You only think you know Paul Gauguin

 

Go to the Art Institute of Chicago to see some fascinating paintings of  Breton and Tahitian  women or of Martinique landscapes by Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin.

Gauguin, 1889 "In the Waves (Ondine I), oil on canvas Photo taken at the exhibit by Jodie Jacobs
Gauguin, 1889 “In the Waves (Ondine I), oil on canvas.
Photo taken at the exhibit by Jodie Jacobs

Or go to the museum to see extraordinary ceramics by Gauguin. He called them his “monstrosities. They really aren’t.

Or go the museum to see Gauguin’s fine prints and woodwork.

But no matter what you expect to see in the Gauguin exhibit now at the Art Institute of Chicago through Sept. 10, 2017, you will be astonished.

As Gloria Groom, curator of “Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist” says in a video on the museum site, “Just when you think you know what he is doing he does something extraordinary and surprises you.”

What you will see are images that may start as drawings or be used on a ceramic piece and end up in paintings. You will also see decorative art.

But also look up on the walls. There are quotes by Gauguin that offer insight into the man, the painter, the philosopher, the traveler and the artist who influenced other artists. So don’t hurry through the exhibit.

“I must work seven or eight months at a stretch absorbing the character of the people of the country, which is essential for good painting… You must remember that I have a dual nature,” says a quote high on one of the exhibit walls.

The introductory panel at the entrance explains the exhibit’s title. “As an alchemist converts one element into another, Gauguin believed in the artist’s ability to take raw materials and transform them into something entirely new.”

Paul Gauguin 1890-91 "Portrait of the artist with the Yellow Christ" Musee d'Orsay. Photo thanks to Art Institute of Chicago
Paul Gauguin 1890-91 “Portrait of the artist with the Yellow Christ” Musee d’Orsay. Photo thanks to Art Institute of Chicago

Look for objects including furniture that Gauguin decorated. Also take time to watch some of the videos that show how the artist worked with different materials.

A short movie near the entrance talks about trying to define Gauguin’s style and changing focus. It offers more insight into the artist and his works.

In the video on the Art Institute site, Groom says, “This man is so amazingly layered. He’s so complex.”

So, it is very likely that what “Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist” does for viewers is introduce them to an artist they only thought they knew.

The Gauguin exhibit at the Art Institute requires tickets. Tip: get the ear phones available near the exhibit entrance. They are quire helpful. The exhibit will go to Grand Palais in Paris in October 2017.

The Art Institute of Chicago is at 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Illinois. For ticket and other information call (312) 443-3600 and visit AIC.

A covered bridge uncovers hidden emotional needs

 

RECOMMENDED

When Francesca, the central female character in “The Bridges of Madison County,” wonders aloud how Robert, a National Geographic photographer, came to her doorstep in Winterset, Iowa, she answers herself with the wonderful line, “The patron saint of Iowa housewives sent you to me.”

Kathy Voytko and Nathaniel Stampley in 'Bridges of Madison County' at Marriott theatre. Photo by Liz Lauren
Kathy Voytko and Nathaniel Stampley in ‘Bridges of Madison County’ at Marriott Theatre. Photo by Liz Lauren

And so, it might explain how and why a woman whose husband and two kids are off to snag a prized-steer award at a neighboring state fair might seriously consider an extramarital affair and even consider leaving home for a new-found love.

Francesca, who winds up on an Iowa farm after leaving Italy with an American soldier, is brilliantly portrayed by Broadway and Jeff-Award winning actress, Kathy Voytko.

Well-directed by Nick Bowling at Marriott Theatre, the show is a heartbreaking romance that uncovers buried emotional needs.

Voytko’s face and body movements are so expressive it is easy to empathize with this housewife who suddenly feels appreciated as a woman and is fascinated by someone who travels the world for work.

What also helps are Marsha Norman’s script (book) and Jason Robert Brown’s thoughtful and moving music and lyrics.

There is “What Do You Call a Man Like That?” which Voyko beautifully sings on the covered Roseman Bridge she helped Robert locate. It alerts the audience that more than a casual relationship will develop.

Then there is the terrific, first-act ending “Falling into You,” the beautifully sensual duet Voyko sings with Robert, insightfully played by Nathaniel Stampley.

Although based on the novel by Robert James Waller, the musical is not a reproduction of it or the 1995 Clint Eastwood film that won Meryl Streep an Oscar nomination. (Voytko’s performance ought to bring her a Jeff Award nomination). The musical’s ending is different though won’t be revealed here.

