Tag: Jim Heatherly

Review: Guys and Dolls (Light Opera Works)

Justin Adair stars as Sky Masterson in Light Opera Works' "Guys and Dolls" by Frank Loesser, directed by Rudy Hogenmiller. (photo credit: Mona Luan)         
      
Guys and Dolls
   
Music, Lyrics by Frank Loesser 
Book by Jo Swerling, Abe Burrows
at Cahn Auditorium, Evanston (map)
thru Jan 3  |  tix: $34-$94  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
    

December 28, 2015 | 0 Comments More

Review: Fail/Safe (Strawdog Theatre)

Lee Russell and Mark Pracht star in Strawdog Theatre's "Fail/Safe," adapted by Anderson Lawfer and Nikki Klix, directed by Anderson Lawfer. (photo credit: Tom McGrath)        
      
Fail/Safe

Adapted by Anderson Lawfer and Nikki Klix 
From novel by Eugene Burdick, Harvey Wheeler
Directed by Anderson Lawfer
at Strawdog Theatre, 3829 N. Broadway (map)
thru Oct 14  |  tickets: $15   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
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September 24, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Annie Get Your Gun (Light Opera Works)

Colette Todd stars as Annie Oakley in Light Opera Works' "Annie Get Your Gun" by Irving Berlin, directed by Rudy Hogenmiller.        
      
Annie Get Your Gun

Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin
Book by Herbert and Dorothy Fields
Directed by Rudy Hogenmiller
at Cahn Auditorium, Evanston (map)
thru Dec 31  |  tickets: $32-$94   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets  
         
                   Read review 

December 22, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: Cabaret (Light Opera Works)

Jenny Lamb stars as Sally Bowles in Light Opera Works' "Cabaret" by Kander and Ebb, directed by Stacey Flaster. (photo credit: Jasmin Shah)        
       
Cabaret 

By John Kander (music), Fred Ebb (lyrics) 
        and Joe Masteroff (book)
Directed and Choreographed by Stacey Flaster
Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson, Evanston (map)
thru Aug 18  |  tickets: $32-$77   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

August 13, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: Pal Joey (Porchlight Music Theatre)

Adrian Aguilar and Rachel Osting star in Porchlight Music Theatre's "Pal Joey" by Rodgers and Hart, directed by Michael Weber. (photo credit: Brandon Dahlquist)        
       
Pal Joey 

By Richard Rodgers (music), Lorenz Hart (lyrics)
    and John O’Hara (book)
Directed by Michael Weber
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map)
thru May 26  |  tickets: $41   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
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April 27, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: We Have Always Lived in the Castle (City Lit Theatre)

We Have Always Lived in this Castle - City Lit Theatre       
      
We Have Always Lived
    in the Castle
 

Adapted and Directed by Paul Edwards
From the novel by Shirley Jackson 
at City Lit Theatre, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr (map)
thru April 1  |  tickets: $18-$25   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets  
         
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March 8, 2012 | 3 Comments More

REVIEW: Miracle on 34th Street (Porchlight Music Theatre)

   
  

A charming Santa works his magic

  
  

MIRACLE 2010--David Heimann as Fred Gailey and Nicole Karkazis as Susan Walker

   
Porchlight Music Theatre presents
   
Miracle on 34th Street
   
By Patricia DiBenedetto, Will Snyder & John Vreeke
Directed by Christopher Pazdernik
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map)
through Jan 2  |  tickets: $38  |  more info

Reviewed by Keith Ecker 

Christmas has become so commercialized that we now have genuine shopping holidays that serve as a preamble to one of the most sacred days of the Christian faith. Black Friday. Cyber Monday. I’m Jewish, and even I wince when I see the words "Doorbuster Deals" printed on the same flier as an angel trumpeting the arrival of Jesus.

Miracle on 34th Street - Porchlight Music TheatreValentine Davies, the novelist behind Miracle on 34th Street, saw this commercialization when it was in its infancy. His story is intelligent and effective at satirizing the season. The classic movie adaptation, directed by George Seaton, lives on in the American zeitgeist, in part because of just how strongly the story appeals to our sense of love and compassion over commodities and materialism.  

Porchlight’s somewhat musical version of Miracle on 34th Street isn’t going to go own in history as influencing the minds of the American public, but it’s an entertaining ticket that has some truly charming elements.

And the most charming element of all is the plays’ Santa (Jim Sherman). Sherman’s got the humble magnanimity down. He plays Kris Kringle with both an endearing aloofness and a fiery passion for good and righteousness. Plus, he knows how to pander to the kids in the audience, which doesn’t hurt a bit.

For those that have never seen Miracle on 34th Street, the story centers on Macy’s, in a time before the department store grew to swallow al competition. The store has a new Santa Claus for the holiday season because the last one liked hitting the sauce a little too much. However, this new Santa is quite peculiar. In fact, he takes the whole thing way too seriously, referring to himself as Kris Kringle and claiming his next of kin as Prancer and Blixen.

Still, he’s a damn good Santa, and the customers sure do love him, which makes Mr. Macy happy. Yet, some aren’t so pleased with his success and seek to take him down. When the store’s counselor Mr. Sawyer (Michael Pacas) claims Kris attacked him, Santa is locked away and put on trial.

