Tag: Apollo Theater

After 8 record-breaking years, Million Dollar Quartet to bid farewell to Chicago

 Brandon Bennett, Adam Lee, Lance Lipinsky, Shaun Whitley, Robby Kipferl, Chris Damiano, Andy Ahrens, Patrick Morrow, Jay Perkins and Kelly Lamont star in "Million Dollar Quartet" at Chicago's Apollo Theater.

Chicago’s longest-running Broadway musical to close

With almost 3,000 performances and now in its eighth year in Chicago, Million Dollar Quartet, Chicago’s longest-running Broadway musical (our review ★★★½), is set to close this coming January.  The Tony Award winning rock ‘n’ roll musical has been breaking box office records at the Apollo Theater, where it will be running for only twelve weeks more.  (read more) 

October 19, 2015 | 0 Comments More

Review: Dinner with Friends (rebekah theatre project)

Carol Ludwick and Jamie Birkner star in rebekah theatre project's "Dinner with Friends" by Donald Margulies, directed b Darrelyn Marx.        
Dinner with Friends

Written by Donald Margulies
Directed by Darrelyn Marx  
at Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln (map)
thru May 31  |  tickets: $25   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
                   Read review

May 14, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Gin Game (Rebekah Theatre Project)

Paul Tinsley stars as Weller in rebekah theatre project's "The Gin Game" by D.L. Coburn, directed by James Sparling.        
The Gin Game

Written by D.L. Coburn
Directed by James Sparling 
at Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln (map)
thru May 31   |  tickets: $25   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
                   Read review

May 13, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Three Little Pigs (Emerald City Theatre)

Mary Margaret Roberts stars as Siu in Emerald City Theatre's "The Three Little Pigs" by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, directed by Ernie Nolan. (photo credit: Tom McGrath)        
The Three Little Pigs

Music by George Stiles 
Book and Lyrics by Anthony Drewe 
Directed by Ernie Nolan
at Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln (map)
thru May 17  |  tickets: $10-$16   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
                   Read review

February 17, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Adult Entertainment (Bard and Fool Theater Group)

Whitney Rappana stars as Heidi in Bard and Fool Theater Group's "Adult Entertainment" by Elaine May, directed by Doug Albers.        
Adult Entertainment 

Written by Elaine May 
Directed by Doug Albers
Apollo Studio Theater,  2540 N. Lincoln (map)
thru May 19  |  tickets: $12-$15   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
        Read entire review

May 5, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: Knuffle Bunny – a cautionary musical (Emerald City Theatre)

Emerald City Theatre's "Knuffle Bunny: a cautionary musical" by Mo Willems, directed by Job Christenson, continues through January 6th at Chicago's Apollo Theater. (photo credit: Tom McGrath)        
Knuffle Bunny:
     a cautionary musical

Written by Mo Willems 
Directed by Job Christenson
Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln (map)
thru Jan 6  |  tickets: $10-$27   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
        Read entire review

October 9, 2012 | 1 Comment More

Review: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Emerald City Theatre)

Mark Kosten, Tommy Bullington, Alex Heika, Maddy LaRoche, Patricia Lavery, Michael Rashid, RJ Silva and Jonathan Shroelucke in Emerald City Theatre's "Alexander and the ...Very Bad Day", directed by Ernie Nolan. (photo credit: Tom McGrath)       
Alexander and the Terrible, 
Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Written by Judith Viorst and Shelly Markham
Directed by Ernie Nolan
at the Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln (map)
thru June 17  |  tickets: $13-$16   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets  
        Read entire review 

February 23, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Snow White (Emerald City Theatre)

Emerald City Theatre - Snow White by Ernie Nolan       
Snow White 

Written and Directed by Ernie Nolan   
at Apollo Theater, 2450 N. Lincoln (map)
thru May 20  |  tickets: $13-$16   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
        Read entire review

January 22, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Junie B. Jones (Emerald City Theatre)

A scene from Emerald City Theatre's "Junie B. Jones," adapted by Allison Gregory and Directed by Jacqueline Stone.       
Junie B. Jones

Adapted by Allison Gregory
From book series by Barbara Park
Directed by Jacqueline Stone  
Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln (map)
thru Jan 8  |  tickets: $13-$16   |  more info

Check for half-price tickets 
        Read entire review

November 21, 2011 | 1 Comment More

Review: If You Give a Cat a Cupcake (Emerald City)

Kyle Rehder as Rufus the Dog, Joe Goldammer as Cat, and Leah Raidt as Girl in Emerald City Theatre's If You Give A Cat A Cupcake, adapted and directed by Ernie Nolan. (photo credit: Tom McGrath)
If You Give a Cat a Cupcake

Adapted and directed by Ernie Nolan
Based on book by Laura Numeroff 
at Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln (map)
thru Jan 7  tickets: $13- $16  |  more info

Check for half-price tickets
Download the show’s parent guide

      Read entire review

September 27, 2011 | 1 Comment More

REVIEW: Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (Emerald City)


Having fun while learning the importance of responsibility


From left to right: Daiva Bhandari as Duckling, Bret Beaudry as Bus Driver, and James Zoccoli as Pigeon.

