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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Hubris Productions comes out of the closet on snarkiness

Posted By on 02.02.12 at 03:13 PM

Hubriss Agnes of God
  • Hubris's Agnes of God
The following announcement/cri de coeur comes from Hubris Productions, which, since 2006, has been staging small-cast, mainstream dramas, a surprising number of which—Torch Song Trilogy, Steel Magnolias, Agnes of God, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, Bent—date from the Reagan years. (I'm proud to note that in going over our 11 reviews of Hubris shows, I haven't found one instance of a Reader critic making sarcastic reference to the company's name. Not that it hasn't been tempting.)

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The latest Reader performing arts reviews

Posted By on 02.02.12 at 01:47 PM

The Hunchback Variations Opera
Theater has always been at least partly about escapism, but two productions are taking that idea to the next level with downright magical plays about escape artist Eric Weiss, aka Houdini. The House Theatre of Chicago is celebrating its tenth anniversary by restaging its first show, Death and Harry Houdini, while Chicago Children's Theatre is capitalizing on the box-office hit Hugo by adapting another Brian Selznick children's story, The Houdini Box, into a lively musical featuring puppets and a set reminiscent of a pop-up book.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The latest Reader performing arts reviews

Posted By on 01.24.12 at 04:47 PM

Devils Dont Forget
  • Devils Don't Forget
Curious Theatre Branch can pat itself on the back this week: its fringe theater festival, Rhinofest, is full of recommended performances. The American Drink Book is a poignant tale told at 2 AM by the last sad-eyed sap at the bar. The absurdist play Today Like a Kind of Shivering is resonant and compelling despite its impenetrability. With Stranger(s), based on short stories by Daphne du Maurier and Flannery O'Connor, the fun is in watching real-life couple Mike McKune and Kelly Anchors effortlessly trade off their roles as deceived and deceiver.

Less successful is I Love You Permanently, which tells the tale of an entire relationship over the course of a single night but seems to drag on much longer. Curious Theatre Branch paterfamilias Beau O'Reilly, meanwhile, tells a sweet, cracked Irish love story in Our Kate Takes a Trip.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Remy Bumppo artistic director Timothy Douglas resigns

Posted By on 01.18.12 at 06:06 PM

Timothy Douglas
  • Kimberly Aileen Scott
  • Timothy Douglas
After a tenure of only six months, Timothy Douglas is calling it quits. His resignation as artistic director of Remy Bumppo Theatre takes effect January 31. He'll be replaced by Bumppo artistic associate Nick Sandys.

"This absolutely was my decision," Douglas told me by phone this afternoon.

The reason? "The approach to the work that I have differs so markedly from what has gone before that it just felt the compromise was too great," said the soft-spoken 50-year-old director. "What we all did have was the same goal for the work, for the impact of the work and the integrity of the work. It literally is just the way we came at it. I finally realized that it was pushing too hard and the company at large couldn’t sustain it. With the resources that we had, the financial realities of producing theater, it just seemed clear to me that it was going to be too hard of a struggle and I decided it’s just not fair to any of us."

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Last chance to see a "revolutionary Christmas Carol"

Posted By on 12.27.11 at 05:27 PM

Scrooge with Ignorance and Want
  • Scrooge with Ignorance and Want
As Goodman Theatre's latest A Christmas Carol proves, you don't need to work very hard to make the equation between Charles Dickens's Ebenezer Scrooge and the current crop of one-percenters. Scrooge is already in finance. He lends at usurious rates, makes clucking comments about taxes (though he at least seems to acknowledge their usefulness, if only for keeping the prisons and poor houses in operation), and hoards his personal wealth while overworking and severely underpaying that prototypical 99-percenter, Bob Crachit.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

The latest Reader performing arts reviews

Posted By on 12.23.11 at 03:00 PM

A Christmas Story: The Musical
  • Carol Rosegg
  • A Christmas Story: The Musical
It's a desert out there. With the fall season over, the spring season a few weeks away, and most of the holiday shows already well along in their runs, there's not much that's new to review. Such pickin's as there are include a late entry among the Loop yuletide shows, A Christmas Story: The Musical; Terry Horan's solo sketch show, Displays of Affection; and a special edition of Barrel of Monkeys' long-running That's Weird, Grandma, which I'd definitely take a grammar-school-aged kid to see if I knew any.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

The latest Reader performing arts reviews

Posted By on 12.08.11 at 11:00 AM

The Word Progress on My Mothers Lips Doesnt Ring True
The holiday show onslaught continues. We've reviewed another eight of them for the December 8 issue—nine, if you count the Reader-recommended Talk About God: Five Cents, a collection of monologues penned by Tom Noe in which various characters discuss their "experiences or opinions relating to the Almighty." The range of what constitutes a holiday show has widened a bit this time around to include the subversive (Hell in a Handbag's Reader-recommended Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer), the enthusiastically tasteless (blow-job-joke-heavy sketch revue Let It Ho!), and the just plain Jewish (Hannukatz: The Musical).

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Friday, December 2, 2011

The walls talk in Sleep No More

Posted By on 12.02.11 at 08:00 AM

Sleep No More
  • Alick Crossley
  • Sleep No More
Sleep No More is a fairly hot ticket in New York right now—and a fairly expensive one, too, considering that it's running way, way off Broadway, in a Chelsea warehouse that the current occupants have styled the "McKittrick Hotel" (possibly in homage to Kim Novak's hideaway in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo). Yet the comments I've been reading online suggest that people go back to see this eccentric riff on Shakespeare's Macbeth over and over again, despite the cost. That's because the show is as much a scene as it is a performance. And an evocative scene, at that.

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

The latest Reader performing arts reviews

Posted By on 12.01.11 at 01:00 PM

Goodman Theatres A Christmas Carol
As we note on the cover of the Arts & Culture section this week, the Christmas rush is on. Reader critics reviewed no less than 11 holiday shows for the December 1 issue, plus a few like Theo Ubique's Pump Boys and Dinettes, the Hypocrites' remounted Pirates of Penzance, and a touring production of Broadway's Memphis that stand ready to serve those of us who may feel festive, but not particularly Christian, at this time of year. Oddly, a Halloween play, Orange Orbs, slipped in among the rest. Next week we'll be running reviews of ten more seasonal entertainments, including Hannukatz, but not—I've put my foot down—Donnie & Marie: Christmas in Chicago.

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Fiddler on the Roof at the Auditorium

Posted By on 11.24.11 at 01:07 PM


Since it opened last night and only runs through November 27, I'm posting my review of the touring Fiddler currently ensconced at the Auditorium Theatre. For schedule information, see our listing under "Arts & Events."

After nearly five decades of school, camp, and community productions—not to mention four Broadway revivals and who knows how many touring and dinner-theater shows—it’s probably natural to think anybody can strap on a beard and play Tevye, the Ashkenazi milkman who originated in stories by Sholem Aleichem and became the center of a celebrated musical. You wouldn’t even have to learn the songs. I mean, who doesn’t know “Sunrise, Sunset”? No doubt, Osama bin Laden hummed it around the compound in Abbottabad.

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