chicago’s getting everything right at the beginning of this summer season. The day after the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, the weather was picnic perfect at Millennium Park, where the free Grant Park Music Festival got underway. Thousands laid down their blankets on the great lawn at Pritzker Pavilion. Even the curse of the overture “Drip” – rained out two seasons running – was finally broken. Check out our top festival picks.
Review: I came away from “Sondheim on Sondheim,” produced by Porchlight Music Theatre at Stage 773, laughing out loud as I mentally replayed the many video snippets of Stephen Sondheim talking about his life and art, setups for this musical revue of his stage works offered by an immensely talented pianist and an able vocal cast of eight. The live musical component of the show is both ambitious in scope and vocally demanding. Porchlight’s presentation comes off as spirited, engaging and capable, but also uneven. ★★★
Review: The demon barber of Fleet Street is a bad one, that’s for sure; and Porchlight Music Theatre has a good one in David Girolmo. But the crucial ingredient of Stephen Sondheim’s macabre musical is that demonic purveyor of meat pies, Mrs. Lovett – and in Rebecca Finnegan, Porchlight boasts a beaut. ★★★★★
Review: Imagine a homicidal hearts club of a very particular kind, where killers of U.S. presidents (and would-be killers) gather to clash and kibitz and relive the “why” in a time-bending collage, and you have “Assassins.” Chicago’s latest pocket production of the John Weidman-Stephen Sondheim 1990 classic comes at the close of a remarkable season for precision-cut Sondheim stagings, and this is one of them. ★★★★
Interview: In creating his musical “Into the Woods,” composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim perhaps viewed the witch’s show-stopping number about her vegetable garden as a direct descendant of the patter songs long associated with Gilbert and Sullivan. But to Hillary Marren, who plays the old crone in The Hypocrites’ imaginative staging, the veggie song is exactly what it sounds like in her disarming, rapid-fire delivery — a very smart rap.
Review: Chicago Shakespeare Theater has given us a “Gypsy” for our own time, one that embraces the difference that 55 years have made since the brassy blockbuster first strutted onto the stage. As directed by Gary Griffin, it’s a gritty roadshow musical with a surprisingly contemporary and tender heart. ★★★★★
Review: From paper and string and other found objects — in the hands of a wonderfully talented cast and a whiz of a director — The Hypocrites theater company has cobbled together a magical production of Stephen Sondheim’s fairytale mash-up musical “Into the Woods.” ★★★★★
Fourth in a series of season previews: Porchlight Music Theatre prides itself on taking a new approach to classic musicals, “as if the script just came across the desk,” says managing artistic director Michael Weber. Opening with the Chicago premiere of the two-hand farce “Double Trouble,” Porchlight’s 2013-14 season reflects that spirit of approaching a show “with an understanding that we can stretch it and explore it in a different way.”
Preview: The crux of conflict in the musical “West Side Story” may be the time-honored insanity of warring factions – the Sharks and the Jets in this case – but the play is also a portrait of cultural assimilation and clashing perspectives on what an immigrant group has to gain and what it risks losing. This American classic comes to the Oriental Theatre on June 11 in a version modeled on the latest Broadway production, even to the use of Spanish dialogue.
Ravinia Festival Best Bets: If you want to branch out a bit musically, the summertime Ravinia Festival in Highland Park is a good place for it. There, classical music lovers sample niche-expanding novelties of the sort that gave Brooklyn Academy of Music its must-see reputation. College students picnic on the lawn for free when the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performs. And family friendly movie prices rule for recitals featuring the latest contest winners and stars on the rise.
B’way bound ‘Big Fish’ starts here
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.”
Sondheim’s paean to love. 4 stars!
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.
Interview: At the center of Stephen Sondheim’s acerbic musical “Follies”stands Benjamin Stone, worldly, rich, the envy of his old acquaintances gathered at this reunion of theater folks. Ben is all of that, and one more thing — miserable. Veteran actor Brent Barrett offers a candid analysis of the self-centered cad and womanizer.
At Chi. Shakespeare Theater. 5 stars!