All stories by John Olson on BroadwayStars

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Review: Into the Woods (Music Theater Works) by John Olson

Music Theater Works’ two-weekend, eight-performance run is one of those rare opportunities to see this Sondheim musical performed by a cast that can deliver the goods on both Sondheim’s …

Linked From Chicago Theater Beat at 12:04AM
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Review: Hello, Dolly! (Broadway in Chicago, 2018) by John Olson

This Hello, Dolly! is classic Broadway showmanship in all the most important ways - in Betty Buckley we have a major Broadway performer that we all ought to see at least once, a top flight s…

Linked From Chicago Theater Beat at 08:48PM
Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Review: Merrily We Roll Along (Porchlight Music Theatre) by John Olson

With its story of mostly young (22-42 year old) people, Merrily We Roll Along is popular with high school and college groups, but it’s rare to find a large scale professional production li…

Linked From Chicago Theater Beat at 09:16PM
Friday, September 22, 2017

Review: Honeymoon in Vegas (Marriott Theatre) by John Olson

You sorta have to love the rare musical like Marriott Theatre's Honeymoon in Vegas that sets a world we know to music. Sure, it’s based on a 25-year-old film comedy, but the targets of thi…

Linked From Chicago Theater Beat at 07:48PM
Monday, September 18, 2017

Review: Trevor the Musical (Writers Theatre) by John Olson

In expanding the story of the short film to a full length (two-hour, including intermission) stage musical, writer Dan Collins and composer Julianne Wick Davis have kept the warmly comic ton…

Linked From Chicago Theater Beat at 06:12PM
Friday, September 15, 2017

Review: One Thousand Words (Theater Faction) by John Olson

Theater Faction's One Thousand Words is a musical drama that began life under the title Maybe, Someday at Louisiana State University in 2014, where the young writers Michael Braud and Curran…

Linked From Chicago Theater Beat at 11:04PM
Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Review: Gypsy (Music Theater Works) by John Olson

Always a demanding musical to produce, this Gypsy is a huge production by any standards. Rudy Hogenmiller, Clayton Cross and Roger Bingaman lead an accomplished cast of 31 performers (that i…

Linked From Chicago Theater Beat at 01:06AM
Friday, June 16, 2017

Antoinette Nwandu's "Pass Over" Debuts at Steppenwolf by John Olson

... Pass Over is using both realism and absurdism to make a powerful piece of political theater. The three styles are seamlessly blended by director Danya Taymor and her superb cast.

Linked From TalkinBroadway at 11:21AM
Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Steppenwolf Premieres Tracy Letts' "Linda Vista" by John Olson

Letts's script is both funny and intense—and edgy in its depiction and discussion of sex. If the topic of midlife crisis among men is not new, Letts treats it freshly and uncompromisingly.

Linked From TalkinBroadway at 04:23PM
Monday, March 13, 2017

Review: Uncle Vanya (Goodman Theatre) by John Olson

Anton Chekhov's timeless Uncle Vanya questions how to be kind, loyal and useful to others while being true to oneself is the deeper theme inherent in the play. With ticket prices of $20 to …

Linked From Chicago Theater Beat at 12:24AM
Sunday, February 26, 2017

Review: Carmen (Lyric Opera of Chicago, 2017) by John Olson

For Lyric Opera's 2017 production of Geoges Bizet's Carmen, they have successfully adapted it to 1930s Spain. And to amp up the entertainment value, Lyric Opera has brought in Broadway showm…

Linked From Chicago Theater Beat at 02:04AM
Thursday, February 9, 2017

Review: Gloria (Goodman Theatre) by John Olson

Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins makes his points clearly and viciously in this sharply-observed satire of contemporary life, his primary target being millennials in the workplace. His dial…

Linked From Chicago Theater Beat at 07:06PM
Monday, January 23, 2017

Review: The Hunter and the Bear (Writers Theatre) by John Olson

Writers Theatre's world premiere The Hunter and the Bear, created by PigPen Theatre, may be a tad long for what it has to say, but with just a little judicious trimming it can have legs for …

Linked From Chicago Theater Beat at 10:12PM
Friday, January 20, 2017

Review: Mr. and Mrs. Pennyworth (Lookingglass Theatre) by John Olson

Lookingglass Theatre’s Doug Hara has fashioned a charming and touching fable, presented with the help of some highly inventive multi-media stagecraft in this charming and touching world pr…

