All stories by Dennis Polkow on BroadwayStars

Friday, February 23, 2024

Kindling a Fire: A Review of “The Matchbox Magic Flute” at Goodman Theatre by Dennis Polkow

When new Goodman artistic director Susan V. Booth asked Mary Zimmerman what she might want to do this season, a small-scale rethinking of “The Magic Flute” was the response. That means …

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Monday, February 19, 2024

Dylan-izing the Depression: A Review of “Girl From the North Country” at Broadway in Chicago by Dennis Polkow

The action takes place in Duluth, Minnesota, but playwright Conor McPherson’s Irish melancholy weighs heavily throughout, with nods to O’Neill and Wilder.

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Monday, January 22, 2024

Pulling No Punches: Terence Blanchard’s Eclectic Journey from Jazz to Opera by Dennis Polkow

Eclectic is an overused word. But in the case of trumpeter, pianist and composer Terence Blanchard who rose to the top of the jazz world, has composed scores for more than fifty films and mo…

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Friday, December 22, 2023

Whos’ Grinch: A Review of “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” at Broadway in Chicago by Dennis Polkow

In its initial Broadway run in 2006, the show broke box-office records. It has been a seasonal phenomenon ever since.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Revival Meeting Revival: A Review of “The Wiz” at Broadway in Chicago by Dennis Polkow

The Broadway-bound fiftieth-anniversary revival of “The Wiz” gets to the heart of what made “The Wiz” so special: song and dance.

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Monday, December 4, 2023

The Chronicles of Nativity: Using C. S. Lewis as a Conduit for Christmas by Dennis Polkow

The setting of “Christmas with C. S. Lewis” is a group of American historians visiting England at Christmastime. “Because Lewis was a professor of medieval and Renaissance literature, …

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Monday, November 20, 2023

Witch Way: Chicagoan Melody Betts Eases Down the Roads of “The Wiz” by Dennis Polkow

“The training is what helps me to sustain and maintain the instrument,” says Betts, referring to her foundation as an operatic soprano. "…I will be maintaining what I’ve learned trai…

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Friday, November 17, 2023

Double Divas: A Review of “Jenufa” at Lyric Opera by Dennis Polkow

This is only the third time that “Jenufa” has been performed at Lyric Opera, but a number of things made Sunday afternoon’s opening an historic occasion.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Ghost of a Show: A Review of “Beetlejuice” at the Auditorium Theatre by Dennis Polkow

Take away all the heart and soul of the property and fill the evening with overblown songs that stop the action rather than advance it and you have “Beetlejuice” the musical.

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Monday, November 13, 2023

French Fireworks: A Review of “Daughter of the Regiment” at Lyric Opera by Dennis Polkow

For this rare revival, Lyric chose a Laurent Pelly production that uses maps for scenery and sets the work in World War I.

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Monday, November 6, 2023

Something Is Wanting: A Review of “Company” at Broadway in Chicago by Dennis Polkow

Sondheim’s first truly Sondheim-esque musical, Bobbie is turning thirty-five and single in a world of couples. The pressure is on from her married friends to make the plunge.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Heading for the Highlands: A Review of “Brigadoon” at Music Theater Works by Dennis Polkow

This dance-driven melodic fable of a mysterious village in the Scottish highlands that appears once a century is pure enchantment, as the current Music Theater Works production reminds us.

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Thursday, October 12, 2023

Halloween Hoopla: A Review of “Holy Ghost Bingo: God, Goblins & Games” at the Greenhouse Theater Center by Dennis Polkow

Resurrection Mary, the Iroquois Theatre fire ghosts, local lore galore. And like Halloween itself, some real chills are part of the fun.

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Friday, October 6, 2023

Satchmo Century: New Musical Looks at the Legacy of Louis Armstrong by Dennis Polkow

“We’re trying to find that balance of how much of the personal, how much of the cultural and how much of the overall impact that the man had. We can’t ignore his impact on music. We al…

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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Moving Monster: Joffrey Presents Late Choreographer’s Epic and Empathetic Take on “Frankenstein” by Dennis Polkow

This production takes you into the world of Mary Shelley in the most visually stunning way.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Treading Water: A Review of “The Flying Dutchman” at Lyric Opera by Dennis Polkow

Wagner and Lyric Opera have had a long and convoluted relationship over the decades. The company built its reputation by centering on Italian repertoire and Wagner was a relative rarity give…

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Monday, September 18, 2023

Subdued Shot: A Review of “Hamilton” at Broadway in Chicago by Dennis Polkow

After a three-year absence following a three-year run, “Hamilton” is back in Chicago for a three-month run.

