Tag: Pavi Proczko

Review: Shockheaded Peter (Black Button Eyes Productions)

Kat Evans, Pavi Proczko and Kevin Webb star in Shockheaded Peter, Black Button Eyes Productions            


Shockheaded Peter

Created by Julian Crouch, Phelim McDermott
Music and lyrics by The Tiger Lillies
Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport (map)
thru Sept 16  |  tix: $32  |  more info
Check for half-price tickets    

September 11, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: How to Explain the History of Communism to Mental Patients (Trap Door Theatre)

Pavi Proczko, Ann Sonnevile and Simina Contras in How to Explain, Trapdoor          

How to Explain the History
Communism to Mental Patients

Written by Matei Visniec
Translated by Jeremy Lawrence
  and Catherine Popesco
Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W. Cortland (map)
thru Apr 30  |  tix: $20-$25  | more info
Check for half-price tickets   

March 22, 2016 | 1 Comment More

Review – R + J: The Vineyard (Red Theater Chicago and Oracle Productions)

McKenna Liesman and Brendan Connelly star as Juliet and Romeo in Oracle and Red Theater's "R + J: The Vineyard," adapted by Aaron Sawyer and Janette Bauer, directed by Aaron Sawyer. (photo credit: Joe Mazza)          
R + J: The Vineyard 

Adapted by Janette Bauer
     and Aaron Sawyer
at Oracle Theatre, 3809 N. Broadway (map)
thru Dec 12  |  tickets: FREE   |  more info 

November 1, 2015 | 0 Comments More

Review: Dessa Rose (Bailiwick Chicago)

Harmony France and Jayson Brooks star in Bailiwick Chicago's "Dessa Rose" by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, directed by Lili-Anne Brown. (photo credit: Michael Brosilow)        
Dessa Rose

Book and Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Music by Stephen Flaherty
Directed by Lili-Anne Brown  
Richard Christiansen Thtr, 2433 N. Lincoln (map)
thru April 5  |  tickets: $40   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
                   Read review

March 20, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Merry Wives of Windsor (Chicago Shakespeare)

Heidi Kettenring, Scott Jaeck and Kelli Fox in Merry Wives of Windsor, Chicago Shakespeare        
The Merry Wives of Windsor

Written by William Shakespeare 
Directed by Barbara Gaines 
Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier (map)
thru Jan 19  |  tickets: $48-$78   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
                   Read review

December 16, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: Godspell (The Brown Paper Box Company)

Stephanie Rohr performs "Stand Back Old Man" in Brown Paper Box's "Godspell," directed by M. William Panek. (photo credit: Chad Shelton)        

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz  
Book by John-Michael Tebelak
Directed by M. William Panek  
Collaboraction Studio, 1579 N. Milwaukee (map)
thru Oct 7  |  tickets: $15-$25   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
        Read entire review

September 27, 2012 | 1 Comment More

Review: The Light in the Piazza (Theo Ubique Theatre)

Kelli Harrington as Margaret, Rachel Klippel as Clara - Light in the Piazza       
The Light in the Piazza 

Written by Adam Guettel and Craig Lucas
Directed by Fred Anzevino and Brenda Didier 
at No Exit Café, 6970 N. Glenwood (map)
thru April 29  |  tickets: $29-$34   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
        Read entire review

March 13, 2012 | 1 Comment More

Review: Meet John Doe (Porchlight Musical Theatre)


‘John Doe’ Gets the Job Half Done


MJD--Jim Sherman (Connell) and Sean Effinger-Dean (Beany)

Porchlight Music Theatre presents
Meet John Doe
Music/Book by Andrew Gerle
Lyrics/Book by
Eddie Sugarman
Directed/Choreographed by
James Beaudry
Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map)
through April 17  |  tickets: $38  |  more info

