Tag: John Reeger

Review: Gypsy (Chicago Shakespeare)

Keith Kupferer, Jessica Rush and Louise Pitro star in Chicago Shakespeare's "Gypsy" by Jule Styen, Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim; directed by Gary Griffin. (photo credit: Michael Brosilow)        
      
Gypsy

Jule Styne (music), Arthur Laurents (book)
   and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics)  
Directed by Gary Griffin  
Chicago Shakespeare at Navy Pier (map)
thru March 23  |  tickets: $48-$88   |  more info
       
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February 25, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Mary Poppins (Marriott Theatre)

Summer Naomi Smart as Mary Poppins in Marriott Theatre's "Mary Poppins," directed by Gary Griffin. (photo credit: Peter Coombs)

       
      
Mary Poppins 

Music/Lyrics by Richard and Robert Sherman,
    George Stiles and Anthony Drewe
Book by Julian Fellowes
Directed by Gary Griffin
at Marriott Theatre, Lincolnshire (map)
thru Jan 5  |  tickets: $40-$48   |  more info
       
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November 10, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: Oliver! (Drury Lane Theatre)

Brady Tutton stars as Oliver in Drury Lane Theatre's "Oliver!" by Lionel Bart, directed by Rachel Rockwell. (photo credit: Brett Beiner)        
       
Oliver! 

Book, music and lyrics by Lionel Bart  
Directed by Rachel Rockwell
Drury Lane Theatre, Oak Brook Terrace (map)
thru June 2  |  tickets: $35-$49   |  more info
       
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April 13, 2013 | 3 Comments More

Review: Singin’ in the Rain (Drury Lane Theatre)

Tony Yazbeck stars as as Don Lockwood in Drury Lane Oakbrook's "Singin' in the Rain", directed by Bill Jenkins. (photo credit: Brett Beiner)        
       
Singin’ in the Rain  

Adapted by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
Nacio Herb Brown (music), Arthur Freed (lyrics)
Directed by Bill Jenkins
Drury Lane Theatre, Oakbrook Terrace (map)
thru Jan 13  |  tickets: $35-$46   |  more info
       
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December 26, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Christmas Schooner (Mercury Theater)

Ron Keaton, Karl Hamilton, Jim Sherman and Tom Shea star in Mercury Theater's "The Christmas Schooner" by John Reeger and Julie Shannon, directed by L. Walter Stearns. (photo credit: Jason Epperson)        
      
The Christmas Schooner 

Written by John Reeger and Julie Shannon
Directed by L. Walter Stearns  
Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport (map)
thru Dec 30  |  tickets: $29-$59   |  more info
       
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November 30, 2012 | 3 Comments More

Review: The Iceman Cometh (Goodman Theatre)

Harry Hope (Stephen Ouimette) in Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh directed by Robert Falls at Goodman Theatre       
      
The Iceman Cometh 

Written by Eugene O’Neill 
Directed by Robert Falls 
at Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn (map)
thru June 17   |  tickets: $61-$175   |  more info
       
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May 5, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Gypsy (Drury Lane Oakbrook)

GYPSY-Emily Leahy, Klea Blackhurst and John Reeger       
      
Gypsy 

Arthur Laurents (book), Jule Styne (music), 
and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics)
Directed by William Osetek
at Drury Lane Theatre, Oakbrook (map)
thru March 25th  |  tickets: $35-$46  |  more info
       
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January 27, 2012 | 4 Comments More

Review: The Christmas Schooner (Mercury Theater)

A scene from Merury Theatre's "The Christmas Schooner," directed by L. Walter Stearns. (photo credit: Peter Coombs)       
      
The Christmas Schooner 

Written by John Reeger and Julie Shannon
Directed by L. Walter Stearns
at Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport (map)
thru Dec 31  |  tickets: $30-$49.50   |  more info

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November 26, 2011 | 1 Comment More

Review: The Sound of Music (Drury Lane)

Katie Huff, Zachary Keller, Laura Nelson, Ben Parkhill, Arielle Dayan, Emily Leahy, Julia Baker       
      
The Sound of Music 

Written by Richard Rodgers (music)
and Oscar Hammerstein II (lyrics)
Book by Howard Lindsay, Russell Crouse
Directed by Rachel Rockwell
Drury Lane Theatre, Oakbrook Terrace  (map)
thru Jan 8  |  tickets: $35-$45   |  more info

