All stories by Jack Helbig on BroadwayStars

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Ensemble is the first gossip-free oral history of Chicago theater by Jack Helbig

Mark Larson explains how he created his 700-page behemoth. For the past few years followers of Chicago author Mark Larson on Facebook have been teased with littl…

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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Much Ado About Nothing needs something more by Jack Helbig

Beatrice and Benedick are better apart than together in Oak Park Festival’s production. Chemistry is everything in romance. The folks at Oak Park Festival Thea…

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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Diana Coates is second to none in Henry V by Jack Helbig

Perfect casting in the title role saves First Folio’s production from a conceptual misstep. Shakespeare's Henry V is very much a play of words not action, this…

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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

There’s nothing bad about The Drag Seed by Jack Helbig

David Cerda’s latest classic makeover for Hell in a Handbag is a winner for summer camp. David Cerda's camp parody of Mervyn LeRoy's 1956 film The Bad Seed, ab…

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Darling Grenadine pours out a familiar showbiz story with a sweet score by Jack Helbig

Marriott’s new musical hits standard narrative notes, but the songs soar Daniel Zaitchik's new musical (he wrote the songs and the book) is a sweet little show…

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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The bracingly honest stand-up Jimmy Carrane returns with World's Greatest Dad(?) by Jack Helbig

He's become a master at the kind of storytelling he pioneered 28 years ago in I'm 27, I Still Live at Home, and I Sell Office Supplies. It has been 28 years sinc…

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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Lifeline's Emma takes some liberties but remains true to the playful spirit of the original by Jack Helbig

In which five actors play the entire village of Highbury. Phil Timberlake's new dramatization of Jane Austen's 1816 masterpiece, written especially for Lifeline …

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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Volta brings back the full death-defying Cirque du Soleil experience by Jack Helbig

The ever-present danger is as much a part of a Cirque show as the spectacle. Volta is Cirque du Soleil's 41st production since 1983 and, like all the others befo…

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

More than a decade after its premiere, Next to Normal is still brilliantly weird by Jack Helbig

It's a rock musical about suffering from bipolar disorder and getting electroshock treatment. This award-winning 2008 musical by Brian Yorkey (book and lyrics) a…

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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Who thought that Matilda was suitable children's entertainment? by Jack Helbig

Or maybe kids just have a higher tolerance for Roald Dahl's sadism. Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin's musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's 1988 novel about a precocio…

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Thursday, May 2, 2019

The power of Walt Whitman brings two high school students together in I & You by Jack Helbig

They sound their barbaric yawp through the living room. The premise of Lauren Gunderson's two-hander is remarkably simple: a socially isolated, housebound high s…

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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The stage musical of Footloose is just like the movie except without the boring parts by Jack Helbig

Kick off your Sunday shoes. The problem with the 1984 movie Footloose is that it tries so damned hard to be a serious, realistic drama about a rebellious teen fi…

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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Firestorm pulls its punches in its examination of white privilege by Jack Helbig

Our hero a racist? No sirree! The premise of Meridith Friedman's 2015 drama sounds all too familiar: Patrick, a popular white politician running for a high offic…

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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Writers Theatre strips down A Number to its absorbing essentials by Jack Helbig

Robin Witt's production takes a somber tone, downplaying the comic turns. Logging in at a little more than an hour, Writers Theatre's production of Caryl Churchi…

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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Best for Winter undergoes a late thaw by Jack Helbig

A simple, elegant Shakespeare adaptation Though advertised as an adaption of William Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale by Evan Jackson (who also directs), this pro…

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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Mahalia Jackson: Moving Thru the Light sticks to the Black Ensemble Theatre formula by Jack Helbig

The music's fabulous, but the story's thin. Jackie Taylor, the founder and leading light of the Black Ensemble Theatre, has spent her career penning and producin…

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Aaron Posner follows up Stupid Fucking Bird with another Chekhov adaptation, Life Sucks by Jack Helbig

By turns homage and send-up, faithful adaptation and freewheeling deconstruction, Life Sucks, Aaron Posner's witty, iconoclastic update of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, is much smarter and more ent…

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Ten notes on Cabaret, playing through Sunday at PrivateBank Theatre by Jack Helbig

1. Cabaret is a landmark. When it opened in 1967 it was arguably the first Broadway hit to deal with subject matter that had been repressed, or at least buried, by the trauma of World War…

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All that Chat

Oct 06: Slave Play
Feb 01: The Minutes
TBA: Blue