“Women of Soul”

“Women of Soul”

Black Ensemble Theatre Cultural Center

4450 N. Clark Street

Chicago, Illinois

Reviewed by Richard Allen Eisenhardt

“Women of Soul” is written by and directed by Daryl D. Brooks and is a tribute to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.  The show is headed by five musicians in the orchestra.  The show is limited in dialog but has a strong cast of nine females whose dazzling costumes come in the hands as well as the wig design by Rueben D. Echoles.

The nine females included are Mahalia Jackson, Whitney Houston, Natalie Cole, Donna Summer, Etta James, Anita Baker, Diana Ross, Janet Jackson and the list goes on, honoring Ms. Franklin and Donna Summer.

There is one male in the show beside the five members in the band who is Dwight Neal.  The songs are mainly sung by the females who sing a total of over twenty-three numbers in costumes that will knock your socks off.

Some of the songs are “Midnight Train to Georgia,” “Hound Dog,” “I have Nothing,” “Tonight is the Night,” “Free,” and “Control.”

Some of the cast are Cynthia F. Carter, Robin DeSilva, Jerica Exum, Colleen Perry, Jessica Seals and the list goes on in this once in a lifetime musical masterpiece.

Opening in previews on February 23rd, the Black Ensemble will pay tribute to one of my favorite stars of the screen, Broadway and nightclubs — “Lena.”  The one and only Lena Horne.

“Women of Soul,” runs through January 27, 2019.  For show days, show times,  and reservations call 773-769-4451 or go online at http://www.blackensemble.org.  Tickets start at $55 and range to $65.  Street parking well as valet parking is available.

-Four Stars-

 

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“Lady in Denmark”

“Lady in Denmark”

Goodman Theatre

170 N. Dearborn Street

Chicago, Illinois

Reviewed by Richard Allen Eisenhardt

       “Lady in Denmark,” is a ninety-minute show by Playwright Dael Orlandersmith.  The show is being staged in the Owen Theatre.  This one-person play stars stage and screen actress Linda Gehringer.

Chay Yew, the artistic head of the Victory Gardens Biograph Theatre on Lincoln Ave., is the director.

The show deals in a reflection on love and adversity in the solo performance of Gehringer, who is playing Helene,  She is a Danish-American woman coping with the death of her husband.  The couple’s favorite singer of haunting beautiful music is Billie Holiday.

The couple traveled to smoky jazz clubs during post-war Copenhagen to their home in Chicago.

“Lady in Denmark,” runs through November 18th.  To check on show days – show times and reservations call 312-443-3800.  Tickets are $15 – $45.  The online address is http://www.goodmantheatee,org/ladyindenmark.  The actress gives a strong performance.

                                                                    -Three Stars-

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“The American Revolution – History in 50 Minutes”

Theatre Unspeakable

at the Greenhouse Theatre

Presents

“The American Revolution –

History in 50 Minutes”

2257 North Lincoln Ave.

Chicago, Illinois

Reviewed by Richard Allen Eisenhardt

       Theatre Unspeakable is not a new company but was born in 2010.  The Theatre Company has created five shows in its eight years.  Other shows were “Superman in 2050,” “Murder on the Midwest Express,” and “Moon Shot.”

“The American Revolution – History in Fifty Minutes,” contains eight performers who are three men and four women.  The men are Devin Sanclemente as King George; Alex Small as John Adams; and Jeffery Owen Freelon, Jr., as George Washington.  The women are Carolyn Moore as Martha Washington; Lexi Desollar as Abigail Adams;  Sonja Lynn Mata as Sam Adams;  and Caroline M. Watson as Governor Dinwiddle.

The seven actors perform on a twenty one foot platform set out to tell the story of George Washington and the American Revolution using only their bodies and voices.  They are very charismatic.  The show is for children as well as adults, dealing with the American War of Independence.

Learn about Bunker Hill, Concord, Lexington, Paul Revere’s Ride and the Boston Tea Party.

“The American Revolution” runs through November 11th.  For show days, show times, and reservations call the Green House box office or visit the website at http://www.greenhousetheater.org/theamericanrevolution-tickets.  Tickets are $20 – $30.

-Three Stars-

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“Master Class”

“Master Class”

Timeline Theatre

at

Theatre 773

Lincoln Avenue

Reviewed by Richard Allen Eisenhardt

       Timeline Theatre is presenting Terrence McNally’s play “Master Class,” at Theatre 773 on Lincoln Avenue.

It is directed by Nick Bowling and the music is directed by Doug Peck.  “Master Class” stars the outstanding actress Janet Ulrich Brooks, who is a company member of Timeline.  If you love opera, this is a ‘Don’t Miss’ production or one to introduce you to it.

Five other performers are featured in a show that runs two hours and fifteen minutes but Janet Ulrich Brooks is the star and should be nominated for a Jeff Award in the role of legendary opera singer Maria Callas.

Raymond Hutchison plays a small role as the stagehand.  Stephen Boyer is Manny the piano player and assistant music director, and is first-rate on the keyboard.  Kiersten Hodgenie is Sharon, who plays the second soprano;  Molly Hernandez is Sophie, who is an excellent soprano; and Eric Anthony Lopez is Tony the Tenor.  They all are on stage and perform but Ms. Brooks is the star and makes you see she carries the evening as she is giving audiences a one-woman performance.

