All stories by Chris Jones on BroadwayStars

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Review: Gorgeous Gershwin music and the City of Light, that’s 'American in Paris' by Chris Jones

George Gershwin's 1928 symphonic tone poem, "An American in Paris," was written on commission. Modernist and experimental, rather than obviously lush or romantic, it was intended to convey t…

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

When great theater can be experienced on a budget by Chris Jones

I picked up my voicemail earlier this week and found the kind of message that makes doing this job feel like a privilege. "I am below the poverty line," the older gentleman on the recording …

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'Madagascar' works only if expectations are low by Chris Jones

Chicago Shakespeare Theater has a proud history of producing family-oriented summer shows that go far beyond what you would expect at a pleasure pier. On Navy Pier in 2010, "The Emperor's Ne…

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

'American in Paris' is coming from London by Chris Jones

"An American in Paris," which arrives in Chicago this week for a two-week stand of its national tour, was a critical (and a modest financial) success on Broadway in 2015. But the much-antici…

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The price of 'An Octoroon' by Chris Jones

In the Chicago of 1860, when there barely was a Chicago, McVicker's Theater had what this newspaper called "a rousing hit" with a production of "The Octoroon," a spectacular melodrama by an …

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Cirque du Soleil takes a sensual dive into a Mexican pool with 'Luzia' by Chris Jones

A quarter-century ago, a sensual Russian aerialist named Vladimir Kekhaial turned up the heat of a Chicago summer by flying around a tent, his undulating, glistening muscles hardly confined …

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Lighter moments are the hardest in devastating 'Lela & Co.' by Chris Jones

The little theater under the "L" is set up like a voyeuristic European cabaret: little tables, shaded lamps, intimate fabrics, dark corners into which an amorous couple might try to disappea…

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Harvard blues: Why high tuition for arts education is a lousy idea by Chris Jones

Under the Obama administration in 2015, the Department of Education toughened up a set of rules known as the Gainful Employment Regulations. The rules were designed to protect students from …

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

'Luzia' and ' Something Rotten,' a pair not to miss by Chris Jones

For the first time in its history, the Cirque du Soleil has a touring production under its signature grand chapiteau that doesn't dwell in an abstract conceit. "Luzia," which opens in Chicag…

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Raven Theatre's longtime leaders are stepping down by Chris Jones

One of the longest-running double acts in Chicago theater history is coming to a close: artistic directors and co-founders Michael Menendian and JoAnn Montemurro are "retiring" from Chicago'…

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Monday, July 17, 2017

'Beauty's Daughter' seen through new eyes at American Blues by Chris Jones

When the poetic playwright Dael Orlandersmith premiered "Beauty's Daughter" in Midtown Manhattan in 1995, few had heard her name. This was before "Monster," "The Gimmick" or "Yellowman," a f…

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Parrotheads converge on Wrigley for Buffett love by Chris Jones

"A parrot, a shark and a cheeseburger walk into Wrigley Field" may sound like the beginning of a bad bar joke, but in reality it refers to just a few of the Parrothead characters who made th…

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Remembering Nelsan Ellis, who elevated his 'True Blood' role into art by Chris Jones

In 2008, a playwright from the Yale School of Drama named Alexander Woo was charged with writing the fifth episode of a new HBO series. The series was "True Blood" and this was to be a gothi…

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

In 'Hir' and 'Rock Critic,' there's a dramatic push-pull at Steppenwolf by Chris Jones

At the end of the Saturday night performance of his solo show "How to Be a Rock Critic," a work based on the writings of the great Lester Bangs, the actor Erik Jensen, sweaty from his exploi…

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Monday, July 10, 2017

Hard not to enjoy an evening with Lester Bangs in 'How to Be a Rock Critic' by Chris Jones

In his 1976 Creem magazine review of Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music" a review with the headline "The Greatest Album Ever Made," the late rock critic Lester Bangs justifies his enthusiasm by…

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Sunday, July 9, 2017

'Hir' seizes the moment - and turns the old Steppenwolf on its head by Chris Jones