Reviewed by Paige Listerud

Nothing sets the tone for Porchlight Music Theatre’s Meet John Doe like its foreboding, expressionist set design (Ian Zywica). Stage right, a bold graphic sticks out from a wall of newsprint: “JOBLESS MEN KEEP MOVING–We can’t take care of our own.” Now, if that doesn’t lock and load your head for a Depression Era period piece, nothing else will. Andrew Gerle (music) and Eddie Sugarman’s (lyrics) musical follows through with ample period perfection–from driven pace, to musical style, to its tough and cocky dialogue. James Beaudry’s direction accents the production’s expressionistic edge, framing the action, whether in crowd scenes or backroom MJD--Karl Hamilton (John Doe) and Elizabeth Lanza (Ann Mitchell)conferences, so that the show’s language hits right between the eyes about our own desperate political and economic plight. Fabricated news stories, populist heroes spun out of thin air, media manipulation of the masses by cynical moguls–and a down and out populace looking for any flicker of hope to lead them. Everything old is new again.

Porchlight could not have picked a timelier musical. In some ways, it contains improvements on Frank Capra’s 1941 film. For one, the musical’s Ann Mitchell (Elizabeth Lanza) is a much tougher, moxie-er, foxier newshound than her original film version played by Barbara Stanwyck. Given the pink slip during her newspaper’s takeover and transition to the New American Times, Ann submits her final column with a fake letter from “John Doe”—a man so sickened by the current economic downturn he threatens to commit suicide in protest by jumping off a bridge on Christmas Eve. Lanza has the voice, the sass and the legs to pull off her role and she’s not afraid to use them—a point she more than drives home with the song “I’m Your Man.”

Once circulation jumps in response to the letter, Ann restores her job by devising a whole series of columns based on John Doe. Out of a mass of jobless men, she and her world-weary editor, Connell (Jim Sherman), pick out a former bush league ball player to be their John Doe (Karl Hamilton). Hamilton definitely brings that Everyman vibe that they—and we–go for, but it’s his rich tenor voice that awakens sympathy and warmth to John Doe’s reintegration into showered, shaved and employed life once more, with “I Feel Like a Man Again.”

Unfortunately, for all the attention it has gained at Ford’s Theatre in 2007 with seven Helen Hayes nominations and with the 2006 Jonathan Larson Award, Meet John Doe still feels half finished. The first act is a beauty. Beaudry’s direction builds its tension with consummate skill and his taut cast carves its dramatic arc in expressionist stone. From the opening moments, where the terror every newsman has for his job is quite palpable – to John Doe’s escape from his first public speech – the first act is non-stop, smart and tough entertainment. In between, Lanza and Hamilton solidly sketch the growing relationship between Ann and John, while John’s hobo friend, the Colonel (Rus Rainear), adds much needed salt to the proceedings. Finally, even with a limited voice, Mick Weber gives us a smooth MJD--Elizabeth Lanza as Ann Mitchelland seductive menace as D.B. Norton, who sits atop of his new newspaper like an American Silvio Berlusconi, ready to manipulate John Doe’s image to further his political ambitions.

It’s the second act that doesn’t know where to go with this build-up. In part, this has to do with over-reliance on Capra’s plot.  In other sections, however, Gerle and Sugarman’s book diverges from it counter-intuitively. Capra himself changed the ending to his film five times before he settled on its own muddled and unsatisfactory finish. Suffice it to say that suicide, far from being painless, is actually a downer, whether for a musical’s uplifting final moments or for a real-life social movement. Therefore, John Doe’s final self-sacrificing act might make psychological sense for the character, but not for the unity of the crowd after he does it. Act Two contains choice moments, like Connell’s gorgeous reminiscence of his WWI army service with “Lighthouses” or the verbal hits John Doe delivers against Norton’s cadre of privileged, slime-ball cronies. But on the whole, it’s rewrite time once again for this plotline. Time once again for John Doe to re-create himself—let’s hope for his sake, and ours–that that he gets it right.

Rating: ★★½

MJD--Elizabeth Lanza (Ann Mitchell) and Jim Sherman (Connell)

All photos by Johnny Knight

March 11, 2011 | 0 Comments More