Top Story »

‘American Clock’ at Redtwist: There are songs but the key is bitter irony in this Depression tale

‘American Clock’ at Redtwist: There are songs but the key is bitter irony in this Depression tale

April 25, 2015 – 11:37 am | No Comment | 86 views

Review: Arthur Miller’s plays consistently center on the vicissitudes of ordinary folks, with economic plight as a common theme. What might this avowed life-long liberal, who died in 2005, have written about America today? Actually, a plausible answer is before us, in Redtwist Theatre’s gritty, chilling production of Miller’s “The American Clock,” a cautionary retelling of the saga of the Great Depression. ★★★★

Read the full story »
Latest Reviews + News
Classical + Opera
Theater + Stage
New + Introducing
Digital + Disc

Theater + Stage »

New York Aisle: ‘An American in Paris’ bounds to B’way stage with balletic flair. S’Marvelous

April 23, 2015 – 3:37 pm | No Comment | 276 views

Christopher Wheeldon's choreography for 'An American in Paris' ranges from soft-shoe to kick-line to classical ballet. (Angela Sterling)“An American in Paris,” music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin, book by Craig Lucas, with additional Gershwin music. At the Palace Theatre in New York City. ★★★★

By Susan Elliott

NEW YORK – There’s a new triple threat on Broadway. He can sing, he dances extraordinarily, and his acting isn’t bad either. Robert Fairchild, a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, is currently making his Broadway debut in “An American in Paris,” the stage version of the 1951 movie musical that starred Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. With a constant twinkle in his eye and a sense of bonhomie that just won’t quit, Fairchild inhabits the role of Jerry Mulligan, the American GI who decides to stay on in Paris as it recovers from the war to pursue his dream of becoming a professional artist. And what better to sketch than the Eiffel Tower?  Read the full story »

CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL: Five Brunello snapshots from Poggio Antico

April 23, 2015 – 8:45 am | No Comment | 111 views
CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL: Five Brunello snapshots from Poggio Antico

Tasting Report: With a group of friends, I recently ventured through five vintages of Brunello di Montalcino from Poggio Antico, an excellent producer of this patrician wine from central Tuscany. The results were intriguing. Younger wines sometimes proved more readily drinkable than older ones, and comparative qualities changed – radically in some instances — as the wines aerated after pouring.

CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL: To sip, to explore, perchance slowly to collect

April 23, 2015 – 8:30 am | No Comment | 124 views
CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL:  To sip, to explore, perchance slowly to collect

Mulling Wine: For many years, and by now many years ago, I wrote for various national publications about consumer electronics – sound systems, televisions. The advent of larger-screen televisions came to mind as I was pondering a column on venturing into – and inevitably collecting – wine.

‘Martyr’ at Steep: Shrinking from sex, fearful youth finds a hideout, if not shelter, in Bible

April 18, 2015 – 12:08 am | No Comment | 263 views
‘Martyr’ at Steep: Shrinking from sex, fearful youth finds a hideout, if not shelter, in Bible

Review: When we first encounter Benjamin Südel, he is a moody teen in the middle of his violent spring awakening. Awkward and obsessed with himself, he is almost paralyzed with bewilderment – no, terror – as he is thrust into his school’s hormonal stew. He may or may not be the title character of Marius von Mayenburg’s play, “Martyr,” now enjoying nervous laughter in its fine U.S. premiere at Steep Theatre. ★★★★

‘The Herd’ at Steppenwolf: It’s Dad at the door, but it could be the wolf – he’s so not welcome

April 17, 2015 – 11:28 am | No Comment | 187 views
‘The Herd’ at Steppenwolf: It’s Dad at the door, but it could be the wolf – he’s so not welcome

Review: Ah, family values. Mom, Dad, the kids. The dysfunction, the divorce, the alienation, the animosity. All the things that make a house a home are piled into “The Herd,” a smashing first play by Rory Kinnear now fuming through its U.S. premiere at Steppenwolf Theatre. No need to equivocate. It is simply not to be missed. ★★★★★

Role Playing: Hollis Resnik felt personal bond with zealous, skeptical scholar in ‘Good Book’

April 16, 2015 – 4:26 pm | No Comment | 324 views
Role Playing: Hollis Resnik felt personal bond  with zealous, skeptical scholar in ‘Good Book’

Interview: As a veteran actress, Hollis Resnik feels a deep connection with Miriam, the biblical scholar she plays in “The Good Book” at Court Theatre. That commonality, says Resnik, is passion.

