Category Archives: Theatre Reviews

Enjoyable! Brown Box Paper Company Presents Grace, or The Art of Climbing at Stage 773 (Through July 7, 2019)

Emerson learned to climb from her father. She lost interest for a while, but now she wants to get back into it. She gets a coach at her local gym and begins improving quickly. She has big dreams of joining the national climbing team. Along the way, she processes her feelings for her ex-boyfriend, her coach, and her father.

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The set is very well designed with wooden boards secured to the walls for climbing along with a large structure in the middle. They also use ropes to allow the actors to climb to the ceiling safely.

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Alex Molnar does a great job as the lead, Emerson. She has the majority of the lines and she stays on stage for the entire 90 minutes without an intermission.

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Fans of climbing and fans of theatre will enjoy this performance! Get tickets now for Grace, or The Art of Climbing through July 7!

Cost of a ticket: $29
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

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Quinn Delaney

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Chicago Immigrant Stories! Teatro Vista and Collaboraction Present La Havana Madrid at The Den Theatre (Through June 30, 2019)

La Havana Madrid is a collection of stories about immigrating to Chicago from Cuba, Puerto Rico and Colombia. The tales range from coming here as a child to moving here as an adult seeking work. They all formed community at a Chicago nightclub, La Havana Madrid, which featured music from salsa to cumbia.

This show has a great balance of dialog and music. The story always builds up to a climax that is the perfect place for a song. The live band playing throughout the show is Carpacho y Su Super Sombo.

Sandra Delgado radiates as the star of the show. She also wrote the play! In fact, everyone in the cast gets their chance to tell their story and each one is unique in its own way. Each performer does a great job of shining during their time in the spotlight.


Get tickets now for La Havana Madrid through June 30th!

Cost of a ticket: $40 and up
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

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Ilse Zacharias plays Myrna, with fellow cast member Mike Oquendo. Photo credit: Joel Maisonet

Quinn Delaney

Great Performances! Four Places at The Den Theatre (Through June 30, 2019)

A brother and sister take their mother out for lunch to have an important conversation. They believe it is time for their dad to move out, at least temporarily. The reason why will shock you! This leads to some very serious and interesting conversations.
The performances in this production are great. Especially impressive is Meg Thalken as the mother who reacts to the news very emotionally. She likes to have control and doesn’t appreciate her children stepping in.
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The show runs a very quick 80 minutes without an intermission.
After five years of focusing on improving the building, this is the Den Theatre’s return to producing.
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Get tickets now for Four Places through June 30th!
Cost of a ticket: $43
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating:  Half Price  +
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother
Quinn Delaney

A Colorful Party! Ms. Blakk for President at Steppenwolf (Through July 14, 2019)

It’s 1992 and Ms. Joan Jett Black is running for president. She is the first Drag Queen to run and she is determined to get onto the floor of the Democratic National Convention at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Her purpose isn’t to win but rather to draw attention to queer issues such as AIDS and LGBT rights. On the first day of the convention, she is denied entry to the convention, despite the fact that she has valid passes. Thus, she must concoct an alternative plan to gain access.


This production is very fun and colorful party. It begins with a delightful drag show. It is also very clever. There are many nods to issues that were relevant in 1992 and are relevant now. A major one is that a supreme court nominee was accused of sexual misconduct and is now sitting on the court. Unlike other Steppenwolf productions like Pass Over, this one isn’t a deep dive into issues or challenging to watch.


Tarell Alvin McCraney is a commanding presence on stage as Joan Jett Black. He’s a fabulous performer who puts on an impressive performance. Also, Sawyer Smith is a standout as Q, matching the energy and enthusiasm of McCraney. And the rest of the cast does a great job in their supporting roles.

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Get tickets now for Ms. Blakk for President through July 14!

Cost of a ticket: $67
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Going over Niagara Falls in a Barrel: Firebrand Theatre Presents Queen of the Mist at The Den Theatre (Through July 6, 2019)

Things weren’t going so well for Anna Edson Taylor. She had been jumping from town to town trying to teach dance and music. Each time she failed to make enough to cover the rent. She is forced to move in with her sister, who throws her out shortly afterwards. So, she hatches up a big crazy plan. She’s going to custom build a barrel and use to it go over Niagara Falls! She hires a manager and begins to figure out how she can monetize this huge stunt.

It’s a truly unique story that is well developed. In addition, the singing is very good in this show. The entire cast has great voices. Also, the set is very impressive for this production. It looks like the stage is inside a giant barrel. Lastly, there is plenty of mist!

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Get tickets now for Queen of the Mist through July 6.

Cost of a ticket: $55
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price +
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

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Quinn Delaney

Excellent! Broadway in Chicago Presents Falsettos at the James M. Nederlander Theatre (Through June 9, 2019)

Falsettos is the combination of two Off-Broadway shows, March of the Falsettos (1981) and Falsettoland (1990).  It first opened in it’s current form on Broadway in 1992 and was nominated for seven Tony Awards. It was revived in 2016 and was nominated for another 5 Tonys. And now, in May 2019, in comes to Chicago’s James M. Nederlander Theatre!


The story centers around Marvin, who begins married with a 12 year old son. He decides to leave them for his new love interest, another man. His wife then goes on to marry their therapist. All of this leads to a lot of dramatics and they search for happiness in this new situation.

In this musical, almost everything is sung. It’s difficult to pull this off without any spoken dialog, but this production manages just that. It is a very emotional ride.

The performance by Thatcher Jacobs, who plays the son, is very impressive as he holds his own among all the adults. Nick Adams (“Smash”) is solid as the new boyfriend and Max Von Essen (“The Good Wife”) is fantastic as Marvin. Lastly, Nick Blaemire (“The Good Wife”) is hilarious as therapist.

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The set design is very clever. It starts as just a huge cube in the center of the stage, but it comes apart into pieces for all the different scenes as chairs, tables, and more.

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Get tickets now for Falsettos through June 9th!

Cost of a ticket: $71 and up
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating:  Worth It
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Darkly Comedic! Eclipse Theatre Company Presents Baby with the Bathwater at The Athenaeum Theatre (Through May 19, 2019)

A young couple hires a nanny to help with their baby. They don’t want to define the gender, so they just refer to it as baby. They haven’t even named it by the time the nanny arrives. The nanny treats the baby very roughly by just throwing it around. They eventually decide the baby is a girl and name her Daisy. However, at age 15, Daisy has realized that he is a boy. He wants to change his name and stop wearing dresses. This all leads to many therapy sessions unpacking his childhood.
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Elise Marie Davis (At The Table, Girl in the Red Corner) is hilarious at the completely aloof mother. Tyler Anthony Smith is excellent as the equally lost father. Jamie Bragg is fantastic as the uncaring nanny doing whatever she pleases. Jose M Cervantes shines as Daisy, struggling to figure out his life after being raised in such a strange manner. And lastly, Kirby Gibson is solid as Cynthia.
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Get tickets now for Baby with the Bathwater through May 19th!
Cost of a ticket: $35
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price +
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother
Quinn Delaney