Live theatre is now alive and well at the Citadel Theatre in Lake Forest!
Opening their season after the pandemic is playwright Neil Simon’s warm and wonderful, “Brighton Beach Memoirs.”
“Brighton Beach Memoirs” tells the story of Eugene Jerome, a young man who desires to be a writer and starts with what he knows best, his own downtrodden family. The time is 1937 in Brooklyn and undertones of the brewing war in Europe are laced throughout the play. America is well aware of the news, but wants no part of it.
Eugene, who also serves as the narrator and talks to the audience about his plight, has his own issues of teenage angst while dreaming of being a baseball player and lusting after his older cousin.
The trials and tribulations of not having enough money for his two parents, brother Stanley, widowed Aunt Blanche and her two daughters who live with them — loom large. Unemployment, gambling, sickness are all part of daily life.
Yet in typical Neil Simon fashion, you’ll laugh and you’ll cry, all within a few minutes.
Siah Berlatsky as Eugene has just the right amount of high energy and pathos to light up every scene. The audience really sympathizes with him and at the same time, recognizes his bright, successful future ahead.
Standouts include his put-upon mother Kate, played by Monica Castle, who carries the weight of everyone’s problems and must convey a range of raw emotions. She does so with great style. Ron Quade as patriarch Jack, who everyone relies on, plays his role with power, heart and a little bit of vulnerability
The cast also includes Abby Lee (Blanche), Danny Mulae (Stanley), Shaya Harris (Laurie), and Juliana Liscio (Nora) who work together to create a realistic family group and share their challenges. You’ll cheer them on and hope for the best.
Citadel Theatre Artistic Director Scott Phelps and director of the production makes great use of the theatre space. Having the dining room table where much of the dialogue takes place creates a very intimate stage, making the audience feel like they are right there.
Also on the production team are Jeff award-winner Eric Luchen (Set Design), Colin Meyer (Costume Design) and Samuel Stephen (Lighting Design).
DETAILS: “Brighton Beach Memoirs” runs through October 17, 2021 at Citadel Theatre, 300 S. Waukegan, Lake Forest. Run time: Approximately 2 hours with one intermission. Seating is limited and masks are required.
For tickets and other information visit Citadel Theatre or call (847) 735-8554, ext. 1.
Northlight still puts on its productions at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie.( J Jacobs photo)
Going back to a stage show will feel different fall of 2021. But those folk who really want an in person experience won’t be complaining about wearing a mask indoors. Just expect it to be a requirement, then sit back and enjoy the live action on stage.
Here are a few of the shows opening in Chicago and the suburbs this fall.
Aurora: “Kinky Boots” at the Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd, Now through Oct. 17. For tickets and more information visit Paramount.
Evanston: “Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992″ at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes St. A Fleetwood Jourdain Theatre production, it runs Sept. 11-26. For tickets and more information visit Fleetwood Jourdain.
Lake Forest: “Brighton Beach Memoirs” at Citadel Theatre, 300 S. Waukegan Rd., Sept 17-Oct. 17. For tickets and more info visit Citadel Theatre
Lincolnshire: “The World Goes Round” at the Marriott theatre, 710 Marriott Drive, Sept 15=Nov. 7 . For tickets and more info visit Marriott Theatre.
Oakbrook Terrace: “Forever Plaid” at Drury Lane, 100 Drury Lane, Sept. 17-Nov. 7. For tickets and more information visit Drury Lane Theatre.
Skokie: “Songs for Nobodies” at Northlight Theatre in the North shore Center for the Performing arts at 9501 Skokie Blvd., Sept 23-Oct. 31. For tickets and information visit Northlight Theatre.
“As You Like It” at Chicago Shakespeare on Navy Pier at 600 E. Grand Ave. Oct 6- Nov 21. For tickets and more information visit Chicago Shakespeare Theater
“Macbeth” Sept 17-Oct. 9 and The Elixer of Love Sept. 26-Oct. 8 at Lyric Opera of Chicago 20 N. Wacker Dr. Visit Lyric Opera of Chicago.
“The tragedy of Othello, The Moor of Venice” Oct 7-Nov. 21 at Court Theatre 5535 S. Ellis Ave. on the University of Chicago’s Hyde Park campus. For information and tickets visit Court Theatre.
Some of us miss seeing a stage performance in person. Some miss going to the Lyric for a grand opera. Other folks miss visiting Chicago’s world class museums. The following opportunities hit these three targets while sitting at home.
