Theater scene redux

 

'Gem of the Ocean by August Wilson at Goodman Theatre (Photo courtesy of Goodman Theatre)
‘Gem of the Ocean by August Wilson at Goodman Theatre (Photo courtesy of Goodman Theatre)

For a while, 2021 did look like Chicago’s vibrant theater scene could pick up where it stopped or went to zoom after the first COVID outbreak. Footlights were back on at several venues from Goodman Theatre to the Lyric Opera.

Marriott Theatre Lincolnshire performers expressed the general feeling of optimism in their first fall show “The World Goes Round,” a terrific presentation of the “Songs of Kander & Ebb,” when they said, “We’re back.”

But as COVID variances spread, shows such as Goodman Theatre’s delightful “A Christmas Carol,” closed early. Notices from some venues went out that said shows supposed to open early in 2022 are re-scheduled.

Now the good news. Several theaters that have COVID protocols regarding masks and vaccinations to protect audiences and performers will have the lights on.

Among them are several Broadway in Chicago offerings.

“The Play that Goes Wrong,” the 2015 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, is being extended through April 3, 2022. On stage at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut St., tickets are available at Broadway in Chicago.

“I’m thrilled this cast of talented Chicago actors is bringing so much laughter and delight to our audience members,” said Broadway In Chicago President Lou Raizin. “Extending the run gives more Chicagoans a chance to enjoy this hilarious show and others a chance to see it again and again!”

“Frozen” will also continue in Chicago at the Cadillac Palace Theatre through Jan. 22, followed by “Come From Away” Feb 22 through March 6 2022. “Oklahoma” will be at the CIBC Theatre for a short run Jan. 11-23, followed by “Hairspray” Feb. 1-13  2022. For tickets and more information visit Broadway in Chicago.

Mercury Theater will be doing “Women of Soul – With a special tribute to Aretha” Jan. 28 through March 6, 2022. Originally premiering at the Black Ensemble Theater in 2018, the show is written and directed by Daryl D. Brooks. It also pays tribute to Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, Janis Joplin, Donna Summer and Janet Jackson.

“This feel-good revue is being given an exciting new life and the chance to be seen by new audiences at Mercury Theater Chicago,” said Brooks. The Mercury Theater is at 3745 N. Southport Ave. For tickets and more information visit Mercury Theater Chicago.

Goodman Theatre will be back with “Gem of the Ocean,” by one of Chicago’s favorite playwrights, August Wilson. Playgoers familiar with Wilson know he often takes them to Pittsburgh’s Hill District. “Gem” is set in the difficult times of 1904 when a spiritual journey is needed. Directed by Chuck Smith, the play runs Jan. 22- Feb. 27, 2022 in Goodman’s Albert Theatre

In addition, “The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, adapted and directed by Mary Zimmerman, will be in Goodman’s Owen Theatre, Feb. 11 – March 20, 2022. For tickets and more information visit Goodman Theatre.

Porchlight Music Theatre has rescheduled “Blues in the Night” for Feb. 9-March 13 due to COVID concerns. Dates for its stage reading of “Clear” by Paul Oakley Stoval and the show, “Passing Strange,” will be announced. For more information visit Porchlight Music Theatre.

 

Jodie Jacobs

Grab a handful of Peanuts

 

On the bus from l to r. Tuesdai B. Perry, Marcellus Burt, Alley Ellis, Sierro White, Jimmy Hogan, Neil Stratman (Citadel Theatre's You're a good man Charlie Brown.
On the bus from l to r. Tuesdai B. Perry, Marcellus Burt, Alley Ellis, Sierro White, Jimmy Hogan, Neil Stratman (Citadel Theatre’s You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.

3 stars

“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” continues to delight audiences.

Can an off-Broadway musical based on cartoonist Charles M. Schulz’s well-loved “Peanuts” comic strip characters that is more than 50 years old still be relevant?

The answer is Yes!

With music and lyrics by Clark Gesner, the musical opened off-Broadway in 1967 and ran for almost four years.

Popular with regional theaters, a new version directed by Tony Award winner Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening and Thoroughly Modern Millie) featuring additional songs by Andrew Lippa (The Addams Family) ran on Broadway in 1999. It won the Drama Desk Award for “Outstanding Revival of a Musical.”

Citadel Theatre, in Lake Forest s playing this updated, fast-paced and high-energy award-winning version, now through Dec. 23, 2021.

