Fun Home—Victory Gardens (11/1/17)

“Welcome to the Fun Home” is one of those songs that stays in my head long after the show has ended. The three Bechdel children, standing in front of an open coffin, perform a joyous advertisement, which they wrote and choreographed, for their father’s funeral parlor. Every line from lyricist Lisa Kron masterfully captures the voice of childhood starting with… “Your uncle died / You’re feeling low / You’ve got to bury your mama / But you don’t know where to go.”

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Stella Rose Hoyt, Leo Gonzalez and Preetish Chakraborty

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Fun Home—Victory Gardens (11/1/17)

Man of La Mancha — Marriott (7/16/16)

With his unique staging of Man of La Mancha, director Nick Bowling appears to be on a quest of his own—whether that quest ends honorably or deteriorates into a fool’s errand is up to the individual theatergoer.

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Nathaniel Stampley with the quartet performing “Little Bird, Little Bird”–(from top) Brandon Springman, Jonathon Butler-Duplessis, Bobby Daye, and Andrew Mueller.

Be aware that my reactions were distinctly out of sync with many in the audience, a majority of whom rushed to their feet during the standing ovation.  Other theatergoers on the way out gushed about this new interpretation of a beloved classic.  Bowling appears to have created a crowd pleaser.

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Man of La Mancha — Marriott (7/16/16)

In the Time of the Butterflies — Teatro Vista (4/16/16 & 5/15/16)

Dedè, the most cautious of the four sister protagonists in Teatro Vista’s The Time of the Butterflies, is haunted by the accusation that she watched through her window and did nothing while her three sisters risked everything to end the dictatorship  of “El Jefe” Trujillo.

Playwright Caridad Suich explores the complexity of Dedè’s character through two actors—Charìn Alvarez playing Dedè as an elderly woman and Riska Carrasco playing the younger Dedè that survived Trujillo’s 31-year reign.  She was left alone to tell the story of her three sisters’ murders (which were among 30,000 deaths of those that opposed Trujillo).

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Charin Alvarez and Riska Carrasco

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In the Time of the Butterflies — Teatro Vista (4/16/16 & 5/15/16)

Broadway Shows (Part 2) — 12/20/15

Being a fan of puppetry, particularly the use of puppetry to push boundaries, I was excited for my third show—the comedy Hand to God.  In fact, Hand to God provided some immediacy for this vacation as it is closing on January 3.

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Tyrone in his opening monologue.

Tyrone—a loud-mouthed, violent, and possibly demonic hand puppet—begins and ends the play with hilarious monologues about the nature of evil (spoiler alert: it’s humans who created evil… not the other way around).  Steven Boyer keeps his hands moving at light speed as Tyrone rants, raves, and attacks both his ventriloquist Jason and the four other characters in this outstanding ensemble cast.

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Broadway Shows (Part 2) — 12/20/15

East of Eden — Steppenwolf Theater (11/13/15)

Frank Galati’s adaptation of John Steinbeck’s East of Eden is a four-character affair.  Yes, the play includes six additional actors performing 10 additional roles, but the spotlight stays focused on the dysfunctional Trask family and their biblical fall from grace.

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Adam (Tim Hopper) will soon learn that he is powerless to stop Cathy (Kate Arrington) from leaving.

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East of Eden — Steppenwolf Theater (11/13/15)

1984 — Steppenwolf Theater (10/31/15)

Fortunately I am allowed more than six words for “good” when writing about 1984, which returned to Chicago at Steppenwolf’s upstairs theater after an original production at Lookingglass in 2004.  Andrew White’s adaptation begins with characters systematically reworking the dictionary to make less room for originality in thought.  The correct words to describe this production would be “double-plus good” except in this dystopian world reviewing a theater show would be a “thought crime.”

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Castmembers Tyrone Phillips, Elizabeth Birnkrant, Adam Poss and Dennis Grimes.  Projection design by Joseph A. Burke.

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1984 — Steppenwolf Theater (10/31/15)