The Steppenwolf Theatre Company may not have invented the incendiary play wherein some downstate, post-nuclear American family explodes its rotten guts all over the stage as you stare back i…

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Blue Man Group is sold to Cirque du Soleil by Chris Jones

After more than 25 years as an innovative, percussive, quirky and cobalt enterprise, the performance company known as Blue Man Group is selling itself to Cirque du Soleil, the Montreal-based…

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Libby Adler Mages was a producer with much to offer by Chris Jones

In 2005, I wrote a profile in this newspaper of Libby Adler Mages, a diminutive, charming and ever-curious Chicagoan and one of the most successful commercial producers in the history of Chi…

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Monday, July 3, 2017

Review: Chicago acting couple elevates 'The Gin Game' by Chris Jones

Ever since its New York opening in 1977, D.L. Colburn's "The Gin Game" has attracted extraordinary actors. First, Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy made the play their own. In the 1990s, Charles…

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Friday, June 30, 2017

Like it or not, we are in the midst of a second arts revolution by Chris Jones

In 2003, the National Endowment for the Arts put out a genuinely surprising report: Audiences — those attending jazz, classical music, opera, dance and theater performances — were in ser…

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Marriott creates a lovely musical trip through 'Madison County' by Chris Jones

If you want to understand how much one performance, by one inestimably excellent artist, can mean to a work of musical theater, let me suggest a trip to "The Bridges of Madison County" at th…

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

‘At the Table’ returns, but with more seats this time by Chris Jones

Just in case you have not been paying attention: Issues about who has the right to talk about what, and with whom, are pretty hot right now. Especially when speakers dare to wander beyond th…

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Growing up with the Millers in O'Neill's comedy 'Ah, Wilderness!' by Chris Jones

If there is a practicing alcoholic or addict in your family when you're a kid, you're better off when the boozer is your uncle rather than your dad or mom. If it's your drunk uncle, he can b…

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Monday, June 26, 2017

'Lonesome Losers': From Jacques Brel, powerful songs that prefigure the likes of Bowie by Chris Jones

The Belgian singer-songwriter known as Jacques Brel does not get nearly enough credit for his influence on the popular music of the latter half of the 20th century and beyond. I'd argue that…

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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Tickets on sale for 'Jimmy Buffett in Conversation with Chris Jones' by Chris Jones

Are you a pirate two hundred years too late? Got a Caribbean soul you can barely control? When you see a salt shaker, do you worry it will get lost? If you answered yes to any or all of the …

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Howard Witt, longtime stage actor, dies at 85 by Chris Jones

A rakish, irascible, handsome, poorly behaved and thoroughly charming actor known for both his rich comedy and an oft-confounding sense of pathos, Howard Witt was the embodiment of what, in …

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Which American presidents have most loved the arts? by Chris Jones

Which American presidents have most loved the arts? The 45th would be a nonstarter, Donald J. Trump's foray into Broadway producing notwithstanding. (If you've not heard, the show was a come…

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

'Wilderness,' then farewell: The Goodman's Steve Scott is retiring by Chris Jones

In Chicago theater circles, the joke about Steve Scott, producer at the Goodman Theatre, is that he does whatever his boss, artistic director Robert Falls, does not want to do. That job desc…

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Rodgers and Hammerstein fans, get yourself to this 'King and I' by Chris Jones

The all-Equity touring version of director Bart Sher's 2015 Lincoln Center revival of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's "The King and I" is a magnificent, genuinely revelatory produ…

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Violence proceeds violence, and a doctor who 'shoudda' been heard by Chris Jones

In their fascinating analysis of the algorithm used by the authorities to predict gun violence in Chicago, the journalists and crime analysts Jeff Asher and Rob Arthur argue that people are …

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

You saw them at the Tonys - when on a Chicago stage? by Chris Jones

So you watched the Tony Awards. Now you're wondering when you might get to see all those new shows in Chicago. I've talked to a few insiders on the matter, and here's my best analysis of the…

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