The play features a series of vignettes, almost like a cartoon strip, that chronicles the trials and tribulations of childhood.

Fifty years later, the characters have the same insecurities, the same issues about friendship, sports and their own failures.

Charlie Brown continues to have a crush on sweet little red-headed girl whom he discovers chews her pencil, too.

He is the eternal optimist, but he never gets a break. He is still the same blockhead.

In this updated production, the audience will encounter some references to present-day items such as “bit coin.”

Pictured left to right: Alley Ellis, Jimmy Hogan, Marcellus Burt, Tuesdai B. Perry, Neil Stratman, and Sierra White in ‘You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown’ at Citadel Theatre

Directed by Joe Lehman and choreographed by Jake Ganzer with music direction by David Zizic, memorable music includes the title song, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and “Happiness,” a piece that highlights enjoying the little things in life.

The cast, top-rated with hapless Charlie Brown played by Neil Stratman and Lucy played by Actor Equity member Sierra White, also includes Jimmy Hogan (from Citadel’s “Annie) as Schroeder; Marcellus Burt (of Griffin’s Ragtime) as Linus and Alley Ellis as Sally. Tuesdai B. Perry is Snoopy. It’s hard enough to play a role, much more so, that of a pup.

Kudos to Sally and Schroeder whose tap dance knocks it out of the park.

Mention must be made of the incredible, colorful lighting design by Samuel Stephen that almost takes on a role by itself. Flashing emotions help showcase the feelings of the cast.

Also, the props design by Jonathan Berg Einhorn are larger-than-life, adorable and infinitely better than using the real things.

DETAILS: “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” is at Citadel Theatre, 300 S. Waukegan Rd., Lake Forest, through Dec. 23, 2021. Run Time: approximately 2 hours with a 15-minute intermission. For tickets and more information visit Citadel Theatre.

State COVID restrictions in effect at the time will be enforced at Citadel’s 144-seat performing space. The show is suitable for general audiences aged 5 and older.

Mira Temkin

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

 

‘Kate’ battles Shakespeare and ex at Marriott

 

Susan Moniz and Larry Adams battle it out in Kiss Me Kate at Marriott Theatre.( Liz Lauren photo)
Susan Moniz and Larry Adams battle it out in Kiss Me Kate at Marriott Theatre.( Liz Lauren photo)

 

Three stars

In a season overflowing with feel-good holiday fare, the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire has chosen to balance the offerings with the controversial “Kiss Me Kate.”

Go for this production’s superb vocals, comedic moments and excellent dance numbers. But beware, the 1948 musical written by Bella and Samuel Spewack with music and lyrics by Cole Porter, is based on William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.”

What you see is a show within a show presented by a traveling troupe as its stars battle on stage and off in a mirror image of the plot.

No matter how good the production is of the Shakespearean version (and I have seen good ones, including at Chicago Shakespeare), it still is misogynistic.

So, if bothered by the theme, blame Shakespeare.

If out for a night at the theater, sit back and enjoy director Johanna McKenzie Miller’s clever staging, Alex Sanchez’s choreography and the outstanding voices of Susan Moniz as leading lady Lilli Vanessi who plays Katharine (supposedly as a shrew) and Larry Adams, Lilli”s ex-husband, Fred Graham, who plays Petruchio (shrew tamer) and who is also directing the troupe.

Also dance shout-outs to Alexandra Palkovic who is Lois Lane, Kate’s overly-sweet little sister, Bianca, and to Jonathan Butler-Duplessis who leads the showstopping “Too Darn Hot” number.

You get to hear such familiar songs as “Wunderbar,” So in Love,” “Always True to You in My Fashion,” and “From this Moment On.” To audiences who have missed the theater due to COVID, the opening number “Another Op’nin’, Another Show,” offers a hopeful note.

DETAILS: “Kiss Me Kate” at Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre, 10 Marriott Dr., Lincolnshire, is on now through Jan 16, 2022. Run time:  2 hours and 30 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission. For tickets and more information visit Marriott Theare.  (Check Covid safety protocols.)

Jodie Jacobs

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

Powerful ‘Ragtime’ still relevant

 

Coalhouse Walker Jr (Curtis Bannister) and friends in Ragtime at Music Theater Works. (Photo Credit: Brett Beiner)
Coalhouse Walker Jr (Curtis Bannister) and friends in Ragtime at Music Theater Works. (Photo Credit: Brett Beiner)

4 Stars

Music Theater Works’ “Ragtime,” a multi-award-winning musical with lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty, is a powerful, riveting production that perfectly meshes with our current age of anxiety.

