Jeff Awards perform excellent virtual show

 

Drury Lane (Photo courtesy of Drury Lane)
Drury Lane (Photo courtesy of Drury Lane)

The Equity Jeff awards were announced virtually this year. The 52nd annual recognition ceremony of excellence in performances and technical aspects had a lot of pluses.

Even though the ceremony was Nov. 9, it is still worth seeing on the Jeff Awards YouTube channel.

The good part of the virtual event is you can tune in when you want, watch, take a break, see performance clips and meet the nominees from your couch. Among the clips are scenes from “Color Purple,” “Bug” and “Spamalot.”

So, grab a snack, glass of wine and hear who takes top honors among a field of superb nominees.

Jeff Chairman John Glover gives a fine introduction to the whys and therefore of the event. Popular Chicago actor (actress is seldom used now) and former Jeff award recipient Michelle Lauto handles  hosting duties.

Because Covid interrupted the season, the Jeff Committee attended a mere 78 shows this year. That may seem a lot to people outside Chicago but the theater community here counts approximately 250 production companies in and around the city.

Jeff Equity productions that qualified for an award were limited to those shown between Aug. 1, 2019 through mid-March 2020. The hope is that some of the interrupted and not staged shows will be performed next year.

Here are some of the top winners. But even knowing them it is still fun to watch the ceremony.

Drury Lane Productions collected awards for “An American in Paris,” (Production – Musical -Large and Choreography) and “The Color Purple,” Director – Musical.)

Windy City Playhouse was recognized for “The Boys in the Band” (Midsize Production, Director, Scenic Design and Ensemble).

Court Theater received awards for “King Hedley II” (Production – Play- Large and  Kelvin Rostin, Jr. Principal Role and A.C. Smith, Supporting Role).

Porchlight Music Theatre garnered awards for “Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies” (Revue, Ensemble – Musical, Musical Direction and Lorenzo Rush, Jr. ,Performer)

Steppenwolf Theatre’s “Bug” received (Performer in a Principal Role for Carrie Coon, and technical awards for scenic and lighting design)

For a full list please visit Jeff Awards. For related information see ChicagoTheaterandArts.

Jodie Jacobs

 

A Gershwin of a Show

 

An American in Paris at Drury Lane Theatre. (Photo by Brett Beiner)
An American in Paris at Drury Lane Theatre. (Photo by Brett Beiner)

An American in Paris

4 stars

Five years ago this highly-anticipated stage version of the 1951 Gene Kelly/Leslie Caron musical film classic burst upon Broadway. After playing Paris, New York and the West End, and launching a two-year National Tour that played Chicago, we finally have our own regional production.

It is truly magnificent. It’s elegant, romantic, gorgeously produced and beautifully danced and sung. For anyone who adores those classic movie musicals and big, old-fashioned, splashy theatrical productions, this is the show for you.

Continue reading “A Gershwin of a Show”

Next season for Chicago Suburban theaters

 

 

Check out shows coming up in the suburbs such as at the Metropolis Performing Arts Center in Arlington Heights. (Photo courtesy of Metropolis Performing Arts Center)
Check out shows coming up in the suburbs such as at the Metropolis Performing Arts Center in Arlington Heights. (Photo courtesy of Metropolis Performing Arts Center)

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.

 

North

 

Citadel Theatre

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.

 

Marriott 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.

For tickets and other information call (847) 577-2121 and visit Metropolis Performing Arts Center.

 

Music Theater Works

Productions are usually in Cahn Auditorium on Northwestern University’s campus at 600 Emerson St. at Sheridan Road, Evanston but are occasionally at Nichols Hall.

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” is Aug. 17-25, then “Lerner and Loewe’s Greatest Hits” Oct. 4-14  (Nichols Concert Hall) followed by “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” Dec.21-31, 2019.

For tickets and other information call (847) 920-5360 and visit Music Theater Works.

 

Northlight  Theatre

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.

 

Piven Theatre

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.

 

Skokie 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.

 

Writers 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.

 

 

West

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.

For tickets and other information call (630) 530-0111 and visit Drury Lane Theatre.

