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Happy Halloween from Chicago Stage Review!

Graceland Cemetery images by Venus Zarris

Check out these Chicago Stage Review features, photo essays and reviews for Haunting Halloween theatrical options!

Halloween Plays 2009! – Chicago Stage Review

An Apology For the Course and Outcome of Certain Events Delivered by Doctor John Faustus on This His Final Evening – REVIEW – Chicago Stage Review

Macabaret – REVIEW – Chicago Stage Review

Dream Reapers Haunted House – REVIEW – Chicago Stage Review

Disturbed – REVIEW – Chicago Stage Review

FEAR – REVIEW – Chicago Stage Review

Vaudezilla’s Monster Burlesque Academy Halloween Burlesque Show @ The Portage Theater – Chicago Stage Review

Anna, In The Darkness 2009: The Basement opening @ Dream Theatre – Chicago Stage Review

And here’s a few Chicago Stage Review Frightening Features!

Stories from a Haunted Stage – Chicago Stage Review

FEAR ON STAGE – Chicago Stage Review

DESTROY ALL MONSTERS – Chicago Stage Review

Images of a Haunting Stage – Chicago Stage Review

Redmoon Theatre’s HUNCHBACK at Rockefeller Chapel – Gothic Meets Grotesque – Chicago Stage Review

Gargoyle image by Venus Zarris

Thoroughly Modern Millie

Thoroughly Modern Millie tells the humorous story of a young girl from Kansas who takes New York City by storm as she flaps, taps and Charlestons her way into the Roaring ‘20s. Millie experiences the hustle and bustle of Jazz Age Manhattan at a time when women were just entering the workforce and rewriting society’s rules. A funny, romantic story about following dreams and falling in love, Thoroughly Modern Millie was hailed as “a thoroughly delightful experience” by USA Today. The show features new hits including “I Turned the Corner,” “They Don’t Know,” and “Long As I’m Here with You.”

Thru – Dec 20, 2009

@ Drury Lane Oakbrook

100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace

Show Type: Musical

Box Office: 630-530-0111

Drury Lane Oakbrook – Now Playing at Drury Lane Theatre

This weekend is your last opportunity to see Trap Door Theatre’s remarkable Midwest Premiere of 12 Ophelias: A Play With Broken Songs.

“Trap Door Theatre consistently creates worlds that exist outside of the matrix of conventional and practical thought but still manage to evoke emotional and visceral reactions that profoundly connect to our human experience, thereby challenging the boundaries of perceived impossibility. 12 Ophelias: A Play With Broken Songs is one such extraordinary paradigm shift that should not be missed.” …

Read the full review here -

12 Ophelias: A Play With Broken Songs – REVIEW – Chicago Stage Review

Don’t Miss your chance to see this incomparable show!

Trap Door Theatre | Chicago, IL

By Robert Andersen

A Barnyard of Talent

Lifeline Theatre scores another hit with their whimsical barnyard talent show!

That crazy duck over at Farmer Brown’s Barn is at it again.  Last year Duck wanted to be President of the barn.  This year Duck wants to win a talent show at the State Fair to get himself a trampoline.  Once again James E. Grote has done a wonderful job of adapting Doreen Cronin’s charming books to the stage.  The original music and lyrics by George Howe highlight the characters of this entertaining story and the talents of this gifted cast. Heather Currie, as Cow, and Amanda Link, as Ewe, deliver exceptional performances.

Director Shole Milos has brought together many of the original team members that created the previous Lifeline KidSeries hit Duck for President!, both on the stage and behind it.  Some of the costumes have changed. The one that I miss is Duck’s, but Costume Designer Jana Anderson has visually realized beautiful costumes that according to my 11-year-old daughter, “looked like they were fun to wear”.  The book’s illustrator, Betsy Lewin, has done masterful work bringing the story to life on paper and Scenic Designer Alan Donahue captures that same essence on stage. I enjoyed it so much that I wanted more.