Linked From Chicago Theater Beat at 07:42PM
Sunday, January 1, 2017

Review: Die Fledermaus (Light Opera Works) by John Olson

Stage Director Rudy Hogenmiller and Music Director Roger L. Bingaman have assembled a dream cast for the 10 principal roles in Die Fledermaus, and the outcome is near perfection. Operettas m…

Linked From Chicago Theater Beat at 07:24PM
Thursday, December 22, 2016

Review: The Christmas Schooner (Mercury Theater Chicago, 2016) by John Olson

As done here, Mercury Theater's The Christmas Schooner is a perfect mid-size production, offering strong visual design and a good sized cast, while still retaining the intimacy of this gentl…

Linked From Chicago Theater Beat at 04:18PM
Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Review: The Little Mermaid (Paramount Theatre) by John Olson

Though not produced by Disney, it clearly feels and looks like a Disney-style production in the tradition of their big shows. The original film score has been greatly (and nicely) expanded b…

Linked From Chicago Theater Beat at 05:12PM
Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Review: Finding Neverland (Broadway in Chicago) by John Olson

With Broadway in Chicago's Finding Neverland about J.M. Barrie's journey to write Peter Pan, director Diane Paulus has conceived the piece as a most family-friendly entertainment. There’s …

Linked From Chicago Theater Beat at 04:36PM
Monday, October 24, 2016

"Hamilton" in Chicago by John Olson

Producers Jeffrey Seller et al have given Chicago a cast that could have opened the show on Broadway.

Linked From TalkinBroadway at 12:20PM
Sunday, May 29, 2016

World Premiere "Prowess" in Chicago by John Olson

Through its four thoroughly original inner-city dwelling characters and a plot that, like Disney's theme park ride Space Mountain, never lets you know exactly where the next turn or free fal…

Linked From TalkinBroadway at 09:43AM
Sunday, April 10, 2016

"Mary Page Marlowe" by Tracy Letts World Premiere by John Olson

The life of his titular heroine is examined in 11 scenes, from her infancy just after World War II to a short time before her death in our present day, but they are presented in a non-chrono…

Linked From TalkinBroadway at 07:22PM
Saturday, April 9, 2016

Chicao World Premiere: "Hazel: A Musical Maid in America" by John Olson

If there's one thing this new musical proves, it's that its star, Klea Blackhurst, who in the past has sometimes exploited her vocal resemblance to Ethel Merman, deserves a role made just fo…

Linked From TalkinBroadway at 05:34PM
Monday, March 21, 2016

Kristine Nielsen is "The Matchmaker" by John Olson

With Hello, Dolly! viewed by many as "fluff," one may wonder what its source material has in common with Wilder's more serious Our Town. Minus the singing and dancing waiters of the Harmonia…

Linked From TalkinBroadway at 01:54PM
Wednesday, February 3, 2016

"The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes" Premieres at Chicago's Mercuy Theatre by John Olson

The tone is one of light, yet grounded comedy. It's not farce or pastiche, and that's a good thing, considering the story touches on some very real and serious subjects.

Linked From TalkinBroadway at 01:33PM
Monday, October 26, 2015

Lookingglass Presents Mary Zimmerman's "Treasure Island" by John Olson

It's a classy production, with solid performances and an attractive period look, but it's not much of an adventure. This version of the classic kids' adventure tale seems likely to bore kids…

Linked From TalkinBroadway at 09:01AM
Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Steppenwolf Presents "East of Eden" by John Olson

Galati is back as director and adapter of East of Eden, the last remaining of Steinbeck's "big three" to be adapted for the stage, and the Chicago Tribune has reported that the Steinbeck est…

Linked From TalkinBroadway at 03:39PM
Sunday, July 5, 2015

"Beaches" at Chicago's Drury Lane by John Olson

There's a problem, though, in adapting this story for the musical stage, which is that in a musical, you sorta have to give songs to both your leadsand if one of the lead characters is a su…

Linked From TalkinBroadway at 11:22AM
Thursday, June 18, 2015

Pre-Broadway "On Your Feet" in Chicago by John Olson

Whether the blame falls on the multi-millionaire Estefans for putting such a bland biography on stage, on Dinelaris for failing to put more edginess or suspense on paper, or Mitchell for fai…

Linked From TalkinBroadway at 11:54AM
Monday, May 25, 2015

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