 

First Folio Theatre

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.

For tickets and other information call (708) 445-4440 and visit Oak Park Festival.

 

Overshadowed Productions

The theater, 900 Foster Ave., Medinah, continues “Newsies” through Aug. 3 followed by “I Remember Pop” Sept. 15-Oct. 5, 2019.

For tickets and other information call (630) 250-7518 and visit Overshadowed Productions.

 

Paramount Theatre

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.

For tickets and other information call (708) 246-4043  and visit Theatre of Western Springs.

 

South

Theatre at the Center is at 1040 Ridge Rd., Munster, IN.

“Over the Tavern” throughAug. 11 followed by “The Pajama Game” Sept. 12-Oct. 13 and “White Christmas” Nov. 14-Dec. 22. For tickets and information call (219) 835-3255 and visit Theatre At the Center.

 

Jodie Jacobs

‘And Then There Were None’ – an intriguing whodunit

 

Cast of 'And Then There Were None' at Drury Lane Theatre. (Brett Beiner photo)
Cast of ‘And Then There Were None’ at Drury Lane Theatre. (Brett Beiner photo)

3 Stars

 

Ten strangers of varying ages and occupations arrive at an island mansion off the coast of Devon, England. Their host, who has beckoned them on one pretense or another, is delayed.

In this late 1930s setting, the houseguests start dying–one by one, and by violent means. The island is otherwise uninhabited, and the only boat back to the mainland is thwarted by a storm.

They realize they are stranded with a murderer in their midst. Who is it, and who will be the next victim?

The production, now playing at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace, is based on the book by renowned English writer Agatha Christie. One of the best-selling murder mysteries of all time, it was first published in 1939 under a name that today is considered highly racist and will not be repeated here.

A stellar ensemble cast is artfully directed by Jessica Fisch. Cher Álvarez plays former governess Vera Claythorne with great style and composure. Matt DeCaro lends leadership skills and authority to the retired Justice Wargrave, and Marilyn Dodds Frank injects just the right amount of haughtiness into Emily Brent, the judgmental spinster.

Paul-Jordan Jansen, who in real life looks mighty fine wearing a kilt, portrays dual-identity William Blore with boldness and a touch of comic relief.

The houseguests’ British accents can be difficult to translate into modern-day American vernacular. Or maybe it’s the acoustics that muddle voices on the sideline seats. But the players’ fears and suspicions of each other ring clearly.

The entire performance takes place in the mansion’s expansive living room as created by scenic designer Andrew Boyce. With its parquet floors, lavish mill work, velvet fringed sofas and panoramic ocean view, the set is worthy of a photo shoot for “Architectural Digest” magazine.

The period-perfect apparel, particularly as worn by the female actors, by costume designer Jessica Pabst, is equally lovely to behold.

Other members of the creative team include Driscoll Otto as lighting designer and Ray Nardelli as sound designer.

“And Then There Were None” weaves a clever, captivating tale that keeps its secrets until the very end.

DETAILS: “And Then There Were None” is at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook  (639) 530-0111 or visit DruryLaneTheatre.

Pamela McKuen

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

 

Mamma Mia! Super trouper

Cast of Mamma Mia! at Drury Lane Theatre. (Brett Beiner photo)
Cast of Mamma Mia! at Drury Lane Theatre. (Brett Beiner photo)

4 stars

Artistic Director, William Osetek has staged a fresh and exciting new production of “Mamma Mia!, the 1999 smash hit musical that became a cult classic for Baby Boomers twenty years ago and is one of Broadway’s original juke box musicals.

Taking almost two dozen hit tunes from the ABBA songbook, Drury Lane’s stage version makes audiences forget Chicago’s cold, snowy winter, as well as a rather disappointing 2008 film version.

Here, live and on stage, is a great opportunity to enjoy a polished, professional production of how that musical is suppose to look and sound. And this production is not only pitch perfect but, decked out in shiny spandex, platform heels and a ton of glitter and glitz, it’s a feast for the eyes as well.

