All stories by Dennis Polkow on BroadwayStars

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Midnight View: Jason Robert Brown is Songwriting on Demand for Goodman World Premiere Musical by Dennis Polkow

Composer and lyricist Jason Robert Brown is sitting in a room with a piano at the Goodman Theatre. A rehearsal of his much-anticipated musical of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil�…

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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Slow Death: A Review of “Death Becomes Her” at Broadway in Chicago by Dennis Polkow

It is obvious that the elements and talent are in place and that the potential is there for this to become a really killer show. Maybe by Broadway.

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Friday, May 17, 2024

Holy Homicide: A Review of “Murder in the Cathedral” at City Lit by Dennis Polkow

City Lit is advertising its season-closing production of “Murder in the Cathedral”—which is director and outgoing producer and artistic director Terry McCabe’s last—as “the first…

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Friday, May 3, 2024

Pre-Mortem: How to Make a Musical of “Death Becomes Her” by Dennis Polkow

Chris Herzberger has been working on the launch of the pre-Broadway world premiere of the musical of “Death Becomes Her,” currently underway in previews at the Cadillac Palace with a May…

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Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Going Jersey, Chicago Style: A Review of “Jersey Boys” at Mercury Theater by Dennis Polkow

It has been a fourteen-year dream of director Stearns for “Jersey Boys”—such a popular show in its original Broadway in Chicago run that a separate multi-year Chicago company was creat…

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Monday, April 22, 2024

Luck is a Lady Tonight: A Review of “Guys and Dolls” at Drury Lane by Dennis Polkow

The best element of this production is the dancing, wonderfully choreographed by Dan Knechtges.

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Friday, April 19, 2024

Laughter Through Tears: Larissa FastHorse’s “The Thanksgiving Play” at Steppenwolf Bears Ingenious Truths with Humor by Dennis Polkow

The juxtaposition of brutal historical awareness with comedy makes “The Thanksgiving Play," which will be presented at Steppenwolf Theatre, such a unique experience.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Going Out and Coming In with a Bang: A Review of “Aida” at Lyric Opera by Dennis Polkow

It was an inspiring bit of casting to reunite soprano Michelle Bradley and tenor Russell Thomas as the doomed lovers Aida and Radamès.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Theo Theophany: A Storefront Theater’s Journey to Inclusivity by Dennis Polkow

Back in the early years of the non-Equity storefront theater company known as Theo—which began as Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre—it was pretty much founder and artistic director Fred Anzevi…

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Monday, March 4, 2024

Family Doubt: A Review of “Mrs. Doubtfire: A New Musical Comedy” at Broadway in Chicago by Dennis Polkow

The best thing about “Mrs. Doubtfire: A New Musical Comedy” is that it restores the heartfelt message of the original book—that divorce doesn’t have to be an end for a family, but ca…

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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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