‘East Texas Hot Links’ looks back at the racial divide

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In East Texas Hot Links, Writers Theatre’s current show, the rhythmic speech of Adolph the “Professor,” the café setting, the discussions about work, life and death, and a sense of the economic futility of being black in a white man’s world, is somewhat reminiscent of playwright August Wilson’s Two Trains Running that ran at Goodman Theatre in 2015.

Cast of 'East Texas Hot Links' at Writers Theatre. Photo by Michael Broselow
Cast of ‘East Texas Hot Links’ at Writers Theatre. Photo by Michael Broselow

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You may never see the ‘Ring’ cycle the same way again

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It’s likely you have heard of German composer Wilhelm Richard Wagner and some of his operas such as Lohengrin, Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger von Numrnburg and of course, the four-opera cycle of Der Ring des Nibelungen. But if you want more insight into Wagner and the Ring as viewed through The  Second City’s magnifying glass, try to snag a ticket to “Longer, Louder Wagner – The Second City Wagner Companion,” playing only this weekend in a Lyric Opera rehearsal room.

Cast of "Longer Louder Wagner" Photo by Todd Rosenberg
Cast of “Longer Louder Wagner” Photo by Todd Rosenberg

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Hamilton cast at Private Bank Theatre today

Listen up anyone who wants to see the Hamilton cast and any resident of Cook County who still needs to register to vote. The Chicago cast and Cook County Clerk David Orr will be at the Private Bank Theatre, 18 W. Monroe St., Chicago, midday today to encourage Cook County residents to register on line.

Hamilton Company at Private Bank Theatre Photo by Joan Marcus
Hamilton Company at Private Bank Theatre Photo by Joan Marcus

Oct. 23, 2016 is the last day to register to vote online.Read More

“Hamilton” is worth the hype

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At “Hamilton’s”  opening night in Chicago ( Oct. 19, 2016), its nearly three hours of rhythmic story-telling and exceptional choreography made it quite clear why lyricist, composer Lin-Manuel Miranda’s show about a Founding Father won several Tony Awards including Best Musical.

Miguel Cervantes (Hamilton) points up amid the cast of "Hamilton". Photo by Joan Marcus
Miguel Cervantes (Hamilton) points up amid the cast of “Hamilton”. Photo by Joan Marcus

Right, often overlooked, brilliant immigrant Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father. So, there should also be an Educational Hook Award added to the list.

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“Smokey Joe’s Café” – a sweet and savory musical journey to yesterday

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The longest-running musical revue in Broadway history, “Smokey Joe’s Café,” is making its Drury Lane debut in Oakbrook Terrace. It’s a high-energy song-and-dance production that looks nostalgically upon a bygone era and infuses it with soulful longing and a few belly laughs. The show opened on Broadway in 1995 and played more than 2,000 performances before closing in 2000.

Justin Keyes, Chris Sams, Will Skip and Tyrone L. Robinson in "Smokey Joe's Café" at Drury Lane. Photo by Brett Beiner
Justin Keyes, Chris Sams, Will Skrip and Tyrone L. Robinson in “Smokey Joe’s Café” at Drury Lane. Photo by Brett Beinera

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Mel Brooks’ hilarious take on Transylvania makes a perfect Halloween outing

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“Young Frankenstein,” now playing in Lake Forest through Oct. 30, fits a  seasonal demand for monsters and weird scientists that is tempered by Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder humor.

Parker Guidry (Igor) and Nick Miller (Dr. Frankenstein) in Lake Forest Theatre's "Young Frankenstein
Parker Guidry (Igor) and Nick Miller (Dr. Frankenstein) in Lake Forest Theatre’s “Young Frankenstein

Produced by the newly-formed Lake Forest Theatre, the show has terrific musical numbers performed by a talented cast of singers and hoofers. Its “Putting on the Ritz” interpretation of Irving Berlin’s great song and dance number is reason enough to drive to north-suburban Lake Forest.

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Three shows for the Halloween Season

Chicago area theatres do their part to provide fun or spooky entertainment. A show opening this weekend in north suburban Lake Forest is geared to families. A production out in the western suburbs is best for teens and older but is also interesting by the way it asks the audience to move with each scene through an old estate. Another show that will open in mid October at a Chicago theater, will leave audiences with perhaps a different understanding of a Shakespearean tragedy. Check them out this Halloween season.

"Dr. Seward's Dracula" takes audiences through the Mayslake-Peabody Mansion in a forest preserve. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
“Dr. Seward’s Dracula” takes audiences through the Mayslake-Peabody Mansion in a forest preserve. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

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“Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding” revival is a delightfully good time

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“Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding,” one of Chicago’s longest-running hit shows, has returned after a seven-year hiatus, and it hasn’t aged a bit. The boisterous Italian nuptial farce and interactive dinner-theater engages its “guests” with servings of outrageous humor, heart-warming good cheer and just the right bit of naughtiness.

Hannah-Aaron-Brown (Tina), Billy Minshall (Father Mark) and Mitchell Conti (Tony)
Hannah-Aaron-Brown (Tina), Billy Minshall (Father Mark) and Mitchell Conti (Tony)

New this time around is the two-venue staging within the Belmont Theatre District. The production begins with the wedding ceremony at real-life Resurrection Church and moves for the reception to nearby Vinny Black’s Coliseum AKA Chicago Theater Works.

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‘Visiting Edna’ delves into adult son to parent relationship as death looms

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The power of ‘Visiting Edna,” Tony Award-winning playwright David Rabe’s play premiering at Steppenwolf Theatre, is the utter normalcy of the conversations that take place when a married son visits his terminally ill mother.

Debra Monk (Edna) and Ian Barford (Andrew) in 'Visiting Edna' at Steppenwolf Theatre. Photo by Michael Brosilow
Debra Monk (Edna) and Ian Barford (Andrew) in ‘Visiting Edna’ at Steppenwolf Theatre. Photo by Michael Brosilow

Rabe’s brilliance, projected in the superb acting of Debra Monk as Edna and Ian Barford as son Andrew, is that the drama is subtle enough to apply to almost any family and be understood and appreciated by any audience.

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‘City of Conversation’ reflects country of contentious politics

Natalie West (Jean Swift) l, and Lia Mortensen (Hester Ferris) in their Georgetown home. Photo by Charles Osgood
Natalie West (Jean Swift) L, and Lia Mortensen (Hester Ferris) in their Georgetown home. Photo by Charles Osgood

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Old-timers remember when political positions were argued during the day and set aside or amicably dealt with in tradeoffs agreed to during dinners at night.

That the convivial era’s respect for each other changed to vitriolic attacks after President Carter’s term and continues today is told through one politically connected Georgetown family in Anthony Giardina’s ‘The City of Conversation’ now at Northlight Theatre.

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