Citadel Theatre has a unique experience scheduled for 6 p.m. May 21. Viewers register for what is called “The Defamation Experience.” It begins with a 70 minute film that is a one-act courtroom drama. Then there is the Deliberation. You and your fellow jury members deliberate the case on Zoom to decide the outcome.
After the deliberation and verdict, expert facilitators lead a brief post-show discussion.
Registration is free. A zoom meeting link is provided upon registration.
Hear and watch an opera segment, lecture or tour the Lyric Opera of Chicago building. The Lyric has a weekly newsletter available on its blog. Here is one aria, many audiences will find familiar.
“La donna è mobile” (“Woman is fickle”) is from the fall of 2017 performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto featuring Matthew Polenzani as The Duke. It comes in the third act where Maddalena (Zanda Švēde) flirts with the Duke.
There is a lot of leeway when staging the 1960 Harvey Schmiidt (music) Tom Jones (lyrics) “The Fantasticks.” The show, now at the intimate Citadel Theatre in Lake Forest, is among the best productions I’ve seen of a play that normally makes my “least favorite” list. I’ve seen it overly long and boring and overly clever and gimmicky.
However, under the direction of Pat Murphy (“A Christmas Carol,” Deathtrap”) Citadel’s show charmingly mixes old-timey, unsophisticated character portrayals with humorous, burlesque-style staging, set design and movement.
It’s a show about finding your way home, no matter how lost you are. Now playing at The Citadel Theatre, “Peter and the Starcatcher” is a fantasy/comedy that one might call a prequel to the beloved story of Peter Pan. It imagines how Peter might have become one of the lost boys of Neverland.
The show, a winner of five Tony Awards, comes from the pen of Rick Elice (“Jersey Boys,” “The Adams Family,” The Cher Show”)
Under the fine direction of Jeremy Aluma, “Peter and the Starcatcher ncludes an ambitious cast of 17, all playing multiple roles. The show is filled with music, dancing and non-stop action plus lots of humor and antics that keep the audience laughing.
Stand outs include the lovely Mariah Copeland as Molly Aster who captures the heart of Peter and Jayson Lee as Boy/Peter who makes the audience see the longing in his innocent soul.
Adrian Danzig is a hoot as pirate Black Stache who becomes Captain Hook in Peter Pan and Rebecca Fletcher is excellent as the nanny to Molly, Mrs. Bumbrake.
Kudos to scenic designer Eric Luchen who has created a fascinating set and to director Aluma who makes great use of the intimate Citadel stage by incorporating the seats and doorways to expand the stage.
The problem with the show is the script which has too much madcap and mayhem going on. It was challenging to follow and some of the English accents were difficult to understand.
DETAILS: “Peter and the Starcatcher” is at Citadel Theatre, 300 Waukegan Rd., Lake Forest, through Sept. 29, 2019. Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes with one intermission. For tickets and other information, visit Citadeltheatre.
Experienced theater goers know that not all memorable plays are on stage in the city. Chicago’s suburban theaters also put on Jeff award-winning productions. To be sure to catch a show you want to see, copy it and save or mark those productions on the calendar. (Note: Some companies spell their work and space “theater,” others use “theatre.” Both are correct.) A look at the coming suburban theater season is the last round-up in Chicago Theater and Arts’ Sneak Peek Series.
The theatre is in a school building at 300 S. Waukegan Rd. Lake Forest.
Citadel is doing “Peter and the Starcatcher,” Sept. 18-Oct. 20 followed by “Annie,” Nov. 20-Dec. 22. “The Fantasticks” start out 2020 Feb. 5-Mar. 8, followed by “Brighton Beach Memoirs” Apr. 22-May 24.
For tickets and other information call (847) 735-8554 and visit Citadel Theatre.
The theatre does musical productions in the Marriott Resort at 10 Marriott Dr,. Lincohnshire.
“Darling Grenadine” continues through Aug. 18 followed by “ Something Rotten,” Aug. 28-Oct. 20 and “Oliver” Oct 30-Dec. 29, 2019. “Shrek the Musical” (children’s show) Oct. 5-Dec 30 and concludes with “Holiday Inn” Nov. 7-Jan. 6.
Marriott’s shows for young audiences feature “Junie B. Jones,” now through Aug. 11 and “Madagascar: A Musical Adventure” Oct. 4-Dec. 29.
For tickets and other information call (847) 634-0200 and visit Marriott Theatre.
Metropolis Performing Arts Center
The Center, at 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights, is currently doing “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” through Aug. 31, then “Anything Goes” Sept. 19-Nov. 2., 2019. The new year begins with “Noises Off” Jan 20-Mar. 14, followed by “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” May 14-June 27 and “Mama Mia! July 16 -Aug. 29.