Francesca’s family which is periodically interjected into the action includes husband Bud, maybe deliberately understated by Bart Shatto to promote the contrast between farmer and lover, daughter Carolyn played with spirited angst by Brooks MacDougal and son Michael who does not want to become a farmer as explained by Tanner Hake. An older Carolyn in Act II is Allyson Graves.

Their neighbors are Marge interpreted with sympathy by Wydetta Carter (she also sings “Get closer”) and her husband, Charlie, nicely played by Terry Hamilton.

Emily Berman does a fine memory-style interlude with a guitar when she sings “Another Life”  as Marian, Robert’s ex-wife.

The Iowa scenery is well captured by Anthony Churchill’s projections on the theatre’s walls.  Set design by Jeffry D. Kmiec features the bridge, a masterful centerpiece.

Details: “The Bridges of Madison County” is at Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Dr, Lincolnshire, IL through Aug. 13, 2017. For tickets and other information call (847) 634-0200 and visit Marriott Theatre.

 

Eugene O’Neill comedy at Goodman is lighthearted and profound

 

RECOMMENDED

Perfect for a month that includes the Fourth of July, Eugene O’Neill’s “Ah, Wilderness,” is about hope, wistfulness, freedom and coming of age in an idyllic family setting at the turn of the last century.

The extended Miller family in Eugene O'Neill's "Ah, Wilderness!" at Goodman Theatre. Photo by Liz Lauren
The extended Miller family in Eugene O’Neill’s “Ah, Wilderness!” at Goodman Theatre. Photo by Liz Lauren

So don’t, when you see the play is by O’Neill who penned the Pulitzer Prize-winning, semi-autobiographical play, “Long Day’s Journey into Night,” think dark family drama.

They both take place on a Connecticut seashore but “Ah, Wilderness” is a lighthearted comedy that likely presents the type of family O’Neill wished he had.

You will meet the Miller family during the Fourth of July. Nat, the father is presented intelligently and with empathy by Randall Newsome as a fine newspaper editor and family man who pretty much goes along with whatever wife Essie (Ora Jones) and second son Richard (Niall Cunningham) want.

It’s easy to see that Essie, nicely played by Ora Jones, softly wears the “pants” in the family. Richard, brilliantly interpreted by Niall Cunningham as an intellectual high school student who favors flowery, somewhat purple prose and poetry, adores neighboring sweetheart Muriel McComber (Ayssette Monoz).

Thus the title is taken from a translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, a favorite poem of Richard. Many people will recognize at least part of the stanza. It goes “A Book of Verses underneath the Bough, A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread – and thou Beside me singing in the Wilderness – Oh, Wildernesss were Paradise enow!

The rest of the family consists of eldest son Arthur (Travis A. Knight) who attends Yale where Richard is expected to go, daughter Mildred, played with spunk by Rochelle Therrien, and  youngest son Tommy, a cute turn by Matthew Abraham as a boy still in knee pants.

Their extended family include relatives Lily Miller, Nat’s sister who is wistfully interpreted by Kate Fry as the former fiancée of Sid Davis, Essie’s brother. They still love each other but he can’t change because he loves drink, gambling and “ladies of the night” too much. Davis is done with humor but without remorse by the talented Larry Bates.

Rounding out the picture are Norah, a funnily clumsy maid played with wonderfully comedic moves by Bri Sudia and Belle, the “fast” woman delightfully handled by Amanda Drinkall whom Richard is paired with at a local dive.

Muriel’s dad, David McComber, is portrayed as the dislikeable but understandably protective father by Ricardo Gutierrez. Also in the show are the dive’s bartender (Joe Dempsey) and The Salesman at the bar (Bret Tuomi).

The production also works now in 2017 even though its time period is 1906 because of the fine directing of Steve Scott (remember the insightful and comedic turns of his Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike). Scott is retiring this summer after several years as a Goodman Theatre producer and director.

Of course there is also Todd Rosenthal’s charming set and Amy Clark’s fine costumes that are wonderfully evocative of the period.

“Ah, Wilderness! is a sweet but not saccharine play of a family that deals philosophically with a teenager going through romantic and philosophical challenges. It even includes a heart-to-heart father-son discussion that almost touches on growing up hormones.

“Ah, Wilderness! is at the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago through July 23, 2017. For tickets and other information call (312) 443-3800 or visit Goodman.

