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Renowned actors ranging from Joel Grey to Eddie Redmayne have put their stamp on the role of the Emcee in “Cabaret,” and I'm ready to add Porchlight Music Theatre's Josh Walker to that list. Standing 4 feet 6 inches tall with a grin that's halfway to a sneer, Walker has a Broadway-quality vo…

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The Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival promises to be one of January's biggest theatrical events (see next week's preview), but it is far from the only show in town this month. Theaters large and small are eagerly returning to live performances ranging from one-night stands to wee…

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The world premiere of  Vichet Chum's “Bald Sisters” at Steppenwolf Ensemble Theater packs in enough trauma for at least three plays. Directed by Jesca Prudencio at a nice clip, the 100-or-so minutes ping-pong between dryly funny comedy and gut-wrenching tragedy, finding the humor and heartac…

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Building on its success adapting Jane Austen novels, Northlight Theatre has carved out a unique holiday niche with a trio of original sequels to “Pride and Prejudice.” Written by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon and co-commissioned with theaters in Minnesota and California, the trilogy of …

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TimeLine Theatre's talent for staging plays from the past that speak to the present continues with “Trouble in Mind,” Alice Childress' insightful 1955 backstage drama about racism and sexism on Broadway.

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When South African playwright Athol Fugard created “The Island” with actors John Kani and Winston Ntshona in 1973, the process was truly collaborative “devised theater” made without a script and based on real-life events. 

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When  “Rent” premiered Off-Broadway in 1996, the raw rock opera about a group of starving artists and other misfits struggling to get by in Lower Manhattan's East Village was ground-breaking, its caché enhanced by the sudden death — at age 35 — of its creator Jonathan Larson on the eve of th…

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The Gift Theatre's world premiere of Jennifer Rumberger's “The Locusts” at Theater Wit starts off like the kind of police procedural that's commonplace on television and ends up as an unsatisfactory head-scratcher with a message about facing our fears. 

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We typically think of a swing state, also called a “battleground state,” as key to the outcome of elections because Republican and Democratic candidates have similar chances of prevailing, but playwright Rebecca Gilman has more on her mind than politics in the world premiere of “Swing State”…

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Mike Lew's “Tiger Style!” at Writers Theatre in Glencoe doesn't know whether to be a frenetic farce or a sharp satire. Directed by Brian Balcom and refined by the playwright since its premiere in 2015, the play often is very funny, but some of the acting goes way over the top, turning what c…

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I'm a sucker for plays that use food as a metaphor for life, so the Chicago premiere of Lynn Nottage's “Clyde's” at Goodman Theatre had me at the first scene: At a road-side truck stop outside Reading, PA, Montrellous tries to tempt his boss – the owner of the eponymous eatery– Clyde, with a…

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Highland Park native Lindsay Joelle's “The Garbologists” follows a tried-and-true formula for buddy comedies. Two people who are polar opposites are thrown together by circumstance and find a way to work out their differences. They even discover they have more in common than they thought.

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Saturday night was unusual at Lyric Opera of Chicago. After opening its 68th season with Verdi’s “Ernani” eight days earlier, Lyric swerved sharply away from opera, introducing as its second production of the season the popular musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” 

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If you think a black comedy that premiered on Broadway in 1941 isn't likely to appeal to audiences eight decades years later, think again. Court Theatre's production of Joseph Kesselring's “Arsenic and Old Lace” is as fresh and funny as if it were written yesterday and, on opening night earl…

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Few forms of entertainment are more delicious than a well-crafted murder mystery, and “Miss Holmes Returns,” Lifeline Theatre's sequel to its 2016 “Miss Holmes,” fits the bill quite well. 

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A remarkable number of world premieres are on tap this fall. Some are eagerly anticipated productions with high-profile teams behind them. Others are storefront projects, often written by members of the company. All of them are worth singling out for the amount of effort and energy they requ…

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I wouldn't normally recommend a trip to Aurora to see a show, but the intimate production of “Fun Home” at Paramount's new Copley Theatre makes beautiful sense of the 2015 Tony Award-winning chamber musical by Jeanine Tesori (music) and Lisa Kron (book and lyrics), which is based on Alison B…

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If you think of “fake news” and “alternative facts” as recent phenomena, the world premiere of ensemble member Will Allan's “Campaigns, Inc” at TimeLine Theatre Company in Lakeview will set you straight.

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The pre-Broadway world premiere of “The Devil Wears Prada, the Musical” at the James M. Nederlander Theatre isn't anywhere near runway-ready. Like a dress poorly pieced together from a pattern and sewn by unsteady hands, it needs to be ripped apart and remade to showcase its assets and minim…

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In 2021, when Definition Theatre inaugurated Amplify, its new play commissioning program, theaters were still deep in pandemic-induced lockdowns. Adapting to this new reality, excerpts from the program’s eight plays were filmed and presented online, along with pre-recorded Zoom introductions…

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The main reason to see “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” at Mercury Theater Chicago, 3745 N. Southport Ave., is to relish more than two-dozen period pop hits cleverly repurposed to fit the 2006 musical's slim plot. The second reason is the outlandish costumes, but more on those later.

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TimeLine Theatre Company continues to illuminate the present by exploring the past with the Chicago premiere of “The Chinese Lady,” Lloyd Suh's compelling play about Afong Moy, purportedly the first Chinese woman to set foot in the United States. 

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In a press kit insert for “Seagull,” translator-adapter-director Yasen Peyankov explains that his version of Anton Chekhov's 1895 play “is rooted in contemporary English as spoken in the U.S.” He goes on to say he “wanted to give American audiences an opportunity to experience the play as th…

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Actress and author Zoe Kazan's “After The Blast” is a domestic drama set in a dystopian future. Its Chicago premiere at Broken Nose Theatre, directed by JD Caudill, is engrossing despite how long it takes to set up the situation, some unnecessary digressions and limited resources.

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Photography and memory are at the center of Naomi Iizuka's “At the Vanishing Point,” which was written nearly two decades ago and is receiving a solid, moving Chicago premiere by Gift Theatre. 

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The title “All's Well That Ends Well” suggests that the end justifies the means, but that's not entirely the case in Chicago Shakespeare Theater's uneven production of the Bard's “problem” comedy directed by Shana Cooper. 

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Longing, love, loss and loneliness merge in “Intimate Apparel,” two-time Pulitzer Prize for Drama winner (for “Ruined” and “Sweat”) Lynn Nottage's lovely 2003 drama about a talented Black seamstress making a life for herself in Lower Manhattan in 1905. 

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When Tyla Abercrumbie's “Relentless” opened TimeLine Theatre Company's 25th anniversary season earlier this year, I called it the best new play I'd seen in a long time. Apparently a lot of people felt the same way, and now the family drama set in 1919 has moved to the Goodman Owen Theatre fo…

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“What to Send Up When It Goes Down,” which made its debut in Chicago last month, is a production with several distinct components. While it includes a scripted play, audience participation is also a significant part of the show — the aim is to explore police violence against Black people and…

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Sean Hayes' stunning performance makes “Good Night, Oscar” a “must see,” but there are plenty of reasons not to miss the world premiere of Doug Wright's extraordinary play at the Goodman Theatre before it almost undoubtedly heads to Broadway.