The play was first staged in 1995 about a master class taught by dramatic tenor Maria Callas.  Callas was born in Brooklyn but is of Greek nationality.

The show takes place in a rehearsal hall.  Ms. Callas’ students all perform brief arias but Callas rarely lifts her voice in song.

Callas, in real life, was fiery and temperamental even when she performed with the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  It is a show that one should not miss.

“Master class,” runs through December 9th at Stage 773.  For show days – show times and reservations call 773-327-5252 or visit the website at timelinetheater.com.  Tickets range from $42.50 to $56.50.  It is a show that should be extended.  If you don’t get there on public transportation it is worth valet parking for $12.  There is street and metered parking.

  -Four Stars-

 

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“Gypsy”

“Gypsy”

Porchlight Music Theatre

At the Ruth Page Music Theatre

For the Arts

1016 N. Dearborn Ave.

Chicago, Illinois

Reviewed by Richard Allen Eisenhardt

       “Gypsy,” a musical fable, opens the season for Porchlight Music Theatre at the Ruth Page Music Theatre For the Arts.  The show has a book by Arthur Laurents with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.  The story was suggested by the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee.

Michael Weber is not only the Artistic Director but he has assembled a helluva cast and a large one.

While Mama Rose is grooming Baby June for stardom she drops out and in real life becomes June Havoc, a famous movie star.

E. Faye Butler has the role of Mama Rose and what an actress and strong singer you are in store for!!!

You’ll hear such songs as “May We Entertain You,” “Some People,” “Together Wherever We Go,” and “Rose’s Turn,” but there are others in this production that runs two and a half hours.

The dancing is being staged by Chris Carer.  Others in the cast are Larry Baldacci as Uncle Jacko; Jose Antonio Garcia is Herbie; and Marco Tzunux is Tulsa.  The supporting cast includes Daryn Whitney Harrell, Aalon Smith, Honey West, Melissa Young and Dawn Bless, to name a few.

“Gypsy,” runs through November 25th.  For show days, showtimes and reservations call 773-777-9884.  Tickets are $20 to $66.

                                                                       -Four Stars-

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“Pippin”

“Pippin”

Venus Cabaret at Mercury Theatre

3741 North Southport Ave

Chicago, Illinois

Reviewed by Richard Allen Eisenhardt

       “Pippin,” has opened in the Venus Cabaret Theatre of the Mercury Theatre.

“Pippin,” has musical numbers by Stephen Schwartz with a book by Playwright Roger O. Hirson.  It is a show that opened on Broadway in 1972 but has not been done in Chicago in years.  The show is being directed by L. Walter Stearns, Musical Director is Eugene Dizon and Choreography is in the hands of Brenda Didier.  Her staging of the dances will knock you off your feet as it is fantastic.

The show has a cast of ten and runs two hours and thirty minutes.

Some of the hit musical numbers are “Magic to Do,” “Corner of the Sky,”  “No Time at All,” “War is a Science,”and “Spread a Little Sunshine.”

Donterrio Johnson is great as the leading player, as it Don Forston as Charlemagne, the father of Pippin in the show.  Sawyer Smith is Fastrada.  The one other equity actress is Iris Liberman, as Berthe, Pippin’s grandmother.  Her solo song is “No Time at All,” and she has everyone in the audience singing the chorus.  She is a knockout in the role.

“Pippin,” is portrayed by Koray Tarhan.  He is one of the few in the cast that  is non-equity.  He has so much talent in his performance it won’t be long until he is equity.

The show opens with the leading player of a troupe and his accompanying actors.  They begin the piece about a boy prince who is Pippin.  But see the show — you won’t regret it.

“Pippin,” plays now through December 16th and could be extended,  For show days, show times and reservations call 773-325-1700 or go online at http://www.mercurytheaterchicago.com.  Tickets are $60 – $65.  Beware — the show contains mature content that includes sex and drug use.  It’s best to valet park at this venue.

                                                                       -Four Stars-

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“Witch”

“Witch”

Writers Theatre

Gillian Theatre

325 Tudor Court

Glencoe, Illinois

Reviewed by Richard Allen Eisenhardt

       “Witch,” is having its World Premiere at Writers Theatre.  The playwright is Jen Silverman and it was inspired by the “Witch of Edmonton,” by Rowley, Dekker and Ford.  Marti Lyons has assembled a cast of six first-rate performers.  Included in this group are Steve Haggard as Cuddy Banks;  David Alan Anderson as Sir Arthur Banks;  Audrey Francis as Elizabeth Sawyer; Ari Ishak as Winnifred;  Ryan Hallahan as Scratch and John Hudson Odom as Frank Thorney.  You will find mischief is afoot in the sleepy Village of Edmonton.

The emotionally-conflicted son of the local lord comes into conflict with an ambitious newcomer.

In this ninety-minute show, everyone believes Elizabeth, who is an outcast, is a witch.

“Witch,” runs through December 16th.  For show days, show times and reservations call 847-242-6000 or visit the website at http://www.writerstheate.org.  Tickets are $35 – $80.

                                                                -Three Stars-

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