Tag: Edward Albee

Top 10 Chicago Plays of 2015


Matthew Sherbach and Armand Fields star in Northlight Theatre's "Charm". John Mahoney and Audrey Francis star in Steppenwolf's "The Herd". Charli Williams, Anna Dauzvardis and Katrina D. Richards star in Raven Theatre's "Direct from Death Row: The Scottsboro Boys". Bernard White, Nisi Sturgis, Zakiya Young and J. Anthony Crane star in Goodman Theatre's "Disgraced." Becca Savoy, Michael McKeough and Sandy Elias star in Griffin Theatre's "Pocatello".Larry Yando and Eva Louise Balistreiri star in Chicago Shakespeare's "The Tempest" by William Shakespeare. Eunice Woods stars in American Theater Company's "The Project(s)" by PJ Paparelli and Joshua Jaeger. Mike Nussbaum stars in TimeLine Theatre's "The Price" by Arthur Miller.  Brian Parry and Jacqueline Grandt star in Redtwist Theatre's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" by Edward Albee. Brendan Connelly and McKenna Liesman star in Red Theater and Oracle Productions' "R + J: The Vineyard.

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!!

See our picks below the fold

January 1, 2016 | 0 Comments More

Chicago’s Best Theater of 2015


Carmen Molina, Claudia DiBiccari, Mykele Callicutt, Paula Ramirez, Preston Tate Jr., Deanna Reed-Foster and James McGuire in Cold Basement Dramatics' "Heat Wave".Scott Danielson, Garrett Lutz and George Toles star in Kokandy Productions' "The Full Monty".Laura Osnes as and Steven Pasquale star in Lyric Opera's "Carousel" by Rodgers and Hammerstein.John Mahoney and Audrey Francis in Steppenwolf Theatre's "The Herd".Sarah Lynn Robinson, Anthony Whitaker and Greg Zawada in Porchlight's "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Form" by Steven Sondheim. Monica West, Kasey Foster and Emma Cadd in Lookingglass Theatre's "Moby Dick".Mariann Mayberry and Brittany Uomoleale star in Steppenwolf Theatre's "Grand Concourse".Steve Haggard and Karen Janes Woditsch star in Writers Theatre's "Doubt: A Parable".Charli Williams , Anna Dauzvardis, Katrina D.  Richard, Brandon Greenhouse, and Kevin Patterson star in Raven Theatre's "Direct from Death Row: The Scottsboro Boys".Bernard White and Nisi Sturgis in Goodman Theatre's "Disgraced".Rafael Davila and Bradley Smoak star in Lyric Opera of Chicago's "Bel Canto".Drury Lane Oakbrook presents "Billy Elliot: The Musical," music by Elton John.  Becca Savoy, Michael McKeough and Sandy Elias star in Griffin Theatre's "Pocatello".Larry Yando and Eva Louise Balistreiri star in Chicago Shakespeare's "The Tempest" by William Shakespeare.Matthew Sherbach and Armand Fields star in Northlight Theatre's "Charm".Brendan Connelly, Chris Schroeder and Brenda Scott Wlazlo star in Red Theater and Oracle Productions' "R + J: The Vineyard".Melanie Brezill and Patrick Budde star in Chicago Children’s Theatre’s "The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane." Colte Julian as Curly and Allison Sill as Laurey in Paramount Theatre's "Oklahoma!". Mike Nussbaum stars in TimeLine Theatre's "The Price" by Arthur Miller. Eunice Woods stars in American Theater Company's "The Project(s)" by PJ Paparelli and Joshua Jaeger.Luce Metrius and Ashley Neil star in A Red Orchid Theatre's "Red Handed Otter." Kelsey Brennan and Greg Matthew Anderson star in Remy Bumppo's "Travesties" by Tom Stoppard.Johanna McKenzie Miller and Alex Goodrich star in Northlight Theatre's "Shining Lives," directed by Jessica Thebus.Brian Parry and Jacqueline Grandt star in Redtwist Theatre's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" by Edward Albee.Eileen Niccolai and Daniela Colucci star in The Shattered Globe's "The Rose Tattoo" by Tennessee Williams. , Shattered Globe Theatre, Brosilow

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.

