Category Archives: Mini-Review

RICHMOND BALLET’S NUTCRACKER: MAKING TRADITION EXCITING

The publicity for the Richmond Ballet’s Nutcracker quotes the New York Times: “one of the country’s most perfect”. I haven’t seen enough Nutcrackers to weigh in with any comparison, but I can safely say that Stoner Winslett and Charles Caldwell’s version accomplishes the seemingly impossible. Their Nutcracker looks very traditional, while simultaneously being thrillingly imaginative. […]

VIRGINIA SYMPHONY: THE BEST OF WAGNER’S RING

The Virginia Symphony presented THE BEST OF WAGNER’S RING CYCLE, conducted by JoAnn Falletta, narrated by bass-baritone Jake Gardner. ” Entry of the Gods into Valhalla” from Das Rheingold, “Ride of the Valkyries” and “Wotan’s farewell & Magic Fire Music” from Die Walkure, “Forest Murmurs’ from Siegfried, and “Siegfried’s Rhine Journey” and “Siegfried’s Death and […]

Gran Teatre del Liceu: A Stark Rigoletto

The Rigoletto at Barcelona’s elegant Gran Teatre del Liceu reminded me again that Verdi can be considered the Shakespeare of opera. Not only did he compose a Macbeth, Othello, and Falstaff, but his great fondness for King Lear was spread among several operas. The king driven mad by his evil daughter centers Nabucco, while Rigoletto […]

Kenneth Branaugh and Rob Ashford’s THE WINTER’S TALE arrives

The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare, the first offering of Kenneth Branaugh’s Plays at the Garrick, arrived on American movie screens last evening. After an interminable unedited film of the Garrick audience doing nothing but sitting, the production began, the American audience not as well-disposed as it had been forty minutes earlier when the unedited […]

Dunsinane: Our World, Unfortunately

David Grieg’s exciting new play Dunsinane, an imaginative follow up to Shakespeare’s Macbeth, illustrates profoundly the difference between Shakespeare’s world and our own. Shakespeare’s characters lived as part of the Great Chain of Being – a cosmos vertically connecting each lowly jot and tittle of the earth in a direct line, through human beings, to God. In […]

Man and Superman: Audience Wins This Battle of the Sexes

With his parents having the kind of marriage they did, George Bernard Shaw grew up determined to avoid marriage. One of his first novels The Irrational Knot, written as a 24 year old, was an attack on the “villainous institution of marriage. “ Shaw preferred dalliances with married women. Partly to justify his growing reputation […]

La Clemenza di tito: Titus as Christ

Our first visit to the Lyric Opera at the Civic Opera House since coming to Chicago was to see Mozart’s last Opera La Clamenza di tuti. The Civic Opera House is magnificent. Built in 1929, it’s art deco styling is one of the most glorious theater interiors I’ve seen. Legend has it that this theater […]

ShawChicago’s ST. JOAN: Thrilling Theater

When I was a theater student, common wisdom held that the two great theater writers of the English language were Shakespeare and Shaw. Their plays were taught in classes, sold in bookstores, and regularly performed. This is no longer the case. Shaw has disappeared from the classroom and the bookstores. Performances are, alas rare. Why […]

FUN WITH THOMAS HEYWOOD

Today we visited the Newberry Library, opened in 1893, and home of a world famous Renaissance Studies Center, including not only a First Folio of Shakespeare, but an extensive collection of first editions of plays by Thomas Heywood (1574-1641), whose play The Fair Maid of the West Part 1 we intended to see. (We doubted […]

Remy Bumppo’s An Inspector Calls: Excellent Acting, Provocative Script

The stated mission of Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, in its 17th year, is to “engage audiences with the emotional and ethical complexities of society through the provocative power of great theatrical language.” J. B. Priestley’s 1945 mystery An Inspector Calls is probably more provocative now than when it premiered in Josef Stalin’s 1945 Russia, but for […]