Maybe the first question you should ask is: What is with this “dramagirl” thing? You’re not exactly a spring chicken, Honey. And you’d be right about that. Actually, *dramagirl” is one of the first noms de web I came up with, maybe a quarter century ago or more, before there even *was* a web. When I decided to make a theatre blog, I jokingly resurrected it, expecting to abandon it; then it sort of grew on me. I put “Chicago” in it for two reasons: first because we’re all about this region, and second…well, to be honest, there is someone (probably much younger than I) who already had claimed plain old “dramagirl.”
I originally toyed with the notion of being a pseudonymous critic but decided that was silly. Besides, knowing who we are will help readers to relate more to our reviews and opinions. And that’s not the royal “we”: I’ve invited others to join me. One person isn’t going to make much dent in the vast Chicago theatre world. So here we are, ChicagoOnStage.com, ready to do what we can to add to your enjoyment of theatre. I hope you like what we bring you.
Karen Topham aka chicagodramagirl
Karen Topham aka chicagodramagirl
Owner/Critic; Member American Theatre Critics Association
I have a long history with Chicago, having graduated from Northwestern in 1978 with a BA in English (with some theatre thrown in for fun) and a year later again with a Masters in Teaching. I also have a Masters in Directing from Roosevelt, and I taught high school English, Creative Writing, and Drama around here for almost four decades. During that time, I spent 23 years coaching forensics and directed 37 plays: I’ve been breathing the stage for a long, long time. I've also written four novels that silly agents don't think are worth publishing and I am a member of the American Theatre Critics Association. Oh, and I was the first transgender teacher to transition in place in America, which was a hoot. No wonder I needed to retire. Now I wish to immerse myself in the footlights in one way or another, and that passion, together with my experience as both a director and an English teacher, led me to start this site. When not watching plays (or spending hours driving to the city to do so), I hang out with my husband or my cats, or I talk to my grown children. Or I read or write; yeah, there’s still that...
Kelly Romack MacBlane
Theatre has always been a part of Kelly’s life but it became a passion after she saw her first professional musical, Les Miserables, while in 6th grade. Kelly has a degree from Northwestern University where she double majored in Theater and History and a Master’s of Education from DePaul. Currently she is a theatre and history teacher at Lake Forest High School where she has directed over 15 plays and musicals including last year’s production of Urinetown for which she and her co-director were nominated for a directing award from the Illinois High School Musical Theater Awards. When Kelly is not teaching or directing, she is watching and playing baseball with her husband and 3, 6, and 9-year-old sons.
Lauren Van Hemert
Lauren Van Hemert is a graduate of Indiana University-Bloomington, where she majored in Journalism with a minor in Theater. Prior to graduation, Van Hemert hosted her own weekly talk show on Public Radio WDNA Miami and worked as a production intern for As The World Turns. A native of Miami, Florida, Van Hemert’s love of theater started at an early age during a New York trip when her father took her to see the revival of Oklahoma, The Music Man starring Dick Van Dyke, and Peter Pan, starring Sandy Duncan. She currently lives in Cary, North Carolina with her husband and two children. In addition to being a freelance writer, Lauren is a Regional Contributing Editor to Broadway World. Facebook/Twitter/Instagram @onlylaurenart.
Critic; Member American Theatre Critics Association
A graduate of the University of Wisconsin with a BS in English (1956) and Northwestern University with a PHD (1976), I have been reviewing plays for the past 20 plus years for Pioneer Press, the Lerner Newspapers and Chicagocritic.com, and am a member of the American Theater Critics Association. I am a retired professor of English and Journalism at Oakton Community College. My 1975 doctoral dissertation was "The Science Fiction Fan Cult," and I was both a book reviewer and science fiction critic for the Chicago Daily News. Sixty-five years after the shock of being told "There are no girls in the marching band" at the University of Wisconsin, I have returned to my love of drumming as a percussionist with the North Shore New Horizons band.
Boston Area Critic, American Theatre Critics Association member
Kitty Drexel is a Massachusetts artist living with Brachial Plexus Palsy, a paralysis affecting her left arm. The Orangina, thin skinned bigot currently occupying the White House enables behaviors that dismantle free-thinking investments in the arts and humanities. Please go to https://www.arts.gov for ways to support the Arts. Mrs. Drexel reigns as Queen at the New England Theatre Geek.
FL critic; American Theatre Critics Association member
Aaron Krause is a native South Floridian who has reviewed live theater for about 15 years. He is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and maintains a reviewing blog at www.theatricalmusings.com. He also is editor of a new website, www.theatrecriticism.com, founded by ATCA member Alan Smason. In addition, Aaron reviews for www.berkshirefinearts.com as a Florida correspondent. He is a freelance writer living near Ft. Lauderdale.
Joe De Rosa
Joe De Rosa is a part-time writer, full-time teacher, and all-time dad. In his spare moments, he enjoys reading, running, writing theater reviews, thinking about going on vacation, and baseball. You can follow him on twitter @joe_derosa_.
Bradley Laas is currently pursuing his B.A. in one form or another of the liberal arts at DePaul University. His most recent majors include Theater, Religion, Philosophy, and Political Science. The only thing consistent in his life is his love for theater. He is beyond thankful his dear friend Karen Topham reached out with this opportunity.
Jason Phoebe Rusch has an MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan. His stories, poems and essays have appeared in The Rumpus, Lambda Literary Poetry Spotlight and Vice, among others. More of his writing can be found at www.jasonphoeberusch.com.
And now for a MUSIC(AL) VIDEO
A quick note: I don’t own or have anything to do with this. I just enjoyed it and wanted to share. It is the winning video from this week’s Musical Video of the Week Challenge on our Facebook page. To vote in our new contest and determine which video make the home page, go here.