See our picks below the fold

December 31, 2015 | 0 Comments More

Review: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Redtwist Theatre)

Jacqueline Grandt and Brian Parry star as Martha and George in Redtwist Theatre's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" by Edward Albee, directed by Jason Gerace.      
Who’s Afraid 
  of Virginia Woolf?

Written by Edward Albee
Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr (map)
thru Oct 31 | tix: $30-$35 | more info
Check for half-price tickets     

September 16, 2015 | 0 Comments More

Review: At Home at the Zoo (City Lit Theater)

Ted Hoerl and Elaine Carlson star as Peter and Ann in City Lit Theater's "At Home at the Zoo" by Edward Albee, directed by Steve Scott. (photo credit: Tom McGrath)        
At Home at the Zoo

Written by Edward Albee 
Directed by Steve Scott
at City Lit Theater, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr (map)
thru Oct 26  |  tickets: $25-$29   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
                   Read review

October 17, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Dance of Death (Writers Theatre)

Shannon Cochran and Philip Earl Johnson star in Writers Theatre's "The Dance of Death" by August Strindberg, adapted by Conor McPherson, directed by Henry Wishcamper. (photo credit: Michael Brosilow)        
The Dance of Death

Written by August Strindberg
Adapted by Conor McPherson  
Directed by Henry Wishcamper  
Writers Theatre, 644 Vernon, Glencoe (map)
thru Aug 3  |  tickets: $35-$70   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
                   Read review

April 16, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Seascape (Remy Bumppo Theatre)

Patrick Clear and Sean Parris in Remy Bumppo's "Seascape" by Edward Albee, directed by Nick Sandys. (photo credit: Johnny Knight)        

Written by Edward Albee 
Directed by Nick Sandys
at Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln (map)
thru Oct 14    |  tickets: $47-$52   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
        Read entire review

September 28, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Middletown (Steppenwolf Theatre)

Eno’s beautiful absurd linguistic musings on the mystery of life




Steppenwolf Theatre presents 


By Will Eno
Directed by Les Waters
at Steppenwolf Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted (map)  
through August 14th  |  tickets:  $20 – $73  |  more info

Reviewed by Jason Rost

Human civilization exists in a perpetual state of middle. We are always in the middle of something larger. We weren’t around for the beginning, and we won’t be around after the end. This is partly why the phenomenon of Judgement Day (which is Oct. 21st 2011 now, if you’re keeping track) gets any traction. It’s a humbling state to be in, the middle. Even in the life of a single person, all we ever experience is what comes between the beginning and the end. Will Eno’s 2010 play Middletown, now running at Steppenwolf directed with mastery by Les Waters, finds the beauty in how we fill this middle. Making the ordinary extraordinary:  Eno takes the sentiment beyond the cliché and into an immediate awareness of self and nature.

Eno’s writing makes profound observations riffing on theatrical themes and conventions that undisputedly conjure resonance with another play about ordinary life in a small town, connecting the cosmos and day-to-day life. Thornton Wilder’s Our Town was undoubtedly a precursor for Middletown. However, Eno focuses more so on language (not that Wilder didn’t) than on shared sensory experiences. It’s more awe than nostalgia. He also contemporizes Wilder’s 1938 small town life, such as placing a character in outer space in present-day without being science fiction. While globally examining loneliness in a world of 6 billion people, Eno’s play, like Wilder’s, is ultimately a reflective tapestry of American life.

