NO MATTER HOW HARD WE TRY is staged exactly where it should be. Wedged behind a tiny door at the end of a dark alleyway, Trap Door Theatre’s space perfectly suits this absurd portrait of drab and depressing life in Poland after World War II. Joanna Iwanicka’s set, a single dull, monochromatic room flanked by electric blue refuse (think Sin City, but five feet away from you) spills ever so slightly into the audience. You’re simultaneously in the room and observing it. A tiny, glowing TV screen sitting downstage center faces the stage, muddling the notion of who is watching whom.
The Broadway in Chicago presentation of the musical revue DISENCHANTED! offers a 90-minute spoof of the classic fairy tale princesses, as made famous to most audiences by Walt Disney. With music, lyrics, and book by Dennis T. Giacino and direction by Christopher Bond, DISENCHANTED! provides some fun. That said, the satire stays surface-level—it’s more of a gentle poking than a true skewering of the gender stereotypes deeply embedded within Disney’s tales. DISENCHANTED! presents itself as a pro-feminist musical comedy, but despite some clever moments, the material doesn’t quite reach the level of sophisticated satire.
Men with big dreams, women fighting for visibility and love at the same time, while ignorance and bigotry divide people; though this sounds like the ingredients to contemporary mayhem, its roots are found in a play set in the 1960s.
The relationship between America and China is complicated, and in a political season where China’s economic power is a constant talking point, Timeline’s production of CHIMERICA seems as timely as it is mentally exhausting.
The national tour of CHICAGO that arrived at Broadway In Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre Tuesday night has glimmers of the shine and glitz at the heart of this musical about Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly’s ruthless journey towards fame and notoriety—timely themes that have allowed the current Broadway revival to play on for two decades.
Wonder and amazement through secrecy, surprise, and trickery are difficult to pull off these days. We may not know how a magic trick works, but we comprehend enough about how magicians dupe us not to be surprised by another version of sawing a lady in half or the cups and balls.
As a woman, telling your emotional story in a male dominated society is hard. This story is even harder to tell when you are a woman working in the US Army in Vietnam, and there are people dying all around you.
American Blues Theater’s triumphant LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS will have Chicago audiences clamoring to head downtown to Skid Row. This intimately staged production has a full sound (with music director Austin Cook leading a four-piece band, you can feel the vibrations of the bass in the floor) and provides an all-encompassing, fully entertaining spectacle.