 

Classic tale comes alive on stage

 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

To get teenagers away from their cell phones for a while and interested in learning more about a classic novel or excited about going to a stage show, take them to ‘Moby Dick’ at Lookingglass Theatre.

Mattie Hawkinson, Kelly Abell, Javen Ulambayer and Cordelia Dewdney in 'Mob y Dick' at Lookingglass theatre. Ulambayar is Mungun. the three woman are the Fates and other roles. All photos are by Liz Lauren
Mattie Hawkinson, Kelly Abell, Javen Ulambayer and Cordelia Dewdney in ‘Moby Dick’ at Lookingglass theatre. Ulambayar is Mungun. the three woman are the Fates and other roles. All photos are by Liz Lauren

Following rave reviews on tour, the show is back in town where it first appeared and received four Jeff Awards in 2015. It’s now back home in Lookingglass’ black-box space in the historic Water Tower Water Works (a Chicago Fire survivor) through Sept. 3, 2017.

The way Lookingglass’ David Catlin has adapted and directs the Herman Melville seafaring epic, the story leaps off the pages with great physicality and graphic portrayals.

In addition to an exceptional ensemble, the production is done in association with The Actors Gynmnasium. They are aided and abetted by the fantastic, curving bone-like scenery that mimics the inside of a whale designed by Courtney O’Neill and the rigging designed b y Isaac Schoepp.

But the novel, and thus the show, is more than a tale about a fierce adventure surrounding a white whale called Moby Dick. As the crew of the Pequod find out after they’ve signed on, Captain Ahab who lost a leg to Moby Dick, wants vengeance in a manor reminiscent of Shakespearean tragedies. The story really is about obsession.

Anthony Fleming II, Nathan Hosner, Jamie Abelson and Cordelia Dewdney, Kelly Abell and Mattie Hawkinson in 'Moby Dick'
Anthony Fleming II, Nathan Hosner, Jamie Abelson and Cordelia Dewdney, Kelly Abell and Mattie Hawkinson in ‘Moby Dick’

Ahab, intensely interpreted  by Nathan Hosner, becomes madder to the point of not caring who dies as he pursues his goal.

The story is told by Ishmael, the only crew member who survives the pursuit. Jamie Abelson and Walter Owen Briggs alternate in the role.

On another level, the story is also about men, such as Queequeg, played magnificently by Anthony Fleming III, who seek adventure in place of responsibility, and Starbuck (really, long before the coffee chain) who seeks income through whaling oil.

This is a show that teens and adults who appreciate a well-told, well-presented yarn will appreciate.

‘Moby Dick’ is at Lookingglass Theatre in the Water Works at 821 N. Michigan Ave. through Sept. 3, 2017. For tickets and other information call (312) 337-0665 and visit Lookingglass.

 

Around Town mid June 2017

 

From bike riding to strawberry munching and concerts in a garden to music on a lawn, summer fun is tempting us to find our outdoor muse during or after work.

Chicago Botanic Garden soothes smooths away stress after work. Photos by Jodie Jacobs
Chicago Botanic Garden soothes smooths away stress after work. Photos by Jodie Jacobs

 

Bike to work

First, don’t be surprised if you see more groups of bikers around Chicago, this week. The annual Bike commuter Challenger is upon us asking people to ride a bike to work instead of a train or car. To participate in its fun events and “pit stops” go to Bikedown to register.

 

TGI M/T after work music

Then, for a different way to enjoy a balmy early evening, check out music with a Latin or Swing beat at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Different nights and different weeks feature different musical sounds and bands. For example, Mondays  at 5:30 p.m. there are carillon bells  and Tuesday, the music shifts over to the Esplanade for bluegrass or big band sounds.

Visit Chicago Botanic Garden Evenings for more information. The concerts are free but unless you are a member there is a parking fee per car. The Chicago Botanic Garden is east of Edens Expressway at 1000 Lake Cook Rd, Glencoe.

Ravinia Festival's lawn is a great place to meet friends for an after-work supper.
Ravinia Festival’s lawn is a great place to meet friends for an after-work supper.

 

After-work stress-relieving music

Or get a lawn ticket (best price is ahead of time, not at the gate) to hear perfect after-work music at Ravinia Festival in Highland park.

The Julliard String Quartet is June 20. It’s in the Martin Theatre but usually those programs are broadcast on the lawn.

