Set design, music, choreography and cast make ‘Wonderful Town’ a terrific revival

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

It doesn’t matter that the only memorable songs you take away from Wonderful Town, a musical about two Ohio sisters seeking success in New York, is Ohio (why did I ever leave..) and It’s Love. Leonard Bernstein’s jazz and swing music is enough to have audiences leave Goodman Theatre’s season opener with a smile.

BRi Sudia (Ruth) l and Lauren Molina (Eileen) and cast in 'Wonderful Town' at Goodman Theatre. Photo by Liz Lauren
BRi Sudia (Ruth) l and Lauren Molina (Eileen) and cast in ‘Wonderful Town’ at Goodman Theatre. Photo by Liz Lauren

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Chekhov’s ‘Uncle Vanya’ converted to a conversation piece

RECOMMENDED

In Lookingglass Theatre’s show bill, Aaron Posner explains that ‘Life Sucks” is his updated version of Anton Chekhov’s ‘Uncle Vanya.’

Eddie Jemison, Barbara Robertson, Jim Ortlieb and Chaon Cross in 'Life Sucks' at Lookingglass Theatre. Photo by Liz Lauren
Eddie Jemison, Barbara Robertson, Jim Ortlieb and Chaon Cross in ‘Life Sucks’ at Lookingglass Theatre. Photo by Liz Lauren

Chekhov’s classic tale, published in 1897 and premiered in 1899, is about life on a rural estate where inhabitants work hard but are bored and their thoughts are a mix of wishes and woes.

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‘Julius Caesar’ zooms along in shortened version

RECOMMENDED

Writers Theatre’s production of ‘Julius Caesar’ begs the question – what do you want to take away from Shakespeare’s play about politics and power.

Kareem Bandealy (Brutus) l, and Scott Parkinson (Cassius) r. in Julius Caesar at Writers Theatre. Photo by Michael Brosilow
Kareem Bandealy (Brutus) l, and Scott Parkinson (Cassius) r. in Julius Caesar at Writers Theatre. Photo by Michael Brosilow

If you want an overpowering sense that assassination of a powerful figure such as Julius Caesar could only call forth chaos whether in Rome or, more broadly, the world, then you will appreciate the WT’s technologically strong visual and sound effects.

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Lake Forest Symphony opens season with a concert jewel

Violinist Stefan Milenkovich
Violinist Stefan Milenkovich

Classical music aficionados used to heading downtown Chicago for programs at Orchestra Hall from fall through spring and to Ravinia Festival in the summer would do well to also check out the Lake Forest Symphony concerts.

With superb interpretations of Barber’s Adagio for Strings, Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major and Beethoven’s Symphony No.3 “Eroica,” the Lake Forest Symphony reaffirmed its status as a first rate, professional orchestra, last weekend.

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Review: ‘How to Succeed in Business’ is both dated and current

 

RECOMMENDED

To appreciate ‘How to Succeed in Business,’ now at Marriott Theatre, you have to go back in time to the 1950s when shirtwaist and little jacket dresses were in and large companies had a typing pool of secretaries who dreamed of marrying their boss.

Based on Shepherd Mead’s 1952 satirical book but adapted in 1961 into a Frank Loesser musical with book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert, the show is dated. The boss is just as likely to be female.

The second part of Mead’s title is ‘The Dastard’s Guide to Fame and Fortune.” If you haven’t seen the 1967 movie starring Robert Morse, the book’s full title is a clue that the show reveals how some businesses hire and promote employees, back then and, horrors, even now.

Felicia Fields (Miss Jones), Ari Butler (J. Pierrepont Finch) and Terry Hamilton (J.B. Bigley) and company. Marriott Theatre photo
Felicia Fields (Miss Jones), Ari Butler (J. Pierrepont Finch) and Terry Hamilton (J.B. Bigley) and company. Marriott Theatre photo

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Review: High energy ‘Kinky Boots’ still delivers ‘just be’ message

'Kinky Boots' stars Adam Kaplan, left and J. Harrison Ghee, right at Broadway in Chicago production
‘Kinky Boots’ stars Adam Kaplan, left and J. Harrison Ghee, right at Broadway in Chicago production

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

‘Kinky Boots,’ a high-kicking, Tony Award winning musical by Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper, is back in Chicago for only a week. And it’s back better than ever.

As Charlie Price of Price and Son, a failing Northhampton, England men’s shoe company, Adam Kaplan is very convincing as a son who does not want to work in the family business. He moves to London with fiancé Nicola, beautifully sung and interpreted by Broadway and film actress Ellen Marlow. There, Charlie tries to help drag-queen/cabaret star Lola who was being bothered by thugs.

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Review: “Life is a banquet” with Nancy Hays as Mame

From left: Nic Fantl (Beauregard), Nancy Hays (Mame), Alexander Wu (Ito), Alicia Berneche (Agnes Gooch) and Zachary Scott Fewkes (Patrick). Phot Mona Luan
From left: Nic Fantl (Beauregard), Nancy Hays (Mame), Alexander Wu (Ito), Alicia Berneche (Agnes Gooch) and Zachary Scott Fewkes (Patrick). Photo Mona Luan

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Light Opera Works’ “Mame” moves from one terrific scene to the next with never a let-up of charm, clever dialogue or fun.

The musical opens in New York with a terrific Roaring 20s party that begs the question of how can it hold on to such a high note. Well, it is beautifully choreographed by Clayton Cross and  insightfully directed by Rudy Hogenmiller.

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Music: Tony Bennett still going strong at 90

Ravinia Festival was jammed inside the pavilion and out on the lawn last Saturday, but with Tony Bennett caressing the “mic” backed by his outstanding jazz/pop quartet, the atmosphere was nightclub intimate.

Tony Bennett at Ravinia Festival. Also in photo are pianist Mike Renzi and drummer Howard Jones. Photo by Russell Jenkins for Ravinia
Tony Bennett at Ravinia Festival. Also in photo are pianist Mike Renzi and drummer Howard Jones. Photo by Russell Jenkins for Ravinia

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Review: “Disney’s Newsies”

"Newsies at Cadillac Palace Theatre thru Aug. 7
“Newsies” at Cadillac Palace Theatre thru Aug. 7

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

“Newsies” fight publishing tycoons with sling-shot headlines

The touring company of “Newsies” is as exciting as the headlines that sell papers. The lead actors who battle Joseph Pulitzer on his unfair practices are terrific, but it is the high energy of the company’s talented dancers and singers who will likely have you recommending this Tony Award winning musical.

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