All stories by Jack Helbig on BroadwayStars

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Ritual and realism by Jack Helbig

MPAACT resident writer Shepsu Aakhu does something remarkable in this gentle, metaphysical play. He creates a world that successfully blends ritual and realism without succumbing to the weak…

SOURCE: at 04:06PM
Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Guys and Dolls kills at Drury Lane by Jack Helbig

Some shows age well, some don’t. You’d think a silly 74-year-old musical comedy like Guys and Dolls, with its cartoonish characters and sitcom plotlines (like, gambler makes a bet he can…

SOURCE: at 11:21AM

Baby shows its age at Citadel by Jack Helbig

Under the best of circumstances, it would be hard to make this 1983 musical soar. The story by playwright Sybille Pearson about three prosperous white, middle-class couples coping with pregn…

SOURCE: at 10:40AM
Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Spies like us by Jack Helbig

Written and directed by Grant Batdorff, this satire of spy thrillers for Two Chairs Theatre at the Annoyance begins with a bang: a wry, spot-on parody of those bombastic title sequences popu…

SOURCE: at 11:31AM
Wednesday, March 27, 2024

A Streetcar Named Desire at Paramount fires on all cylinders by Jack Helbig

Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire is an iconic play that lives up to its reputation.  Solidly written, packed with vivid characters and terrific dialogue, the play may run nea…

SOURCE: at 04:16PM
Wednesday, March 13, 2024

F-U-N C-H-A-O-S by Jack Helbig

William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin’s 2005 musical about a swarm of blooming, buzzing tween-age lexophiles began life as a fully improvised play, C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E, created by Rebecca Feldm…

SOURCE: at 11:42AM
Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Minor fireworks by Jack Helbig

The title of the show is an overstatement. Yes, the show does have west coast roots; the particular version of long-form used in the show was developed at the LA-based, Second City–influen…

SOURCE: at 10:21AM
Wednesday, February 7, 2024

The Outgoing Tide traces one family’s struggle with Alzheimer’s by Jack Helbig

If you wanted an example of a pretty well-structured contemporary American play you could do worse than Bruce Graham’s drama The Outgoing Tide. Graham’s characters—an elderly man with …

SOURCE: at 03:20PM
Thursday, November 9, 2023

Once on This Island illustrates the beauty of storytelling by Jack Helbig

Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s 1998 Tony Award-winning score for Ragtime (book by Terrence McNally) has many virtues—strong songs, strong characters, moments of great drama—but for…

SOURCE: at 10:35AM
Thursday, October 19, 2023

Rocking With Chekhov by Jack Helbig

There is something about Anton Chekhov’s first successful full-length play, The Seagull, that attracts playwrights to try their hand at creating their own adaptations—faithful or otherwi…

SOURCE: at 02:29PM
Thursday, September 21, 2023

Big songs, too much story by Jack Helbig

When people talk about the glory years of Chicago theater they rarely mention Jim Cartwright’s The Rise and Fall of Little Voice. After opening in London’s West End in 1992, with Jane Ho…

SOURCE: at 11:00AM
Thursday, September 14, 2023

Ring of Fire lacks dramatic heat by Jack Helbig

Let’s begin with what this 2006 jukebox musical is not. It is not a rich, textured, nuanced, moving, memorable musical biography of Johnny Cash. It does not attempt to do onstage what the …

SOURCE: at 10:38AM
Thursday, August 10, 2023

Not a wasted moment in this Measure for Measure by Jack Helbig

At a time when so many larger, established theaters are cutting back their seasons, laying off staff, or suspending operations, smaller theaters, like the relatively young Forest Park Theatr…

SOURCE: at 11:39AM
Wednesday, July 19, 2023

A Midsummer with some twists by Jack Helbig

Is there a Shakespeare comedy better suited for an outdoor production in a park in July than A Midsummer Night’s Dream? Much of the play itself takes place outdoors in the summer, in the w…

SOURCE: at 11:42AM
Friday, July 7, 2023

Not fading away by Jack Helbig

Alan Janes’s musical Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story is a clever piece of work, mixing the best elements of a biographical play, a jukebox musical, and a cover band concert into a bubbly, tig…