The play opens with a witty all-inclusive prologue, delivered by Tim Hopper with eloquent enthusiasm, welcoming the audience and displaying Eno’s fascination with words right of the bat. He continues by populating his town of Middletown (Martha Levy tells us in the program notes that there are 16 Middletowns in America) with typical characters that you might find in small town or suburban America. We are first introduced to the beat cop (played with wonderful contradiction by Danny McCarthy) who gives us our location in a Wilderesque manner, “Middletown. Population: stable. Elevation: same. The main street is called Main Street.” However, he quickly lets us know he’s no omniscient stage manager as he senselessly attacks Michael Patrick Thornton’s mechanic character, followed with quick remorse. Eno’s caricatures have flaws, which makes them all the more beautiful. He clearly taps into another inspiration of his, Edward Albee, in finding the absurdity in the existence of daily life.

The other inhabitants of Middletown include John (another scorching detailed performance by Tracy Letts before we lose him briefly to Broadway for a remount of Virgina Woolf). He is a divorced town handyman who has recently taken to reading. Mary Swanson (a career-turning performance by Brenda Barrie) is a newcomer to town. Her husband is absent constantly on business as she tries to settle in and begin a family. Mary and John’s relationship takes central focus, especially in the second act, as a portrait of friendship based on loneliness that is travelling in two separate directions. Michael Patrick Thornton (with pitch-perfect darkly comedic timing) plays a mechanic whose public and self perception has all but defined him as a “troubled person.” Rounding out the town are characters such as an apathetic tour guide (Alana Arenas), tourists (Molly Glynn and Hopper) and the landscaper (Keith Kupferer) who plants a tree while assembling an ancient ritualistic looking arrangement of rocks.


The end of the first act is actually a short play unto itself. Eno writes a metatheatrical scene where a group of audience members, who have just watched the first half of the same play we’ve just watched, discuss what they’ve seen. While this departure may seem contrived in lesser hands, Eno and Waters give insight to another form of being in the middle, this time the middle of a play. Kupferer is especially deft in his depiction of an audience member with very few words or thoughts about what he has witnessed. Arenas’ audience member remembers lines and phrases out of context; for her the world of the play doesn’t pause at intermission as she incorporates the words of the play into the discussions being had around her. This entire conceit may have proven more effective if it actually replaced the intermission which follows.

If the first half of Middletown is a masterpiece (which it is), then the second half is a good play with great moments. Eno departs a few of his linguistic conventions and lightness in tone in the second act to drive home a few more emotional and domestic issues. He brings us back down to earthly stakes. Simply put, it’s not quite as fun. The emergency room becomes a much more real place, with ordinary nurses entering a normal functioning hospital. However, Letts and Thornton each have lonely, deeply human and intensely primal moments that are on their own well worth a few of Eno’s slips into overt sentimentality.

Waters’ seamless transitions between vignettes compliment Eno’s script in pacing. The scene changes between Antje Ellermann’s painterly backdrops, tellingly plain aluminum sided houses, library, hospital and outer space are impressively quick. The visual of the astronaut floating high off the stage amidst a backdrop of stars accompanied by the Houston ground control is pure wonderment thanks to superb separation in Matt Frey’s lighting. In addition, this production highlights the artistry of casting director Erica Daniels as her cast fits their roles stereotypically, yet each has his or her own hidden eccentricities to break the mold.

While Middletown may not quite enter the American dramatic canon, Eno has unearthed some magnificent insights through language. His words are ultimately stronger than his dramatic structure, but he is so gifted in dialogue that there is never a lack of opportunity to ponder the significance of each word chosen. One of the highest compliments I can give Eno’s script, and this production, is that I walked out of the theatre with a greater sense of just how awesome the mystery of existence is, and just how simple and ordinary the thought is. People have written about such things before Eno, and people surely will in the future, but here we are in the middle with a near perfect thought-provoking play for the summer of 2011 crafted with great care by Waters and this Steppenwolf company.


Rating: ★★★½


Steppenwolf Theatre Company concludes its 2010/11 season with Middletown by Will Eno, directed by Les Waters, playing June 16 – August 14, 2011 in Steppenwolf’s Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. Performances are Tuesdays through Sundays at 7:30 pm (Sunday evening performances through July 24 only). Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3 pm with Wednesday matinees on July 27, August 3 &10 at 2 pm. Note: The evening performance on Sunday June 26 begins at 6 pm. For tickets or for more information visit www.steppenwolf.org.

