Einstein and Picasso view the world at Citadel Theatre

 

Acsione (Picasso), Dan Deuel (Gaston) in Picasso at the Lapin Agile at Citadel theatre (Photo courtesy of CitadeNorth Shore Camera Club l Theatre.
Philip C. Matthews (Freddy), Travis Acsione (Picasso), Dan Deuel (Gaston) in Picasso at the Lapin Agile at Citadel theatre (Photo courtesy of North Shore Camera Club and Citadel Theatre.

3 Stars

It may be hard to imagine what a conversation would be like between Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso if the two 20th century geniuses met in a Parisian bar before they achieved international fame.

Comedic actor/screenwriter Steve Martin conceived just such a scenario taking place in 1904 in “Picasso at the Lapin Agile.” Premiered at Steppenwolf in 1993, the play is once again delighting Chicago area audiences with witty dialogue at Citadel Theatre in Lake Forest.

Reprised 20 years after Citadel co-owner and director Scott Phelps first mounted the show, the dialogue is still meaningful, intellectual, insightful, philosophical and funny.

Mark Yacullo (Einstein) and Juliana Liscio (Einstein's friend, the Countess) Photo courtesy of North Shore Camera Club and Citadel theatre.
Mark Yacullo (Einstein) and Juliana Liscio (Einstein’s friend, The Countess) Photo courtesy of North Shore Camera
Club and Citadel Theatre).

First to set the scene at the Lapin Agile, a real cabaret frequented by artists in the Montmartre district (18th arrondissement) of Paris, are bartender Freddy (Philip C. Matthews), barfly Gaston (Dan Deuel), waitress and Freddy’s lover, Germaine (Amy Stricker), and a young, yet to be discovered, Einstein.

He is waiting there for a female friend he told to meet him at a different bar but who knows him well enough to show up at the right location later in the play.

Einstein demonstrates his mathematical mind by answering Freddy’s out-loud musings about some supply costs. Meanwhile, Gaston admires a pastoral painting of sheep behind the bar but a small work by Matisse that was just brought in changes the discussion on what constitutes art.

Travis Ascione (Picasso) and Juliana Liscio (Suzanne) in Picasso at the Lapin Agile) at Citadel Theatre (Photo courtesy of North Shore Camera Club andCitadel Theatre)
Travis Ascione (Picasso) and Juliana Liscio (Suzanne) in Picasso at the Lapin Agile) at Citadel Theatre (Photo courtesy of North Shore Camera Club and Citadel Theatre)

Next on the scene is Suzanne (Juliana Liscio) who has a sketch Picasso gave her during one of their trysts and who wants to see him again. Also entering the bar is Sagot, (Tim Walsh), an art dealer who has already recognized that works by Picasso will eventually be worth many francs.

Eventually, Picasso (Travis Ascione) whom the theater audience seems to have been waiting for, saunters in. Full of himself, he stops at a mirror near the bar.

As different as the geniuses appeared to be, Picasso with an overblown personality and an Einstein who at the time was reserved, the two found each other to be kindred spirits in their vast observations of the world of tomorrow.

The entire cast is excellent but a shoutout also has to go to Jake Busse who pops in as Schmendiman, a crazy, turquois-top-hat wearing inventor of weird, unusable materials.  He points out he is the third man in their scenario.

Cummisford as A Visitor, Amy Stricker as Germaine, Philip C. Matthews as Freddy, Juliana Liscio as The Countess, Mark Yacullo as Einstein, Dan Deuel as Gaston, Travis Ascione as Picasso, and Jake Busse as Schmendiman (Front). (Photo courtesy of North Shore Camera Club and Citadel Theatre)
Cast of Picasso at the Lapin Agile at Citadel Theatre Ian Cummisford as A Visitor, Amy Stricker as Germaine, Philip C. Matthews as Freddy, Juliana Liscio as The Countess, Mark Yacullo as Einstein, Dan Deuel as Gaston, Travis Ascione as Picasso, and Jake Busse as Schmendiman (Front). (Photo courtesy of North Shore Camera Club and Citadel Theatre)

A fourth visitor shows up from the mid-1900’s to as his view of the world. But you have to see the show to find out who.

DETAILS: “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” is at Citadel Theater, 300 N. Waukegan Rd., Lake Forest, now through May 22, 2022. Runtime: 90 minutes, no intermission. For tickets and more information visit Citadel Theatre or call (847) 735-8554.

