The Gift’s “Wolf Play” is fun, clever and original, but ooh that ending! (No spoilers here.)

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Review by Karen Topham, American Theatre Critics Association member; photo by Claire Demos. The Gift Theatre’s midwest premiere of Hansol Jung’s Wolf Play, which contains unusual and original characters and a truly inventive plot, is like nothing I have ever seen before. Directed by Jess McLeod, this little gem is full of unexpected moments, strong […]

Steppenwolf revisits its origins in a glorious and gritty “True West”

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Review by Karen Topham, American Theatre Critics Association member; photo by Michael Brosilow. What is the “true west”? Is it deserts and prairies and stories about unassailable heroes and black-hatted villains? Is it California, with Hollywood’s fantasy machine? Or is it to be found in the pleasant suburban homes that now have sprung up seemingly […]

First Folio’s outdoor “Henry V” soars with a brilliant genderblind cast

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Review by Karen Topham, American Theatre Critics Association member; photo by Tom McGrath. A pop-up thunderstorm soaked the areas just south of Oakbrook’s Mayslake Peabody Estate an hour before showtime Saturday night for the premiere of First Folio’s Henry V, but it did nothing to deter the band of players and audience members on hand […]

It’s easy to recommend “The Recommendation, another winningly immersive play from Windy City Playhouse

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Review by Karen Topham, American Theatre Critics Association member; photo by Michael Brosilow. Windy City Playhouse has, in the past couple of years, made a name for itself as the Chicago home of immersive theatre. With its highly successful Southern Comfort (still playing at its new South Loop location) and its wonderfully immersive version of […]

Enjoyable “Music Man” delivers everything but true love

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Review by Karen Topham, American Theatre Critics Association member; photo by Liz Lauren. More than Oklahoma, I have always felt that Meredith Willson’s The Music Man is the quintessential American musical. This bright, energetic, and silly romantic comedy about a slick-talking traveling salesman/con man and the Iowa town he seeks to bamboozle contains so many […]

Darling Grenadine is an inventive show that needs time to develop

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Review by Karen Topham, American Theatre Critics Association member; photo by Liz Lauren. Some musicals are meant as whimsical fun, like the thoroughly enjoyable Head Over Heels now playing at Theater Wit. Some are timeless romantic comedies, like the Goodman’s new production of The Music Man. Some, though, seek not only to entertain but to […]

“Head Over Heels” is a jubilantly queer summer musical

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Review by Karen Topham, American Theatre Critics Association member; photo by Michael Brosilow. It isn’t often that a small Chicago theatre company is able to produce the midwest premiere of a Broadway show only six months after it closed in New York, but Kokandy Productions—Johnny-on-the-spot when rights were released—is doing just that with Head Over […]

Less is more as small Redtwist Theatre offers huge King Lear

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Review by Beverly Friend, PhD, American Theater Critics Association member Is it possible to successfully mount a blockbuster, larger-than-life Shakespearean tragedy in a tiny store-front theater: The answer is “yes,” when undertaken by the talented Redtwist Theater cast under the keen direction of Steve Scott. Nineteen actors performed King Lear in the intimate space between […]