Continue reading “Mamma Mia! Super trouper”

Four Chicago theatres receive special Jeff recognition

 

Goodman Theatre is among four longtime Chicago area theatres to be honored at Jeff Awards (Goodman Theatre photo)
Goodman Theatre is among four longtime Chicago area theatres to be honored at Jeff Awards (Goodman Theatre photo)

When the Joseph Jefferson Awards holds its annual ceremony and dinner on Oct. 22, 2018 to recognize the best acting and production components of last season’s Equity shows, there will be four additional awards.

To mark the Jeff Awards 50th anniversary, Goodman Theatre, started in 1925, Drury Lane Theatre, begun in 1949, Court Theatre founded in 1955 and The Second City, dating back to 1959, will be honored for enriching the Chicago theatre scene for more than 50 years. Over the past 50 years, the four theatres have racked up more than 1,400 nominations and 350 awards. Continue reading “Four Chicago theatres receive special Jeff recognition”

‘Little Shop of Horrors’ – a silly little musical that feeds on blood

RECOMMENDED

Will Lidke and Kelly Felthouse in Little Shop of Horrors at Drury Lane Theatre. (Brett Beiner photo)
Will Lidke and Kelly Felthouse in Little Shop of Horrors at Drury Lane Theatre. (Brett Beiner photo)

With Halloween 2018 on the horizon, “Little Shop of Horrors” plays into the spookiness of the season. The sort-of-dark musical comedy is now running at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace. It’s more spirited, shall we say, than scary.

The action centers around a dilapidated flower shop on Skid Row and its hard-scrabble denizens. The two central characters are Seymour, a hapless employee played by Will Lidke, and Audrey, his tartly dressed coworker and the object of his affection played by Kelly Felthous. Mr. Mushnik, their boss played by Ron E. Rains, is just as down on his luck as everyone else.

Seymour suddenly is offered success beyond his imagination by a demanding, carnivorous, exotic plant on a growth spurt. The condition? The plant is blood thirsty.

Continue reading “‘Little Shop of Horrors’ – a silly little musical that feeds on blood”

Sneak Peek Part Six: Chicago suburban theater scene

Writers Theatre in Glencoe is interesting outside and on stage. (Jodie Jacobs photo)
Writers Theatre in Glencoe is interesting outside and on stage. (Jodie Jacobs photo)

Not all memorable theater is in the city. Chicago’s suburban theaters put on Jeff award-winning productions. But whether looking to the city or suburbs or both, one way to not miss a show you want to see is to save this Sneak Peek Series and mark productions for tickets or theaters for subscriptions. Enjoy! (Note: Some companies spell their work and space theater but others use theatre. Both are correct.)

North

 

Citadel Theatre

The theatre is in a school building at 300 S. Waukegan Rd. Lake Forest.

Citadel is doing “The Little Foxes, Sept. 28-Oct. 28 followed by Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”  Nov. 16-Dec. 23.  An early 2019 show is TBA but then “Sentimental Journey” is Apr. 26-May 26.

For tickets and other information call (847) 735-8554 and visit Citadel Theatre.

 

Marriott Theatre

The theatre does professional musical productions in the Marriott Resort at 10 Marriott Dr,. Lincohnshire.

The season continues with “Murder for Two” through Aug. 26 followed by Sweet Charity” Sept. 5-Oct. 28, “Shrek the Musical” (children’s show) Oct. 5-Dec 30 and concludes with “Holiday Inn” Nov. 7-Jan. 6.

In addition to the shows, the theatre is hosting  a fundraising concert in memory of director/choreographer Rachel Rockwell Sept. 17 called “We Three” featuring the stars of Marriott’s “Mama Mia,” Meghan Murphy, Cassie Slater and Danni Smith.

For show tickets call (847) 634-0200 and visit Marriott Theatre.  To get tickets to “We Three” call the Marriott or order on line tickets at  Ticket Master.

 

Metropolis Performing Arts Center

The Center, at 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights, is currently doing   “Beehine” through Aug. 25, then “Chorus Line” Sept. 20-Nov. 3 and “James and the Giant Peach Jr. Nov. 8-10. In 2019, productions continue with “Mouse Trap” Jan. 31-March 16 and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” May 16-June 29 and “Buddy, The Buddy Holly Story” July 18-Aug. 24.