20 for $20: Twenty $20 tickets are available at Audience Services beginning at 11 am on the day of each performance (1 pm for Sunday performances).

Rush Tickets: Half-price rush tickets are available one hour before each show.  Student Discounts: $15 student tickets are available online using promo code: “TOWN15” (Limit 2 tickets.  Must present a valid student ID for each ticket). For additional student discounts, visit www.steppenwolf.org/students.




Alana Arenas, Tim Hopper, Ora Jones, Martha Lavey, Tracy Letts, Brenda Barrie, Molly Glynn, Keith Kupferer, Danny McCarthy and Michael Patrick Thornton

behind the scenes

Antje Ellermann (scenic design); Janice Pytel (costume design); Matt Frey (lighting design); Richard Woodbury (sound design); Erica Daniels (casting); Laura D. Glenn (stage manager); Michelle Medvin (assistant stage manager); Michael Brosilow (photos)


June 26, 2011 | 0 Comments More

Top 10 Chicago shows we’re looking forward to this spring



Top 10 shows to see this spring!


A list of shows we’re looking forward to before summer


Written by Barry Eitel

March 20th marked the first day of spring, even if it feels like winter hasn’t loosened its grip at all. The theatre season is winding down, with most companies putting up the last shows of the 2010/2011. Over the summer, it would seem, Chicagoans choose outdoor activities over being stuffed in a hot theatre. But there is still plenty left to enjoy. The rising temperatures make leaving your home much more tempting, and Chicago theatre is ending the traditional season with a bang. Here, in no particular order, are Chicago Theatre Blog’s picks for Spring 2011.


Goat or Who Is Sylvia 001
The Goat or, Who Is Sylvia?

Remy Bumppo Theatre
March 30 – May 8
more info

Playwright Edward Albee has gotten a lot of love this year, with major productions at Victory Gardens and Steppenwolf (for the first time). The season has been a sort of greatest hits collection spanning his career, including modern classics like Zoo Story, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Three Tall Women. Remy Bumppo ends their season with some late-period Albee, but The Goat never skimps on Albee’s honest dysfunction. In the 1994 drama, Albee takes a shockingly earnest look at bestiality, and questions everything we thought about love.


Porgy and Bess - Court Theatre - banner

Porgy and Bess

Court Theatre 
May 12 – June 19
more info

Musical-lovers have a true aural feast to enjoy this spring. Following their mission to produce classics, Court produces the most well-known American opera, Porgy and Bess. George Gershwin’s ode to folk music is grandiose, inspirational, and not without controversy. But the show, telling tales about African-American life in the rural South, features brilliant music (like “Summertime,” which has been recorded by such vastly different performers as Billie Holiday and Sublime). Charles Newell, Ron OJ Parsons, and an all-black cast will definitely have an interesting take on one of the most influential pieces of American literature.

Front Page - Timeline Theatre Chicago - logo
The Front Page

Timeline Theatre  
April 16 – June 12
more info

For their season closer, TimeLine Theatre selected a 80-year-old play with deep Chicago connections. Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur were well known journalists, reporting on the madness that was the Jazz Age. They turned their life into a farcical romp, The Front Page, which in turn served as the inspiration for the Cary Grant vehicle “His Girl Friday”. The play centers around several hardened newsmen as they await an execution; of course, things don’t go as planned. Along with loads of laughs, TimeLine provides an authentic Chicago voice sounding off about a legendary time.

