Tag: Eric Hoff

Review: The Walk Across America for Mother Earth (Red Tape Theatre)

Nikos Brisco, Morgan McNaught, Alex Grelle and Ruth Margraff star in Red Tape Theatre's "The Walk Across Americ for Mother Earth" by Taylor Mac, directed by Bonnie Metzgar, part of Steppenwolf Theatre's Garage Rep. (photo credit: Michael Courier)       
      
The Walk Across America
          for Mother Earth

Written by Taylor Mac 
Music by Ellen Maddow 
Directed by Bonnie Metzgar
at Steppenwolf Garage, 1624 N. Halsted (map)
thru April 25  |  tickets: $20   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

April 10, 2015 | 0 Comments More

Review: Hit the Wall (The Inconvenience & Chicago Commercial Collective)

Daniel Desmarais stars in The Inconvenience and Chicago Commercial Collective's "Hit the Wall" by Ike Holter, directed by Eric Hoff. (photo credit: Ryan Bourque)        
      
Hit the Wall

Written by Ike Holter   
Directed by Eric Hoff
at Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln (map)
thru May 25  |  tickets: $25   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

May 19, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Life and Death of Madam Barker (Red Tape Theatre)

Molly Brennan stars in Red Tape Theatre's "The Life and Death of Madam Barker" by Brooke Allen, music and lyrics by John Fournier, directed by Eric Hoff. (photo by Bridget Schultz)        
       
The Life and Death
          of Madam Barker
 

Written by Brooke Allen
Music and Lyrics by John Fournier 
Directed by Eric Hoff
at Red Tape Theatre, 621 W. Belmont (map)
thru Nov 10  |  tickets: $25   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
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October 19, 2013 | 1 Comment More

Review: What’s the T? (About Face Youth Theatre)

About Face Youth Theatre's "What's the T?" by Sara Kerastas and the Youth Ensemble, directed by Eric Huff. (photo credit: Michael Brosilow)        
       
What’s the T? 

Written by Sara Kerastas and the Ensemble
Directed by Eric Hoff
at VG Upstairs Loft, 2433 N. Lincoln (map)
thru June 2  |  tickets: $15   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

May 22, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Top 10 Chicago Plays of 2012

Taking into account the nearly 700 productions that we reviewed in 2012, here are our picks for the best of the best. Bravo!!  (FYI: We’re honored to have the national website Huffington Post use our choices for their Top 10 Chicago productions here)

Mary Beth Fisher and Rob Lindley star in Court Theatre's "Angels in America" by Tony Kushner, directed by Charles Newell. Molly Regan, Lusia Strus and Mariann Mayberry star in Steppenwolf Theatre's "Good People" by David Lindsay-Abaire, directed by K. Todd Freman. (photo credit: Michael Brosilow) Rania Salem Manganaro stars in The Inconveniences' "Hit The Wall" by Ike Holter, directed by Eric Hoff. (photo credit: Ryan Borque) Brian Dennehy and Nathan Lane star in Goodman Theatre's "The Iceman Cometh" by Eugene O'Neill, directed by Robert Falls. (photo credit: Liz Lauren) Brandon Dahlquist, Shannon Cochran and Jonathan Weir star in Writers' Theatre's "A Little Night Music" by Stephen Sondheim, directed by William Brown. (photo credit: Michael Brosilow)
Adam Poss and Madrid St. Angelo star in star in Victory Gardens' "Oedipus el Rey" by Luis Alfaro, directed by Chay Yew. (photo credit: Michael Brosilow) Chiara Mangiameli and Rick Bayless star in Lookingglass Theatre's "Rick Bayless in Cascabel" by Heidi Stillman and Tony Hernandez and Rick Bayless. (photo credit: Sean Williams) Lyric Opera of Chicago's "Show Boat", conducted by John DeMain, directed by Francesca Zambrello. (photo credit: Robert Kusel) Jason Danieley as George and Carmen Cusack as Dot, in Chicago Shakespeare's "Sunday in the Park with George" by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, directed by Gary Griffin. (photo credit: Liz Lauren) Richard Cotovsky and Preston Tate Jr. star in Mary-Arrchie Theatre's "Superior Donuts" by Tracy Letts.  (photo credit: Greg Rothman)

 

See summaries and video

     
January 6, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Skriker (Red Tape Theatre)

Amanda Drinkall and Carrie Drapac star in Red Tape Theatre's "The Skriker" by Caryl Churchill, directed by Eric Hoff. (photo credit: Austin D. Oie)        
       
The Skriker 

Written by Caryl Churchill
Directed by Eric Hoff
at Red Tape Theatre, 621 W. Belmont (map)
thru Oct 20  |  tickets: $15-$25   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

September 25, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Hit the Wall (The Inconvenience)

