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Dysfunction Junction: "Next to Normal," at the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre through August 16 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 10 August 2015 11:00

Kriss Doss, Aaron Brakefield, Christian Chambers, Daniella Dalli, Livvy Marcus, and Jonathan Young in Next to NormalThursday’s performance of Next to Normal didn’t appear as well-attended as the rest of the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre’s opening nights this summer. Yet while this musical trip through a family’s struggle with the mother’s mental issues may not be as familiar as a Cats or Steel Magnolias, this isn’t a piece to miss. The songs by Tom Kitt and book by Brian Yorkey are powerful testimonies to the reality of mental illness for those who suffer from it, and those who suffer through it alongside a loved one.

 
Fiancée What?: "Boeing-Boeing," at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse through September 19 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 03 August 2015 09:40

Cara Moretto, Cory Boughton, Jacqueline Keeley, Elizabeth Loos, Tristan Tapscott, and Theresa McGuirk in Boeing-BoeingThe Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse’s production of Boeing-Boeing is a colorful rendition of French playwright Marc Camoletti’s classic farce – and that’s just the set and costumes. Scenic designer Susan Holgersson’s and costume designer Gregory Hiatt’s combined use of bright primary and secondary colors is stunning, with Holgersson’s seven-door set providing delight even before the opening of this comedy's proverbial curtain.

 
The Skittish Play: "Macbeth," at Lincoln Park through August 9 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 03 August 2015 09:40

Sarah Ade Wallace and Todd Schwartz in MacbethBefore Saturday’s opening-night presentation, executive director Doug Tschopp took the stage for Genesius Guild’s traditional pre-show announcements and T-shirt giveaway, and kindly asked the crowd for continued financial support, especially given the organization’s decreased support since 2008 from the State of Illinois. Not to make light of a very real monetary concern, but I wish power players from Nike had been there for Tschopp’s request. Because after seeing Macbeth, they might’ve happily handed over a check, considering the motto for everyone involved in director Michael King’s inspiriting production appeared to be the same: "Just do it."

 
The Father, the Son, and the Wholly Spirited: "Big Fish," at the Timber Lake Playhouse through August 9 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 03 August 2015 09:40

Karl Hamilton, Paige ManWaring, and Matt W. Miles in Big FishThough I’ve watched the film version several times and viewed a staging of its musical earlier this summer, the Timber Lake Playhouse’s production of Big Fish still had me choking back tears despite my (over-)familiarity with the material. That’s in no small part due to the magic in director James Beaudry’s staging, the cast’s endearing rendering of the supporting characters, and Karl Hamilton’s captivating charm as Edward Bloom, the father at the center of this tale of tall tales.

 
Flower Power: "Steel Magnolias," at the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre through August 2 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 27 July 2015 06:00

Bailey Jordan Reeves, Jalayne Riewerts, and Miranda Barnett in Steel MagnoliasNot long into author Robert Harling’s ensemble dramedy Steel Magnolias, the Louisiana beautician Truvy asks local socialite Clairee Belcher about the recipe for a delicacy called “cuppa cuppa cuppa,” the ingredients for which are a cup of flour, a cup of sugar, and a cup of fruit cocktail. Truvy says it sounds awfully rich, and Clairee replies that it is, “so I serve it over ice cream to cut the sweetness.”

That line gets a laugh, and it should, and after attending the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre’s new production of Steel Magnolias, it dawned on me that Clairee’s dessert makes a fine analogy for the play itself. In effect, Harling’s beloved, female-driven theatrical mainstay is a cup of wisecracking sitcom, a cup of unvarnished sentimentality, and a cup (perhaps a teaspoon or two less) of genuine feeling, all blended together and served over ice cream. Some may find this tale of six Southern friends and beauty-parlor regulars too sweet. But it’d be hard to deny the tastiness of the Showboat’s presentation, and if the collective response during Thursday’s curtain call was to be trusted, the standing, clapping, happily tearful crowd would’ve gratefully asked for seconds.

 
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