Tag: Chuck Smith

Review: Objects in the Mirror (Goodman Theatre)

Daniel Kyri stars as Shedrick Yarkpai in Objects in a Mirror, Goodman Theatre           
      
  

Objects in the Mirror

Written by Charles Smith 
Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn (map)
thru June 4  |  tix: $20-$75  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

May 15, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: Quark (MPAACT)

Kelly Owens stars as Dr. Alexandra Seabold in MPAACT's "Quark" by Gloria Bond Clunie, directed by Chuck Smith. (photo credit: Shepsu Aakhu)        
      
Quark

Written by Gloria Bond Clunie
Directed by Chuck Smith
at Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln (map)
thru March 2  |  tickets: $15-$25   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review

February 2, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Pullman Porter Blues (Goodman Theatre)

Francis Guinan and Cleavant Derricks star in Goodman Theatre's "Pullman Porter Blues" by Cheryl L. West, directed by Chuck Smith. (photo credit: Liz Lauren)        
      
Pullman Porter Blues

Written by Cheryl L. West
Directed by Chuck Smith
Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn (map)
thru Oct 20 Oct 27  |  tickets: $25-$75   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
     
        
                   Read review
     

September 28, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: By the Way, Meet Vera Stark (Goodman Theatre)

Kara Zediker and Tamberla Perry star in Goodman Theatre's "By the Way, Meet Vera Stark" by Lynn Nottage, directed by Chuck Smith. (photo credit: Liz Lauren)        
       
By the Way,
    Meet Vera Stark
 

Written by Lynn Nottage  
Directed by Chuck Smith
at Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn (map)
thru June 2  |  tickets: $25-$81   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

May 15, 2013 | 2 Comments More

Review: Bodies (MPAACT)

Caren Blackmore as Natalie Black in MPAACT's "Bodies" by Carla Stillwell, directed by Chuck Smith.       
      
Bodies

Written by Carla Stillwell  
Directed by Chuck Smith
Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln (map)
thru June 24  |  tickets: $15-$23   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
             Read entire review
     

May 22, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Race (Goodman Theatre)

Henry Brown (Geoffrey Owens) phones for more information on his potential client in the Chicago premiere of "Race" by David Mamet, directed by Chuck Smith. (photo credit: Eric Y. Exit)       
      
Race

Written by David Mamet  
Directed by Chuck Smith
at Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn (map)
thru Feb 19  |  tickets: $25-$94   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

January 24, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Gospel According to James (Victory Gardens)

  
  

History is anything but black and white in “Gospel”

  
  

André De Shields as James in Victory Garden's "The Gospel According To James" by Charles Smith (photo: Liz Lauren)

  
Victory Gardens Theater presents
  
  
The Gospel According to James
   
Written by Charles Smith
Directed by Chuck Smith
at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln (map)
through June 12  | 
tickets: $35-$50  |  more info

Reviewed by Keith Ecker 

On Aug. 7, 1930, Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith were lynched in the town of Marion, Indiana. The two African-American men allegedly murdered a white local factory worker and raped his white girlfriend. Instead of allowing the justice system to weigh whether the men were truly guilty, the townspeople took the law into their own hands and tore down the jailhouse doors. Beaten and bloody, the bodies of both men were strung up on an tree. Studio photographer Lawrence Beitler managed to immortalize the horrific event, snapping a picture of the bodies swinging from the tree as a crowd of joyful onlookers stand below. Today, that picture serves as a powerful and grizzly reminder of the consequences of racial intolerance.

Kelsey Brennan as Mary and Tyler Jacob Rollinson as Abe Smith in Charles Smith’s "The Gospel According to James. (photo: Liz Lauren)No one knows precisely what events transpired that led to the charges against Thomas and Abram. James Cameron, a third black man initially identified as an accomplice to the crime, was spared from death at the hands of the mob. He would later state in interviews that he fled the seen before the murder took place. Marie Ball, the woman who was allegedly raped, would later testify that she was, in fact, never raped.

This ambiguity makes the case of Thomas and Abram ripe for speculation. And so playwright Charles Smith has embarked on crafting a script that dramatizes what may have transpired throughout those days leading up to the lynching. What results is an intriguing work of historical fiction that wisely steers away from tired cliché and instead focuses on the inherent flaws of memory.

The play is about an imagined meeting between James Cameron (portrayed by André De Shields and Anthony Peeples) and Marie Ball (portrayed by Linda Kimbrough and Kelsey Brennan). Fate has brought them back to Marion. In the passing years, Cameron has taken it upon himself to be the vocal historian of that tragic night. His account parallels that of the real-life history of the event: Abram (Tyler Jacob Rollinson) and Thomas (Wardell Julius Clark) held up former foundry worker Claude (Zach Kenney), and before the murder occurred, Cameron fled the scene.

But Marie does not remember it this way. She resents Cameron for spreading lies and threatens to reveal her version of the truth to the public. As Marie recounts her recollection of the events that led to that ugly night, we see her memories take dramatic form. According to her, Claude was hardly an innocent victim. James was more involved than he claims to be. And she and Thomas were much more than mere acquaintances. But despite her compelling account, Marie’s cognizance is called into question, and we are forced to wonder whose story, if anyone’s, is the real deal.