In the Pavilion are Gypsy Kings June 23, Common June 24, Michael McDonald and Boz Scraggs June 27 and Diana Krall June 28.

For show times and other info visit Ravinia.

 

Have a Strawberry weekend

Long Grove festivals are a chance to see the village.
Long Grove festivals are a chance to see the village.

 

If everything or anything strawberry excites the taste buds, go over to downtown Long Grove, a cute historic village northwest of Chicago, June 23-25.

Along with lots of booths with strawberry sandwiches and desserts there will be several music stages and stuff for kids. Entry is $5 anyone over age 12.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Strawberry fest’s center is at  308 Old McHenry Rd, Long Grove. Visit Long Grove for more information.

 

Superb acting and singing make Lincoln Center ‘King and I’ a must see production

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Laura Michelle Kelly (Anna) and Baylen Thomas (Louis) arrive in Siam in 'The King and I' now on stage at the Oriental Theatre. Photos courtesy of Broadway in Chicago,
Laura Michelle Kelly (Anna) and Baylen Thomas (Louis) arrive in Siam in ‘The King and I’ now on stage at the Oriental Theatre. Photos courtesy of Broadway in Chicago,

Just when you think you have seen as many fine interpretations of how Rogers and Hammerstein’s classic ‘King and I’ musical ought to be done, along comes director Bartlett Sher’s beautiful and insightful Lincoln Center production.

Not only are all the voices in the outstanding category (and how often can you say that), Sher’s direction has brought forth all the characters’ strong motivations.

The songs everyone has come to know and love such as “I Whistle a Happy Tune and Hello Young Lovers” are beautifully sung by Laura Michelle Kelly as governess Anna Leonowens.

Manna Nichols and Kavin Panmeechao as doomed lovers in 'King and I.'
Manna Nichols and Kavin Panmeechao as doomed lovers in ‘King and I.’

“We Kiss in the Shadow” and “I have Dreamed” take on an added coating of sadness and desire when exquisitely sung Manna Nichols and Kavin Panmeechao as doomed lovers Tuptim and Lun Tha.

But you also have Jose Llana who really makes you understand the crossroads where he’s at between Siam’s traditional views and the “westernization” of his court he thinks will keep his country from colonization. He not merely sings, but acts “A Puzzlement.”

Based on the real Anna Leonowens’ memoirs as told by Margaret Landon in the 1944 novel, “Anna and the King of Siam,” the musical depicts how two strong characters, the independent governess Leonowens, and the King, known as Mongkut who sees women as servants, move from strongly-held beliefs to mutual respect, admiration and caring.

Joan Almedilla as Lady Thiang in 'King and I'
Joan Almedilla as Lady Thiang in ‘King and I’

Then there is Joan Almedilla as Lady Thiang (First Wife) singing “Something Wonderful.” The song does more than describe her feelings towards her husband, the King.

Almedilla’s exceptional expression of the words seemed to speak to many of the wives in the audience.

As to the youngsters in the show,  “The March of Siamese Children” is charming and lighthearted but Graham Montgomery does a particularly fine job as Anna’s son, Louis, and Marcus Shane presented just the right amount of royal demeanor as Crown Prince Chulalongkorn when he stepped into a role opening night usually played by Anthony Chan.

Choreographer Christopher Gattelli’s “The Small House of Uncle  Thomas,” a ballet meant to entertain visiting English dignitaries but actually is a message from Tuptim that slavery is wrong, is well put across by dancers Lamae Caparas as Eliza, Amaya Braganza as Uncle Thomas, Yuki Ozeki as Topsy, Rommel Pierre O’Choa as Simon Legree, Michiko Takemasa as Little Eva and Nobutaka Mochimaru as the Angel/George.

Jose Llana (King of Siam) and Laura Michelle Kelly (Anna Leonowens) in 'The King and I.'
Jose Llana (King of Siam) and Laura Michelle Kelly (Anna Leonowens) in ‘The King and I.’

The set design by Michael Yeargan was a creative mix of an Asian style wall backdrop, pillars and Buddha that places more emphasis on the action than ornamentation. That said, the set immediately captures attention when the curtains open with a a life-size boat coming onto the stage carrying Anna and Louis Leonowens.

Catherine Zuber’s costumes perfectly place the show into Leonowen’s  period and location.

‘The King and I’ is at the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph, Chicago, now through July 2, 2017. For tickets and more information call (800) 775-2000 or visit Broadway in Chicago.

