Tracy Letts’s world premiere THE MINUTES, now making its debut at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, unfolds in an unsuspecting manner. Both because the play has a smart structure that shifts over the course of the 100-minute runtime and also because the content left me contemplative for days after seeing it. Here Letts uses the framework of a small town’s council meeting as a microcosm of a larger discussion on the current political climate (though this play is not overtly about Trump’s presidency) and the desire to cling to certain ideologies in the name of order and group preservation, though those long-held beliefs may not be true. To borrow from Stephen Colbert, Letts has written a play that compellingly examines the appeal of “truthiness” in this contentious political environment.
Month: November 2017
In just over two hours, the Chicago premiere production of Joshua Harmon’s SIGNIFICANT OTHER made me laugh so hard I almost couldn’t breathe and then proceeded to have me very close to tears at the end. Harmon’s alternately hilarious and heartbreaking gem of a play acutely articulates the plight of protagonist Jordan Berman. Jordan is a single Jewish gay man in his late 20s, living in New York City and watching as his three best female friends find love and marriage. On the page, Harmon so beautifully expresses the nuances of shifting friendships and the fear of being left behind by those one holds dear, and he also nails so completely the complex neuroses that come with dating, loneliness, and being lost in one’s own head. Director Keira Fromm and an outstanding local cast bring Harmon’s expertly crafted words to life, finding both maximum amounts of humor and gut-wrenching emotion in the piece.
Washed up wannabe rockstar Dewey Finn and his ragtag band of lovable prep school students have arrived in Chicago for a rocking good time. SCHOOL OF ROCK is a faithful and fun-loving adaptation of the 2003 film that starred Jack Black as a “lovable loser” who poses as a substitute teacher and turns his timid class into a band of talented, self-assured rockers. With a score by musical theater icon Andrew Lloyd Weber, lyrics by Glenn Slater, and a book by Julian Fellowes, SCHOOL OF ROCK captures the frenetic energy and most of the tongue-in-cheek sass that characterized the original film.
Under the direction of frequent company collaborator Brenda Didier, BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL electrifies the mainstage at the Ruth Page Performing Arts Center, Porchlight’s new home. Based on the eponymous film about an adolescent boy from a working class British mining town who aspires to be a ballet dancer, this production finds the deep emotional core in its story about community and acceptance. With music by Elton John and book and lyrics by Lee Hall, this BILLY ELLIOT bursts with heart and passion.