Based on E. L. Doctorow’s novel on the pervasive value systems and prejudices toward immigrants, blacks, class structure and women’s “place” in the early 1900’s, the musical follows the interaction of three disparate “family” groupings.

Now at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, “Ragtime” unfortunately closes Nov. 7, 2021. Music Theater Works productions historically ran for just a couple of weeks when housed at Cahn Auditorium on Northwestern’s Evanston Campus. Maybe it’s wistful thinking about budget and date conflicts to hope the venue change would allow longer runs.

A production as good as “Ragtime” superbly directed by Stacey Flaster with sophisticated staging and propelled by the cast’s powerful voices, deserves a longer run. Continue reading “Powerful ‘Ragtime’ still relevant”

Steppenwolf new building and education center opens

 

he Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center. (Steppenwolf Theatre Company photo)
The Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center. (Steppenwolf Theatre Company photo)

 

Internationally known Steppenwolf Theatre Company finally appears settled. Today, Nov. 2, 2021, Steppenwolf announced its $54 million Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center is now open.

Once a small ensemble begun in 1974 by Terry Kinney, Jeff Perry and Gary Sinise, it opened in the Unitarian Church in Deerfield, moved to the basement of another church in Highland Park, later on found a space at the Hull House on Broadway in Chicago, then an intimate space on North Halsted before settling into the 1600-1700 block of North Halsted in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Along the way it added H. E. Baccus, Nancy Evans, Moira Harris, John Malkovich, Laurie Metcalf and Alan Wilder and other well-known actors to its ensemble roster.

Part of a multi-phase $73 million Building on Excellence expansion campaign, the Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center houses a 50,000 square foot theater building plus education center designed by Gordon Gill of Adran smith and Gordon Gill Architecture with theater design and accoustics by charcoalblue (construction is by Norcon).

Steppenwolf’s expanded campus includes, new lobbies, full-service bars and The Loft Space for area youth.

“What an extraordinary day this is for our company and Chicago. This multi-phase campus expansion is over two decades in the making and is a manifestation of Steppenwolf’s core values of ensemble, innovation and cultural citizenship,” said Executive Director E. Brooke  Flanagan.

“Formed by an ensemble of young actors who wanted to create courageous work, nearly 50 years later our expanded campus builds on the company’s beginnings and ensures a future for the continued artistic growth of the ensemble and space for tens of thousands of Chicagoland teens to experience transformative arts education,” Flanagan said.

For more information about Steppenwolf Theatre Company visit Steppenwolf.

Jodie Jacobs

A meaningful and timely play

 

Heidi Schreck and Cassie Beck in “What the Constitution Means to Me” from Broadway in Chicago. Photo by Joan Marcus.)
Heidi Schreck and Cassie Beck in “What the Constitution Means to Me” from Broadway in Chicago. Photo by Joan Marcus.)

4 stars

Based on a true story by playwright Heidi Schreck, “What the Constitution Means to Me” focuses on 15-year Schrenk’s experiences participating in debates across the country for the American Legion to earn money for college tuition. The truth is, she earned enough money from the debates to pay for her entire college education.

The audience participates in the show as well, creating powerful theatre about the relevancy of the U.S. Constitution. This interactive play questions whether our 230-year-old document is still applicable today and for future generations of America. After experiencing this powerful show, theatregoers will have a new appreciation for this historic document.

The play goes from hilarity to tragedy. As Heidi goes back in time, she traces the intimate connection of four generations with the founding document that shaped their lives.

The U.S. Constitution and amendments were drafted to protect its citizens, but unfortunately, not everyone.

Women, immigrants and people of color are left out, not included in police, voting and civil rights laws. She raises the question of what would have happened if the Equal Rights Amendment had passed in 1982?

Cassie Beck in “What the Constitution Means to Me” from Broadway in Chicago. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Cassie Beck in “What the Constitution Means to Me” from Broadway in Chicago. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Cassie Beck plays Heidi Schreck, who vacillates between a teenager and an adult, displaying a wide range of emotions. She handles the role with precision, humor and class. Mike Iveson, who originated the part of the Legionnaire on Broadway, moderates the debate as one of “those old men.”

Suddenly, the show moves into a different direction, creating an actual debate between the adult Schreck and a high-school student from L.A. about whether or not the Constitution should be abolished or kept. Everyone listens to the debate and one audience member decides the verdict.

