“Annie” will have you smiling

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“Annie” at Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre now through Nov. 13, 2016, is a pre-Thanksgiving family treat.

Cast of "Annie" now at the Cadillac Palace Theatre
Cast of “Annie” now at the Cadillac Palace Theatre

The current touring production feels so fresh that even if you have seen past “Annies” you will be glad to be back watching Miss Hannigan’s orphans prance across the stage and a pugnacious Annie change everyone’s outlook on life and business from Oliver Warbucks to FDR.

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‘Fun Home’ tries to understand family truths and appearances

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‘Fun Home’ is an unforgettable show that just came to Chicago after winning five Tony Awards in 2015. Unfortunately, it is only at the Oriental Theatre now through Nov. 13, 2016.

"Fun Home" at Oriental Theatre with Kate Shindle (Adult Alison) l, Abby Corrigan (Middle Alison) and Alessandra Baldacchino (Small Alison) Photo by Joan Marcus
“Fun Home” at Oriental Theatre with Kate Shindle (Adult Alison) l, Abby Corrigan (Middle Alison) and Alessandra Baldacchino (Small Alison). Photo by Joan Marcus

An intimate, questioning look back at a father and family life from a daughter’s view during youth, college years and in mid-40s, the show probably deserves an intimate space. Continue reading “‘Fun Home’ tries to understand family truths and appearances”

At Marriott, ‘Singing in the Rain’ has a glorious feeling

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While the Cubs spectacularly reigned Wednesday at the Indians’ Progressive Field, audiences were treated to a spectacular ‘Dancing in the Rain’ production at Marriott Theatre Lincolnshire.

Danny Gardner as Don Lockwood in 'Singing in the Rain' at Marriott Theatre. Justin Barbin photo
Danny Gardner as Don Lockwood in ‘Singing in the Rain’ at Marriott Theatre. Justin Barbin photo

Mobile phones checked Cleveland during intermission while MGM’s 1953 hit musical that starred Gene Kelly was brought back to life in Lincolnshire.

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‘The Magic Play’ is about a lot more than illusion

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“This is just a card,” magician extraordinaire /actor Brett Schneider tells the audience. And so starts a little over two hours of Goodman Theatre’s fascinating The Magic Play.

Smaller than the Albert Theatre, the Owen’s space is perfect for appreciating Schneider’s magic. But playwright Andrew Hinderaker has put a lot more up Schneider’s sleeve than astonishing tricks.

Magician/actor Brett Schneider in the world premiere of 'The Magic Play' by Andrew Hinderaker at Goodman Theatre Photo by Liz Lauren
Magician/actor Brett Schneider in the world premiere of ‘The Magic Play’ by Andrew Hinderaker at Goodman Theatre Photo by Liz Lauren

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‘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” 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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“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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