Month: May 2022

Review: AIN’T TOO PROUD: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE TEMPTATIONS Presented by Broadway in Chicago

Review: AIN’T TOO PROUD: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE TEMPTATIONS Presented by Broadway in Chicago

AIN’T TOO PROUD: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE TEMPTATIONS lives up to its title—the jukebox musical proudly displays a wide array of songs from The Temptations’s iconic catalog. The show, now in its first national tour following the Broadway production, follows a similar structure like predecessors JERSEY BOYS and BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL. It uses The Temptations’s songs to tell the story of the band, and of course, focuses primarily on the Classic Five: Otis Williams, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks, Melvin Franklin, and David Ruffin from their early days in Detroit all the way to musical stardom. 

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Review: THE CHINESE LADY at TimeLine Theatre Company

Review: THE CHINESE LADY at TimeLine Theatre Company

Directed by Helen Young, TimeLine Theatre Company’s Chicago premiere of Lloyd Suh’s THE CHINESE LADY is a poignant and well-crafted play centered on Afong Moy, who was supposedly the first Chinese woman to come to America. Although historical record does not have much definitive information about Afong Moy (we even know that was not her real name), Suh uses the play’s well-structured 90 minutes to imagine what she might have said to audiences had she been given the chance. For at least 15 years from 1834 to 1850, Afong Moy was treated like an exhibit in a museum; Nathaniel and Francis Carnes brought her to the United States to showcase her in front of American audiences. Thus, Afong Moy was taken away from her family and stripped of agency. While Suh’s script cleverly allows Afong Moy to take back some of that agency, the play also demonstrates that in reality this young woman didn’t have much of a voice or control over her situation at all. 

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Review: LOOKINGGLASS ALICE at Lookingglass Theatre Company

Review: LOOKINGGLASS ALICE at Lookingglass Theatre Company

Lookingglass Theatre Company’s signature LOOKINGGLASS ALICE has returned to Water Tower Water Works—and it’s just as whimsical and delightful as I remember it when I first saw the production back in high school. Director David Catlin’s charming and inventive adaptation combines storytelling elements from Lewis Carroll’s ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND and THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS. The production’s partnership with The Actors Gymnasium has also cemented Lookingglass Theatre Company’s unique combination of literary adaptation and impressive aerial artistry. LOOKINGGLASS ALICE not only calls for a talented company of actors but also places considerable physical demands upon its ensemble. 

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Review: SEAGULL at Steppenwolf Theatre Company

Review: SEAGULL at Steppenwolf Theatre Company

Yasen Peyankov’s adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s SEAGULL proves a wry vehicle to showcase the talents of many of his fellow Steppenwolf ensemble members who haven’t graced the stage since before the COVID-19 pandemic. Peyankov’s adaptation is direct, self-aware, and rife with dry (extremely dry) humor. The ennui that pierces SEAGULL is deeply and obviously felt throughout this adaptation of the text. References to Chekhov’s native Russia abound in Peyankov’s script, but the language feels modern and direct. 

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Review: ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Review: ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

In the Shakespearean canon, ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL defies categorization; it doesn’t neatly fit alongside Shakespeare’s comedies, tragedies, or history plays. Instead, it’s historically been referred to as a “problem” play. Director Shana Cooper’s current production at Chicago Shakespeare Theater mirrors the liminal nature of the material. Cooper’s direction lacks cohesion, incorporating a variety of different elements into the production. The time period for Cooper’s ALL’S WELL isn’t even specifically defined— a note in the program says it’s “Bohemian-Edwardian.” It might well be that Cooper’s intent was to mirror the transitional identity of the play and its characters in the staging, but the pieces don’t all add up. 

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