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

Jodie Jacobs

 

‘Outside Mullingar’ proves it is never too late

 

 Left: Laura Leonardo Ownby (Rosemary), Right: Ross Frawley (Anthony). Photo by North Shore Camera Club.
Left: Laura Leonardo Ownby (Rosemary), Right: Ross Frawley (Anthony). Photo by North Shore Camera Club.

Left: Laura Leonardo Ownby (Rosemary), Right: Ross Frawley (Anthony). Photo by North Shore Camera Club.

3 Stars

When John Patrick Shanley’s play, “Outside Mullingar,” opened on Broadway, January 2014, it received accolades as a new kind of rom-com. For one thing, instead of young people, it featured older adults embarking on new relationships.

Thus is the play recreated at Citadel Theatre with four outstanding actors who bring the story to life. Set in Ireland, the play involves two families who own farms right next to each other.

Anthony and Rosemary have grown up together. Rosemary has been harboring unrequited feelings of love for Anthony her entire life.  Anthony, who is painfully shy and unaware, still lusts over Fiona who went screaming the other way when he revealed his true feelings for her.

The major issue in the show is whether or not Anthony should inherit his family’s farm upon the death of his father.  His cranky dad wants to leave the farm to his nephew Adam from New York City.

When I first read of the plot, it seemed vaguely familiar. That’s because the play had been turned into the 2020 movie, “Wild Mountain Thyme” starring Emily Blunt, Jamie Dornan and Jon Hamm. The screenplay was written as well as directed by Shanley, based on his play.

Audience members will get caught up in the play from the very beginning as Irish music welcomes them into the theatre.

Left: Laura Leonardo Ownby (Rosemary), Susan Hofflander (Aoife). in Outside Mullingar at Citadel Theatre. (photo by North Shore Camera Club)
Left: Laura Leonardo Ownby (Rosemary), Susan Hofflander (Aoife). in Outside Mullingar at Citadel Theatre. (photo by North Shore Camera Club)

 

The four principals include: Susan Hofflander as widow Aoife Muldoon, Jack Hickey as widow Tony, Laura Leonardo Ownby as Rosemary and Ross Frawley as Anthony.

Hofflander is powerful and yet sympathetic as the widow Muldoon, while Hickey is a gruff, crabby old man who is filled with regret at some of his choices. Ownby shines as Rosemary and is the most animated character in the play. Frawley as Anthony plays his part with strong emotion and fervor. You’re rooting for both of them to finally break through.

What’s fascinating about the play is that you meet the parents and experience their interaction with their offspring. Then, it’s just the younger generation who must forge ahead.

Directed by Beth Wolf who was moved by the theme of loneliness in the play, “Outside Mullingar” really draws upon the idea of it’s never too late. Founder and artistic director of the free-Shakespeare-in-the park company Midsommer Flight, Wolf directed Citadel’s production of The Roommate two years ago.

Kudos to Eric Luchen for his innovative set design, flipping one farmhouse kitchen to another, without moving sets.

Outside Mullingar really gets inside its characters with sweetness and charm.

DETAILS: “Outside Mullingar” is at Citadel Theatre, 300 S. Waukegan Rd., Lake Forest, through March 13. Run Time: approximately 90 minutes with no 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.

Mira Temkin

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

 

Theater News

 

Chicago theaters are open. (Goodman Theatre photo)
Chicago theaters are open. (Goodman Theatre photo)

 

 

With audiences now used to observing mask mandates and bringing their vax cards, theaters are going ahead with their winter show schedules.

 

Chicago Theatre Week

 Get tickets during Chicago Theatre Week, Feb. 17-27, 2022 to musicals and dramas at reduced prices Find more information at Chicago Theatre Week/Choose Chicago. Also look for deals pre and post Theatre Week at Chicago Plays.

Show openings

There is a wide selection of winter shows, some of which you might miss in 2022, depending on your usual theater subscriptions and play going habits, So, here are a half-dozen to add to your list with some theaters in Chicago and some in the suburbs.

“Groundhog Day: The Musical” opens at Paramount Theatre at 23 E. Galena Blvd, Aurora on Jan. 26. Visit Paramount Theatre.  Based on the Bill Murray comedy, the book was written by Danny Rubin with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin.

