“The Rembrandt”

                                                       “The Rembrandt”
Steppenwolf Theatre
1650 N. Halsted Street
Chicago, Illinois
Reviewed by Richard Allen Eisenhardt
The Rembrandt” is a play by Jessica Dickey. The show is being directed by Halle Gordon.
The show features two fantastic actors. John Mahoney and Francis Guinan make up for any flaws in the story.
Guinan plays Henry, who is a security guard in one of New York’s major museums.
Others in the play include Ty Olwin as Dodger, who is a new security guard; and Karen Rodriguez who plays Madeline, an artist.
John Mahoney has the role of Simon. As the story goes, Simon is struggling with the up and coming death of his partner. Another character is Gabriel Ruiz as Jonny, who is a security guard and who pulls a gun on the three characters.
I won’t reveal what happens. See it for yourself!
“The Rembrandt” runs through November 5th. For show days – show times and reservations call 312-335-1650 or visit http://www.steppenwolf.org. Tickets are $20 to $104.
-Two and a Half Stars-

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“Quixote: On the Conquest of Self”

                                           “Quixote: On the Conquest of Self”
                                                           Writers Theatre
                                                       The Gillian Theatre
                                                          325 Tudor Court
                                                          Glencoe, Illinois
                                    Reviewed by Richard Allen Eisenhardt
Wonderman Michael Halberstam, with Writers Studio in Glencoe, has given Chicago theatre audiences many first-rate productions over the years.
“Quixote” is a ninety-minute show by playwright Monica Hoth and Claudio Valdes Kuri that has an English translation by Georgina Escobar and is being directed by Claudio Valdes Kuri.
The theatre gets a tour de force performance by actor, director Henry Godinez, who is an artistic associate at the Goodman Theatre. You will find the production an engaging and creative interpretation of the classic novel by Miguel de Cervantes and you’ll be transported between time periods: from the fascinating universes created by Cervantes to the parallel of our current world.
Don Quixote is a dreamer and brings audiences triumphs and defeats, reawakening forgotten desires and celebrating the joys of great literature.
The show offers audiences some great humor and poignancy. For the most part it is a one-person performance but he takes several unknown audience members on stage much to their surprise. One who will surprise you is Emma Ladji.
The costume and the acrobatics that Godinez gives you show what a gift he gives audiences in his search for the “impossible dream.”
It is definitely a show one show see. Don’t miss it!
“Quixote: On the Conquest of Self” runs through December 17th. For show days, show times and reservations call 847-242-6000. Tickets range from $35 to $80. Call the box office about parking. There is no parking lot but there is plenty of parking available.
                                                                    -Four Stars-

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“Choir Boy”

                                                                     “Choir Boy”
                                                                  Raven Theatre
                                                        6157 North Clark Street
                                                                 Chicago, Illinois
                                      Reviewed by Richard Allen Eisenhardt
Michael Menendian is directing a cast of seven excellent actors in the play by Academy Award winner Tarell Alvin McCraney.
The show runs a fast ninety minutes and features Patrick Agada, Robert D. Hardaway, Tamarus Harvey, Christopher W. Jones, Julian Terrell Otis, Darren Patin and Don Tieri.
The story concerns a gay teenage boy in an all African American prep school.
All the music you hear by the five boys is sung a capella (with no musical accompaniment). The music is sweet harmonies of several classic spirituals.
While it is a drama it does have its share of humor.
Christopher W. Jones plays Pharus and he is the key player of “Choir Boys”.
Patrick Agada is Marrow, the headmaster of the school. Pharus is reprimanded by the headmaster for having spoiled his performance when he paused to glare at a heckler. Pharus refuses to name the person who taunted him, breaking the school’s honor code.
You have to see it to find out how it all turns out.
“Choir Boy” runs through November 12th. For show days, show times, reservations call 773-338-2177. Tickets are $46 and $43 if purchased online. http://www.raventheatre.com. There is free parking adjacent to the theatre but get there early as it is limited.
                                                                -Four Stars-

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“Duke Ellington’s Greatest Hits”

                                        “Duke Ellington’s Greatest Hits”
                     Music Theatre Works Formerly Light Opera Works
                                                                     at
                                               Nicholas Concert Hall
                                                1490 Chicago Avenue
                                                   Evanston, Illinois
                          Reviewed by Richard Allen Eisenhardt
“Duke Ellington’s Greatest Hits,” is opening at Music Theatre Works in their smaller venue.
It opened on October 6th and closes on October 15th. The show is a concert performance being directed by Rudy Hogenmiller. The Music Director is Joey Zymonas with bass by Christian Dillingham and drums by Phillip Fornett.
Matinees are at 2 pm and evening performances are at 8 pm.
Tickets can be purchased at 847-920-5360 or by contacting Theatre Works at http://www.musictheaterworks.com.
The show features such songs of Ellington as “Satin Doll,” “Mood Indigo,” “Sophisticated Lady,” “Take the ‘A’ Train,” as well as many others.
The show has an outstanding cast of seven performers who are Justin Adair, Dawn Bless, Jar’Davion Brown, Caitlyn Glennon, Amanda Horvath, Evan Tyrone Martin and Martin L. Woods.
Tickets start at $34. For information, reservations, parking and handicap accessibility, contact them at 847-920-5360.
                                                          -Four Stars-