Peter Pan - Chicago Tribune Freedom Center
Peter Pan

Broadway In Chicago and threesixty° entertainment
at Chicago Tribune Freedom Center (675 W. Chicago)
Begins April 29
more info

Imported from London, this high-flying envisioning of the J.M. Barrie play should cause many jaws to drop. We’ve seen high school productions where the boy who never wants to grow up flies around on wires (leading to some disastrous videos on Youtube). Threesixtyº’s show has flying, but it also has three hundred and sixty degrees of screen projections. Already a smash across the pond, this will probably be one of the top spectacles of the decade. WATCH VIDEO

Woyzeck - Hypocrites Theatre - banner
Pony - About Face Theatre - banner

and Pony  

at Chopin Theatre
The Hypocrites and About Face Theatre 
in repertory April 15 – May 22
more info

I’m not exactly sure if Georg Buchner’s unfinished 1830s play can support a whole city-wide theatrical festival, but I’m excited to see the results. The Oracle Theatre already kickstarted the Buchner love-fest with a well-received production of Woyzeck directed by Max Truax. Now Sean Graney and his Hypocrites and a revived About Face get their chance, along with numerous other performers riffing on the play. Pony offers a semi-sequel to Woyzeck, tossing together Buchner’s characters with others in a brand new tale. The Hypocrites offer a more straightforward adaptation to the play. Well, straightforward for the Hypocrites. I’m sure their white-trash-avant-garde tendencies will make an appearance, and I’m sure I’ll love it. (ticket special: only $48 for both shows

American Theatre Company - The Original Grease
The Original Grease

American Theatre Company 
April 21 – June 5
 more info

American Theatre Company ends their season with a major theatrical event—a remount of the original 1971, foul-mouthed version of Grease. Before Broadway producers, Hollywood, and John Travolta cleaned up the ‘50s set musical, “Summer Nights” was “Foster Beach.” The story of this production is probably as interesting as the actual show, with lost manuscripts and brand new dialogue and song.

Voodoo Chalk Circle - State Theatre
The Voodoo Chalk Circle

State Theatre 
April 9 – May 8
more info

This month, Theatre Mir already took a highly-acclaimed stab at this intriguing piece of Brecht, which tears at Western views of justice. In true Brechtian style, the State’s production is shaking the narrative up, transferring the story from an Eastern European kingdom to a post-Katrina New Orleans, where law and order have broken with the levee. We’ll see if Chelsea Marcantel’s adaptation holds water, but she has plenty to pull from, including the region’s rich folk traditions and the general lawlessness seen after the storm.   WATCH VIDEO

hickorydickory - chicago dramatists - banner Hickorydickory

Chicago Dramatists 
May 13 – June 12
more info

To welcome spring, Chicago Dramatists will revisit one of their own, the 2009 Wendy Wasserstein Prize-winning Marisa Wegrzyn. Directed by artistic director Russ Tutterow, the darkly whimsical piece imagines a world where everyone has a literal internal clock that ticks away towards our demise. What happens when someone breaks their clock? Through a very odd window, Wegrzyn looks at tough, relevant questions.

Next to Normal - Broadway in Chicago - banner
Next to Normal

Broadway in Chicago 
at Bank of America Theatre 
April 26 – May 8
more info

The newly-minted Purlitzer Prize winner, Next to Normal rolls into town on its first national tour, three Tony Awards in hand.  Alice Ripley, who received the 2009 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, will reprise her acclaimed performance at the Bank of America Theatre on Monroe. Contemporary in sound and subject matter, the work explores the effects of a mother’s bi-polar disease exacerbated by her child’s earlier death, Next to Normal will no doubt be anything close to normal for Chicago audiences.    (watch video)

White Noise - Royal George
White Noise

Royal George Theatre 
April 1 – June 5
more info

Like Next to Normal, the new White Noise promises to take the usually vapid rock musical genre and stuff it with some tough issues. A show focusing on an attractive female pop duo with ties to white supremacy? It ain’t Rock of Ages, that’s for sure. Produced by Whoopi Goldberg, Chicago was chosen as the show’s incubator before a Broadway debut. Perhaps the premise may overwhelm the story; either way, White Noise is going to inspire conversations.     [ Listen to the Music ]

April 10, 2011 | 1 Comment More