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HollywoodChicago.com Theater Reviews & Interviews

Theater Review: ‘Shrek the Musical’ Still in the Swamp

The company of 'Shrek the Musical'

CHICAGO – “Fairytales should really be updated,” muses the puckish Shrek during a final plea for the affections of a reluctant princess. It is one of those startlingly honest and quietly irreverent insights that “Shrek the Musical” is all too wary to boast, but is a welcome dagger into the cavalcade of childhood morality tales that, year after year, infiltrate the bulk of shooting star wishes and Barbie dream-houses.

Theater Review: Bailiwick Chicago Rediscovers a Buried ‘AIDA’

Bailiwick Chicago's "AIDA"

CHICAGO – When the initial production of Elton John and Tim Rice’s “Aida” made its foray to the Broadway stage, following what was surely a tempestuous artistic adolescence, the public hurrah with which it was met signaled the birth of two eminent stage relations. First, that of John’s with both Broadway and West End investors, a collaboration that has far outstretched the boundaries set forth by “The Lion King”.

Theater Review: ‘Sins of Sor Juana’ is Hollowed History

"Sins of Sor Juana"

CHICAGO – Lauded as the first great poet of Latin America, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz served as both an artistic and philosophical trailblazer in the most consequential of orders. A self-instructed scholar of Baroque thought, Sor Juana piloted a course of unprecedented intellect as well as feminist ideology during her brief years. What has rightfully garnered the scribe a nonpareil reverence was her audacity to posit such work in a time of a most restrictive piety.

Theater Review: Beguiling ‘Lookingglass Alice’ Tumbles Back Down the Rabbit Hole

Cast of "Lookingglass Alice"

CHICAGO – “It really doesn’t matter which direction you go,” counsels one of Wonderland’s mischievous denizens at the onset of Alice’s most transmogrifying of journeys. For David Catlin, the cunningly innovative adaptor and director of Lookingglass Theatre’s take on Lewis Carroll’s treasured canon, it matters not whether the real Alice Liddell traveled upward, downward, backward or sideways on the famed rowing boat trip that would later bear her whimsical stories. At Lookingglass, adventure is the only direction worth taking.

‘Suicide, Incorporated’ Explores Mortality’s Worth, Will

"Suicide, Incorporated"

CHICAGO – The eponymous subject matter of Andrew Hinderaker’s enthralling new work “Suicide, Incorporated” is hardly a newfangled muse to dramatists. The concept of one’s self-sanctioned execution has inspired the minds of media architects from Poe to the executives at Lifetime Television Network (the latter of which tends to default to the exertion habitually). The question of an individual opting to terminate his life, especially when the meaning of which plagues the majority of us, is nary an easy one. Hinderaker’s take on the matter, both in stylized approach and explication, proves to be one of the most cerebrally exigent of the lot.

Theater Review: Our Sins, Joys Are Exposed in Rodez’s ‘The Big Funk’

"Big Funk, The" Rodez Productions

CHICAGO – There are moments of true clarity in John Patrick Shanley’s “The Big Funk,” presented by Rodez Productions at the Red Tape Theater in Chicago. Characters who find themselves trapped in a metaphoric morass work through the issues that bind them, and expose themselves to a bigger sense of life’s intention.

Theater Interview: Going Mad With ‘Lookingglass Alice’ Director David Catlin

ltc_alice-004821.jpg

CHICAGO – Most adolescent boys do away with their freshly-acquired Bar Mitzvah money before you can say “Haftorah”. But not David Schwimmer. Instead, the Lookingglass Theatre Company co-founder and “Friends” superstar mounted what was to become his theatre company’s most illustrious and withstanding production, “Lookingglass Alice”, based on the cherished novels of Lewis Carroll. The company’s Artistic Director David Catlin recently caught up with HollywoodChicago.com to discuss the adaptation and production process for Alice’s latest journey (now playing through August 1, 2010 at the Water Tower), and why this fourth trip down the rabbit hole just may be the best yet.

Theater Interview: Playwright Charles Grippo Puts the ‘Sex’ in Comedy

"Sex Marks the Spot"

CHICAGO – Charles Grippo doesn’t have much sympathy for politicians who put themselves in hot, scandal-infused water. In fact, he has taken to a platform he knows well, the Chicago theatre scene, to share his satirical insight into the recent trend of sexual enmeshment that has plagued many of the nation’s top pundits and officeholders. Grippo recently caught up with HollywoodChicago.com to discuss how personal disastisifaction with government can beget the most acidic of farce.

Theater Review: ‘Sugar’ is an Artificial Sweetener

"Sugar" at Drury Lane Oakbrook

CHICAGO – Few but the most professorial of Broadway aficionados recall with clarity the short-lived “Sugar,” which is one of the first film-to-stage transfers that premiered on the Great White Way in 1972 to lowly acclaim and even lower financial prowess. Though serving as a harbinger for the soon-to-be endowed trend of film derivatives, “Sugar” debuted in the throws of an era thirsty for the provocation of Michael Bennett and the insight of Stephen Sondheim.

Theater Review: Ellen DeGeneres Brings Laughs, Magic to Chicago Theatre

Ellen DeGeneres

CHICAGO – “I like the word ‘somewhat’”, mused Ellen DeGeneres Wednesday night onstage at the Chicago Theatre in front of what is now her standard roused audience. “Like you can say, ‘I’m somewhat gay. But my girlfriend’s really gay.’”

Theater Interview: Looking ‘Up’ With ‘Fuerza Bruta’ Creator Diqui James

Martin Buzzo in Fuerza Bruta

CHICAGO – The confetti-filled, fist-pumping import “Fuerza Bruta: Look Up” recently stormed into Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre stage. Lauded by audiences as an experience the bridges the gap between the fervor of a night club and the aesthetics of traditional theatre, the production is known for its use of 360 degree spectacle. Diqui James, the co-creator and Artistic Director of the piece, recently caught of with ShowBiz Chicago to discuss the concept of the hands-on “Fuerza Bruta”, and why the art may just be in the discovery.

Theater Review: Northlight Goes For Zest in Sultry ‘Low Down Dirty Blues’

'Low Down Dirty Blues'

CHICAGO – “I been in the blues all my life. I’m still delivering ‘cause I got a long memory,” Muddy Waters once recounted to a reporter. Although the narrative catharsis once offered by the likes of Charlie Patton and Bo Carter may have given way to the stylized pulse of R&B, its placement in America’s ever-ripening counterculture is worth the recollection. And luckily for Chicago, it is a stronghold that is now making a timely wake-up call on the Northlight stage, with enough sweat and sizzle to heat a bass line.

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  • Asylum, The Logo

    CHICAGO – Put in a dash of crazy, add a dash of funny and you are defining “The Asylum,” a catch-all name for a couple of show events in Chicago, playing at The Apollo Theater Studio through February 23rd, 2017. Behind the scenes of these showcases is producer Michael Sanow, a Chicago theater veteran. For “The Asylum” information regarding the “Atypical Musical Comedy Show” (Tuesdays) and “Access Comedy” (Thursdays), click here.

  • Baltimore Waltz, The

    CHICAGO – During the scourge of the AIDS epidemic, at its height in the late 1980s, a playwright lost her brother to the condition. Inspired by him, Paula Vogel wrote “The Baltimore Waltz,” a story about her and her brother’s travels through Europe – and filtered through the prism of fantasy and the movies. The Brown Paper Box Company presents a re-staging of the play in Chicago through February 19th, 2017.

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