Category Archives: History

Little Theatre of Norfolk’s NOISES OFF: A Joyous Celebration of Theater

Throughout history audiences have enjoyed stories about putting on plays or making movies. The highlight of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is always the rude mechanicals’ presentation of “the most lamentable comedy and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisbe.” (The more lamentable, the better. Audiences especially love badly done attempts to make theater and […]

ShawChicago’s HEARTBREAK HOUSE: Shaw’s Black Comedy

The Great War and its prelude flabbergasted Bernard Shaw more than any other event in his life. In addition, the end of his relationship with Stella Campbell left him as close to heartbroken emotionally as he ever would be. The sobbing, humiliated, protesting, exposed, and unprepossessing character of Heartbreak House’s Boss Mangan reflects Shaw’s emotional […]

Lyric Opera’s Eugene Onegin: Tatiana’s Triumph

Like Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Pytor Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin is not eponymous. The play is named, not, as Dostoyevsky famously argued, for the play’s main character, but rather for the character who sets the main character in action. The main character in Tchaikovsky’s opera is, instead, the country girl, Tatiana Larina. And Tatiana might owe her […]

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 […]

Artistic Home’s BY THE BOG OF CATS . . . : Harrowing Irish Drama

Move over Lucia, Dido, and Norma! There’s a new operatic heroine in town. Marina Carr’s Hester Swane may not be a Scottish lady, or a Carthaginian princess, or a Druid priestess, but this down-and-out Irish tinker suffers more passionate abandonment by loved ones in her brief stage lifetime than all three opera divas suffer together […]

CST’s Love’s Labor’s Lost: A Charming Delight

Harold Bloom, Yale’s Sterling Professor of the Humanities, has a particular desire to see Shakespeare’s Love’s Labor’s Lost: I have never seen a production of this extravagant comedy that could begin to perform to its vocal magnificence, but I always live in hope that some director of genius will yet deliver it to us. Marti […]

Lyric Opera: Chicago’s Third Great NORMA

As late as 1920, American musicologists considered Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma “an improbably old-fashioned, almost hurdy-gurdy work.” But thanks to Chicago sopranos, that opera has become a standard of the American operatic canon. Written when Bellini (1801-1835) was just thirty years old, Norma had played in Chicago since the mid-nineteenth century by various visiting opera companies. […]

My 10 Favorites of 2016, In No Particular Order

KING CHARLES III – Chicago Shakespeare THE AMISH PROJECT – Interrobang WONDERFUL TOWN – Goodman THE MERCHANT OF VENICE – Shakespeare’s Globe at Chicago Shakespeare THE SEAGULL – The Artistic Home COMPANY – Writers’ Theatre A LOSS OF ROSES – Raven Theatre PYGMALION – Remy Bumppo THE TROJANS – Lyric Opera THE MAGIC FLUTE – […]

The Irish Theatre of Chicago’s THE WEIR: “A strange [but wonderful] little evening”

When I lived on a five-acre farm in Maine, I found myself strangely fascinated with the behavior of male birds. It seemed that whenever a female swallow appeared the male swallows engaged in all sorts of madcap aerial displays, loop-d-loops, dives, deal falls, etc. On the other hand, when a female cowbird appeared, the male […]