Tag Archives: Renata Eastlick
By Bill Hirschman Sometimes for actors, especially playing comedy, the only option is to jump off the cliff and see if you can fly. The miracle is that sometimes, as in City Theatre’s Summer Shorts, is that, indeed, they soar. …
Imagine you’re Ken Clement in City Theatre’s Summer Shorts opening this week. One minute he’s a dolphin, a few minutes later he;s Dracula and still later he has to find his inner Mothra. Performing in the annual festival of short plays, a rite of summer now in its 18th edition, requires talents they don’t dwell on in drama school.
It’s been a long, long time since a locally-produced musical has thrust inside an audience’s collective chest to touch its heart like Actors’ Playhouse’s triumphant production of In The Heights. Several shows this season have produced near raves among critics and audiences, but this production is cause once again for recalibrating your standards.
Darkness has often been an element of classic Christmas stories: A Christmas Carol, It’s A Wonderful Life, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. But leave it to the House Theatre of Chicago to come up with a quirky twist on The Nutcracker co-produced with the Adrienne Arsht Center.
GableStage’s powerful Ruined examines our species’ simultaneous capacity for a bottomless cruelty absent in animals and an inextinguishable humanity that borders on divinity. This engrossing rendition of Lynn Nottage’s play about people struggling to survive the hellish civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo also has a duality. It is one of the finest pieces of local theater seen this season, featuring superb acting, notably from Lela Elam as an indomitable owner of a bar/brothel.
A goofball sensibility drenches Slow Burn Theatre Company’s first summer froth-fest, the loopy lampoon of the flop movie musical Xanadu. To be truthful, the company was far funnier, crisper and engaging in Urinetown, but it would take a congenital curmudgeon not to acknowledge that the troupe’s enthusiasm is incurably infectious and winning.
The tragedy of this lavish, ebullient production of Hairspray is how the muddy, uneven, out of balance, sloppy sound on opening night fatally sabotaged the energy, enthusiasm, theatrical skill and money that the cast, musicians, designers and producers invested into this perfect match of material to a company known for mainstream musicals.