Tag: Ellie Reed

Review: Men Should Weep (Griffin Theatre)

Lori Myers and Ada Grey star in Griffin Theatre's "Men Should Weep" by Ena Lamont Stewart, directed by Robin Witt. (photo credit: Michael Brosilow)        
Men Should Weep

Written by Ena Lamont Stewart
Directed by Robin Witt
at Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark (map)
thru Aug 10  |  tickets: $35   |  more info
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July 14, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Casuals (Jackalope Theatre)

Ellie Reed and Morgan Maher star in the world premiere of Jackalope Theatre's "The Casuals" by Chance Bone and Andrew Burden Swanson, directed by Jonathan Berry. (photo credit: Alex Hand)        
The Casuals 

Written by Chance Bone and Andrew B. Swanson
Directed by Jonathan Berry 
DCASE Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph (map)
thru July 28  |  tickets: $15   |  more info
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July 12, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: She Kills Monsters (Buzz22 Chicago)

Jessica London-Shields, Morgan Maher and Sara Sawicki star in Buzz22 Chicago's "She Kills Monsters" by Qui Nguyen, directed by Scott Weinstein. (photo credit: Michael Brosilow)        
She Kills Monsters

Written by Qui Ngyuen   
Directed by Scott Weinstein
at Steppenwolf Garage, 1650 N. Halsted (map)
thru April 21   |  tickets: $   |  more info
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March 17, 2013 | 1 Comment More

Review: Night of the Magician (Screen Door Productions)

Screen Door Production's "Night of the Magician", written and directed by Jack Lawrence Mayer and David Milton Brent.        
Night of the Magician 

Written and Directed by Jack Lawrence Mayer
      and David Milton Brent
at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division (map)
thru Feb 24   |  tickets: $15   |  more info
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February 11, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed (Lifeline Theatre)

Nathaniel Niemi with the cast of Lifeline Theatre's "Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed", adapted by Robert Kauzlaric and Paul Gilvary from teh book by Mo Willems.       
Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed 

Adapted by Robert Kauzlaric, Music by Paul Gilvary
Directed by Paul S. Holmquist
at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood (map)
thru May 6  |  tickets: $15   |  more info 
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March 27, 2012 | 1 Comment More

Review: Quake (Buzz22 Chicago)

Quake poster - Buzz22 Chicago       

Written by Melanie Marnich  
Directed by Sara Sawicki  
Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted (map)
thru Feb 18  |  tickets: $20   |  more info
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January 31, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: No More Dead Dogs (Griffin Theatre)


Griffin Theatre focuses on ‘Dead Dog’ fun

Alex Kyger, Colton Dillion, Cameron Harms, Jeff Duhigg and Ryan Lempka in Griffin Theatre's "No More Dead Dogs"


Griffin Theatre presents


No More Dead Dogs
Based on novel by Gordon Korman
Adapted by William Massolia
Directed by Dorothy Milne
at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont (map)
through June 19  | tickets: $25-$30  | more info

Reviewed by Paige Listerud

Just what is it about children’s literature? On the one hand, classics in the genre can zap heartstrings and endear us to them forever. On the other hand, they, too, fall back on tired formulas that make us wonder what we ever saw in them. Heaven help the public school teacher trying to turn kids onto literature using “age appropriate” work from the 1950s. Wallace Wallace (Ryan Lempka) is just the kind of kid who won’t accept that kind of fodder without blunt and unforgiving commentary. Griffin Theatre’s latest production at Theatre Wit, No More Dead Dogs, follows Wallace’s keen observation that many books for young people, such as “Old Yeller” and “Where the Red Fern Grows”, often have dogs die in them in order to foster some tear-jerking Ellie Reed and Ryan Lempka in Griffin Theatre's "No More Dead Dogs"realization about life for the young reader. (Don’t get us started about Bambi.)

But dead dogs and orphaned deer aside, Griffin’s show, under the easy, swift and agile direction of Dorothy Milne, is a joyous romp for both cast and audience. Co-Artistic Director William Massolia has adapted Gordon Korman’s best-selling comic novel for the stage and his light handling of the ‘tween material usually carries off without a hitch. Wallace, having been lied to so often by his Dad (Jeff Duhigg), simply cannot bring himself to lie about anything, ever—including how much he thinks the book he’s assigned to report, “Old Shep, My Pal”, stinks. Too bad his English teacher, Mr. Fogelman (Jeremy Fisher ), can’t accept that his favorite children’s classic may be past its prime. He perpetually puts Wallace in detention until he can write a book report that meets with his approval. What could have been Wallace’s irresistible force running into Fogelman’s immovable object instead morphs into school jock meets the drama club, since Fogelman has adapted “Old Shep, My Pal” for their next production.

By no means is No More Dead Dogs a John Hughes drama. Crafted for younger audiences, the comedy kindly skirts the rancor between high school cliques. Indeed, sub-cultural clashes become virtually negligible once Wallace starts updating Fogelman’s adaptation to something his classmates can relate to. This includes incorporating Vito’s (Joey deBettencourt) garage band, The Dead Mangoes, into the production, much to Fogelman’s chagrin. Lempka strongly shows he knows the importance of being earnest in his humorously straightforward interpretation of Wallace. Fisher, however, almost steals the show, as Fogelman journeys from escalating frustration over his play being usurped, to hip cat on a sax once the band tells him he can join.

 Cameron Harms, Jeff Duhigg and Ryan Lempka in Griffin Theatre's "No More Dead Dogs" Ellie Reed and Joey Eovaldi in Griffin Theatre's "No More Dead Dogs"

Ellie Reed and Cameron Harms in Griffin Theatre's "No More Dead Dogs". (background: The Mangos)

Indeed, much as the play spoofs stale children’s lit, the show looks strangely reminiscent of zany, overtly physical 50s comedy, where every character pretty much stays in type and the show winds up even more crazy from there. Milne’s direction never overplays its hand but always builds the action to its appropriately goofy outcomes. Wallace is solidly flanked by his football buddies and the nerdier drama club, with Joey Eovaldi adding coy and energetic mischief in his role as the younger Dylan. Would that the parts of Rachel (Elllie Reed) and Trudi (Samantha Dubina) could have gone beyond girls-with-crushes-on-the-lead cliches—but at least Reed and Dubin handle their characters sportingly and generously. In fact, one would be hard put to find a more good-natured production, focused solely on dealing out firm and lively fun for the young, than this.


Rating: ★★★

Joey deBettencourt, Erin O'Shea, Morgan Maher and Jeremy Fisher as The Mangos in Griffin Theatre's "No More Dead Dogs"

Griffin Theatre’s No More Dead Dogs continues at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont, through June 19th, with performances Fridays and Saturdays at 7pm and Sundays at 3pm.  Tickets are $25-$30, and can be purchased by phone (773-975-8150) or online.  More info at www.griffintheatre.com.


May 15, 2011 | 0 Comments More