Bernard Haitink, venerable master of Mahler, reveled in wonders of Seventh Symphony with CSO

April 16, 2015 – 10:54 am | No Comment | 277 views
Bernard Haitink, venerable master of Mahler,  reveled in wonders of Seventh Symphony with CSO

Review: Not only with respect to age is Bernard Haitink, at 86, the eminence grise among Mahler conductors today. His association with Mahler’s symphonies is as close and authoritative as it is long. That profound perspective was again evident on April 9 when Haitink led a poetic excursion through the Seventh Symphony with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

‘Carousel’ at Lyric Opera: While the stars shine, the charm is restrained on this merry-go-round

April 13, 2015 – 2:45 pm | No Comment | 686 views
‘Carousel’ at Lyric Opera: While the stars shine, the charm is restrained on this merry-go-round

Review: The opening of this “Carousel” has everything going for it as the new Rob Ashford production lays out in the plainest way possible what a high-stakes risk your average small town takes when the traveling circus rolls in. Handsome carney barker Billy Bigelow – every father’s nightmare – and scantily clad carnival owner Mrs. Mullin step out from her trailer together for a mutual smoke, and in those first raw minutes the best aspects of this effort are on display. ★★★

CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL: Cristom captures Willamette’s Pinot mystique

April 13, 2015 – 2:39 pm | No Comment | 304 views
CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL:  Cristom captures Willamette’s Pinot mystique

Tasting Report: In the comparatively brief time since Oregon’s Willamette Valley was established as an American Viticultural Area (AVA), in 1984, the region has won a reputation, especially for its Pinot Noir, that borders on legendary. Over the last couple of days, I’ve been savoring a wine from Cristom Vineyards that illustrates in classic terms the basis of the mystique of northwestern Oregon.

Role Playing: A.C. Smith is ready undertaker, lord of diner world in ‘Two Trains Running’

April 9, 2015 – 10:04 pm | No Comment | 331 views
Role Playing: A.C. Smith is ready undertaker, lord of diner world in ‘Two Trains Running’

Interview: A.C. Smith, a big-framed actor formidably attired in black as a wealthy undertaker, is ensconced Buddha-like at the corner table of a diner in the Goodman Theatre production of August Wilson’s “Two Trains Running.” Simply learning how to sit there, and figuring out what to do with his unnaturally gloved hands, says Smith, was a daunting new wrinkle even for a savvy veteran of Wilson’s plays.

‘Balm in Gilead’ at Griffin: In one desolate corner of society, hope has a fresh face and short life

April 8, 2015 – 4:19 pm | No Comment | 252 views
‘Balm in Gilead’ at Griffin: In one desolate corner  of society, hope has a fresh face and short life

Review: The vibe might be described as frenetic inertia. At this 1960s New York City café, the locale of Lanford Wilson’s play “Balm in Gilead,” drug pushers and drug users, prostitutes and assorted other low-lifes and lost souls convene, or perhaps the word is collide, in an ever-simmering froth of collective despair. It’s a youthful scene, yet emptiness and delusion form a vista of concentrated sadness, and it is etched deeply into Griffin Theatre’s production. ★★★★

CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL: If it smells like a wet pooch, dump that puppy

April 8, 2015 – 7:50 am | No Comment | 232 views
CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL:  If it smells like a wet pooch, dump that puppy

Mulling Wine: When you put your nose into a glass of wine and get an “off” smell, something more suggestive of a wet dog than fruit, chances are you’re holding a corked wine. If you think that first whiff is bad, just wait 20 minutes. It only gets worse. Before elaborating on what “corked” is, let’s get straight what it is not. It is not bits of cork floating around in your glass.

CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL: Two delicious Merlots defy curse of ‘that film’

April 5, 2015 – 10:23 pm | No Comment | 259 views
CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL:  Two delicious Merlots defy curse of ‘that film’

Tasting Report: Can there be any wine enthusiast for whom mere mention of the word Merlot does not invoke the 2004 buddy movie “Sideways” — and the maniacal aversion to the stuff spouted by one of those guysi? In fact, many a pleasurable glass of Merlot continues to flow from California producers in the heartland of Napa and Sonoma. Two charming expressions of this maligned grape are the subjects at hand — Clos du Val’s Napa Valley Merlot and Ferrari-Carano’s Sonoma County Merlot, both from the 2011 vintage.