Rania Salem Manganaro in The Inconvenience's "Hit the Wall" by Ike Holter, part of the 2012 Steppenwolf Garage Rep.  (photo credit: Ryan Borque)

      
      
Hit the Wall 

Written by Ike Holter 
Directed by Eric Hoff
at Steppenwolf Garage, 1624 N. Halsted (map)
thru April 8 April 22  |  tickets: $20   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

February 19, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Pony (About Face Theatre)

  
  

Brilliant, fully-committed cast can’t bridle Bruchner’s ‘Pony’

  
  

Kristina Valada-Viars (Marie) and Kelli Simpkins (Pony) in About Face Theatre’s production of PONY by Sylvan Oswald, directed by Artistic Director Bonnie Metzgar.  Photo by Michael Brosilow.

  
About Face Theatre presents
  
Pony
  
Written by Sylvan Oswald
Directed by Bonnie Metzgar
at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division (map)
through May 22  |  tickets: $21-$28  |  more info

Reviewed by Barry Eitel 

Woyzeck was left unfinished when its author Georg Buchner died of typhus at the tender age of twenty-three in 1836. Buchner’s bleak depiction of working class life touched a nerve in 19th Century Germany. Since then, plenty of artists have taken it upon themselves to finish, adapt, and tweak the original, including composer Alban Berg and filmmaker Werner Herzog. Lucky for us, the Chicago theatre community is putting on a Woyzeck smorgasbord this spring, with plenty of chances to see new spins on the story. Oracle Theatre  and the Hypocrites have put on somewhat straightforward versions of the play, but About Face decided to move further away from the Buchner with Pony by Sylvan Oswald.

Kristina Valada-Viars (Marie) and Kelli Simpkins (Pony) in About Face Theatre’s production of PONY by Sylvan Oswald, directed by Artistic Director Bonnie Metzgar.  Photo by Michael Brosilow.Superbly acted and wonderfully designed, I wished that Oswald had stuck closer to the primary source or had ventured further away. What director Bonnie Metzgar ends up with is a derivative tale that is usually engrossing and often funny, but doesn’t really make much sense.

While Buchner was writing about the proletariat, Oswald is writing about gender identification. Every character in the play is either transgendered or interested in one, including Oswald’s stand-in for Woyzeck, Pony (Kelli Simpkins). Added to his woes about money and love, Pony must also deal with being outted in a potentially hostile community.

Pony takes place in the town across the forest from Woyzeck’s world. Instead of Industrial-age Germany, though, Pony’s world looks like a grimy Pennsylvania coal mining town of the 1980s. Everyone is covered in grit and everyone is poor.

Pony rides into town and instantly falls for Marie (Kristina Valada-Viars), a waitress obsessed with the murder that happened on the other side of the woods to a certain other Marie. Marie’s best friend Stel (Jessica Hudson) warns Pony that he better stay out of Marie’s life, which the audience learns is because she also secretly pines for Marie. Looking out for Pony’s well-being is Cav (Janet Ulrich Brooks), an old-school lesbian and the only scientist in town. And while Pony is courting Marie, Heath (Matthew Sherbach) is searching for Pony, laden with family secrets.

Pony is clearly inspired by Woyzeck, but the play goes off on Oswald’s own tangents. Instead of force-feeding peas, Cav subjects Pony to psychological evaluations. Marie ponders how a man can reach the desperation needed to kill the one thing in the world he loves—pretty much the question Buchner sets out to answer in his play. And Pony, like the other titular character, finds himself battered by society. Unfortunately, Oswald is unable to tie these themes together and the play feels more like a musing on the original than its own entity. Pony has difficulty finding a job and is devastated when he finds himself robbed, but he never reaches the utter anguish of Woyzeck. The romance between Pony and Marie is budding, not self-destructing. Oswald doesn’t reach the lower-class rage of Buchner and Pony doesn’t have its inspiration’s weight. By the end, the plot unravels into confusion. The final scene is especially tepid.

The brilliant, fully-committed cast, however, does what they can to keep the story alive. Brooks grabs the audience attention and pulls us along wherever she goes. Simpkins carries the show well, bursting with anger or sheepishly talking to Marie, whatever the script requires. Sherbach, besides some overuse of his hands, adds a great, humorous balance to the mix.

Many of the modern adaptations of Woyzeck, like Collaboraction’s Guinea Pig Solo, focus on the militaristic aspects of the play. About Face takes a different route with taking a hard look at the personal side. But without Metzgar’s awesome cast, the play would fall apart.

  
  
Rating: ★★½
  
  

Matthew Sherbach (Heath) and Kelli Simpkins (Pony) in About Face Theatre’s production of PONY by Sylvan Oswald, directed by Artistic Director Bonnie Metzgar.  Photo by Michael Brosilow.

All photos by Michael Brosilow 

April 27, 2011 | 0 Comments More