Category Archives: Art

The Goodman Theatre: Uncle Vanya , Our Contemporary

Todd Rosenthal’s sublime setting which greeted the audience entering the Owen theater alerted us to what was to come. Among the period pieces of furniture sat a 1950s-style blond wood arm chair and a chrome dinette chair. A 1920s-radio rested upon the piano and a goose-neck electric light roosted nearby. Then came the note by […]

Lyric Opera’s CARMEN: Ashford and Calleja Make History

“Bullfighting is the only art form that both represents something and is that thing at the same time: the matador’s elegant immobility in the face of the bull not only represents man’s defiance of death, it is a man defying death, and there are women who do it too.”[i] In Rob Ashcroft’s magnificent new telling of Bizet’s Carmen, the […]

LYRIC OPERA’S MAGIC FLUTE: A Metatheatrical Spectacular

Reviewing an 1879 production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, the anonymous Chicago Tribune critic noted, “it would be absurd to try to explain the plot…. All sorts of explanations have been attempted but, if anyone ever really knew what it meant, he died before he said anything about it. It is a hodge-podge, nonsense, and […]

Lyric Opera’s THE TROJANS: The “Most Profoundly Moving Experience”

“For grandeur of conception, nobility of tone, and imaginative range [Berlioz’ The Trojans] has scarcely a rival in operatic history.”[i] The words of the great musicologist Winton Dean would seem impossible to fulfill in production. But, after seeing the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s brilliant production of The Trojans, Mr. Dean may have been understating the […]

Interrobang’s THE AMISH PROJECT: An Icon of Forgiveness

In his famous Law of the Drama, the French critic Ferdinand Brunitiere (1849-1906) insists on the primacy of  “conflict” in dramatic literature: “Drama is a representation of the will of man in conflict with the mysterious powers or natural forces which limit and belittle us; it is one of us thrown living upon the stage […]

Lyric Opera’s Lucia di Lammermoor: Superlative Voices Reign Supreme

+ You can hear it in films – not just in The Great Caruso (1951), but also in The Departed (2006), Man on the Moon (1999), two Mickey Rooney  movies, Captain January (1936),Little Women (1933), Scarface (1932) , with the Marx Brothers in Animal Crackers (1930), and even in the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie (1979). […]

Remy Bumppo’s Pirandello’s HENRY IV: A Modern Masterpiece Given Life

Though considered a major modern playwright, the plays of Luigi Pirandello are rarely produced. The reasons are numerous. First, the large casts require large budgets. Second, the plays’ philosophical facades are difficult to crack. And third, directors struggle to find a production style which makes the plays both clear and exciting to an audience. Consequently, […]

The Goodman Theatre’s Wonderful Town: A Wonderful Show

Occasionally a production arrives with such startling imagination, and with performances overflowing with such zest and talent, that a viewer is at a loss for words. The production I am referring to is Mary Zimmerman’s Wonderful Town at the Goodman Theatre. The 1950s musical is based on the post-World War II play My Sister Eileen […]

Chicago Opera and CITIZEN KANE

“Samuel Insull built the Civic Opera Building for his mistress, an opera singer.” “Samuel Insull built the Civic Opera Building for his mistress, Mary Garden, an opera singer.” These two similar tales are told daily by Chicago River tour guides. And these two tales are totally false. The only truth in the tales is that […]

COMPANY at WRITERS THEATRE: Musical Theatre at Its Best

When God said, “It is not good for man to be alone,” He provided the stimulus for Stephen Sondheim’s landmark musical Company. God made the human being as a social animal. Without human interaction, newborns shrivel, and the elderly wither. Meanwhile, those in between seek to avoid the deadliness of being alone. Psychologist John Cacioppo […]