Tag: Marilyn Dodds Frank

Review: Uncle Vanya (Goodman Theatre)

Caroline Neff and Tim Hopper star as Sonya and Vanya in Uncle Vanya, Goodman Theatre           
      

Uncle Vanya

Written by Anton Chekhov
Adapted by Annie Baker
Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn (map)
thru March 19  |  tix: $25-$85  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets  
     

March 2, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Matchmaker (Goodman Theatre)

Theo Allyn and Kristine Nielsen in The Matchmaker, Goodman Theatre         
   

     
The Matchmaker

Written by Thornton Wilder
Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn (map)
thru Apr 10  |  tix: $20-$85 |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
    

March 31, 2016 | 0 Comments More

Review: Metamorphoses (Lookingglass Theatre)

Larry DiStasi stars in Lookingglass Theatre's "Metamorphoses", written and directed by Mary Zimmerman. (photo credit: Liz Lauren)        
       
Metamorphoses 

Written and Directed by Mary Zimmerman 
From myths by Ovid, David R. Slavitt translator
Lookingglass Theatre, 821 N. Michigan (map)
thru Nov 18 Jan 6 |  tickets: $28-$70   |  more info

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October 1, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Camino Real (Goodman Theatre)

Gutman (Matt DeCaro) listens to the beating of Kilroy’s (Antwayn Hopper) heart, which is “as big as the head of a baby,” in Calixto Bieito’s reimagined production of Tennessee Williams’ Camino Real       
      
Camino Real 

Written by Tennessee Williams 
Directed by Calixto Bieito  
Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn (map)
thru April 8  |  tickets: $23-$67   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
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March 13, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Last Act of Lilka Kadison (Lookingglass)

     
     

Now extended through August 21st!

Recent Tony Award not Lookingglass’ last act

  
  

Marilyn Dodds Frank (Lilith Fisher), Nora Fiffer (Lilka Kadison) and Chance Bone (Ben Ari Adler) in Lookingglass Theatre's "The Last Act of Lilka Kadison". (photo: Sean Williams)

  
Lookingglass Theatre presents
   
   
The Last Act of Lilka Kadison
   
Written by Nicola Behrman, David Kersnar, Abbie Phillips
         Heidi Stillman and Andrew White
Directed by David Kersnar
at Lookingglass Theatre, Water Tower Water Works. (map)
through July 24 August 21  |  tickets: $30-$58  |  more info

Reviewed by Barry Eitel 

This weekend, most of the people that put Lookingglass Theatre Company on the map were not at the opening for their latest show, The Last Act of Lilka Kadison. Instead, they were sitting in the Beacon Theatre in New York City—that other theatre town—scooping up the 2011 Tony Award for Best Regional Theatre. This marks the fifth such award belonging to Chicago, making one wonder if maybe the whole Tony venture should shift more Midwest. That’s not too likely happen, no matter how much tepid material Broadway churns out (with a few bright spots, of course).

Marilyn Dodds Frank (Lilith Fisher), Usman Ally (Menelik Kahn), Chance Bone (Ben Ari Adler) and Nora Fiffer (Lilka Kadison) in Lookingglass Theatre's "The Last Act of Lilka Kadison". (photo: Sean Williams)Lilka Kadison, then, finds itself in an odd position. Considering the timing, it should prove that Lookingglass deserves that little statue. The play, collectively written by Nicola Behrman, David Kersnar (who also directs), Abbie Phillips, Heidi Stillman and Andrew White, is stylistically different from any Lookingglass piece I’ve seen—it’s in proscenium. But what seems like a conservative choice on the surface is really a storytelling maneuver. Kadison is still infused with the whimsy-tinged yet socially conscious ethos that made the company famous. While the story is jerky, there’s a heart-tugging journey with plenty of breathtaking moments.

As you might expect with a play containing the words “The Last Act” in the title, Kadison is a concise meditation on death. And life. Kersnar and friends based the piece on the writings of the late Johanna Cooper, who worked with Phillips on a radio series called “One People, Many Stories.” The duo recorded the stories of Jews from all over the planet and put them on the radio. The far-reaching narrative of Cooper’s tales resonate with this script, which traverses the Atlantic and the multiple lives of Lilka.

The play splits focus between two periods in the life of the titular female. In one, she’s a young, romantic Jewish girl (Nora Fiffer) living in Poland days before the Nazis strolled in. The other is the “last act,” where we find an embittered, cranky old woman (Marilyn Dodds Frank) left to die in her cluttered house. Her only companion is her live-in caretaker, Menelik (Usman Ally). Moving throughout both these realms is the charming Ben Ari Adler (Chance Bone), Lilka’s first love. He was there to protect her during the invasion and his spirit later haunts her, begging her to tell their unknown story to someone.

     
Nora Fiffer (Lilka Kadison), Chance Bone (Ben Ari Adler) and Usman Ally (Menelik Kahn) in Lookingglass Theatre's "The Last Act of Lilka Kadison". (photo: Sean Williams) Chance Bone (Ben Ari Adler) and Nora Fiffer (Lilka Kadison) do the dip in Lookingglass Theatre's "The Last Act of Lilka Kadison". (photo: Sean Williams)

Nora Fiffer (Lilka Kadison) and Chance Bone (Ben Ari Adler) in Lookingglass Theatre's "The Last Act of Lilka Kadison". (photo: Sean Williams)

The narrative moves along at a chipper pace, clocking in at 90 minutes with no intermission. The obligatory quirky theatricality here is the show’s homage to Yiddish theatre of the 1930’s. Adler drags around a toy theatre where he puts up elaborate puppet shows and schemes his larger theatrical ventures. Kersnar throws too much time and attention on these moments, though they never get close to boring. The actual love story is ill-developed, jumping through the courtship at an unbelievable pace. I can chalk some of this up to radical world circumstances and the story gets the emotional job done in the end, but I was longing for some more scenes detailing Lilka and Adler’s relationship.

Each of the performers holds their own against the technical hullabaloo going on. Bone is the highlight, exuding the urbanity of an old time movie hero, even when he’s operating puppets or doing some magic trick. Fiffer and Frank are interesting foils and both funny in their own way. Ally steals his fair share of scenes as the much-abused nurse. Props to the writing committee for giving Melenik enough depth so he’s not just another throw-away supporting character.

Kadison works because of its heart, plain and simple—though the delightful stage pictures help. The play’s final message is terse yet touching—give your mom a call.

  
  
Rating: ★★★
  
  

Extra Credit: Check out this production’s wonderful study guide!!

   

Chance Bone (Ben Ari Adler) and Nora Fiffer (Lilka Kadison) with their toy theater, in Lookingglass Theatre's "The Last Act of Lilka Kadison". (photo: Sean Williams)

All photos by Sean Williams

     
     
June 13, 2011 | 1 Comment More

Review: Precious Little (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble)

     
     

Rivendell explores the boundaries of communication

 
   

Marilyn Dodds Frank, Meighan Gerachis - Rivendell Theatre Ensemble

   
Rivendell Theatre presents
  
Precious Little
  
Written by Madeleine George 
Directed by
Julieanne Ehre
at DCA Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph (map)
through April 2  | 
tickets: $15-$25  |  more info 

Reviewed by Dan Jakes

If you’re going to present a play about language, you may as well cast Marilyn Dodds Frank. Among her high attributes—she has plenty, versatility and precision hover near the top—Frank lays claim to one of the most interesting voices in Chicago. That’s a dubious designation, I guess, but much of Madeleine George’s Precious Little is indebted to it. Whether she be dressed as a gorilla (abstractly, thank god) in a zoo or timidly counting numbers aloud as a frail, elderly woman in a recording booth, Frank’s tenor and masterful delivery lends authority and depth to her multiple characters and, consequently, to George’s mixed-bag of a play.

Marilyn Dodds Frank, Kathy Logelin, Meighan Gerachis - Rivendell Theatre Ensemble - Precious Little 007More or less a showcase for fine acting, the scope of Precious Little is limited, but focused: an 80-minute meditation on human communication’s shortcomings told through three interweaving narratives. A lesbian professor and linguistics researcher (Meighan Gerachis) struggles to cope with news that her artificially-inseminated child may suffer a mental disability upon delivery. Stressed with complications in her research and unable to find enough solace confiding in her graduate-assistant lover (Kathy Logelin), the professor looks toward unconventional alternatives for an emotional connection.

Gerachis plays the troubled teacher with a balanced sense of sympathy and fault. Having sex with her student, betraying the trust of her test subject’s daughter, and openly confessing that she’d be more willing to handle raising a child with a physical set-back instead of a mental retardation, Brodie isn’t the most admirable protagonist. Gerachis makes those flaws identifiable and human.

The burdens these women shoulder aren’t light—a career-risking affair, an ailing mother, the ethics of abortion—yet the stakes of director Julieanne Ehre’s play never simmer to a high boil.

But maybe they don’t need to. The drama is frequently dotted with intellectual musings and light humor, and the partial detachment allows complicated ideas about expression to appear more clearly. Then again, if we’re to empathize with a supposedly sane 40-something-year-old scientist who’s driven to the extremity of fantasizing romantically about a caged animal, it would help if there were more emotional gravity to cling to along the ride. Ehre’s program note suggests the “quest for definitive knowledge ultimately leads to an acceptance of ambiguity.” Really though, it’s willingness of Precious Little to settle for ambiguity that sells the plight of its characters a bit short. What we are given to ruminate, however, is worthwhile, said subtly and said sincerely.

  
  
Rating: ★★★
  
  
Marilyn Dodds Frank - Rivendell Theatre Ensemble - Precious Little Meighan Gerachis, Marilyn Dodds Frank - Rivendell Theatre Ensemble - Precious Little
Meighan Gerachis, Kathy Logelin, Marilyn Dodds Frank - Rivendell Theatre Ensemble - Precious Little Marilyn Dodds Frank - Rivendell Theatre Ensemble - Precious Little

Precious Little continues through April 2nd at the DCA Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph, with performances Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm, Sundays at 3pm. Tickets are $15-$25, and can be purchased online or by calling 312-742-8497.

     
     
March 5, 2011 | 1 Comment More