There are also a few surprises thrown in that make the play even more fun and meaningful.

Directed by Oliver Butler, the show became a hit on Broadway with two Tony Award® nominations, a Pulitzer Prize for Drama nomination and broadcast on Amazon Prime Video.

“What the Constitution Means to Me” will have you thinking about the Constitution and your own government long after the final bow.

Details: “What the Constitution Means to Me” is at the Broadway Playhouse Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut in Chicago through Nov. 21, 2021 Running time: 100 minutes without intermission.

All audience members are required to wear masks throughout the play and must show proof of vaccination with ID card. For those with exemptions, proof of a negative COVID 19 test is required. For tickets go to BroadwayinChicago.com.

Mira Temkin

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

 

 

Four holiday tickets to snag now

 

Joffrey ballet's The Nutcracker returns but will be at its new home at he Lyric Opera House.
Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker returns but will be at its new home at the Lyric Opera House.

It’s not too early to think of joyous holiday theater productions  and beautiful  sounds and colors along interesting outdoor pathways.

The Joffrey Ballet just put Nutcracker tickets on sale and Goodman Theatre already has been selling tickets to its annual “A Christmas Carol.”

Illumination at the Morton Arboretum and Lightscape at Chicago
Botanic Garden are filling spots for impressive outdoor experiences among their trees.

 

Marie and The Joffrey Ballet. (Photo by Cheryl Mann)
Marie and The Joffrey Ballet. (Photo by Cheryl Mann)

The Nutcracker | Joffrey Ballet

Marie and her Nutcraker Prince journey through Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair in Christoper Wheeldon’s reimagined classic. The show runs Dec. 4 through Dec. 26, 2021.  For tickets and more information visit Performances | Joffrey Ballet. The Lyric Opera House is at 20 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago.

 

 

Larry Yando as Ebenezer Scrooge in Goodman Theatre's 'A Christmas Carol' (Photo courtesy of Goodman Theatre)
Larry Yando as Ebenezer Scrooge in Goodman Theatre’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ (Photo courtesy of Goodman Theatre)

Goodman Theatre

Larry Yando once again takes audiences on Ebenezer  Scrooge’s path from the character who defined the meaning of scrooge to his change into a generous and kind person.

Last year, the 2020 show experience was audio. This year, the production will be back at Goodman Theatre Nov. 20 through Dec. 31, 2021. Adopted by Tom Creamer, and directed by Jessica Thebus, the show marks its 44th production.

For tickets and more information visit A Christmas Carol 2021 | Goodman Theatre. Goodman Theatre is at 170 N. Dearborn St. Chicago.

 

Lightscape is back at the Chicago Gotanic Garden this November with new attractions and old favorites such as the Cathedral. ( J Jacobs photo)
Lightscape is back at the Chicago Gotanic Garden this November with new attractions and old favorites such as the Cathedral. ( J Jacobs photo)

Lightscape | Chicago Botanic Garden

A new path, new installations but also some old favorites including Cathedral and Singing Trees will be at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s 2021 edition of Lightscape. , a popular holiday event that sold out last year.

A popular holiday event that sold out last year, Lightscape runs Nov. 12, 2021 through Jan 2, 2022. For tickets and more information visit Lightscape.(Nonmembers also need parking.) Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe.

 

 

Illumination at Morton Arboretum shows trees in a new light. (Morton Arboretum photo)
Illumination at Morton Arboretum shows trees in a new light. (Morton Arboretum photo)

Illumination at the Morton Arboretum

The Morton Arboretum turns the light, color, actions on its trees at Illumination, Nov. 20, 2021 through Jan 2, 2022. New will be a Human Nature display and colorful lanterns.  The mile-long path features a roast marshmallow stop for s’mores.

For tickets and more information visit Morton Arboretum. Morton Arboretum is at 4100 Rt. 53, Lisle.

ED Note: When getting tickets note that proof of full vax needed for 12 and older and recent negative test under 12 for indoor shows: Nutcracker and  A Christmas Carol. Also check requirements for outdoor shows: Lightscape and Illumination when buying tickets.

 

Around Chicago: October

 

Pumpkins and skeletons and lining up in Highwood for the Great Pumpkin Fest ( J jacobs photo)
Pumpkins and skeletons and lining up in Highwood for the Great Pumpkin Fest ( J jacobs photo)

From the city and Oak Park to Glencoe and Highwood, there are events worth posting on the calendar.

