Hamilton on TV might not be live theatre but it is perfect for right now

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Review by Karen Topham, ChicagoOnstage, member American Theatre Critics Association. I’m going to answer the biggest question right off the bat. For those who may not have already heard, the filmed version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton is in fact utterly captivating. Directed by the Broadway stage director Thomas Kail, it manages to capture all of […]

“Methtacular” on video takes us on one addict’s harrowing…and humorous…journey

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Review by Karen Topham, ChicagoOnstage, member American Theatre Critics Association. Note: This show, originally slated to be performed live at Theater Wit, is available online instead due to coronavirus. For a discussion of theatres responding to coronavirus restrictions, click here. 16th Street Theatre was about to open Methtacular, a revival of a one-man show by […]

A novel idea: Watch the clever and enjoyable “Teenage Dick” at home

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Review by Karen Topham, ChicagoOnstage, member American Theatre Critics Association; photos by Charles Osgood. Note: This show, originally slated to be performed live at Theater Wit, is available online instead due to coronavirus.  I was planning to review Theater Wit’s new production of Mike Lew’s Teenage Dick long before the coronavirus changed the world, forcing […]

Her Honor Jane Byrne, a fascinating play about Chicago politics and racism, falls victim to Coronavirus

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Review by Karen Topham, ChicagoOnstage, member American Theatre Critics Association; photos by Liz Lauren. Note: This play has been canceled due to the coronavirus; however, the cast and crew worked hard and deserve to be reviewed anyway. I voted for Jane Byrne in 1979, when she successfully ran to replace the utterly ineffectual Michael Bilandic […]

Real life, with all of its ups and downs, laughter and pain, is the subject of “Middletown” at the Apollo Theatre

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Review by Karen Topham, ChicagoOnstage, member American Theatre Critics Association; photo by Edison Graff for GFour Productions. Like A.R. Gurney’s classic Love Letters, Dan Clancy’s Middletown, now playing at the Apollo Theatre, is designed not to be performed with a full set, props, and costumes but on a bare stage with actors reading from scripts. […]

Promethean’s tightened “Mrs’ Warren’s Profession” remains true to Shaw

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Review by Karen Topham, ChicagoOnstage, member American Theatre Critics Association, photo by Tom McGrath, TCMcG Photography. In all these years, I have never before seen a production of George Bernard Shaw’s Mrs. Warren’s Profession (just another of my many failings as a theatre critic). I knew, of course, what the titular “profession” is, but that’s […]

“Here Lies Henry” is a playfully philosophical puzzle wrapped in an enigmatic character and structure

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Review by Karen Topham, ChicagoOnstage, member American Theatre Critics Association, photo by Emily Schwartz. In an era in which the very nature of truth is being questioned on an almost daily basis, Interrobang Theatre’s revival of the 1995 one-man play Here Lies Henry, featuring a character who is a self-proclaimed liar, feels completely appropriate. I […]

“Lipstick Lobotomy” at Trap Door is both funny and painful as it takes us into a mental institution in 1940 with Rosemary Kennedy

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Review by Karen Topham, ChicagoOnstage, member American Theatre Critics Association, photo by Trap Door Theatre. Throughout the mid-to-late 20th Century, the Kennedys were easily the most famous family on this side of the Atlantic. Sometimes perceived as America’s “royal family,” they tapped into the country’s imagination with JFK’s rise to the Presidency in 1960 and […]

TUTA’s “Hedda Gabler” with live music drowns in a sea of High Concept

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Review by Karen Topham, ChicagoOnstage, member American Theatre Critics Association, photo by Austin D. Oie . There is always something to be said for a theatre company trying something new or making an effort to freshen an older play with some unique concept. Sometimes the result is something sparkling and truly original. Broadway’s recent spate […]

Writers Theatre’s “Stick Fly” explores the secrets of an upper-middle-class Black family

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Review by Karen Topham, ChicagoOnstage, member American Theatre Critics Association, photo by Michael Brosilow. Lydia Diamond’s 2006 play Stick Fly is a beautifully written, complicated study of the intersection of family dynamics, racism, sexual politics, class differences, academia, and fathers (both absent and not), among other things. With all that going on, perhaps “complicated” is […]