 

 

Bette Davis is back for another bow

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

When I was a youngster, I would often hear my parents mention their favorite movie star, Bette Davis.  Decades later, I gravitated toward old films and I, too, became a huge Davis fan.

Jessica Sherr does 'Bette Davis Ain't for Sissies' at the Athenaeum Theatre. Photo courtesy of Jessica Sherr
Jessica Sherr does ‘Bette Davis Ain’t for Sissies’ at the Athenaeum Theatre. Photo courtesy of Jessica Sherr

As I watched ‘Dark Victory, ‘Now, Voyager,’ and her many other movies—some of them numerous times—I found myself reciting a few of her lines along with her. I thought I knew almost everything about Ms. Davis until I recently saw the captivating play ‘Bette Davis Ain’t for Sissies’ currently at The Athenaeum Theatre.

The one-woman show, written and performed by Jessica Sherr, is a fascinating look at Davis’s life and career. It only took a few seconds to actually feel that the actress and playwright on stage was the real Bette Davis.

Jessica Sherr not only resembles the actress in her early thirties but her voice, expressive eyes and mannerisms emulate Davis.  And the one-act play’s staging and set design are such that allow Sherr to change costumes while she continues talking to the audience, never missing a beat.

Often in just a sentence or two, Sherr takes the audience through various stages of Davis’s life, beginning with her relationship with her parents, especially her mother whom Bette called “Ruth” after her father left them when she was ten years old.

Sherr then touches on Davis’ career beginning when on stage in New York.  Not being a blonde and no taller than five-foot three, she fondly reminisces about her earlier years by commenting, “They don’t care what you look like!”

Invited by an agent who saw Davis on stage, she left New York and traveled to Hollywood to begin life as a movie star. Even though she became known as a Hollywood “hometown girl,” she still missed New York and has said, “I hate California—it’s so damn sunny it makes me sick!”

This show is for anyone who wants a closer look at Bette Davis – the ten-time Academy Award nominee and two-time Academy Award Best Actress winner for her roles in ‘Dangerous’ and ‘Jezebel.’

Along with a closer view of her career, you’ll learn about Davis’s marriages, her relationships, her Hollywood friends, the others she avoided and how she stood up for what she wanted, plus how it eventually turned out.  And there’ll be many laughs along the way.

Details: ‘Bette Davis Ain’t for Sissies” is at the Athenaeum Theatre,  2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. A last minute extension now continues the show through July 9, 2017. For tickets more information visit AthenaeumTheatre  or call 773-935-6875.

-Francine Pappadis Friedman

It is art fair and festival time

 

It’s that time of year again when shirt-sleeve weather encourages folks who want something interesting or fun for the abode to check out area art fairs and festivals.

Art Fair season is here. Enjoy!
Art Fair season is here. Enjoy!

 

June 17-18, 2017

For Father’s Day weekend, two really big fairs may tempt Dad or at least get people strolling around Grant Park and downtown Evanston.

The mega Gold Coast Art Fair takes over Grant Park from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. Operated by Amdur Productions, it is among the top fairs in the country attracting about 300 juried-in artists. For other information visit Amdur.

Also this weekend the Annual Custer’s Last Stand sprawls across Evanston’s Main Street-Chicago Avenue area  with about 375 artists. Sponsored by the Evanston Festival Theatre and the Illinois Arts Council,  it goes from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.  For other information call visit CusterFair or call (847) 328-2204.

 

June 24-25, 2017

If this weekend doesn’t work or more exercise is desired, the Randolph Street market is at 1340 W. Washington St but spills over surrounding streets with about 300 vendors. It goes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The next market is the last weekend of July. For other info visit Randolph Street Market.

Back in the northern burbs, the  Art Center of Highland Park holds its annual Festival of Fine Arts at the northeastern end of the suburb’s downtown on Sheridan Road south of Central Avenue. the fair goes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. See Festival of the Fine Arts.

 

Familiar Chicago figure Laurie Metcalf wins Best Actress Tony

When the list of nominees for 2017 Best Leading Actress in a Play were read at the Tony Awards Sunday, June 11, Laurie Metcalf’s name would have sounded familiar to many Chicago theater-goers.