“Agatha Christie’s Secret Council, a world premiere by David Rice featuring Christie’s sleuths, Tommy and Tuppence,” opens Jan. 29. at First Folio at the Mayslake Peabody Estate 31st St. & Rt. 83, Oakbrook.

“Gem of the Ocean” by August Wilson, opened Jan.22 at the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. Chicago.

“West Side Story” opens at Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, Feb. 2.

“When There Are Nine,” a play featuring Ruth Bader Ginsburg, opens at Pride Arts’ Broadway Theater, 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago Feb. 10.

“Outside Mullingar,” by John Patrick Shanley opens at Citadel theatre 300 Waukegan Rd., Lake Forest, Feb. 11. Citadel 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

 

Brighton Beach Memoirs captures family life on brink of WWII

 

Brighton Beach Memoirs at Citadel Theatre L-R: Siah Berlatsky, Ron Quade, Shaya Harris (back to camera), Abby Lee, Juliana Liscio, Danny Mulae (face obscured), and Monica Castle (Photos by North Shore Camera Club))
Brighton Beach Memoirs at Citadel Theatre L-R: Siah Berlatsky, Ron Quade, Shaya Harris (back to camera), Abby Lee, Juliana Liscio, Danny Mulae (face obscured), and Monica Castle
(Photos by North Shore Camera Club)

4 Stars

 

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.

Siah Berlatsky as EugeneBrighton in Beach Memoirs at Citadel Theatre.
Siah Berlatsky as EugeneBrighton in Beach Memoirs at Citadel Theatre.

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.

Mira Temkin

(For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago)

Around Town: A few theaters reopen

 

Northlight still puts on its productions at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie.( J Jacobs photo)

Northlight still puts on its productions at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie .(photo courtesy of North Shore Center for the Performing Arts)
Northlight still puts on its productions at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie .(photo courtesy of North Shore Center for the Performing Arts)

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.

The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. (J Jacobs photo)
The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. (J Jacobs photo)

Chicago

“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.

Jodie Jacobs

Three experiences to try while waiting for Chicago to reopen

Lyric Opera House on North Wacker Drive (J Jphoto)
Lyric Opera House on North Wacker Drive (J Jphoto)

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.

Theater

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.

Opera

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.

For more Lyric gems visit LyricOpera/lately.

Museum

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been taking field trips to the city’s exceptional institutions so that the rest of us staying home can visit these places virtually.

Each field trip shows up on line on Wednesdays and then on PBS’ WTTW on Friday and replayed the following Monday.

This week she visits the National Museum of Mexican Art. To join her go to hitplayChicago. Founded in 1987, the museum is a very special cultural destination in the Pilsen neighborhood.

To see the last two field trips scroll down to the Shedd and the Field Museum.

Jodie Jacobs

Related: Dazzling voices seduced lyric audiences

 

 

‘The Fantasticks’ becomes a delightful throwback at Citadel

Cast of The Fantasticks at Citadel Theatre. (North Shore Camera Club photo)
Cast of The Fantasticks at Citadel Theatre. (North Shore Camera Club photo)

3 stars

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.

Continue reading “‘The Fantasticks’ becomes a delightful throwback at Citadel”

‘Annie’ celebrates bright optimism at Citadel

 

Annie at Citadel Theatre (Photo courtesy of Citadel theatre)
Annie at Citadel Theatre
(Photo courtesy of Citadel theatre)

4 stars

One of the most popular comic strips of all time, “Little Orphan Annie” comes to life at the Citadel Theatre. recently extended until January 5, 2020.

Staged in a small, intimate space, the show features talented singers and dancers, a happy musical score, a delightful group of ragtag orphans and one adorable mutt, Sandy.

The plot revolves around poor Annie who lives in an orphanage, believing her parents are out there somewhere. She escapes her miserable life and tries to find them in New York City, without success. Continue reading “‘Annie’ celebrates bright optimism at Citadel”

‘Peter and the Starcatcher’ blends fun and fantasy

 

Cast of Peter and the Starcatcher at Citadel Theatre ( Photo by North Shore Camera Club)
Cast of Peter and the Starcatcher at Citadel Theatre ( Photo by North Shore Camera Club)

2 1/2 stars

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.

Mira Temkin

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago