Tag: Mary Ann Thebus

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: Marjorie Prime (Writers Theatre)

Kate Fry and Mary Ann Thebus star in Writers Theatre's "Marjorie Prime" by Jordan Harrison, directed by Kimberly Senior. (photo credit: Michael Brosilow)         
      
Marjorie Prime 

Written by Jordan Harrison
Books on Vernon, 664 Vernon, Glencoe (map)
thru Mar 13  |  tix: $35-$70  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
    

November 25, 2015 | 0 Comments More

Review: Rest (Victory Gardens Theater)

MaryAnn Thebus stars as Etta in Victory Gardens Theater's "Rest" by Samuel D. Hunter, directed by Joanie Schultz. (photo credit: Michael Courier)        
      
Rest

Written by Samuel D. Hunter
Directed by Joanie Schultz 
at VG Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln (map)
thru Oct 12  |  tickets: $30-$60   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

October 6, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: 4000 Miles (Northlight Theatre)

Josh Salt and Mary Ann Thebus star in Northlight Theatre's "4000 Miles" by Amy Herzog, directed by Kimberly Senior. (photo credit: Michael Brosilow)        
      
4000 Miles

Written by Amy Herzog  
Directed by Kimberly Senior 
at Northlight Theatre, Skokie (map)
thru Oct 20  |  tickets: $25-$75   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

September 27, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: Three Sisters (Steppenwolf Theatre)

(left to right) Sisters Masha (Carrie Coon), Irina (Caroline Neff) and Olga (ensemble member Ora Jones) yearn for Moscow in Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s production of Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters, adapted by ensemble member Tracy Letts, directed by ensemble member Anna D. Shapiro.        
       
Three Sisters 

Written by Anton Chekhov 
Adapted by Tracy Letts 
Directed by Anna D. Shapiro  
at Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted (map)
thru Aug 26  |  tickets: $20-$75   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

July 12, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Elizabeth Rex (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre)

Diane D'Aquila as Queen Elizabeth - Elizabeth Rex 2       
      
Elizabeth Rex 

Written by Timothy Findley  
Directed by Barbara Gaines   
Chicago Shakespeare, Navy Pier (map)
thru Jan 22  |  tickets: $44-$75   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

December 9, 2011 | 1 Comment More

REVIEW: The Boys Room (Victory Gardens Theater)

  
  

Victory Gardens creates powerful portrait of family paralysis

  
  

Allison Torem and Mary Ann Thebus in Victory Gardens 'The Boys Room' by Joel Drake Johnson. Photo by Liz Lauren.

  
Victory Gardens Theater presents
   
The Boys Room
  
Written by Joel Drake Johnson
Directed by Sandy Shinner
at Victory Garden’s Biograph Theater, 4233 N. Lincoln (map)
through Feb 20  |  tickets: $35-$50  |  more info

Reviewed by Lawrence Bommer

Because the recession has foreclosed so many homes, a lot of “boomerang kids” have returned to the nest–to the confusion of parents who thought they’d seen the last of them. It’s even more poignant if, 30 years after they supposedly left home, two middle-aged guys have returned to the sender, so to speak. That’s the bittersweet case in The Boys Room, Joel Drake Johnson’s moving portrait of two stunted sons and their arrested development.

Steve Key and Joe Dempsey in 'The Boys Room' at Victory Gardens. Photo by Liz Lauren.A Victory Gardens Theater world premiere richly staged by Sandy Shinner, this 90-minute slice of loss exposes the longings of two brothers’ midlife crises. Then there are the women—a mother and a son’s daughter—who contend with the brothers’ dangerous nostalgia (or regression) for their safe, secure upstairs bedroom.

Sibling rivalry is only one of the reversions that become blasts from the past. Jobless and in a troubled marriage, Tim (Steve Key) is now curled up in his childhood bed by the window: There he reads “Jane Eyre” to help his daughter in her English class, then cries himself to sleep each night. To his rage, he’s soon joined by his older brother Ron (Joe Dempsey), a grizzled dentist who left his wife and daughter because he couldn’t deal with the former’s breast cancer. (You hear “This is MY room!” a lot here.)

The brothers’ “odd couple” obviously disrupt the peaceful life of their aging mother Susan (Mary Ann Thebus), who just wants to learn Spanish so she can enjoy her elderly Latino lover all the more. Her well-earned retirement has been disrupted by all the unpacked emotional baggage her “boys” have brought home along with a lot of laundry she refuses to do. (She compares Tim’s restlessness upstairs to having “a rat rustling in the room.”)

Enraged at her father’s desertion, Ron’s teenage daughter Roann (Allison Torem) has been sent by her mom to find out Ron’s plans for any future they can forge. It’s up to her grandmother to give 16-year-old Roann the strength to endure what her sons have yet to master. In her final speech she remembers how the death of their father almost destroyed the family but, if they got through that, then…

             
Steve Key, Mary Ann Thebus and Joe Dempsey in 'The Boys Room' by Joel Drake Johnson. Photo by Liz Lauren. Allison Torem and Mary Ann Thebus in Victory Gardens 'The Boys Room' by Joel Drake Johnson. Photo by Liz Lauren.

This is not your usual dysfunctional-family dark comedy where sitcom crises mount with the laugh track, only to have recriminations replaced by reconciliation. Johnson has a great ear for loud desperation and the self-sustaining logic of failure and the pitilessness of pity. There are no happy resolutions here, just simple survival. That makes this play far kinder to its audience’s collective intelligence than all the wishful thinking that makes for second-act hugs and unearned happy endings.

Shinner’s staging is equally grown-up. There’s obvious humor in two loser husbands turning back into whining boys, reenacting old games that made them feel safer and wanting mommy to make everything right. But Key’s Tim is far too damaged to be healed by memory-mongering, while Dempsey’s explosive Ron is paralyzed with self-loathing.

Forward facing where the men are sinking into a bogus boyhood, the women are far stronger souls. Thebus’ tough-loving Susan is a rich mix of resilience and resignation, unwilling to indulge this second childhood one second more than she needs to. Equally remarkable, Torem’s anguished adolescent conjures up all the collateral damage of broken homes and makes it as specific as a scream.

  
  
Rating: ★★★★
  
  

Steve Key and Joe Dempsey in Victory Garden's 'The Boys Room' by Joel Drake Johnson.  Photo by Liz Lauren.

February 2, 2011 | 0 Comments More

REVIEW: The Piano Teacher (Next Theatre)

   
   

A heartfelt lesson on facing the music

 

Next_Piano_Teacher_1 (2)

   
Next Theatre presents
 
The Piano Teacher
 
Written by Julie Cho
Directed by Lisa Portes
at Next Theatre, 927 Noyes, Evanston (map)
through Dec. 5  |  tickets: $30-$40  |  more info

Reviewed by Katy Walsh

“What’s so wonderful about honesty? Mama said, ‘don’t be 100% honest.’” A retired widow shares her cookies and recollections. Next Theatre presents the Midwest premiere of The Piano Teacher. Mrs. K self-identifies as being effortlessly good at many small things. Musically inclined but not quite the concert pianist, Mrs. K starts out as a piano tuner. Later, she teaches piano from her home. Over the course of thirty years, she instructs hundreds of children. Out of loneliness, Mrs. K starts calling up her former pupils to reminisce. The reconnection jars memories that she forgot she had wanted to forget. While she was practicing scales in the living room, Mr. K was providing life lessons in the kitchen. The musical appreciation class was overshadowed by Genocide 101. The K homeschooling did have a profound impact on its students. It just wasn’t the recital variety. The Piano Teacher dramatizes the long lasting effects of being traumatized as a child.

Next_Piano_Teacher_2“My husband always said I expected too much… people are just being who they are.” Mary Ann Thebus (Mrs. K) hits all the right notes as the piano teacher. Under the direction of Lisa Portes, Thebus delivers Julia Cho’s monologues with all the familiar charm of the grandmother-next-door. Thebus is outstanding as she directly addresses the audience in the narration of her story, engaging with humorous reflections on the simple pleasures of cookies and “Dances with the Stars” enjoyed over a cup of tea. Shaking her head in amusement and continually nibbling on cookies, we see the authenticity of Thebus as a sweet old lady trying to piece together her life. This visual becomes haunting as Mrs. K is confronted with the past. Manny Buckley (Michael) gives a darkly crazed but controlled performance as a prodigy child turned disturbed adult. Buckley’s forceful interaction makes for a heart-wrenching contrast to Thebus’ fearful denial. Buckley’s wild eyes are especially threatening even when he speaks with eloquent normalcy. Representing another side to the same story, Sadieh Rifai (Mary) brings an empathetic balance as a grateful student that is worried about her favorite teacher.

The past meets present on a set, designed by Keith Pitts, that captures perfectly a piano teacher’s living room complete with musical artwork. The visual adds to the storytelling with a layer of cozy familiarity. It’s this preconception that makes the revelations more stimulating. Playwright Julia Cho introduces character analogies that are beautifully sad ‘He looked thirsty and he looked at me like I was rain.’ The narrations are delivered in fragment ramblings by a nice old lady, but when the puzzle pieces are placed together, it’s not the picture perfect image of a piano teacher’s home. Cho tells a thought-provoking tale of children’s loss of innocence. Combined with the homey atmosphere and the talented cast, The Piano Teacher is a genuine lesson in facing the music.

SPOILER ALERT: The front row gets cookies. Plan accordingly.

   
   
Rating: ★★★
 
 

Next_Piano_Teacher_3 (2)

The Piano Teacher runs Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Saturdays (20th, 27th, 4th) at 4pm, and Sundays at 2pm – thru December 5th

Running Time: Ninety minutes with no intermission.

  
  
November 9, 2010 | 0 Comments More