Check for half-price tickets  
     
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October 28, 2011 | 2 Comments More

Review: My Fair Lady (Paramount Theatre)

     
Andrea Prestinario and Nathan M. Hosner - My Fair Lady Paramount Theatre
My Fair Lady
 

Written by Alan Jay Lerner & Frederick Loewe 
Directed by Jim Corti
at Paramount Theatre, Aurora (map)
thru Oct 2  |  tickets: $35-$47  |  more info

Check for half-price tickets

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September 18, 2011 | 0 Comments More

Review: Heartbreak House (Writers’ Theatre)

        
        

Writers’ Theatre unpacks Shaw’s layered comedy-drama

        
        

A scene from George Bernard Shaw's "Heartbreak House", now playing at Writers Theatre.

   
Writers’ Theatre presents
   
Heartbreak House
   
Written by George Bernard Shaw 
Directed by William Brown
at Writers’ Theatre, 325 Tudor Court (map)
through June 26  |  tickets: $65  |  more info 

Reviewed by Dan Jakes

Staging George Bernard Shaw’s 1919 satire with the expectation that it will carry relevance requires overcoming some steep hurdles. Without an encyclopedic understanding of period social structure, the play can lack gravity. It’s an uneven mix of broad hysterics and droll musings. It’s literary. It’s long.

Martin Yurek and Tiffany Scott in Writers' Theatre's "Heartbreak House" by George Bernard Shaw".Director William Brown clears or at least side-steps those obstacles through his focus on character accessibility and audience immersion, narrowing the gap between what resonates on the page and what functions in presentation. Great care is taken to ease the entrance to the world of the play–literally, at first. Keith Pitts’ scenic and Jesse Klug’s lighting design sprawls from the performance space to the house, stretching the Shotover manor garden as far they can cultivate it. It’s a hypnotic oasis featuring little touches like a delightfully audible pebble walkway, ethereal floating lanterns, and the general comforts of a privileged family. Think a 20th Century Midsummer garden.

But unlike the tightly-wound lovers who dwell in Shakespeare’s forest, Shaw’s well-to-do find no contentment under each others’ spell–only unrequited desires and disillusion. When young Ellie Dunn (Atra Asdou, romanticism embodied, well-cast as the wide-eyed guide) accepts an invitation to her friend’s (Karen Janes Woditsch) home, she discovers and is ultimately overcome by a web of self-consumed entitlements and entangled loves. If there’s any enchantment to be found, it’s in the thought of total liberation from the mythical heartbreak house and its emotionally-deteriorating inhabitants. Here, sleep is just paralysis.

     
Kevin Christopher Fox and Martin Yurek in Writers' Theatre's "Heartbreak House" by George Bernard Shaw". John Lister, Kareem Bandealy and Karen Janes Woditsch in Writers' Theatre's "Heartbreak House" by George Bernard Shaw".

Writers’ production speaks to what can be unearthed amidst the anguish of love gone awry and the catharsis of reckless abandon. As social commentary, not even a slight update–pushing the story up to WWII–makes the class predicaments entirely identifiable. Well-acted as the performances may be (John Reeger, Janes Woditsch and Tiffany Scott leading the strong ensemble), tedium undercuts several stretches within early scenes. Sex, too, is lacking. Improper seduction perpetuates some of the comedy, and jealousy and wanting perpetuate most of the story–both are dependent on clear sensuality. This Heartbreak could benefit from more. It’s a slow simmer, but by Act III, those shortcomings are easy to forget. Shaw’s skepticism on marriage and relationships progress from era-dependency to something more universal with each act. For all its long-windedness, Heartbreak’s takeaway is the final wordless tableau: a group unified by disappointment, knowing to move on, and looking to the sky for its own destruction.

  
  
Rating: ★★★
   
  

Karen Janes Woditsch, Martin Yurek and John Reeger in Writers' Theatre's "Heartbreak House" by George Bernard Shaw".

George Bernard Shaw’s Heartbreak House continues through June 26th, with performances Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7:30pm, Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm and Sundays at 4pm and 8pm. Tickets for all shows are $65, and can be purchased through Writers’ website. Running time: Two hours and 45 minutes, which includes two intermissions. 