The theatre is in the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd. Skokie
Northlight is doing the Midwest premiere of “Mother of the Maid” Sept. 12-Oct. 20 and the world premiere of “The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley” Nov.7-Dec. 15, 2019. The season continues in the new year with the world premiere of “How a Boy Falls” Jan. 23-Mar. 1 followed by “Intimate Apparel” Mar. 12-Apr. 19 and “Songs for Nobodies” May 7-June 14. 2020.
For tickets and other information call (847) 673-6300 and visit Northlight.
A theatre workshop/school at 927 Noyes St., Evanston, that also presents productions in co-operation with other groups. The Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre presents“The Black Ballerina” in partnership with Piven, Dear Evanston and Dance Center Evanston, Aug. 10-25.
For Piven tickets and other information call (947) 866-8049 and visit Piven Theatre.
The theatre is in a small, historic, movie theater building at 7924 Lincoln Ave., Skokie
Skokie Theatre is doing “The Fantasticks” Sept. 6-Oct. 6 followed by “Marjorie Prime: Nov. 8-24, 2019. The season continues in 2020 with “Veronica’s Room” Feb. 7-Mar. 1.
For tickets and other information call (847) 677-7761 and visit Skokie Theatre.
Designed by architect Jeanne Gang and her Studio Gang, WT has two stages in an award-winning building at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe; The Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre and the The Gillian Theatre.
The 2019-20 season opens with “Into the Woods” Aug. 14-Sept. 22, followed by “A Doll’s House” Sept. 25-Dec. 15, 2019. :The Niceties” is Nov. 6-Dec. 15. It continues in 2020 with “Stick Fly” Feb. 5-Mar. 15. and “The Last Match” Mar. 18-June 7. And “Mementos Mori” ay 6-June 14. .
For tickets and other information call (847) 242-6000 and visit Writers Theatre.
Drury Lane Theatre
The theatre is at the Drury Lane Resort, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace.
Drury Lane Theatre continues “And then There Were None” through Aug. 26 then is doing “The Color Purple” Sept. 13-Nov. 3. 2019 goes into 2020 with Mary Poppins” Nov. 15 –Jan. 19. “An American in Paris” is on stage Jan. 31-Mar. 29.
The theatre uses the rooms and grounds of the Mayslake Peabody Estate at 1717 W. 31st St. Oak Brook.
First Folio is doing “Henry V” through Aug. 18. Then, “Sherlock’s Last Case” Oct. 2-Nov. 3, 2019. Shows continue in 2020 with “Jeeves Saves the Day” Jan. 29-Mar.1 followed by “Louisa May Alcott’s Little women.” Mar. 25-Apr. 26.
Fir tickets and other information call(630) 986-8067 and visit First Folio.
Jedlicka Performing Arts Center
The Center at 3801 S. Central Ave., Cicero., is doing “In the Heights” with Vision Latino Theatre Company, fall of 2019. Dates TBA. For tickets and other information call (708) 656-1800 and visit Jpac Theatre.
Madison Street Theatre
The theatre, at 1010 Madison St. Oak Park, is a multi-venue building. For information call (312) 282-1750 and visit MSTOakPark.
Oak Park Festival Theater
The theater, 157 Forest Ave., has is doing “Much Ado About Nothing” through Aug. 31. Followed by “The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe: A Love Story” Oct. 24-Nov. 17, 2019.
The theatre is in a historic movie palace at 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora
Paramount is doing “Newsies” Sept. 4-Oct. 20, then “Beauty and the Beast” Nov. 13-Jan. 19, followed by “The Secret of My Success” Feb. 12-Mar. 29. “Kinky Boots” ends the season Apr. 29-June 14.
For tickets and other information call (630) 896-6666 and visit Paramount Aurora.
Sixteenth Street Theatre
The theatre, 6420 16th Street, Berwyn, is doing “His Shadow” Sept. 5-Oct. 12, 2019 and “Small Jokes About Monsters” Jan. 10-Feb. 16, then, “Good Enough” Mar. 14-Apr. 20, 2020. For tickets and other information call (708) 795-6704 and visit 16th Street Theater.
Theatre of Western Springs
The theatre is at 4383 Hampton Ave., Western Springs.
It is doing “Murder in the Studio” Sept. 5-15 followed by “Accomplice” Oct. 17-27. The new year starts with “The Nerd” Hab, 16-26. Then, “The Great Gatsby” is Feb. 27-Mar. 8 and “TheGame’s Afoot” May 28-June 7.
