The Undeniable Sound of Right Now is a nostalgic look back at the end of the rock era

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Review by Karen Topham, American Theatre Critics Association member; photo by Mike Brosilow. It’s 1992 and, in Chicago, Hank’s Bar—an amalgam of every small rock club ever to exist in the city—is about to celebrate its 25th year as a venue where some of rock’s biggest names (think Nirvana, Stevie Nicks, the Clash, etc.) have […]

Miracle on South Division Street is a very funny play about a family at a crossroad in its history

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Review by Karen Topham, American Theatre Critics Association member; photo by Rex Howard Photography. Every family has its legends and its secrets, part of the public or hidden lore of generations struggling to adapt and survive. Sometimes these are held tight in the memory of only a few family members; sometimes they are well-known. In […]

The powerful Too Heavy For Your Pocket is about freedom, but it’s also about family

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Review by Karen Topham, American Theatre Critics Association member; photo by Lara Goetsch. Jalen Gilbert stands before the audience at the beginning of Timeline Theatre’s production of Jiréh Breon Holder’s Too Heavy For Your Pocket just enjoying the air. Taking deep breaths and allowing its freshness to permeate every cell in his body, Gilbert stands […]

Joffrey’s “Across the Pond” Showcases Precision, Passion, and a Message

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Review by Joe DeRosa; photo by Cheryl Mann The choreography may have come from “Across the Pond,” but the night was pure Chicago. The late April freezing-rain-thunder-snow somehow blew in from the north, south, east, and west, slickening roads and snarling traffic. Still, it proved no deterrent. The Auditorium Theatre was packed for the Saturday […]

Stellar cast and inventive direction make CST’s “Hamlet” one for the ages.

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Review by Karen Topham, American Theatre Critics Association member; photo by Liz Lauren. It’s generally acknowledged that there is no greater play in the English language than Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and most of us have seen multiple productions of the play both on the stage and in the movies. There have been numerous well-regarded productions in […]

“I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard” tries for real emotion but settles for bluster

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Review by Karen Topham, American Theatre Critics Association member; photo by WHO IS SHE. The idea of the child becoming the parent is a well-worn trope of theatre. One need look no further than Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, name-checked in Halley Feiffer’s I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard, now playing at the […]

Exuberant cast makes for an entertaining “Two Days in Court”

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Review by Karen Topham, American Theatre Critics Association member; photo by Steve Graue. Two Days in Court, City Lit Theater’s final production of the 2018-2019 season, consists of two classic short pieces about trials: “The Devil and Daniel Webster” by Stephen Vincent Benet and “Trial By Jury,” a very silly operetta from Gilbert and Sullivan. […]

“A Chorus Line” is an ebullient celebration of the love of dance

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Review by Karen Topham, American Theatre Critics Association member; photo by Michael Courier. Recipe for success putting on A Chorus Line: stellar, buoyant cast of great dancers; great costumes; strong musicians; revolving mirror panels on the upstage wall; a Cassie capable of delivering a super dance sequence; a Paul capable of making us cry; a […]