Articles in Theater + Stage
Review: Mention Shakespeare’s “Henry VIII” and you get that quizzical look. The play’s rarely done today. The assumption is it’s lesser stuff. Its authorship is ascribed only partly to Shakespeare. But “Henry VIII,” as it is now being done at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, with some roles combined and compressed, makes a good case not only for the play, but also for substantial Shakespearean authorship. Henry’s a fast learner; Katherine’s splendidly regal; Wolsey’s an outrageous villain and Shakespeare’s poetry is amazing no matter which character he serves.★★★★
Review: Eugene Morris Jerome, age 15, has two things on his mind: baseball and girls. He knows baseball. This summer – it’s 1937 in Brooklyn – Eugene is seriously committed to learning everything about his latest subject of interest. This is the famously irresistible setup of Neil Simon’s quasi-autobiographical comedy “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” a heart-warming delight in its current staging at Raven Theatre. ★★★★
Review: If the title “Ganesh Versus the Third Reich” provokes more than the usual curiosity about fresh dramatic fare, the play itself — presented by the ensemble that created it, Australia’s Back to Back Theatre – leaves one hardly less perplexed upon emerging from the experience. “Ganesh” displays a singular aspect of beauty, even sweetness, until it takes a bitter turn and dissipates as if into a vacuum, into nothingness. ★★★
Interview: To watch Eva Barr play out the progressive, early-onset dementia of the woman at the center of “Still Alice” at Lookingglass Theatre is to forget you’re looking at the subtle, skillful work of an actor. Yet hardly less remarkable is the way Barr arrived at the role: She began, in first readings with playwright-director Christine Mary Dunford, by taking a different part, an alternate Alice – a separate character Dunford identifies simply as Herself.
Review: In her play “Still Alice,” author and director Christine Mary Dunford employs a graphic metaphor to illustrate the disintegrating world of Alice, a victim of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Throughout the play, now in its world premiere run at Lookingglass Theatre, Alice’s kitchen appliances disappear one by one, until nothing remains – until the locus, the defining “here,” of this woman’s life is no longer there. ★★★★
Interview: The central character Larry, an English teacher, in David West Read’s “The Dream of the Burning Boy,” is a smart, inspiring mentor to the kids around him. But when they need him as consoling father-figure, after one of their classmate’s dies, Larry can’t engage their pain or embrace them emotionally. For Darrell W. Cox, who delivers a wrenching portrait of the teacher at Profiles Theatre, such a closed-off, deeply complicated soul is the touchstone of great drama.
Preview: Rachel York, slyly sinful Reno Sweeney in the Roundabout Theatre production of Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes” headed for Chicago, sees herself in the proud line of those indomitable dames of 1930s Hollywood.
Preview: Norbert Leo Butz plays Edward Bloom, a Herculean story-spinner who supersizes his own legend in the musical “Big Fish.” We caught up with Butz at the Oriental Theatre, where the two-time Tony winner is trying this fabulist father-son story on for size. Butz talks about his role in the Broadway-bound musical, now in Chicago previews. We sneak a listen, too.
Interview: The interpretive quest that led Chaon Cross to her fierce, blazing portrayal of Catherine, the brilliant but unmoored young woman in David Auburn’s “Proof” at Court Theatre, began in rehearsals with a lot of running around, getting under furniture and throwing things.
Preview: There’s a connection you can’t miss between actor Stephen Anthony, recently graduated from Florida State University, and the con artist Frank Abagnale, Jr., whom he plays in the national touring production of “Catch Me If You Can” that opens April 3 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. They both bounce around the country, never staying long in one place, pretending to be somebody they aren’t and oozing charm all the way.