Steppenwolf ensemble member Laurie Metcalf in "Glass Menagerie" Steppenwolf photo
Steppenwolf ensemble member Laurie Metcalf in “Glass Menagerie” Steppenwolf photo

They also could have predicted she would win even though the field was extraordinary. The other nominees were  Cate Blanchett, “The Present,” Jennifer Ehle, “Oslo,” Sally Field, “The Glass Menagerie” and Laura Linney for “The Little Foxes.”

Metcalf was nominated for her outstanding performance in Lucas Hnath’s “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” a sequel to the Ibsen’s classic directed by Sam Gold.

But  Chicagoans who have been following Metcalf’s career with Steppenwolf Theatre likely know she was an original  ensemble member of the world-renown company.

They may remember that she was in the company’s critically acclaimed “Balm in Gilead” production in 1984 that won her the 1984 Obie for Best Actress.

However, even though she has been in more than 40 Steppenwolf productions, Metcalf is not just a familiar Chicago figure.

She received Tony nominations for “Misery, “November” and “The Other Place” and starred in the Steppenwolf production of “Domesticated” at the Lincoln Center Theater in 2014.

Her name would also have been familiar to TV and film watchers. Among other shows, Metcalf was in “Rosanne,” “Desperate Housewives,” 3rd Rock From the Sun,” “Desperately Seeking Susan,” “Toy Story” and “JFK.”

“We are incredibly proud of fellow ensemble member Laurie Metcalf on her much deserved Tony win.,” said Steppenwolf Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro. “She’s helped define the reputation and style that Steppenwolf is known for through her iconic performances and has become a legend in American Theatre.”

Shapiro added, “ She is riveting in every role she takes on, and it is such a pleasure to be able to celebrate her work with this Tony,”

For more about Steppenwolf, visit steppenwolf.org

 

Music tells the story for Director Scott Weinstein

 

If you go see ‘Ragtime,’ a Griffin production now at the Den Theatre through July 16, 2017, you won’t be viewing a Broadway spectacle (if you haven’t put it on your must see schedule do yourself a favor and take care of it now).

Director Scott Weinstein. Griffin Theatre Photo
Director Scott Weinstein. Griffin Theatre Photo

Griffin’s ‘Ragtime’ is a minimalist production intimately performed in nearly a theater-in-the-round setting with just two pianos and a wind instrument and new orchestrations by music director Matt Deitchman.

It’s Director Scott Weinstein’s way of focusing on the issues of racism, women’s roles, immigration, wages and society in New York City in early 20th century that writer E.L. Doctorow did in his 1975 historical novel and were translated into a 1996 musical by lyricist Lynn Ahrens, composer Stephen Flaherty with book by Terrence McNally.

‘Ragtime’ does not need to be a spectacle. There is enough meat in the story and music,” Weinstein said in a recent interview.

“This production strips away the visuals. We made it about the people. It’s very intimate,” he said.

A similar feeling of intimacy is achieved by Writers Theatre’s powerful production of ‘Parade.’ Directed by Gary Griffin, the musical poignantly reflects the prejudices of a South that had not recovered from the Civil War.

Interestingly, Weinstein directed ‘Parade’ as a college senior when it was Northwestern University’s  2010 Dolphin Show. “It is one of the best scores for musical theatre,” he said. “There hasn’t been a revival until recently. Now there is a smaller version.”

He added, “It’s the same with ‘Ragtime.’ It was big. I wanted it stripped down.”

As to how he and his collaborators chose the show, Weinstein said, “It stands the test of time.”

After noting that the musical was written in the 1990s based on a book from the 1970s about the early 1900s, Weinstein said, “It’s even more relevant now. It’s so easy to go on line and see that these issues are still in the news.”

Asked if he thought Doctorow would be surprised, he said,” “Yes, and disappointed.”

Weinstein will be directing “Rock of Ages” at Drury Lane theatre this fall, beginning Aug. 24, 2017 and had directed its Childrens Theatre’s James & the Giant Peach in May.

A very successful director (“I’ve been lucky”) he has a long list of credits that includes (though not limited to) other Griffin shows, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre’s Garage Rep Series and Adirondack Theatre Festival. He is also the Associate Director for the National tour, Las Vegas and Chicago productions of “Million Dollar Quartet.”

“I like musicals. I like how music tells a story,” he said.

But he also likes shows that are not predictable. “I feel that we have preconceived ideas. There are our assumptions. The challenge is to do something other than expected,” Weinstein said.

It may be no surprise, that he likes Stephen Sondheim. Asked what show he would like to do, Weinstein immediately said, “Merrily We Roll along.”