If there is a down side to this production it is that they have so little space to use.  But don’t misunderstand my intention gentle reader, this production is absolutely delightful!  It is somewhat overshadowed, in my opinion, by the ominous set of the main stage production of Treasure Island.  To Duck’s defense now rush my two daughters, the aforementioned 11-year-old Emma, and my 4-year-old Evelyn: “what do you mean there was a ship on stage?” and “I want to go play on the farm!”  They were completely oblivious.  Well, actually Emma was the one who hit the nail on the head, “I knew that what was back there wasn’t a barn but the show was so good I didn’t care”.  There you have it, what better testament to the quality of a performance than that?  Enough said.

Lifeline proves themselves the perfect theatrical playmates with their completely engaging Dooby Dooby Moo. Reward your kids and yourself this weekend with this brilliantly boisterous barnyard bash!

4 STARS

(“Dooby Dooby Mooruns through December 6 at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood. 773-761-4477.)

Lifeline Theatre :: Dooby Dooby Moo

Dooby Dooby Moo production photos by Suzanne Plunkett.

The Walworth Farce

After playing to sold-out houses at London’s National Theatre, Druid, one of Ireland’s premier theater companies, makes its Chicago debut with this celebrated production. Complete with rapid costume changes, cross-dressing, and mistaken identities, this biting social commentary disguised as a traditional high farce comes to Chicago for seven performances only.

Thru – Nov 1, 2009

@ Chicago Shakespeare Theater

800 East Grand Avenue, Chicago

Show Type: Comedy/Drama

Box Office: 312-595-5600

Chicago Shakespeare Theater – Home

Vaudezilla’s Monster Burlesque Academy Halloween Burlesque Show

President Red Hot Annie and Vice President Dick Dijon cordially invite you to the inaugural graduation ceremony for Vaudezilla’s Monster Burlesque Academy!

The Monster Burlesque Academy prides itself on a devilish dedication to the joint disciplines of sexy and scary. The Class of 2009 has made us proud, and we feel they will offer a shriek-inducing legacy for many years to come. To commemorate this auspicious occasion, the MBA has chosen the majestic Portage Theatre to host the frighteningly fabulous festivities.

Prior to the show, grab a cold alcoholic beverage from the concession stand and take a stroll around the grand lobby of Portage Theater to peruse costumes, adult goodies, and more from our sponsors.

The ceremony begins promptly at 10pm, and your admission fee is $15 in advance, or $20 at the door. Each paid ticket enters you into a free raffle to win one of over $400 worth of prizes.

Costume Contest: Halloween costumes are encouraged, the person with the best costume (by audience selection, so bring your friends!) will win a $100 Early 2 Bed gift bag, plus other prizes!

Saturday, October 31
Show at 10:00pm (sharp!)

@ Portage Theatre
4050 N Milwaukee Av, Chicago
Cover: $15 Advance / $20 at Door

Buy $15 Advance Tickets NOW – http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/82886

Vaudezilla Productions – Chicago Burlesque Production Company

SEX

No 1920s playwright wrote the kind of female character that Mae West wanted to play so, using the do-it-yourself attitude that had made her a vaudeville star, West wrote her own damn heroine, thank you very much. Enter Margy LaMont, not a mild-mannered hooker with a heart of gold, but an unapologetic pragmatist trying to rise from the red light district of Montreal to the top of the oldest profession.

Margy is one of the most in-demand ladies on the block, and makes plenty of jack to keep herself in furs and gin. However, when her pimp Rocky tries to work over a visiting society dame, Margy’s left in a tough spot with the police. She flees Montreal to follow the British fleet with her long-time customer Lieutenant Gregg. In a Trinidad nightclub (complete with rip-roaring live music), Margy meets the kind of man she never expected to love: one who doesn’t know about her past. She must decide if she can give up her wild ways for the straight life with a boy who loves her, or if she’ll always be just what she is.

Prologue Theatre Co. continues its inaugural season with the Chicago premiere of Sex by Mae West. Progressive staging in a historical Edgewater mansion allows the audience to follow Margy Lamont, a sassy prostitute, from a night in Montreal’s red light district through her escape to Trinidad to her bid for a straight life in a Westchester manor. The original cast of the 1926 show was arrested for “corrupting the morals of youth,” and Mae West herself was sentenced to ten days in jail. Unless they’re also arrested, Prologue Theatre Co. will be proud to present this sultry comedy.

Presented by Prologue Theatre Co.