Highwood

In the past few years with the exception of COVID 2020 tiny, north suburban Highwood has been trying for a Guinness record of carved pumpkins. But what area residents and visitors like is that the town’s Great Highwood Pumpkinn Fest includes music, a charity run, food, games and rides.

The event opens Oct. 7 with pumpkin carving and music, then continues, Oct. 8-10 from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. This year, it also includes free COVI D testing. Check the schedule for specific event times and ride cost.

Highwood snuggles east of Highland Park along Waukegan Avenue, Green Bay Road and Sheridan Road.

Glencoe

Merely strolling among trees, water features and gardens at the Chicago Botanic Garden is worth the trip. However, CBG also holds the Night of 1000 Jack O’ Lanterns Oct. 13-17 and Oct. 20-24 from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Creative faces may spark ideas for home carving and are a terrific photo op (selfie?) Find more information at Chicago Botanic Garden

Chicago Botanic Garden is just east of Edens Expressway at 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe.

Wilmette

Chalet Nursery’s Scarecrow Making is sold out its garden is stacked with pumpkins, corn stalks and other decorations for October and Halloween. Plus it has some fun selfie areas.\

It’s events calendar includes the movie “Haunted Mansion” shown outside Oct 14 at 6:30 p.m. Registration needed and a “Howl-O Ween” Pet Parade, Oct. 31 from 11 a.m. to noon.

Chalet Nursery is at 3132 Lake Ave., Wilmette. Visit Events – Chalet Nursery for more information.

 

Chalet Nursery decorates for fall. (J Jacobs photo)
Chalet Nursery decorates for fall. (J Jacobs photo)

 

Oak Park

Poe’s dark side is perfect for the season. The Oak Park Park Theatre Festival brings “The Madness of Edgar Allan P:oe: A Love Story” to the Pleasant Home Foundation Oct. 15-Nov. 7, 2021. where audiences can move from room to room for different scenes.

Pleasant Home is at 217 Home Avenue, Oak Park.For tickets and more information visit Oak Park Theatre Festival

Lisle

Fall is a great time to drive through the Morton Arboretum but there is also something doing among the trees for walkers. The Arboretum has “Walking Plays” of popular fairy tales. Oct. 15-Nov. 7, 2021. Tales area abut 90 minutes and walks are less than two miles. To sign up and find more information visit Walking Plays/MortonArboretum.

Chicago

The whole city is open virtually in October through a Chicago Architecture Center app during Open House Chicago. There are trails, neighborhoods and treasures to explore. To see some of it in person, go Oct. 16-17. Registration needed. Visit Open house Chicago.

Jodie Jacobs

The World Goes Round thanks to outstanding Marriott cast

 

Broadway, regional and Marriott stars in Kander and Ebb revue at Marriott Theatre. L, Amanda Rose, Allison . Blackwell, Joseph Anthony Byrd, Meghan Murphy and Kevin Earley.(Photo courtesy of Marriott Theatre)
Broadway, regional and Marriott stars in Kander and Ebb revue at Marriott Theatre. L-R, Amanda Rose, Allison Blackwell, Joseph Anthony Byrd, Meghan Murphy and Kevin Earley.(Photo courtesy of Marriott Theatre)

4 Stars

 

“We’re back!”  The opening line, really a shout from the five performers of Marriott Theatre Lincolnshire’s “The World Goes Round: The Songs of Kander and Ebb,” was met with a roar and applause from the audience on opening night, Sept. 23,  2021  The show, a musical revue, was in previews since Sept. 15 and continues through Nov. 7, 2021.

What the audience saw as they took their seats was a stage that looked as if one of Kander and Ebb’s shows was “struck” as long as a year and a half ago and joined by props from past shows.

It was all brought back to life with superb solos, duets, trios and dance numbers by Broadway, regional and Marriott performers Amanda Rose, Allison E. Blackwell, Joseph Anthony Byrd, Meghan Murphy and Kevin Earley.

Blackwell started the show on a fine mezzo soprano note with a beautiful rendition of “And the World Goes ‘Round.”

The revue moved from strength to strength with a funny version of “Coffee in Cardboard Cup sung by the cast followed by “The Happy Time” by versatile baritone Earley who later did a fantastic “Kiss of the Spider Woman.”

