The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley take us below stairs for another joyful visit to the world of Jane Austen

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Review by Karen Topham, ChicagoOnstage, member American Theatre Critics Association. Photo by Liz Lauren. Slipping back into the world of Jane Austen for a brand new experience is as easy as meeting an old friend at a new cafe: you feel at once completely familiar and a bit excited for new discoveries. And with Northlight […]

Eclipse's latest Durang play suffers from a weak script and lack of comic nuance

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Review by Karen Topham, ChicagoOnstage, member American Theatre Critics Association. Photo by Scott Dray. Here is the thing about Christopher Durang plays: when done well, they can be very, very funny; it’s critical, though, to mine them for every ounce of humor you can find. When things start to fall flat, Durang’s trademark sense of […]

Court's Oedipus Rex is anchored by a brilliant performance by Kevin Roston, Jr.

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Review by Karen Topham, ChicagoOnstage, member American Theatre Critics Association. Photo by Michael Brosilow. It’s likely that pretty much everyone going to see Court Theatre’s new production of Oedipus Rex already knows at least the basics of the tale of the unfortunate King fated by Apollo to kill his own father and marry his mother. […]

Victory Gardens’ The First Deep Breath takes on all sorts of social issues en route to being one of the year’s best plays

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Review by Karen Topham, ChicagoOnstage, member American Theatre Critics Association. Photo by Liz Lauren. If Lee Edward Colston II’s The First Deep Breath is not at or near the top of every Chicago theatre critic’s end of the year top shows list, well, they are simply wrong. This is an utterly remarkable show in every […]

“Always…Patsy Cline” showcases the singer’s songbook in a beautiful and personal musical

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Review by Karen Topham, ChicagoOnstage, member American Theatre Critics Association. Photo by Michael Brosilow. The first thing you notice upon walking into the Bookspan Theatre at the Den is that the versatile space has been turned into a quite realistic honky tonk bar (thanks to scenic designer Lauren Nichols). There is country music playing while […]

Drury Lane’s “Mary Poppins” is a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious good time

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Review by Karen Topham, ChicagoOnstage, member American Theatre Critics Association. Photo by Brett Beiner. For countless Americans, including me, Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins was the first movie and first musical that could be called their favorite. (I made my mother take me to see it four times on its theatrical run in an era in […]

The Steadfast Tin Soldier at Lookingglass–An Enchanting Holiday Play Like Nothing You’ve Ever Seen Before

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Review by Joe De Rosa; photo by Liz Lauren. “Most of the people who will walk after me will be children, so make the beat keep time with short steps.” –Hans Christian Andersen You enter the Lookingglass to the tick-tock of a grandfather clock. As you get settled in your seat, you look around the […]

The music is the thing in Steppenwolf’s Lindiwe

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Review by Karen Topham, ChicagoOnstage, member American Theatre Critics Association. Photo by Michael Brosilow. Ever since they burst onto the US music scene on Paul Simon’s “Graceland” album, Ladysmith Black Mambazo has been known for its trademark harmonies and gorgeous, understated musicality. In Chicago, the group has also become something of a staple at Steppenwolf […]

Sexually open Queen of Sock Pairing is about one woman’s desire for control in her life

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Review by Karen Topham, ChicagoOnstage, member American Theatre Critics Association. Photo by Austin D. Oie. Considering that, at one point near the climax of Red Tape Theatre’s Queen of Sock Pairing, an overflowing toilet in an upstairs bathroom dumps globs of oozing brown waste onto the stage, it’s a good thing that Sophie Weisskoff’s play […]

“Packing” takes us through the last 50 years of gay history in a devastating one-man show

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Review by Karen Topham, ChicagoOnstage, member American Theatre Critics Association. Photo by Cody Jolly Photography. From the opening image of amber waves of grain projected onto its floor, Scott Bradley’s solo show Packing is pretty much a gay Americana play. During this 90-minute monologue, we watch through the eyes of a frequently broken and lost […]