If you see “Sentimental Journey: A Musical Tale of Love and War” at Citadel Theatre, you may want to ask you parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles about their lives during WWII or Vietnam.
The show is actor Ross “Robbie” Lehman’s ode to his parents, Katey and Ross Lehman.
By telling their story through such 1940’s songs as “I May Be Wrong (But I Think You’re Wonderful),” “I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now,” “Sentimental Journey” and “We’ll Meet Again” with some Irish roots thrown in with “Molly Malone” and “Danny ‘Boy,” and by reading their letters in the voice of the writer, you learn about their meeting, dating and enduring the uncertainties and traumatic emotional and physical toll of war.
Lehman, whom theater goers know from seeing him at Chicago Shakespeare, Steppenwolf and Goodman, easily adopts the voices and mannerisms of Katey, a writer with a cigarette in one hand and a drink nearby, and Ross, a pipe (later cigar) smoker who loved to sing and was often chosen as an event’s emcee.
The first act, about 55 minutes, is filled with charming stories..The second act of about 35 minutes, turns emotional as you learn about his father’s horrific war experiences.
He takes his father’s bomber jacket out of its frame on the set to show the holes made by German flak and in a video close-up you see the medals, including the Purple Heart, that are also framed.
The frames are on a wall that even with a video screen on one side showing parents, family members and bombers, gives the set created by Timoth Mann, an intimate feeling. To one side is the piano played for some shows by co-musical director Chuck Larkin and other times by co-musical director Mark Weston.
Lehman credits his granddaughter Carlyn Hudson with the choreography (also shown in a video) so you know that the love of music and performance is passing down to another generation. BTW, Lehman is a faculty member at Loyola University and has taught acting, musical theatre and Shakespeare at DePaul and Northwestern Universities.
Directed by Mark Lococo who knows the Lehman family, the play is a way to better understand the War Years.
“Sentimental Journey: A Musical Tale of Love and War” is at Citadel Theatre, 300 S. Waukegan Rd., Lake Forest, through May 26. Run time: 100 minutes including one intermission. For tickets and other information call (847) 735-8554 and visit Citadel Theatre.
While watching the excellent portrayals of Ellen Phelps as Sharon and Laurie Carter Rose as Robyn, in Citadel Theatre’s “The Roommate, you may not agree with all their choices but you clearly get the message that they are seeking ways to begin their lives anew.
There are many quotable lines in this play by Jen Silverman, but one that delivers the show’s “raison d’etre,” is when Sharon says in Scene 2, “I guess everybody wants to start over. Just burn it all down and start over.”
A dark comedy, “The Roommate” brings together a recently divorced Iowan housewife searching for company and a way to split the bills and a lesbian, former Brooklyn con artist who really seems to want to escape her past in a small-town, farming community.
Their seemingly simple plans go awry as Sharon becomes interested in Robyn’s former life and Robyn realizes she may be a dangerously corrupting influence.
In addition, both women seem to have alienated their adult children. Neither Sharon’s son nor Robyn’s daughter want to call Mom until they realize through their parent’s strange, long distance calls that something is changing.
Even though I had seen the play and enjoyed it at Steppenwolf last year, I was appreciating the show once again until the last line which I objected to then and still do.
Depressed by her once again empty house because Robyn leaves, Sharon first says, “I don’t know where to start…. Except over again” Fine. The play should have ended there.
But then Sharon, handling some stuff Robyn left behind, adds what Robyn had said earlier in another context, “There is a great liberty in being BAD.”
Perceptively directed by Beth Wolf and staged on a believable, well-designed set by Eric Luchen, “The Roommate” offers a somewhat exaggerated but fun and interesting “what if” scenario on life when people reach middle age and wonder what should come next.
“The Roommate” is at Citadel Theatre, 300 S. Waukegan Rd., in a Lake Forest School District building, through March 3, 2019. Running time: 90 min., no intermission. For tickets and other information call (847) 735-8554, ext. 1 or visit Citadel Theatre.
First performed on Broadway in 1982, this interpretation of the Old Testament’s story of Joseph and his brothers through contemporary eyes is a fun, high-energy show featuring a delightful chorus of local children.
Based on Joseph’s “coat of many colors” from the Book of Genesis, the story shows what can happen when a parent plays favorites.
From the get-go, the show begins with two narrators instead of the traditional one and takes off like a rocket from the very first musical number, “Any Dream Will Do.”