Tony-Winning Once Makes Music in Illinois

Playbill, May 2018 — Done on a tiny budget of $150,000, the independent Irish film Once barely made it into theaters. And it easily could have disappeared without a trace, but audiences were captivated by its simple story about two musicians writing songs together and falling in love. After it screened at the Sundance Film Festival… Continue reading Tony-Winning Once Makes Music in Illinois

Lorin Latarro’s A Taste of Things to Come Captures the Inception of Feminism

Playbill, March 2018 — Cooking contests are an American pastime. After a long history of local bake-offs at county fairs and churches around the country, competitions hit the big time in 1949, when Pillsbury held its first national recipe contest. During that prosperous post-World War II era, Americans were watching television for the first time… Continue reading Lorin Latarro’s A Taste of Things to Come Captures the Inception of Feminism

Why This Chicago Theatre Put a Modern Spin on The Emperor’s New Clothes—With the Help of Ahrens and Flaherty

Playbill, March 4, 2018 — Imagine you’re a child watching a live theatrical performance for the first time. You’ve seen plenty of movies and television shows, but this is something new and exciting — actual people walking, talking, dancing and singing on a stage, conjuring the illusion of a story right in front of your eyes.… Continue reading Why This Chicago Theatre Put a Modern Spin on The Emperor’s New Clothes—With the Help of Ahrens and Flaherty

Why Escape to Margaritaville Won’t Be Just Another Juke-Box Musical

Playbill, November 2017 — The first time Jimmy Buffett saw a rehearsal of Escape to Margaritaville, the new musical based on his songs, it was pretty obvious that he was having a good time. “He was smiling and laughing,” recalls Greg Garcia, co-writer of the musical’s book, who was sitting just in front of Buffett. “I… Continue reading Why Escape to Margaritaville Won’t Be Just Another Juke-Box Musical

Why Newsies’ Regional Premiere Is Unlike Any Other Staging of the Tony-Winning Musical

Playbill, October 2017 — People love to root for the underdog. And who’s more of an underdog than a ragtag kid shouting “Extra!, Extra!” as he sells newspapers on the crowded streets of a big, dirty city? That’s a big part of the appeal of Newsies. “It is an immigrant story,” says Aaron Thielen, artistic… Continue reading Why Newsies’ Regional Premiere Is Unlike Any Other Staging of the Tony-Winning Musical

What to Expect from Paramount Theatre’s Million Dollar Quartet

Playbill, September 2017 — On December 4, 1956, Sam Phillips—the record producer famed as the father of rock ’n’ roll—telephoned the Memphis Press-Scimitar with a hot tip. Acting quickly, the newspaper rushed a reporter and photographer over to Phillips’ little storefront recording studio, Sun Records. The photo caption in the next day’s paper set the scene:… Continue reading What to Expect from Paramount Theatre’s Million Dollar Quartet

Why Machinal Should Be Revived More Often

Playbill, August 2017 — Plot spoilers aren’t a big worry with Sophie Treadwell’s 1928 play Machinal. Just about every description of the expressionist drama says it was inspired by the true story of Ruth Snyder, a Queens housewife who murdered her husband and was executed at New York’s Sing Sing. Chicago’s Greenhouse Theater, which is… Continue reading Why Machinal Should Be Revived More Often

How a Government Agency Ended Up Responsible for Swing Mikado, Among Others

Playbill, July 2017 — Arts agencies consume a microscopic fraction of the $4 trillion U.S. budget. And yet government funding for the arts is controversial; calls to eliminate it never fully subside. But there was a time when the government did more than just provide grants. For a few years, the government actually had its own… Continue reading How a Government Agency Ended Up Responsible for Swing Mikado, Among Others

Good Fences Don’t Necessarily Make Good Neighbors in Native Gardens

Playbill, June 2017 — A fence divides two backyards in Native Gardens, a new play at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater. A white couple has lived for a long time on one side of the fence. On the other side, a Latino couple has just moved in. When you see that fence, it’s hard not to think… Continue reading Good Fences Don’t Necessarily Make Good Neighbors in Native Gardens

Ike Holter and ‘The Wolf at the End of the Block’

Playbill, January 2017 — For a playwright who has received the highest praise from critics, Ike Holter is disarmingly modest. “I’m pretty dumb,” the 30-year-old Chicagoan says, struggling to explain how he writes his riveting dialogue. “I have no way of saying how it comes out.” Dumb? Really? That’s just about the last thing you’d say after… Continue reading Ike Holter and ‘The Wolf at the End of the Block’