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Theater & Performance This Weekend

3 total results

The Last Ship

6/10-7/13: Tue-Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 2 and 8 PM, Sun 2 and 7:30 PM; also Wed 6/25, 6:30 PM; Wed 7/2 and 7/9, 2 PM

Sting wasn't born Sting, you know. Years before he got famous as lead singer of the Police, he was Gordon Sumner of Wallsend, a spot in the northeast of England known for shipyards that boosters today call "historic" and "proud" because little in the way of shipbuilding actually goes in them anymore. Born in 1951, Sting grew up during the slow Detroitification of the Wallsend yards; now, at 62, he's apparently in a retrospective mood—ergo his farfetched yet entertaining new musical, The Last Ship, set in the Wallsend of his youth. To his credit, Sting hasn't opted for a Great Man exercise in autohagiography. Unlike, say, Berry Gordy's Motown: The Musical, The Last Ship isn't a creation myth. But then again, it isn't what you'd call a gritty look at postindustrial dislocation either. Even the inevitable comparisons to Billy Elliot are off: overblown as it was when it came through Chicago in 2010, Elton John's stage musical was constrained by its source material (the 2000 movie starring a 14-year-old Jamie Bell) to stick close to the politics and culture and hard knocks of English coal miners carrying on a bitter strike during the mid-1980s. Created out of whole cloth, The Last Ship has no such constraints and doesn't impose many on itself. Though it unfolds among working people facing the loss of their collective livelihood, the show leaps off—weirdly, and without really acknowledging it—into romantic fantasy. Continue reading >> $33-$100

Bank of America Theatre (map)
18 W. Monroe St.
phone 312-902-1400
The Last Ship


Motown the Musical

Through 8/9: Tue and Thu-Fri 7:30 PM, Wed 2 and 7:30 PM, Sat 2 and 8 PM, Sun 2 PM; also Sun 7/6, 7:30 PM; Fri 8/8, 2 PM; no performance on Fri 7/4

It's legacy time for 84-year-old Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr., and he hasn't taken any chances: he not only coproduced but wrote the book for this jukebox musical tracing his life from 1938 to Motown's 25th anniversary in 1983. Gordy's Gordy is a wholesome hustler who works too hard, gives too much, and practices an if-you-love-it-set-it-free philosophy when the musicians he's nurtured "like a father" move on to bigger labels. Even a multimillion-dollar lawsuit filed against him by the Holland/Dozier/Holland songwriting team earns a bewildered, more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger response. In short, don't expect any intense self-scrutiny here. What you can expect is a whole lot of hits from the absurdly great catalog Gordy developed with ridiculously talented artists like Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye. Ethan Popp's arrangements all tend to end the same way. But the singing and choreography in Charles Randolph-Wright's two-and-a-half-hour touring production are exhilarating. Chicagoan Allison Semmes is something special as Diana Ross. —Tony Adler $37-$102



Through 8/17: Wed 7:30 PM, Thu 2 (except 7/31) and 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 2 (except 7/12) and 8 PM, Sun 2 and 7:30 (except 7/27) PM; also Tue 7/22 and 2/29, 7:30 PM

In 1943, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma! stirred audiences with its youthful optimism, glorifying a hero who was willing to fight for the woman and the land he loved. "Oh, what a beautiful morning," the singing cowboy crooned—just what Americans needed to hear at the peak of World War II. But after the war—as people began to comprehend the horrors of the Holocaust, the devastation of Europe's great cities, and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—earthy hopefulness gave way to anxious uncertainty about the meaning of life and the precariousness of human existence, prompting a vogue for tales in which magic and miracles provided a sense of hope. In the 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life, a man is saved from suicide by a guardian angel. And the despairing protagonist of Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1945 Carousel actually does commit suicide; a heavenly Starkeeper gives him a chance to return to earth to set things right for the family he left behind. Continue reading >> $25-$105

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Goodman Theatre (map)
170 N. Dearborn St.
phone 312-443-3800


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