Emerald City Theatre presents
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
From the books by Mo Willems
Adapted by
Ernie Nolan 
Directed by
Jacqueline Stone
Apollo Theatre, 2540 N. Lincoln (map)
thru April 10  |  tickets: $13-$16   |  more info

To be clear, I am way past the age of three and above which is the recommended age for Emerald City Theatre’s Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus!. However, there are always lessons to be learned about sharing, responsibility, and respect no matter one’s age. Ernie Nolan adapts this production from the popular ‘Pigeon’ books by Mo Willems. They include: “The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog”, “Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late”, “Pigeon Wants a Puppy”, as well as “Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus!”

It is a colorful and stimulating hour or so of entertainment for children. The set is a beautiful rendering of a city park that looks just like a children’s book. The music consists of fun lyrics set to familiar tunes like the “Can-Can” and Bizet’s Carmen.

"Can I PLEASE drive the Bus?" From left to right: Daiva Bhandari as Duckling, James Zoccoli as Pigeon, and Bret Beaudry as Bus Driver.Bret Beaudry plays the role of Bus Driver. His character is the moral consciousness and adult figure in the play. Beaudry lights up in this role. He is adept at playing for laughs and not condescending to the kids. Beaudry has a wonderful energy, especially in the game show segment when he dons a sparkly jacket and obnoxious bow tie.

Bus Driver is a well-drawn caricature and plays well off of the character of Duckling, played by Daiva Bhandari. Duckling is anthropomorphized as a human/animal hybrid but quite believable. Ms. Bhandari is delightful in a hyper-real yellow bob and tutu. Her character represents the good kid and great example.

It’s fun and educational to see Duckling win the game show by being prepared and responsible. The lesson was given without the hammer fist of good kid vs. bad kid.

James Anthony Zoccoli plays the role of Pigeon, and his character is the classic kid with ADHD. Pigeon is all over the place, wanting his way and pouting about never getting his way (insert wah-wah music here). Zoccoli is costumed in everyday baggy khakis, hoodie, and a baseball cap. I’m not sure why Pigeon wasn’t more outrageously attired or given more colorful accessories. Might it be that the costumer was making a statement about how common pigeons are in an urban setting-therefore the hip-hop attire?  It felt like Pigeon didn’t have some class privileges and was excluded. Whatever the reason, I found Pigeon more difficult to relate to from my inner child’s vision. Mr. Zoccoli is funny and good at relating the need for better behavior to kids but didn’t embody the same childlike zany energy coming from him. It was as if an adult had been dropped into the scene that had carte blanche to act like a kid.

Jacqueline Stone is the director for Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus!. She does a good job of matching the pace with a child’s attention span. The different vignettes are reminiscent of a day in Pee-Wee Herman’s Playhouse: the scene of the giant puppy is a funny lesson in being careful what you ask for, as surely you will get it; the hot dog story was a great lesson in sharing. A general motif is created whereby the pigeon is basically manipulated or tricked into doing the right thing. I would have liked to see Pigeon happy about a lesson learned versus being miffed.

James Zoccoli as Pigeon is not so sure he wants a puppy anymore.

In paying attention to the kid’s reactions in the audience, it’s obvious that kids are very observant; it’s not easy to put something over on them. Kids will call you out on obvious stuff like it’s Duckling under the giant puppy head. It’s odd – kids will suspend reality for a human duck hybrid, but then spot the barely-visible bright yellow costume in a dual role as puppy.

Keep in mind that some children will be afraid having story books come to life. One little girl behind me was freaked out for most of the first half hour. She was crying to get out of there and I understood. I was the kid who had nightmares about Garfield Goose taking me away in a shopping cart. You never really know what is in a child’s mind.