‘The Good Book’ at Court: Rethinking the Bible as the work of men, and struggling to see light

April 2, 2015 – 11:58 pm | No Comment | 411 views
‘The Good Book’ at Court: Rethinking the Bible as the work of men, and struggling to see light

Review: It ain’t necessarily so, says Miriam with scholarly conviction and a defiant flourish of the Good Book. The Bible, she says flatly, is not the word of God. How it might have been pieced together and how its powerful text touches the lives of two contemporary souls – this scholar and a devout teenage boy struggling with his sexual awakening – is the stuff of “The Good Book,” a brilliantly funny and provocative new play by Denis O’Hare and Lisa Peterson now in its world premiere run at Court Theatre. ★★★★★

CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL: Fire up the grill, and savor these Zin zingers

April 2, 2015 – 10:32 pm | No Comment | 545 views
CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL:  Fire up the grill, and savor these Zin zingers

Tasting Report: The California producers of red Zinfandel are many and scattered, and their styles are wide ranging, as exemplified by two in hand from the 2012 vintage: Cline Family Cellars’ Contra Costa County Big Break Vineyard Zinfandel and Seghesio Family Vineyards’ Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel.

Role Playing: Lia D. Mortensen’s intense portrait of a mentally failing scientist holds mirror to life

March 29, 2015 – 9:41 pm | No Comment | 574 views
Role Playing: Lia D. Mortensen’s intense portrait  of a mentally failing scientist holds mirror to life

Interview: A very hard personal experience helped actress Lia D. Mortensen get into the skin of the brilliant scientist she portrays in Sharr White’s play “The Other Place” at Profiles Theatre. She had watched her father, Dale T. Mortensen, winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize in economic sciences, suffer the mentally eroding effects of brain cancer, which took his life.

Conductor Edo de Waart, in a hero’s return, guides CSO to the classical heart of Brahms

March 29, 2015 – 9:40 pm | No Comment | 382 views
Conductor Edo de Waart, in a hero’s return,  guides CSO to the classical heart of Brahms

Review: It was a little more than two years ago, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra gearing up for a major Asia tour, that Dutch conductor Edo de Waart stepped in for ailing music director Riccardo Muti to lead a ringing performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (“Eroica”). He subbed again last season for Vladimir Jurowski. On March 26 and 28 he was back on the CSO podium for scheduled concerts featuring Brahms’ Symphony No. 3. The result was a finely wrought performance that showcased the orchestra at its patrician best.

CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL: Want to make those glasses shine? Try soap

March 29, 2015 – 9:39 pm | No Comment | 256 views
CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL:  Want to make those glasses shine? Try soap

Mulling Wine: There’s something about wine and its enjoyment that elicits a good deal of nonsense, silly notions and wacky practices. The idea that dish soap should never touch a wine glass ranks high on that list. The only way I know to make a glass glisten is to wash it, by hand and with the same liquid detergent I use on my prized kitchen cutlery and fragile table ware.

CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL: From a Burgundian sweet spot, bargain white

March 29, 2015 – 9:38 pm | No Comment | 324 views
CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL:  From a Burgundian sweet spot, bargain white

Tasting Report: The Chardonnay produced in the principal appellations of Burgundy has long laid legitimate claim to being, collectively, the finest white wine in the world. But as those celebrated whites have become expensive, now would be a perfect time to consider the white wines from Burgundy’s deep south – from the appellation of Pouilly-Fuissé. The 2013 vintage from Louis Jadot typifies one of the world’s best wine values.

Chen leads Chicago Sinfonietta, vocal forces through exuberant, sensual ‘Carmina Burana’

March 24, 2015 – 9:56 pm | No Comment | 821 views
Chen leads Chicago Sinfonietta, vocal forces  through exuberant, sensual ‘Carmina Burana’

Review: The singular community spirit of Chicago Sinfonietta was on proud display March 23 at Orchestra Hall in a stylish, disciplined and roundly entertaining performance of Orff’s “Carmina Burana” conducted by the organization’s music director, Mei-Ann Chen. Featured with Chen’s chamber-size ensemble were two Chicago choruses, both prepared to a fare-thee-well: the choir of Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts and the Anima Young Singers of Greater Chicago.

CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL: Beau-Séjour Bécot, royalty of the Right Bank

March 24, 2015 – 9:24 pm | No Comment | 281 views
CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL:  Beau-Séjour Bécot, royalty of the Right Bank

Tasting Report: At any tasting of the great wines of Bordeaux, the stars don’t merely come out – they shower. So it was at a recent sipping of a small but widely representative sampler that produced one heady delight after another. The megastar of this assortment was the seductively opulent Château Beau-Séjour Bécot 2009 from St.-Emilion on Bordeaux’s Right (or east) Bank.