Category Archives: Theatre Reviews

Excellent! InGen Productions presents Bangarang! A Neverland Reunion at the Den Theatre (Through August 12, 2018)

What do you get when you mix the 1991 film Hook and Fleetwood Mac’s The Dance reunion concert? You get Bangarang! A Neverland Reunion. These two performances combine well together as they both explore the desire for connecting to one’s past and the people in it.

Patrick Poulin does a fantastic job as Peter Pan. He’s hilarious as the dad worried about everything and constantly being critical of his children. Tai Palmgren is excellent as Hook. He’s devilishly delightful. Also, Kate Staiger is great as Moira, Peter’s wife. Her singing is especially impressive.

The band is excellent, especially considering the very small amount of space they are given on stage. In addition, the songs chosen are perfect. “Landslide” is beautifully done and brings some of the audience to tears. “Don’t Stop” is also superb. It’s a great way to end this show and have everyone leaving with a smile on their face.

It’s like getting two shows for the price of one! Get tickets now for Bangarang! A Neverland Reunion through Sunday!

Quinn Delaney

 

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Passionate! Broadway in Chicago Presents The Color Purple at Auditorium Theatre (Through July 29, 2018)

The Color Purple was written by Alice Walker in 1982. The following year it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. In 1985, Spielberg directed a film version starring Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, and Oprah Winfrey. In 2005, the musical version first appeared on Broadway and earned eleven Tony Award nominations. In 2016, it returned and won the Tony for Best Musical Revival. And now, in July of 2018, it graces the stage at The Auditorium Theatre in Chicago.

The Color Purple is the story of Celie, a young black woman in Georgia in the early 1900s. She is given away by her father to be married to Mister. He beats her and treats her very badly. When her sister comes to stay with them, he makes a move on her in a very aggressive manner. It’s a very dire situation that Celie struggles to escape.

The entire cast does an excellent job singing all the great songs. Carla R. Stewart is fierce as the sexual Shug Avery, who turns all the men’s heads when she enters a room. Carrie Compere is passionate as Sofia, another very strong female role. Gavin Gregory tackles the difficult role of playing the unlikable Mister with talent. Lastly, Adrianna Hicks is splendid as Celie who truly comes of age in this production.

Get tickets now for The Color Purple through July 29th!

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Quinn Delaney

THE COLOR PURPLE Photo 8

Lighthearted: Support Group For Men at Goodman Theatre (Through July 29, 2018)

Four men meet in an apartment above a bar at Clark and Roscoe. They are there to share their struggles without judgement. Only the person holding the talking stick may speak. During the meeting, an incident occurs outside and a surprise guest enters the scene.

Ryan Kitley (Lettie) plays Brian, the leader of the group. He’s very excited to talk about Amber, his girlfriend who is 20 years younger than him. He says everything is perfect. The other guys say this isn’t normal and it sounds like trouble. Keith Kupferer is great as Roger, an Artie Lange type character. He’s a man’s man who finds the whole group thing kind of silly, but he’s trying something new. Anthony Irons (How to Use a Knife) is solid as Delano, the married guy from Oak Park. Also, Tommy Rivera-Vega is very funny as Kevin, the salsa teacher.

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Despite the cast being great, the play is a bit of a letdown. Nothing very dramatic happens and it’s all very lighthearted. It may have been out there 10 years ago, but now it’s quite tame. However, music is very well used in the performance. Unfortunately, a list of songs used was unable to be obtained.

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Get tickets now for Support Group for Men through July 29th.

Quinn Delaney

Hilarious! Avenue Q at Mercury Theatre (Extended through November 4, 2018)

In 2004, Avenue Q won the Tony “Triple Crown” for Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Book. In 2014, it premiered at the Mercury Theatre. And now, in 2018, it returns to the Mercury with original cast members Jackson Evans and Leah Morrow.

 

 

 

This is a coming of age tale about Princeton, a recent college graduate moving to New York City. His search for a place to live leads him to Avenue Q, where Gary Coleman rents him an apartment.  His upstairs neighbor is Trekkie Monster. He also meets Kate Monster, no relation, and starts a relationship with her. He struggles to find his purpose in life and a job with his degree in English.

Mercury's Avenue Q '18 (Brett A. Beiner) - Leah Morrow, Christian Siebert, David S. Robbins, Dan Smeriglio, Matthew Miles

Even though puppets are used, this isn’t a kids show. The sign outside cautions, “Warning, Puppet Nudity!” Just like in Hand of God, the puppet sex scene is hilarious. Hand of God is definitely raunchier. Both of these shows do a great job making the puppets come to life.

 

The cast is superb. Jackson Evans (Bunny Bunny) is so friendly and likable as Princeton. The same can be said for Leah Morrow (The Producers) as Kate Monster. It’s no surprise they were both invited to reprise their roles from 2014. David S. Robbins is so funny as Gary Coleman. His impersonation is spot on. Christian Siebert (Strangest Things) is hilarious as Rod. His performance is reminiscent of Christian Clemenson as Jerry on Boston Legal. Both of them are quirky and delightful. Jonah D. Winston (Jesus Christ Superstar, Machinal, Longer! Louder! Wagner) is such a strong presence as Trekkie Monster. Everyone was lining up to get a picture with him after the show!

