Chicago Theatre Review

Monthly Archives: December 2017

I Gotta Crow

December 24, 2017 Comments Off on I Gotta Crow

Peter Pan – Music Theatre Works


Many children will be looking up into the sky over the holidays, searching for a highflying sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer. But there’s another extraordinary

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You’ve Got a Friend

December 22, 2017 Comments Off on You’ve Got a Friend

BLKS – Steppenwolf Theatre 


Following an evening of sexual playtime with her “partner,” Ry, Octavia suddenly, unexpectedly

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A Renaissance Man of Entertainment

December 19, 2017 Comments Off on A Renaissance Man of Entertainment

Sammy: A Tribute to Sammy Davis Jr – Black Ensemble theatre


Jackie Taylor’s closes her 2017 Season of Dance with this celebration of the extraordinary American entertainer known as Mister Show Business. Written and

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Change Was in the Air

December 13, 2017 Comments Off on Change Was in the Air

Red Velvet – Chicago Shakespeare Theatre 


Lolita Chakrabarti’s fascinating biographic drama, which premiered in London in 2012 to much

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The Grandaddy of Them All!

December 11, 2017 Comments Off on The Grandaddy of Them All!

A Christmas Carol – Goodman Theatre


Goodman Artistic Associate Henry Wishcamper enjoys his return as the director of Tom Creamer’s excellent stage adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas

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Another Shipload of Love Sets Sail

December 10, 2017 Comments Off on Another Shipload of Love Sets Sail

The Christmas Schooner – Mercury Theatre


Even if you’ve sailed on the Molly Doone before, and certainly this joyous, heartwarming show is as much of a holiday tradition as The Nutcracker or A Christmas

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Dark, Disturbing Territory

December 10, 2017 Comments Off on Dark, Disturbing Territory

Little Red Cyrano – Red Theatre Chicago


Red is the name of the Theater, in the title of their latest production and part of their mission statement. This theatre company strives, in various ways, to “invoke

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Hubbard Street continues tradition of excellence with Crystal Pite program

December 10, 2017 Comments Off on Hubbard Street continues tradition of excellence with Crystal Pite program

Hubbard Street Dance


Hubbard Street Dance Chicago has carved out a unique niche as one of the most daring and thrilling dance companies in the Second City, and it continued that standard of excellence and adventure with a new December program committed to the works of Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite.

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Happy Days are Here Again

December 8, 2017 Comments Off on Happy Days are Here Again

Beautiful—the Carol King Musical


Returning to Chicago for a second visit, this time for eight weeks of pure theatrical joy, this ebullient biopic musical draws audiences into its captivating music and plot and never lets go until the final bow. Telling the story of the early years and celebrating the brilliant career of singer/songwriting legend, Carole King, Douglas McGrath’s libretto traces the ups and downs experienced by this humble, gifted artist. From a precocious 16-year-old, who skipped two grades in high school to study music education at local Queens College, to her first published and recorded hit song (“It Might as Well Rain Until September”), we see a talented girl grow from a sharp kid into a wise young woman.

Through a whirlwind romance with her first love and longtime collaborator, lyricist Gerry Goffin, to their early marriage and the arrival of their first daughter, Carole develops her talent and learns the necessary tricks for surviving in the music business. She also eventually comes to realize that she’s been denying the obvious, all along. Gerry is soon revealed to be manic depressive and his violent, unexpected mood swings, along with a wandering eye for the ladies, lead to a rocky married life.

Along the way Carole dates Neil Sedaka, develops a close business relationship with rock music publisher Don Kirshner, becomes good friends with fellow songwriters Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, and composes hit songs for the Shirelles, the Drifters, Janelle Woods, Little Eva and The Righteous Brothers, among many others. Although she works tirelessly to make her marriage work, Carole finally comes to realize that her tumultuous relationship with Gerry has turned toxic. In order to find her own voice, she finally leaves him and begins a new life with her two daughters in California. It’s there that Ms. King develops her own, true sound, while writing and recording the songs for her first album, Tapestry. The musical closes as it began, with Carole King, performing solo at the piano, joyfully playing and singing her own “Beautiful” music in concert, at Carnegie Hall.

This 2nd National Tour, starring Chicago/New York musical theatre actress, Sarah Bockel, is a polished, highly energetic, toe-tapping version of the popular, 2014 Broadway hit musical that earned three Tony Award and six Drama Desk nominations. It deservedly won both Tony and Drama Desk Awards for another Chicago actress, Jesse Mueller, as Best Leading Actress in a Musical. The show then went on to tour the country, and there’s rumors a film version is in the works.

Chocked full of hits from the 60’s and early 70’s, the score features such popular songs as “So Far Away,” “Take Good Care of My Baby,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “Up on the Roof,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” “One Fine Day,” “Chains,” “On Broadway,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” “Uptown,” “You’ve Got a Friend,” “(You Make Me Feel) A Natural Woman,” “Some Kind of Wonderful” and many others. It’s no wonder the cast album won the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album.

This production is every bit as beautifully acted, sung and danced as the original Broadway hit. Ms. Bockel, who was a featured ensemble member in the first National Tour, is terrific in the leading role, capturing Ms. King’s subtle nuances, both in her singing and her dialogue. Her scenes with charismatic, handsome actor/singer Andrew Brewer, as Gerry Goffin, are both romantic and dramatic. Sarah Goeke, whose voice is smooth and accomplished, makes a delightfully droll Cynthia Weil; and Jacob Heimer is very funny as hypochondriac composer, and Cynthia’s love interest, Barry Mann. James Clow is fatherly and caring as Don Kirshner and Suzanne Grodner, returning in the role, brings well-timed humor to Genie Klein, Carole’s meddling mother.

The entire ensemble sparkles and glitters vocally and dramatically, especially in Alejo Vietti’s magnificent costumes and Charles G. LaPointe’s stylish wigs and hair designs. Th gorgeously textured scenic design by Derek McLane offers a colorful all-purpose, ever-shifting background for this production. The show’s lit by Peter Kaczorowski, with pop concert pizzazz. Director Marc Bruni once again keeps the musical in motion, while taking those necessary moments for the audience to get to know and really understand these characters; and Josh Prince keeps everyone moving with his elaborate, 60’s style choreography.

This is one joyous and magical musical, from start to finish. No one will leave the theatre wishing for more because this talented company leaves it all there on the stage. Unlike some other plays, this production is truly “Broadway in Chicago,” featuring the very best actor/singer/dancers, gifting the audience with gorgeous, much-loved songs and creating a well-deserved tribute to one of America’s finest musical artists. This highly recommended musical will remind audiences that “Happy Days are Here Again!”

Highly Recommended

Reviewed by Colin Douglas


Presented December 5-January 28 by Broadway in Chicago at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph, Chicago.

Tickets are available at all BIC box offices, at all Ticketmaster retail locations, by calling the Broadway in Chicago Ticket Line at 800-775-2000 or by going to

Additional information about this and other area productions can be found at

The Amazing A Cappella and Beatboxing Show

December 6, 2017 Comments Off on The Amazing A Cappella and Beatboxing Show

Gobsmacked – Broadway in Chicago


There’s a new show in Chicago and it’s only in town for a few precious performances. Go see it. Don’t wait. You won’t be disappointed. This isn’t a traditional book

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