For tickets and other information call (847) 577-2121 and visit Metropolis Performing Arts Center.

 

Music Theater Works

Productions are usually in Cahn Auditorium on Northwestern University’s campus at 600 Emerson St. at Sheridan Road, Evanston.

Currently “Anything Goes” continues through Aug. 25 then it’s “Judy Garland: Come Rain or Come Shine” Oct. 5-14 and “Into the Woods” Dec. 22-31 .

For tickets and other information call (847) 920-5360 and visit Music Theater Works.

Continue reading “Sneak Peek Part Six: Chicago suburban theater scene”

‘South Pacific’ enchants the evening with romance and hi jinks

RECOMMENDED

Samatha Hill (Nellie), center, Rachel Osting, Erica Evans, Ashley Jane Lanyon, Kayla Boye, Allie Dandy Pizzo and Erica Stephan in 'South Pacific' at Drury Lane Theatre. (Brett Beiner photo)
Samantha Hill (Nellie), center, Rachel Osting, Erica Evans, Ashley Jane Lanyon, Kayla Boye, Allie Dandy Pizzo and Erica Stephan in ‘South Pacific’ at Drury Lane Theatre. (Brett Beiner photo)

Nearly 70 years after winning 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, ‘South Pacific’ mostly wears well at the Drury Lane Oakbrook revival.

The entire cast is stellar, the beloved Rogers and Hammerstein standards are well-tuned and racial conflict remains a relevant issue.

The action centers around a naval base in the South Pacific island amid World War II. During a lull in the fighting, the players engage in merrymaking and fall in love.

Continue reading “‘South Pacific’ enchants the evening with romance and hi jinks”

‘42nd Street’ — A glorious tap dancing feat

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

If you’re looking for a festive family outing this holiday season, ‘42nd Street’ delivers the goods along with lots of glitz. Now playing at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace, the much-beloved musical is charged with perky tunes and high-energy dancing. Tap dancing, that is.

Cast of 42nd Street at Drury Lane Theatre. Photo by Brett Beiner
Cast of 42nd Street at Drury Lane Theatre. Photo by Brett Beiner

It’s a dreams-come-true story of a sweet, aspiring young chorus girl named Peggy Sawyer. She fumbles her first big audition and ultimately lands the starring role in a new Broadway production called “Pretty Lady.” Woven throughout are show-stopping song-and-dance numbers and subplots of love triangles and financial woes. All are wrapped up neatly by the end of the show.

Directed by Michael Heitzman, the Drury Lane production features a stellar cast of actors, singers and dancers. Kimberly Immanuel plays Peggy with both innocence and strength.

Suzzanne Douglas as the aging prima donna Dorothy Brock and Donica Lynn as songwriter Maggie Jones are powerhouse solo artists but in different ways. Douglas sings with crystal clarity while Lynn gets sultry and soulful. Gene Weygandt, who plays “Pretty Lady” director Julian Marsh, has a voice that is honest and heroic.

Special mention goes to the ensemble of tap dancers, whose work appears effortless and truly joyful, and to choreographer Jared Grimes who managed to incorporate dress racks and stock pots into dance numbers. The showiest, at the end of Act One, takes “We’re In The Money” literally.

The set design by Collette Pollard is more spartan than that of other Drury Lane productions, but it works. Most of the action takes place in a weary rehearsal hall, and the scenery is the dancers themselves.

Also on the creative team are costume designer Emilio Sosa and lighting designer Mike Baldassari. The ’42nd Street Orchestra’ is conducted by Chris Sargent, who also plays keyboard.

The original 1980 Broadway production won the Tony Award for Best Musical. It was produced by David Merrick and directed and choreographed by an ailing Gower Champion, who passed away only hours before opening night. The musical, however, lives on.

DETAILS: ’42nd Street’ is at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, through Jan. 7. Running time: 2 hours, 20 minutes with one intermission. For tickets and other information, call (630) 530-0111 or visit Drury Lane Theatre.

Pamela Dittmer McKuen

For more shows visit TheatreinChicago.