Mercury's Avenue Q '18 (Brett A. Beiner) - Christian Siebert (Rod), Jonah D. Winston and Dan Smeriglio (Nicky)

Get tickets for Avenue Q now through November 4th! See how the Mercury Theatre continues to put on the best musical comedies!

Quinn Delaney

So Funny! Broadway in Chicago Presents Waitress at Cadillac Palace Theatre (Through July 22, 2018)

Waitress is based on the 2007 film of the same name starring Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, and Jeremy Sisto. In 2016, it was nominated for four Tonys, including Best Musical and Best Original Score. The story is about Jenna, who is stuck in a bad marriage but dreams of winning a pie contest in order to have enough money to get away. With the help of her friends and a new love interest, her future begins to look bright. But the journey is not without its struggles.

The writing for this show is great. It all started with the great script for the movie by Adrienne Shelly. Then there is the book by Jessie Nelson and the music & lyrics by Sara Bareilles. It all comes together fantastically.

Waitress the Musical

Lenne Klingaman and Jeremy Morse in the National Tour of WAITRESS – Photo by Joan Marcus

The cast is excellent. Desi Oakley is excellent as Jenna. Her voice is so strong and her accent is perfect for the Southern small town setting. Nick Bailey has the tough task of playing the bad husband, and he does it with class. At the curtain call, he mouths, “I’m sorry.”  Lenne Klingaman is sweet and cute as Dawn. Jeremy Morse almost steals the show as Ogie. His performance of “Never Ever Getting Rid of Me” is delightfully over the top and receives a huge applause from the crowd. Ryan G. Dunkin as Cal and Charity Angel Dawson as Becky have a great chemistry together as they bicker in the diner. Also, the band sliding in and out is a great touch.

Get tickets now for Waitress through July 22, 2018!

Quinn Delaney

Waitress the Musical

Desi Oakley, Charity Angel Dawson and Lenne Klingaman in the National Tour of WAITRESS – Photo by Joan Marcus

Fun aside: When the audience learns her husband’s name is Earl, some expect the song, “Goodbye Earl” by the Dixie Chicks to appear. “Cause Earl had to die!” they sing!

Also see our review of The Spitfire Grill, another musical that takes place in a small town diner.

Needs Some Work: Broadway in Chicago Presents The Cher Show at The Oriental Theatre (Through July 15, 2018)

Regardless of your opinion on jukebox musicals, they are here to stay. But “The Cher Show” will need a major overhaul if it’s going to join the ranks of “Jersey Boys” and “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.”

 

The story is told through the flimsy set-up of Cher filming a TV special about her life. The show begins with the intro to “Believe.” The dancers fill the stage, the trap door opens and the platform rises. . . with no Cher. “Where’s Cher? Cut!” yells a man in a headset. Just minutes into the hokey premise, you’re already tired of it. It interrupts the show throughout, adding nothing. Cher’s lengthy career and fascinating life story is by no means an easy one to condense into a simple narrative, but the book suffers from trying to jam too much in. The show-within-a-show device doesn’t work to smoothly move the story along, but instead highlights the jerky pacing.

The show is told by three Chers, portraying different periods of her life. All three are excellent (and often all on stage together), but none of them truly capture Cher. On the other hand, Sonny Bono’s first appearance is greeted with energetic applause as his impression is uncanny. The two other moments that drive the crowd wild are the parade of Bob Mackie designed gowns and costumes, as well as the breath-taking choreography during “Dark Lady.” None of the three highlights of the show belong to the three Chers, but rather to Sonny, Bob Mackie and Christopher Gattelli (the choreographer) / Ashley Blair (dancer).

To clarify, the problems with the book are major, but the issues with the Chers are minor. They each have flashes of pure Cher within them. Perhaps a few quick lessons from Chad Michaels could help? But regardless, spending a night listening to Stephanie J. Block, Teal Wicks and Micaela Diamond belt Cher’s top hits is still a night well-spent — not to mention the wonderful Emily Skinner, who plays Cher’s mother, Georgia Holt.

 

 

Plus, they even throw in “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” from Burlesque, so really — how can you complain?

Get tickets now for The Cher Show through July 15th.

Quinn Delaney

 

 

 

Review: Organic Theatre Company Presents Tiresias Was a Weatherman at Greenhouse Theater (Through July 6, 2018)

Imagine a world in which our emotions affect the weather. Imagine if a mentally ill person out of control could cause a hurricane that could lead to destruction and death. What would society do to control these people? Put them on medication? Insert an emotion control computer chip in their brain? Find out now in Organic Theatre Company’s world premiere of Tiresias Was a Weatherman.

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The dialog is very dense in this production as they discuss deep philosophical issues such as climate change, mental illness, and many more. At times it’s a bit much to take in all at once. On the other hand, it is very funny, especially when the Greek Chorus embodies the weather as they dance and sing. Also, the name of the main corporation involved is called Crazy Pants Pharmaceutical Company! The cast does a great job tackling this complex script in this ensemble piece.

Note: The closing song of “Where Is My Mind?” by the Pixies is a great choice.

Get tickets now for Tiresias Was a Weatherman through July 6th.

Quinn Delaney