The cast is captivating. Shields is energetic and expressive as the aged James, while Kimbrough serves as an effective forlorn foil. Meanwhile, the scenes between Marie’s parents (portrayed by Diane Kondrat and Christopher Jon Martin) are powerful, while Kenney is a believable slime ball. There is real chemistry between Rollinson and Brennan, which makes Abram’s lynching that much more heartbreaking. Peeples is the only odd man out here. His portrayal of the youthful version of James is cartoonishly juvenile. He speaks in a childlike tone and talks like an imbecile. This is a complete disconnect from the adult James, who is well spoken and refined.

Smith is a smart playwright. He could have used the Marion lynching as a platform to soapbox about the ills of racism, a trite topic that always falls on agreeable ears. Instead, he focuses on memory and the subjectiveness of history. This is a much more interesting subject to parse, and he does a good job of portraying it dramatically. However, there are a few bumps in the script, particularly when the dialogue veers too far into poetry, creating a sense of melodrama.

Victory Gardens’ production of The Gospel According to James is an engaging fictional account of a historical event. Despite its minor flaws, the solid acting and a strong script prevail, making it a thoroughly entertaining watch.

  
  
Rating: ★★★½
  
  

Anthony Peeples as Apples, Kelsey Brennan as Mary and Wardell Julius Clark as Tommy Shipp in Charles Smith’s "The Gospel According To James" at Victory Gardens Theatre (photo: Liz Lauren)

Ticket Prices: $35-$50, Students with I.D.- $20, and can be purchased by phone 773.871.3000 or via e-mail (tickets@victorygardens.org).   Performance Times: Tues-Saturday: 7:30pm, Saturday Matinee: 4pm, Sunday Matinee: 3pm, Wednesday Matinee: 2pm.   Recommended Age: 16 & up

  
  
May 21, 2011 | 0 Comments More

REVIEW: The Good Negro (Goodman Theatre)

Bringing humanity to an inconceivable time in history

 DEFAULT CAPTION HERE

 
Goodman Theatre presents
 
The Good Negro
 
Written by Tracey Scott Wilson
Directed by
Chuck Smith
at
Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn (map)
through June 6th  tickets: $22-$71  |  more info

Reviewed by Katy Walsh

A despicable act by the police impassions a spontaneous response by the community. It’s really not that black and white. The Goodman Theatre presents The Good Negro, a play about the back story on the movement to end segregation. Three black leaders are looking for a publicity moment to instigate a non-violent protest against discrimination. A four year old girl and her mother are arrested for using the good-negro11 restroom for whites. Because the mother is ‘a good Negro,’ attractive and well-spoken, the incident is prime to rally the troops. This illustration of history would have been poignant enough. A Good Negro adds in other complexities like wire-tapping, marital infidelity, and the KKK – becoming a multi-dimensional story of the internal and external strife of the civil rights movement. Playwright Tracey Scott Wilson tells the powerful untold story of the politics… government, hierarchical, sexual… that interfered in the quest for racial equality in the 1960’s.

Under the direction of Chuck Smith, the cast makes an unimaginable time in history relatable. Nambi E. Kelley’s portrayal of a mother (Claudette Sullivan) in anguish is heart-breaking. Billy Eugene Jones appeals as the flawed charismatic leader James Lawrence. Struggling with his own identity issues, Teagle F. Bougere (Minister Henry Evans) effectively engages the audience with his motivational sermons. In minister mode, Bougere adds a little comedy relief as he tells a late intermission returner to ‘sit down.’ Although it’s unclear whether his character is ‘a good Negro’ or not until Act II, Demetrois Troy is perfect as the socially awkward, behind the scenes guy Bill Rutherford. Tory O. Davis (Pelzie Sullivan) portrays the simplicity of his character with surprising depth. Karen Aldridge (Corinne Lawrence) elicits applause in a pivotal scene of strength. Dan Waller (Gary Thomas Rowe, Jr.) exploits the lunacy in a KKK recruitment speech based on scientific facts that ‘colored people’s blood can kill.’ The spooks are stereotypical ‘by the book’ nonsense with Mick Weber playing straight-laced and John Hoogenakker as the wise cracking sidekick.

 

DEFAULT CAPTION HERE DEFAULT CAPTION HERE
good-negro12  good-negro08 

Set designer Riccardo Hernandez has gone floor to wall churchy with wooden planks covering every stage space. It effectively places the audience in a pew to watch the drama. Embedded along the back wall are strips of lighting – Robert Christen’s haunting lighting design illuminates a cross shape during congregation scenes to build the religious ambiance. Throughout the show, projected fortune cookie-like slogans prophesize a scene with ‘This is the something’ and ‘Do what you have to do.’ Mike Tutaj (projections designer) uses a biblical font to reinforce the secular foundation of the movement. Tutaj also flashes iconic imagery of photojournalist Charles Moore to set the time period. Powerful!

Realizing that, less than fifty years ago, discrimination led to unbelievable acts of cruelty to the black community – makes The Good Negro an important show to see. We can’t forget the sacrifices civil rights leaders made to forge the evolution of thought on equality. The Good Negro is an important illustration of an inconceivable time in American history.

  
 
Rating: ★★★
  
  

DEFAULT CAPTION HERE

 

 

 

Running Time: Two hours and thirty minutes includes a ten minute intermission

May 12, 2010 | 0 Comments More