Emerald City always has fun activities and props for the kids. Duckling was on hand before the show to put ketchup, mustard, relish, and onions (sticker dots) on paper hot dogs. The characters are available for pictures and autographs after the show as well. I recommend this show for kids 3 and up who have read the “Pigeon” series. It’s a fun and smart way to introduce theater to very young children. (It was also a great way to resolve my Garfield Goose issues!)

Rating: ★★½

Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus! runs through April 10th, 2011 at the Apollo Theater located at 2540 N. Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. Go to emeraldcitytheatre.com for more information on Emerald City and the wonderful programs for early childhood education through theatre. The playbill has some fun stuff in it for parents and children to share as well.

From left to right: Bret Beaudry as Bus Driver, James Zoccoli as Pigeon, and Daiva Bhandari as Duckling.

Extra Credit

January 22, 2011 | 0 Comments More

REVIEW: Pinkalicious (Emerald City Theatre)

Think Pink!


 Pinkalicious 9.18.2010 1

Emerald City Theatre presents
Book/lyrics by Victoria and Elizabeth Kann
Music & additional lyrics by
John Gregor
Directed by
Ernie Nolan
Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln (map)
through January 3  |  tickets: $13-$16  |  more info

Reviewed by Allegra Gallian

Sometimes there is such a thing as too much of a good thing – as Pinkalicious Pinkterton learns in the Midwest premiere of Pinkalicious, the musical story of a young girl who gets Pinktitis from eating one too many pink cupcakes.

Emerald City Theatre’s production of Pinkalicious, based on the popular children’s book by Elizabeth Kann and Victoria Kann, brings children’s fantasy to life with its set design by Ernie Nolan. The stage is full of bright, vivid colors in hues of pinks, lime Pinkalicious 9.18.2010 2 greens, baby blues and yellows. The kid-friendly set boasts over the top scenery with giant pink glittery flowers, background houses decorated in musical scores and cupcakes everywhere. It’s certainly attention-grabbing, and the children in the audience were fascinated as they explored the set before the show began.

Pinkalicious opens on the Pinkerton family. Each cast member is automatically outgoing and bursting with energy. Pinkalicious (Lara Mainier) makes pink cupcakes with her mom, Mrs. Pinketeron (Rachel Klippel) and her brother, Peter (Shea Coffman). She wants to eat more and more but her mom and dad (Patrick Byrnes) says no, explaining why in the song “You Get What You Get and You Don’t Get Upset.” Mainier is bright and bubbly with a wonderful childlike demeanor. When she breaks out in to song, however, it seems as though some of the music is out of her vocal range and she loses the strength in her singing voice. Coffman’s Peter is a strong presence on stage and he’s a riot to watch.

The next morning Pinkalicious wakes up to discover she has turned pink from head to toe. Not know what else to do, her parents rush her to see Dr. Wink (Julia P. Gordon) who diagnoses the problem as Pinktitis. Pinkalicious is overjoyed at her condition but her parents worry. Dr. Wink informs them that the only cure is eating green foods, explained in the catchy song dance number, “Pinktitis.” Where the singing tends fall flat, the dancing shines. Highly entertaining dance numbers are well choreographed by Nolan and it’s hard not to smile while watching. The singing, on the other hand, is sometimes compromised for characterization and movement, and a little stronger diction could help audience members understand the lyrics.

John Gregor’s music throughout Pinkalicious varies in styles like pop, jazz and blues, but all the numbers are upbeat and amusing. Peter sings a bluesy number, “Pink Blues,” that allows Coffman to really show off his vocal talent. It’s clear he’s the strongest signing voice in the cast as he makes this number his own.

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Pinkalicious at first refuses to eat anything green, but after her condition worsens and she turns from pink to red she decides it’s time to be brave and sings “Green Food,” an adorable song about eating her greens. Pinkalicious is not only an entertaining show, but it also sends a good message to the children in the audience about the importance of eating healthy.

The whole cast offers quality, fully-embraced characterization that they push far enough out to create exaggerated, engaging characters that keep the children’s attention for the entire one-hour show time. Pinkalicious even allows for the children to interact with the performers, answering questions and allowing them to become a part of the magic. The show flows along well and never drags because they cast keeps their energy levels high throughout.

Pinkalicious proves to be a whirlwind of fun and fantasy that’s perfect for kids (and kids at heart) of all ages. It’s impossible not to leave with a smile on your face and your step – if not pinker – then just a little bit lighter.

Rating: ★★★½   

Pinkalicious plays at the Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln Ave., through December 31. Tickets are $16 for adults and $13 for children and can be purchased through Emerald City’s Web site or by calling 773-935-6100.

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September 21, 2010 | 3 Comments More