But it’s not just Santa whose fate is in the air. The fate of little Susan Walker (Nicole Karkazis) and her mother Doris (Christa Buck) also hinges on whether Santa really is Santa. That’s because both have been confronted with a crisis of faith, and if Kris is not who he says he is, then cynicism may just ice over their hearts forever.

   
MIRACLE 2010--Matthew Miles as Mr. Shelhammer and Michael Pacas as Sawyer Miracle on 34th Street - Jim Sherman and Nicole Karkazis
MIRACLE 2010--Christa Buck as Doris Walker and Nicole Karkazis as Susan Walker MIRACLE 2010--Jim Sherman as Kris Kringle horizontal

Director Christopher Pazdernik does a good job keeping the story moving along swiftly. There’s no reason for slow drama to create tension. We know the story, and children only have so much attention to devote to a courtroom drama. The little holiday song interludes between scenes are cute, but don’t do much to really enhance the show. And the big holiday opening number is a high-energy beginning, but it feels too over-the-top for the rather subdued play.

Audience interaction in certain parts is encouraged. In fact, a couple children were pulled out of the audience and got to sit on Santa’s lap in the middle of the play. Afterward, kids are encouraged to participate in a meet-and-greet with the jolly man in red.

Jana Anderson deserves special recognition for designing one of the classiest Santa costumes I have ever seen. This isn’t your usual red felt with cotton fuzz. This is old-world Santa, with a quality coat decorated in a multi-toned print.

Miracle on 34th Street is definitely a kid pleaser, though adult chaperones are sure to enjoy themselves as well. It’s a fairly barebones production. But with such a convincing Santa, the ornamental takes a backseat to holiday spirit and heart.  

  
 
Rating: ★★★  
   
  

MIRACLE 2010--cast

     
     

     
     
December 3, 2010 | 0 Comments More

REVIEW: State of the Union (Strawdog Theatre)

 

An intriguing political chess game

 

 Strawdog Theatre - State of the Union - 10/6/10 

Photo by Chris Ocken 
Copyright 2010 - www.ockenphotography.com

   
Strawdog Theatre presents
   
State of the Union
   
Written by Russel Crouse and Howard Lindsay
Directed by
Geoff Button
at Strawdog Theatre, 3829 N. Broadway (map)
through November 13  |  tickets: $15-$20  |  more info

Reviewed by Keith Ecker 

For a political play to matter much, it must prove its relevance beyond its genesis. These dramas must rise above the particulars of their time-sensitive plots and reveal to us a greater truth, something about the human condition or the faults of our society. State of the Union, the 1946 Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy, is an example of this brilliant kind of evergreen political theatre.

Written by Russel Crouse and Howard Lindsay, the play may be rooted in mid-20th century politics, but its tale of political gaming and pandering is as true today as it ever was then. And infused with the talent of the Strawdog Theatre Company, State of the Union manages to not only serve as editorial but as a charmingly funny piece of theatre.

Strawdog Theatre - State of the Union - 10/6/10 

Photo by Chris Ocken 
Copyright 2010 - www.ockenphotography.com The play centers around political outsider and businessman Grant Matthews (Michael Dailey). Republican political insiders are priming him to be the dark horse candidate in the upcoming presidential election. This includes Kay Thorndyke (Kristina Johnson), a Republican newspaper editor and not-so-secret mistress to Matthews.

Yet, Matthews gives the political bigwigs reason for hesitation when he hits the speaker circuit where he talks about timely issues from his heart rather than from any party’s platform. Much of this honesty is delivered at the behest of his wife, Mary (Kendra Thulin), who like her husband is an idealist. She believes that politicians serve their own self-interest rather than the interests of the people, and upon finding out that her husband may be running for the presidency, she pushes him to stick to his populist convictions.

Unfortunately, playing politics is a dirty game. As we get a peak behind the political curtain, we see just how much strategizing, manipulating and palm greasing actually takes place. This puts Grant in quite the pickle, pitting him against his party, his ideals, his mistress and his wife.

Although I’ve never been a politician, I can confidently say that State of the Union doesn’t seem to be too far from the truth. Look at modern-day outsider candidates like Nevada’s Sharron Angle and Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell, who, once receiving their party’s nomination, were quick to start spewing the same Republican talking points. The only difference is that Grant is a likeable and intelligent candidate, whereas his real-life counterparts are divisive and seemingly simple.

Strawdog Theatre - State of the Union - 10/6/10 

Photo by Chris Ocken 
Copyright 2010 - www.ockenphotography.com Strawdog has assembled an amazing cast. Dailey portrays grant as a sympathetic idealist. The kindness and sincerity he brings to the role helps us identify with him despite the fact that he’s a flawed husband. Likewise, Thulin provides Mary with a boldness that makes her a believably powerful force against the chummy, political insider boys’ club. Other standout performances include BF Helman as political strategist Jim Conover and Anderson Lawfer as the sassy journalist/campaign manager Spike MacManus.

Geoff Button’s direction is commendable, especially given the sheer number of entrances and exits he has to manage throughout the play, especially in the third act, which is one of those party scenes that literally fills the room with colorful characters.

If the upcoming elections have you tiring of the theatre of politics, then why not check out some insightful political theatre? Along with voting, go see Strawdog’s snappy and relevant production of State of the Union.

   
   
Rating: ★★★½
   
   

Strawdog Theatre - State of the Union - 10/6/10 

Photo by Chris Ocken 
Copyright 2010 - www.ockenphotography.com

   
   
October 20, 2010 | 0 Comments More