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Thursday, August 24, 2023

Starless Summer: “Sunday in the Park with Lyric” Previews Opera Season by Dennis Polkow

The goal of the evening is to serve as an “appetite whetter” for the Lyric's new season.

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Monday, August 14, 2023

Searching for the Man in the Mirror: A Review of “MJ: The Musical” at Broadway in Chicago by Dennis Polkow

What is wonderful about “MJ: The Musical” is that it raises as many meaningful questions about creativity when it has a cavernous cultural response and impact as it answers.

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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Think About the Gun: A Review of “Pippin” at Music Theater Works by Dennis Polkow

“Pippin” is not your everyday musical. A fictional work that makes loose use of medieval historical figures, the title character is Charlemagne’s oldest son returning home from univers…

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Monday, June 5, 2023

Best Production of the Best Musical: A Review of “West Side Story” at Lyric Opera by Dennis Polkow

This is the original “West Side Story” as it was originally conceived in 1957, which is to say the original song order is preserved and its radical elements are left to pack a wallop.

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Thursday, May 25, 2023

Punches and Prose: The Boxing Bromance Behind Shaw vs. Tunney by Dennis Polkow

Nick Sandys is directing the world premiere of “Shaw vs. Tunney” produced by Grippo Stage Company

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Wednesday, May 10, 2023

The Wheels Remain on the Dream: A Review of “Ragtime” at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre by Dennis Polkow

The early twentieth-century fictional Harlem musician Coalhouse Walker in E.L. Doctorow’s novel—also the centerpiece of this musical—is a powerful symbol of racial injustice. And yet i…

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Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Playing Faust Ball: A Review of “Damn Yankees” at Marriott Theatre by Dennis Polkow

It’s the story of a man so desperate for the Washington Senators to trounce the Yankees that he is willing to sell his soul to do it.

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Monday, April 3, 2023

Latter-Day Replay: A Review of “The Book of Mormon” at Broadway in Chicago by Dennis Polkow

The lampoon of missionaries that feel the need to create a cookie-cutter world in their own image still resonates.

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Friday, March 24, 2023

Transformation and Transfiguration: A Review of The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing at Chicago Opera Theater by Dennis Polkow

British mathematician Alan Turing, who is the father of computer science, was primarily publicly remembered for being convicted of “gross indecency” for homosexual acts and was subject t…

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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Tina Turnover: A Review of “Tina, The Tina Turner Musical” at Broadway in Chicago by Dennis Polkow

A jukebox musical that tells the story of Tina Turner, one of the most powerful and unique performers to take a stage.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Disruptive Director: Yuval Sharon Comes Home to Shape “Proximity,” a Trio of New Operas at Lyric by Dennis Polkow

Sharon is likely the hottest American director in opera right now. The world premiere of “Proximity: A trio of new American operas” is being dubbed Sharon’s “Lyric Opera main-stage d…

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Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Survival and Spectacle: A Review of “Carmen” at Lyric Opera by Dennis Polkow

J'Nai Bridges is making a homecoming of sorts with an iconic role that is becoming signature for her, Carmen.

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Monday, March 13, 2023

Finding Heart: A Review of Annie at Broadway in Chicago by Dennis Polkow

For this show, the emphasis is on Annie seeking to be loved and accepted and that template is well in place in the new touring production currently playing.

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Monday, March 6, 2023

A Story for Everyone: A Review of “1776” at Broadway in Chicago by Dennis Polkow

“1776” took our Founding Fathers off their pedestals and revealed them as clay-footed human beings who passionately squabbled over something as fundamental as American independence. Dire…

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All that Chat

May 30, 2023: Grey House - Lyceum Theatre
Jun 26, 2023: Just For Us - Hudson Theatre
Jul 24, 2023: The Cottage - Hayes Theater
Nov 16, 2023: Spamalot - St. James Theatre
Dec 18, 2023: Appropriate - Hayes Theater
Mar 07, 2024: Doubt - Todd Haimes Theatre
Apr 14, 2024: Lempicka - Longacre Theatre
Apr 17, 2024: The Wiz - Marquis Theatre
Apr 18, 2024: Suffs - Music Box Theatre
Apr 25, 2024: Mother Play - Hayes Theater
Jun 10, 2024: The Drama Desk Awards