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“Fun Home”

                                                                “Fun Home”
                                                   Victory Gardens Theatre
                                                             at the Biograph
                                                        2433 N. Lincoln Ave.
                                                           Chicago, Illinois
                                  Reviewed by Richard Allen Eisenhardt

Victory Gardens opened its 43rd season with the musical “Fun Home,” that has music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by Lisa Kron. Gary Griffin is directing the show of ten actors. The show is adapted from a graphic novel of a memoir.
Bruce, played by Rob Lindley, teaches in a high school and restores old houses. He also runs a funeral home in Pennsylvania. His wife, Helen, is played by McKinley Carter, the father of three who picks up young men.
“Fun Home” runs one hour and forty minutes.
Alison, played by Danni Smith, is a graphic artist who uses her work to draw her past into perspective.
The show has twenty seven musical numbers. Some you’ll hear the cast sing are “Come to the Fun Home,” “Changing My Major,” “It All Comes Back,” “This is What I Have of You,” “Flying Away” and “Days and Days.” Each one tells the story.
Ms. Smith, as Alison, is dynamite as she was in “Cabaret,” a few months ago. All the principals are standouts but Ms. Smith proves she is a budding star.
It is a coming-of-age story about a lesbian and her repressed gay father, who teaches literature and runs the family Funeral Home on the side.
“Fun Home,” runs through November 12th. For show times, show dates and reservations call 773-871-3000 or http://www.victorygardens.org. Tickets are $15 – $75.

                                                                -Four Stars-

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“The Legend of Georgia McBride”

                                                “The Legend of Georgia McBride”
                                                            Northlight Theatre
                                                              9501 Skokie Blvd
                                                               Skokie, Illinois
                                        Reviewed by Richard Allen Eisenhardt
If your interest is in a wild funny comedy then Matthew Lopez’ play “The Legend of Georgia McBride” is your cup of tea.
It is wild and crazy and runs one hour and forty five minutes with no intermission. Lauren Strouse, the director, has assembled a first-rate cast of five.
Nate Santana plays Casey, a struggling actor who is an Elvis impersonator performing in Cleo’s at the Florida Panhandle. Casey’s wife, Jo, played by Leslie Ann Sheppard, is mad at him for bouncing the rent check for a pizza.
Matthew Lopez is the playwright for “Georgia McBride” and his material should have you in stitches.
You”ll find the drag performances are lively and the costumes are gorgeous. Sean Blake is Miss Tracy Mills; Keith Kupferer is Eddie and Jeff Kurysz is Rexy and Jason.
Casey’s wife. Jo, is expecting a baby and the drag show takes over the bar where he performs. He realizes he need to wear high heels and perform in drag to keep his job.
The show is heartwarming and music-filled and Casey becomes a star.
“The Legend of Georgia McBride” runs through October 22nd. For show days, show times and reservations call 847-673-6300. Tickets are $30 to $81. There is loads of free parking.
                                                         -Three and a Half Stars-

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“A New Brain”

                                                            “A New Brain”
                                            Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
                                                       at the No Exit Cafe
                                                 6970 N. Glenwood Ave.
                                                        Chicago, Illinois
                             Reviewed by Richard Allen Eisenhardt
“A New Brain,” is opening at the No Exit Cafe for the Ubique Cabaret Theatre and director Fred Anzevino, the theatre’s co-founder, is in charge.
He has a strong cast of twelve actors who can sing and dance in this opera. There is a small book by William Finn and James Lapine with music by William Finn.
Jeremy Ramey, who is one of Chicago’s top musical directors, has four other musicians in his orchestra. While he leads them, as a pianist he is tops!
Some in the cast are Chase Heinemann as Gordon Schwinn; Colin Schreier as Roger Dell-Bover; Liz Norton as Mimi Schwinn; Holly Atwood as waitress Nancy D.; Tyler Franklin as Rhoda; Danny Dewayne Wells II as minister. The list goes on!
The show is two hours with an intermission and has thirty-three songs.
A few of the songs are “Frogs Have So Much Spring Within Them,” “Mother’s Gonna Make Things Fine,” “Time and Music,” and “I Feel So Much Spring.”
The musical was inspired by a real-life crisis that composer-lyricist William Finn experienced in 1992. He began feeling dizzy and was diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation in his brain stem. You’ll find the surgery he had was successful but risky.
“A New Brain” runs through October 29th but may be extended. For show days – show times and reservations call 800-595-4849. Tickets are $29 and $34. Dinner is optional for an additional $25. If you get there early there is plenty of street parking. Otherwise when you call they can advise you.
Next on their agenda is “Altar Boyz,” “Finnian’s Rainbow,” and closing out the season will be a revue called “Last Call.” After this season they will have a new home in Evanston.
                                                      -Three and a Half Stars-

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