Oct 29 – Nov 21, 2009

@ North Lakeside Cultural Center

6219 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago

Show Type: Comedy/Drama

Box Office: 773-743-4477

For tickets and more information, visit PrologueTheatreCo.org.

Welcome to Prologue Theare Company

Summer People

Set in coastal Maine and Fallujah , Iraq in the summer of 2004, Summer People is about what happens behind the Home Front with a girl about to grow up, a family about to rebuild, and a soldier about to return.

Oct 26 – Dec 13, 2009

@ The Gift Theatre

4802 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-283-7071

The Gift Theatre Company

By J. Scott Hill

The breezes have turned cold and the fall color is past its peak; snow will come before long. Every year at this time, I try to find the perfect holiday pageant or cabaret or spectacular: somewhere to take family and friends to fill them with festive feelings of the holiday season — pure entertainment, part of an evening of good fellowship and liberal consumption of holiday cheer.

The holiday I mean is, of course, Halloween.  For Halloween this year, Porchlight Music Theatre may be giving Chicago the perfect evening of frightening festivities.  It’s macabre! It’s cabaret! Just like the teleportation experiment gone terrifyingly wrong in The Fly, these two elements have been mashed-up together to create the killer chimera Macabaret!

The show opens upon a lifeless set upon a dim stage. A ghoul, like an acolyte to some denizen of the Underworld, makes a procession of one across the stage lit by his solitary candle. The set hints at the abandoned mansions of Universal horror movies of the 1930s and 40s with all of the furniture shrouded in white sheets. The creeping creep makes his way upstage to a grand piano where he ceremoniously places his candlestick, somberly sits, and begins to play — not “Toccata and Fugue” or any other chilling canticle; rather, we hear what sounds like the opening vamp of “Willkommen” from Cabaret.

L. Walter Stearns directs a wonderful ensemble of fine vocalists through songs, recitations, and sketches.  Every member of this cast displays monstrous talent.

Virginia Brazier plays the anemic Victoria Bledsoe.  At times she seems meek and ancillary, only to explode into the forefront, seemingly out of nowhere.  She has the entire audience in apoplectic fits of laughter during two of her numbers.

Steven Rader plays Paul Bearer, the most comical of the choir of cabaret cadavers.  As an actor, Rader is a fantastic active listener, without stealing focus. In doing so, he accentuates the strengths within others’ performances.  Rader is delightfully goofy twanging through a country music parody, and is absolutely chilling when performing a poem about werewolves.

Heather Townsend is tall and lank and perfectly punk as Maude Lynn, yet when she sings she brings a hot sultriness that is unexpected.  She is a particularly sympathetic rotter in her duet “I’m Going Green,” a song about the ultimate act of recycling.

Rachel Quinn looks like a dancer out of Chicago or Sweet Charity or Cabaret (replete with the Clara Bow hairdo), but she sings like one of those sinister Sirens who led so many sailors to their demise.  She gives a spirit-raising chair dance while belting out the post-mortem torch song “Ghost of a Chance.”

The Big Bad among these evil dead is the Emcee, Phil Graves, played by Cameron Brune.  Brune’s voice is the strongest and the most expressive among a group of singers/actors/performers who could have each carried any show by themselves.  He is especially strong as half of a Vaudeville double on the number “Dead-End Job.”  It is damned hard to be undead and funny.  It is a damned sight harder to be undead and unfunny while seeming to really try to be funny but failing on an epic scale — and being truly funny in that enterprise.  Confused?  Cameron Brune wasn’t.  He sold the try and sold the fail and, with an impressive co-conspirator in that Great Reactor Steven Rader, Brune was so damned funny that I kept swallowing air trying just to breathe through my laughter.

Rob Hartmann and Scott Keys have written a selection of mostly humorous, always clever spooky show tunes. The three or four more serious numbers truly are haunting.  This is songwriting at its tightest and most clever.

See Macabaret…IF YOU DARE!   Miss this infinitely enjoyable Halloween treat…AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!  This is a ridiculous and sublime way to celebrate this haunted holiday season.

4 STARS

(“Macabaret” runs through November 1, at Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. 773-327-5252)

Current Season | Porchlight Music Theatre, Chicago

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