Murphy, an  exuberant redhead, infused numbers such as “Colored Lights” and “Ring Them Bells” with the joyous fervor needed now. Byrd, an accomplished character-style singer who can easily  move from a funny “Sara Lee” to a not so funny “Mr. Cellophane,” excels in the show’s dance movements. He and  Rose did a long “Shoes Dance” number that  brought a collective audience “Wow.” Rose , an actor/singer performed a wickedly funny “Arthur in the Afternoon.”

My favorite number, watch for it, was a gorgeous blending of songs by a trio of Blackwell, Murphy and Earley.

Of course, since this was a Kander and Ebb revue, it included “And All That Jazz, “Money, Money” and “Cabaret” but the number some people were humming was the final number “New York, New York.”

Kudos have to go to director/choreographer Marcia Milgrom Dodge, orchestra conductor Patti Garwood, music director Ryan t. Nelson, Set designer Christopher Rhoton and the costume designer Sally Ratke.

DETAILS: “The World Goes Round: The songs of Kander and Ebb” is at Marriott Theatre Lincolnshire now through Nov. 7, 2021. Run time: 90 minutes (an approved abridged version).  Attendees must wear face coverings and present a vaccination card. For tickets and more information visit www.MarriottTheatre.com.

Jodie Jacobs

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

Citadel Theatre turns to upbeat shows for current season

 

Citadel Theatre Artistic Director Scott Phelps, (Photo courtesy of Citadel Theatre)
Citadel Theatre Artistic Director Scott Phelps, (Photo courtesy of Citadel Theatre)

Citadel Theatre, a professional, equity organization led by artistic director Scott Phelps and manager/wife Ellen, both longtime actors and directors, is presenting a four-show season designed to overcome pandemic blues.

Phelps talked about the 2021-22 season during a recent phone interview.

Up first and on stage now through Oct. 17, 2021 is Neil Simon’s funny, warm-hearted and insightful “Brighton Beach Memoirs.” (For a review visit Chicago Theater and Arts/Brighton Beach).

“We were in rehearsal for it when we had to close March of 2020 because of the pandemic,” said Phelps. “We’ve had a good response to the show. People are glad to be back seeing live theater.”.

He added, “And we’re glad to be doing live theater. There’s not a lot for audiences here in Lake County. It’s us and Marriott.”(Watch shortly for article on Marriott season).

“The holiday show will be the musical, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” Phelps said.

With book, music and lyrics by Clark Gesner, based on Charles M. Schultz’s comics.  additional dialogue by Michael Mayer and additional music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, it is more than a children’s show, The musical has the Peanuts gang confronting and overcoming issues with help from friends.

“It’s family-friendly, a show for all generations from Grandparents down to grandkids . I like it. It’s upbeat,” he said. Charlie Brown will run Nov. 19 through Dec. 23, 2021.

“Outside Mullingar,” a romantic Irish comedy by John Patrick Shanley continues the season Feb. 11 to March 13, 2022.

“It’s light. Shanley has written dark plays like “Doubt, ” said Phelps. (Doubt-A Parable received the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drams)

“But people have been going through the pandemic. People need light. They need to laugh so we changed a couple of shows planned,” he said

Phelps pointed out that Shanley, a gifted playwright and screenwriter, had also written “Moonstruck” with Cher. It won the 1988 Academy Award for best Original screenplay.

Referring to directors who advocated presenting plays that are challenging, Phelps said, We’ve done that but its not right for this year. We changed out a couple of choices.  People want to feel good.

The season ends with Steve Martin’s witty comedy, “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” April 22  through May 22, 2022. It has Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein discussing life’s probabilities at a Paris café in 1904.

“This is the first show that we are bringing back. It was in  the second season at Gorton. Not many of our patrons have seen that,” said Phelps.

Noting that the pandemic has changed our lives and how people will be discussing what was and what might be, Phelps added, “This is a good show to bring ack now.”

For those who might not have been around or knew of Citadel Theatre’s beginnings, it started in 2002 and put on shows in the basement of Gorton Community Center, a former school near downtown Lake Forest.. Citadel moved to its current space, a former science lab in what was a west campus school facility on Waukegan Road in Lake Forest in 1010. Citadel became an Equity company in 2015.

And Phelps plans to stay there. “I just signed another five-year lease,” he said. Pointing out that the room’s rows were raised, Phelps said, “There’s not a bac seat in the house.”

For tickets and more information visit Citadel Theatre.

Jodie Jacobs