The Hipmas Carol | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

The Hipmas Carol 

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After a disappointing 2003 run at the ever awkward Lakeshore Theater--whose cavernous dimensions and raised proscenium stage made it hard to hold the audience's attention--this warm, wry, rhyming-jive condensation of Dickens's Christmas classic comes back to the intimate space where it premiered two years ago. Though the show's largely unchanged, stars Patrick Zielinski and Tyler Bohne are better than ever, seasoned by last year's experience and reenergized by the altogether more favorable layout at Frankie J's. There's a new looseness to their patter, and their interplay with the illustrative noodlings of Robert Rial's bluesy guitar seems at once more extemporaneous and assured. But what makes this hold up even on a second viewing is the small-scale cheer, compassion, and humanity of source and adaptation--Wonderful Lifers be damned, Scrooge still rules the yuletide roost, and this remains the best holiday play I've seen in years. Through 12/23: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Frankie J's MethaDome Theater, 4437 N. Broadway (second floor), 773-539-2915, $12; dinner-show package available.

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