SOURCE: at 11:19AM
Friday, June 23, 2023

Long in the tooth by Jack Helbig

The Practical Theatre Company has earned its place in Chicago comedy history. In the 80s, this plucky troupe of young, energetic, gifted comic actors lit up stages around Chicago—including…

SOURCE: at 12:06PM
Wednesday, May 24, 2023

A claustrophobic Crucible by Jack Helbig

The Puritans in New England lived fearful, close-minded, claustrophobic lives. Disdainful of all other Christian sects (especially Catholics and Quakers) and of the Native Americans who they…

SOURCE: at 04:30PM
Thursday, May 11, 2023

Abstraction and realism by Jack Helbig

This double bill of plays from two very different theater companies (Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble and CIRCA-Pintig), working in two very different styles—one abstract, movement-based, very…

SOURCE: at 03:35PM
Thursday, May 4, 2023

Storefront Star Wars by Jack Helbig

Pay no attention to the show’s baggy, forgettable, mildly pompous title. This smart, tightly written play is at once a very funny satire of the Star Wars saga—and Star Wars fans—a hear…

SOURCE: at 10:18AM
Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Still the word by Jack Helbig

There have been many versions of Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey’s Grease: the raunchy one that premiered at Kingston Mines in 1971; a much cleaned-up version that opened a year later in New Y…

SOURCE: at 12:07PM

School of Rock doesn’t quite make the grade by Jack Helbig

The idea of turning Richard Linklater’s brilliant 2003 film comedy, School of Rock (about a struggling guitarist/substitute teacher coaching his prep-school students on how to, well, rock)…

SOURCE: at 10:57AM
Thursday, March 23, 2023

Beckettian summit by Jack Helbig

Dame Peggy Ashcroft considered the role of Winnie in Samuel Beckett’s notoriously difficult Happy Days a “summit part,” one of those roles, like Hamlet or King Lear, that tests an acto…

SOURCE: at 12:53PM
Thursday, February 9, 2023

The one that got away by Jack Helbig

Big Fish bombed on Broadway. Based on Tim Burton’s 2003 movie version of Daniel Wallace’s 1998 novel Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions, the show, with a score by Andrew Lippa and a…

SOURCE: at 11:11AM
Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Back in the USSR by Jack Helbig

I remember when rock was young. So, evidently, does Chicago playwright Katie Coleman, as she well attests in her intelligent, heartfelt play about two young Soviets, hopping and bopping to a…

SOURCE: at 12:54PM
Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Elf off the shelf by Jack Helbig

Like much that passes for entertainment during the holiday season, this 2010 musical, based on the 2003 movie, lives on the infinitely thin line between charm and utter stupidity. The […] …

SOURCE: at 11:30AM
Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Sound and fury by Jack Helbig

Their premise is not half bad: a “still relatively new” (as they describe themselves) theater company uses a fictional 125th-anniversary “jubilee” to bring together a collection of s…

SOURCE: at 10:10AM
Thursday, October 27, 2022

Luminous storytelling by Jack Helbig

Siena Marilyn Ledger’s brand-new two-person play, being produced here with 16th Street Theater and Dragonfly Theatre as part of the National New Play Network rolling world premiere program…

SOURCE: at 11:24AM
Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Bullish on Bull by Jack Helbig

This is a play of tiny moments and small details, a play in which characters change slowly, the way people and seasons change—silently, imperceptibly at first and then with the […] The p…

SOURCE: at 04:26PM
Wednesday, October 5, 2022

A life in song by Jack Helbig

The UrbanTheater Company’s performing space on Division Street is not small—I have seen them stage plays there just packed with actors—but it is really not large enough to contain all …

SOURCE: at 04:51PM
Thursday, September 22, 2022

Lookin’ swell by Jack Helbig

Hello, Dolly! is not revived that often. It only feels that way, because Jerry Herman’s score (book by Michael Stewart, based on Thornton Wilder’s play The Matchmaker) is so infectious […

SOURCE: at 12:56PM
Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Flawlessly in tune by Jack Helbig

Originally conceived in the mid-70s as a vehicle for Nell Carter but opening on Broadway in 1981 with Jennifer Holliday in the role that might have been Carter’s (if Carter’s […] The p…

SOURCE: at 12:24PM

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