Tag: Dexter Zollicoffer
Now in its 48th Equity season, the Jeff Awards has been honoring Chicago’s outstanding theatre artists annually since it’s establishment in 1968. The Jeff Awards Committee judged the 158 qualifying productions (opening between August 1, 2015 through July 31, 2016) from 58 producing organizations. Of these, 112 productions were “Jeff Recommended”, which made them eligible for award nominations.
Below you will find a compilation of the distributed awards at the Jeff Award ceremony Monday, August 17. Congrats to all!!!
Another year, another 12 months of great Chicago theater! 2015 blessed Chicagoland with inspired new works and riveting revivals from a wide range of companies – the largest equity houses to the smallest of the city’s storefronts. Taking into account the 700+ productions that were produced in the Windy City over the last year, here are our reviewer’s picks for the best of the best. Bravo!!
In a theater community as diverse and talented as Chicago’s, every aspect and genre of stage productions can be found throughout the city on a given week. 2015 was no exception to this fact, as one can see from our reviewers’ picks of the year’s greatest and most memorable works.
Talented cast tells a timeless story
|Steppenwolf Theatre presents|
|To Kill A Mockingbird|
|Dramatized by Christopher Sergel
Based on the novel by Harper Lee
Directed by Hallie Gordon
at Steppenwolf Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted (map)
through November 14 | tickets: $15-$20 | more info
Reviewed by Keith Ecker
In David Mamet’s “Three Uses of the Knife”, his non-fiction book on the art of playwriting, he describes his detest for plays that set out to soapbox. In his view, works that preach a message selfishly leave the audience out of the discussion. For if the spectator isn’t given the opportunity to provide his own interpretation of the work, isn’t it propaganda and not art?
But David Mamet’s word isn’t scripture. And there’s no question that To Kill a Mockingbird has artistic merit, especially in its current staged incarnation produced by Steppenwolf for Young Adults.
Yes, the story is pretty straightforward and provides little moral conflict for today’s audiences. We know from the beginning we are supposed to side with the stately Samaritan Atticus Finch (Philip R. Smith), and root against the slackjawed, pitchfork-toting townsfolk. We know that Tom Robinson (Abu Ansari) is innocent beyond a reasonable doubt and that Scout (Caroline Heffernan) is going to be as feisty as she is precocious.
So ethical dilemmas and non-archetypical characters aren’t To Kill a Mockingbird’s strong points. But the piece stands as an important historical drama, a reminder that although we live in a nation where everyone is created equal, some are more equal than others.
Of equal importance is the fact that the play offers up some really outstanding roles for young actors. And Steppenwolf’s stellar cast does not disappoint. Heffernan brings to the role of Scout a Punky Brewster tomboy quality that is tough without sacrificing cuteness. Zachary Keller nails Dill’s Alabama droll. Claire Wellin (who I last saw in Profile Theatre’s amazing production of Killer Joe) delivers an emotionally charged performance as Mayella Ewell, the young woman alleging rape. She is certainly an actress to watch.
Director Hallie Gordon conveys the smallness of Maycomb, Ala. by relying on a compact set that stays stationary throughout the production. The Finch’s home is steps from the Radley’s, which is only steps from Mrs. Dubose’s. This helps intensify the rising action of the play, as we can better sense the proximity of the danger that threatens Atticus and his family.
If you want to introduce your children to drama, Steppenwolf’s To Kill a Mockingbird is a good start. Most seventh and eighth grade children have already read the book, so it’s safe to say the content is age appropriate for young teenagers. However, younger children may find the themes of murder and rape to be too adult.
For top-notch child talent and a timeless story, go see the Steppenwolf’s To Kill a Mockingbird.
Performances run October 12 – November 14, 2010 in Steppenwolf Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted Street. Weekday matinees (Tuesdays – Fridays at 10 am) are reserved for school groups only, with weekend (Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday) performances available to the public.
Review written by Jackie Ingram.
Victory Gardens’s Relatively Close, written by James Sherman and directed by Dennis Začek is – by all judgments – an excellent production. The theatre is beautiful, so forget about bringing your binoculars, because from any seat you have a great view of the ingenious set, designed by John Stark. Relatively Close takes us into the lives of three sisters, domineering Jan (Penny Slusher), sexy Beth (Laura T. Fisher), and shy Marlene (Wendi Weber). The sisters must decide in one week how to settle their deceased parent’s summer home. The sisters and their husbands, a doll, and what seems to be an angry teenager completes the fresh, hilarious, and very talented cast. The relationships are easy to relate to and you are slowly pulled into their web of bantering, lies, hip-hop, electrifying rhythmic poetry, Lily, and the lust for another sister’s husband. The unexpected twists and turns keep you guessing right until the end. Do yourself a favor – to get the entertainment pleasure of this show you must see it for yourself. It is funny and heartwarming and you might just see a little bit of your own family on stage. This show is truly a must see event.
|Directed By:||Dennis Zacek|
|Starring:||Usman Ally (Yousef), Daniel Cantor (Ron), Laura T. Fisher (Beth), David Gonzales (Dylan), Penny Slusher, (Jan), Wendi Weber (Marlene), Dexter Zollicoffer (Arthur)|
|Set Design:||John Stark|
|Stage Manager:||Tina M. Jach|