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HollywoodChicago.com Theater Reviews & Interviews

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.

Theater Interview: Still at Large With Wanda Sykes

Wanda Sykes

CHICAGO – Wanda Sykes wants you to know that she still has a mind and a mouth and she’s not afraid to use either. The Emmy Award-winning comedienne known for her work on “The Wanda Sykes Show,” “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” as well as several HBO specials is back on the road after a year that has seen much in the way of personal and professional advances.

Theater Review: Summer’s ‘Fuerza Bruta’ Parties On

'Fuerza Bruta' at the Auditorium Theatre

CHICAGO – During the climactic sequence in the new amp-infused, celebrity-verified production “Fuerza Bruta”, hundreds of expectant hands reach toward the transparent Mylar pool descending upon them. Four bathing coryphees, exploring the tank as a child would a slip-n-slide, peer through the translucent water with the same anticipation as their onlookers. In the moments that proceed, hands reach body, giving rise to manifest excitement. The audience has not only viewed the art, it has experienced it.

Footless ‘Body Awareness’ Asks the Tough Questions

"Body Awareness" at Profiles Theatre

CHICAGO – It is a quandary that has plagued the minds of the nations foremost feminists, and even those who would better prefer the perspired mirrors of strippercize classes to the contents of “The Feminine Mystique”. Yet from Betty Friedan to Hillary Clinton, Susan B. Anthony to Katy Perry, the question regarding the often thinly drawn crease between sexual empowerment and objectification still wants for absolution..

Theater Review: ‘The 39 Steps’ is Frolicsome, Hollow Hitchcock

The cast of 'The 39 Steps'

CHICAGO – The stage may is noticeably stripped, and the absence of technical advancement well-viewed. But the brass creativity emanating from “The 39 Steps”, the rollicking adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock’s quieted film, is consummately endowed. In a certain albeit undeniable sense, the Master of Suspense’s screen canon has always been ripe for the satirical plucking.

Spirited ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ Dusts Off Broadway Scrapbook

"The Drowsy Chaperone" at the Marriott Theatre

CHICAGO – There are few plot archetypes that receive as much in the way of production funding as that which examines- and often heralds- the business of Broadway. From the trying personal life of Fanny Brice to the eruption of a chorus player on 42nd Street, musicals have often reveled to the avidity of their own founts.

Theater Interview: Back on the Street With Lisa Helmi Johanson of ‘Avenue Q’

The new touring cast of "Avenue Q"

CHICAGO – The puppets are back in town. Those R-rated, sexually-inclined, potty-mouthed denizens of Avenue Q have once again taken over the neighborhood where they are appearing at Broadway in Chicago’s Bank of America Theater. Now in its seventh year Off-Broadway (where the production recently transferred from its previous home on the Great White Way), the Tony Award-winning musical by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx continues to tempt and tickle its Sesame Street fanbase on the road.

Theater Interview: The Write Stuff With Playwright Will Cooper

Christine Bunuan stars in the Chicago Dramatists' "Jade Heart"

CHICAGO – Chicago Dramatists’ playwright Will Cooper isn’t interested in the simple answers. Rather, his new production, “Jade Heart”, has every intention to ask the hard-hitting questions of racial identity in a post-melting pot America, a topic as potentially layered as it is controversial.

Theater Review: New Play ‘SunChoke’ is a Dereliction of Beauty

SunchokeFront.jpg

CHICAGO – “Beautiful,” I said to Josh Arteaga, the playwright of “SunChoke,” after experiencing his post-apocalyptic narrative at the Raven Theater. Why that particular word would come out of such dread is emblematic of the entirety.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret

    CHICAGO – When faced with adversity, the best way around it is to somehow break into song. That is the feeling behind the Brown Paper Box Co.’s “Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret,” running April 7th and 8th at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. The event features company member Kristi Szczepanek as host, and presents song stylings by other company members, including Anna Schutz, plus some special guests. For details and ticket information, click here.

  • Kid Thing, The

    CHICAGO – Like the awesome Engine Who Could, the mighty Nothing Without a Company stage crafters have constructed another triumph at their new home in Berger Mansion on Chicago’s north side. “The Kid Thing” – written by Sarah Gubbins – is a terse, convincing and emotional play about fear, identity and breeding, and it is performed by its cast of five with utter authenticity. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Berger North Mansion through April 15th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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