HollywoodChicago.com Theater Reviews & Interviews

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

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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.

Interview: Director J. Spencer Greene’s Indy Film ‘Off-Loop’ Premieres in Chicago

CHICAGO – The spirit of independent film is embodied in J. Spencer Greene’s “Off-Loop”, which will be having its Chicago premiere on Wednesday night, May 20, at the Portage Theater on the northwest side.

‘Legally Blonde the Musical’ is Aptly Sweetened Chicago Refreshment

Becky Gulsvig stars in Legally Blonde the Musical at the Ford Oriental Theatre in Chicago

CHICAGO – If you were one of those Chicagoans who discovered a new allergy to the hoards of hormonally-charged pubescents attached to “Wicked’s” wake, you may want to take heed, or rather cover—a new touring behemoth promises to tow along new teenie boppers to the Ford Theatre. But not to worry, plenty of chaperones will surely be on duty.

Something in the Way it Moves: Factory Theater’s ‘Mop Top Festival’ Celebrates The Beatles

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HollywoodChicago.com Comedy/Tragedy Rating: 3.5/5.0
Play Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – What has become of what John Lennon called, “The Greatest Show on Earth” (for what it was worth)? The Fab Four are still at The Beatle conventions – now called “The Fest for Beatle Fans”, which have gone on annually since 1977 in Chicago.

The House Theatre Stages Comeback With ‘Rose and the Rime’

Rose and the Rime
HollywoodChicago.com Comedy/Tragedy Rating: 4.0/5.0
Play Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – While most of America’s eyes were glued to the television screens Sunday night to catch Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” nab its gold, the celebrated underdog of Chicago theatre companies shyly began to spout its new wings.

Elizabeth Stanley Lifts ‘Xanadu’ to Place Where Nobody Dared to Go

Max Von Essen in the Broadway hit Xanadu in Chicago
HollywoodChicago.com Comedy/Tragedy Rating: 4.0/5.0
Play Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – If classics such as “A Chorus Line” and “Les Miserables” willfully suggest the existence of a secured, calculated recipe for a Broadway hit, Christopher Ashley’s “Xanadu” is a concoction that has once again gleefully tipped over this admittedly elusive boiling pot.

Maybe, Baby, Buddy Has Found New Groove in Chicago’s ‘Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story’

Justin Berkobien in the Chicago musical Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story
HollywoodChicago.com Comedy/Tragedy Rating: 3.5/5.0
Play Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – “Wow! I feel like I’m at a rock concert!” “Me too. It’s like I want to rush the stage!”

While overhearing this conversation between two young women at the recent Chicago opening of “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story,” I realized there were no better words to sum up Drury Lane’s recent jukebox-blaring, toe-tapping homage to one of the greatest rock and rollers of all time.

Route 66’s ‘On an Average Day’ Brings the House Down at Chicago’s Victory Gardens

Stef Tovar and Johnny Clark star in On an Average Day at the Victory Gardens Greenhouse Theater
HollywoodChicago.com Comedy/Tragedy Rating: 4.5/5.0
Play Rating: 4.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Chicago theatre often surprises its audiences in the notorious fizzling summer months by providing us what I like to call “Christmas in July”. In this case, though, it’s August and Santa has hopped onto Route 66.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s ‘Willy Wonka’ Sure to Satisfy Your Child’s Sweet Spot

Sean Fortunato as Willy Wonka in the Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Willy Wonka
HollywoodChicago.com Comedy/Tragedy Rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Ah, it’s summer again. Kids in Chicago are playing in the Millennium Park fountains, teenagers are flooding in to see the latest cinema blockbusters and families are enjoying Lake Michigan’s beaches.

‘Lookingglass Alice’ a Proud Chicago Work of Jibber Jabber, Nonsensical Wonderment

Lauren Hirte (left) as Alice and Lawrence E. Distasi as Lewis Carroll in Lookingglass Alice
HollywoodChicago.com Comedy/Tragedy Rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – On the fourth of July in 1862, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson rowed a boat up the River Thames with 10-year-old Alice Liddell. Alice was the daughter of the new dean of Christ Church where Dodgson was employed as a lecturer in mathematics.

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  • Chicago Party Aunt

    CHICAGO – The funny meter of Netflix went off the scale last week, as the animated series “Chicago Party Aunt” made its debut on September 17th. What began as a Twitter account by comic actor Chris Witaske (who also provides his voice talent) has morphed into the cartoon adventures of Aunt Diane Dumbowski, her nephew Daniel, and an array of familiar Chicago-isms and characters.

  • Factory Theater, The

    CHICAGO – It’s time again for live theater in Chicago, and The Factory Theater – in anticipation of their 2021-22 Season – is launching “Quiet Please! It’s A Silent Auction,” an online silent auction through the month of August (the 1st-31st). An amazing array of goods and services are available for bidding, and can be accessed by clicking here.

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