     
     
May 7, 2011 | 0 Comments More

REVIEW: The Music Man (Marriott Theatre)

         
        

Iowa Splendid

 

 

Bernie Yvon and Danny Coonley in The Music Man - Marriott Theatre

    
Marriott Theatre presents
   
The Music Man
   
Book/Music/Lyrics by Meredith Willson
Directed by
Gary Griffin
at
Marriott Theatre, Linconshire (map)
through Jan 9  |  tickets: $40-$48  |  more info

Reviewed by Lawrence Bommer

For reasons we can only guess at, Marriott Theatre has picked it for their holiday offering. But if ever a show spelled out summer, it’s Meredith Willson‘s 1957 masterpiece The Music Man. Throughout the rollicking story the title character exudes sunny optimism, a flimflam that "Professor" Harold Hill wants to believe as much as the suckers who take it in. His buoyant drive fits the season like a picnic. You’ll forget about the winter completely over the next 150 minutes.

Johanna McKenzie Miller and Bernie Yvon in The Music Man - Marriott TheatreOf course Hill is a 1912 confidence man who hornswaggles a ragtag band into playing music, a shy boy into speaking, a town into believing in itself and a librarian into love. The sturdy story is perfectly embedded in a very particular time capsule, with Willson meticulously employing with glorious abandon assorted slang, celebrities and colorful metaphors from the era and the state.

Helping this miracle worker Hill cast his spell, Willson gives him such powerful persuasion as "Seventy-Six Trombones" and "Trouble," the famous snake-oil sermon. By the musical’s end Hill has sold far more than he knows, a passel of dreams for River City to grow on. It’s a great formula: A mysterious stranger comes to town and changes everyone for the best, including himself when he realizes that what he gives is worth far more than what he sells.

Few shows strike such a shrewd balance between downhome decency and showbiz savvy. Because The Music Man wears its songs on its sleeve, it can’t seem too slick or smooth. What matters is the tender loving care.

The heart comes through like a charm in Marriott Theatre’s easy-winning, arena revival. Intimately homespun yet always knowing, Gary Griffin’s staging trusts the material, Willson’s fast-moving book, deceptively clever lyrics and unimprovable melodies–and gets them right throughout.

The look, for instance: Tom Ryan‘s clever, flexible and detailed set pieces combine to create a richly nostalgic Iowa setting, and Nancy Missimi’s fashionplate period costumes complete the illusion.

The human illusions are equally on target. Conning with unforced charm, Bernie Yvon offers a Harold Hill who listens as much as hoodwinks; like a good salesman he connects with the townsfolk until you see how much he means it. His charm is non-negotiable, though the changes he undergoes are a bit harder to measure under Yvon’s boundless confidence.

Barbara Cook and Shirley Jones notwithstanding (comparisons are odious), Johanna McKenzie Miller nicely inhabits Marian’s rich mix of spinster standoffishness and idealistic yearning. Her "Till There Was You" is earned by every line she’s said. (The fact that she also sounds just like Cook in her perfect prime doesn’t hurt in the least either.)

The cast of The Music Man - Marriott Theatre 2

Johnny Rabe and Danny Coonley in The Music Man - Marriott Theatre Johanna McKenzie Miller and Bernie Yvon in The Music Man - Marriott Theatre 3

Like the leads, the supporting roles betray much more life than art, even the hammy stock roles like John Reeger‘s pompous mayor, Iris Lieberman as his starched-blouse wife, Mary Ernster as Marian’s matchmaking mother and Andy Lupp as Hill’s gleeful trickster accomplice.

As the decent local kids whom Harold helps, Adrian Aguilar and Amanda Tanguay carry the romantic subplot with goofy grace. Special credit goes to little Johnny Rabe whose bashful Winthrop wails out "Gary, Indiana" as if he just made it up.

Finally, Matt Raftery‘s unshowy choreography reminds us that these are unpretentious Iowans whooping it up as best they can: There’s no showoff hoofing here. The “Shipoopi” explodes with prewar pep and a palpable joy that makes the most difficult dancing seem a gift to perform as much as perceive. David Kreppel’s musical direction is assured, especially in the barbershop-quartet offerings.

 
  
  
Rating: ★★★★
 
 

The performance schedule is Wednesdays at 1pm and 8pm, Thursday and Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 4:30pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 1pm and 5pm.  There will be an added performance Tuesday, 11/23 at 8pm and Friday, 11/26 at 4:30pm.  No performances Tuesday-Thursday, Nov 24th and 25th.

The cast of The Music Man - Marriott Theatre

 

 

November 16, 2010 | 0 Comments More