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
Make It Better, September-October 2017 — Read my recommendations for Chicago-area plays.
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
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
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
Make It Better, May-June 2017 — Read my recommendations for Chicago-area plays. Photo of Mike Nussbaum: Michael Brosilow
Make It Better, May-June 2017 — When David Catlin was creating Lookingglass Theatre’s stage version of “Moby Dick,” a sentence in the first chapter of Herman Melville’s novel jumped out at him. The narrator (that fellow who introduces himself by saying, “Call me Ishmael”) remarks: “I cannot tell why it was exactly that those stage managers,… Continue reading Lookingglass Theatre’s Reimagined ‘Moby Dick’: Interview with David Catlin
Make It Better, March-April 2017 — Read my recommendations for Chicago-area plays.
Make It Better, January-February 2017 — Read my preview of Chicago-area plays. Photo: Goodman Theatre
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’