All stories by Matt Simonette on BroadwayStars

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Orphan black comedy by Matt Simonette

At one point in Hell in a Handbag’s new opus, Poor People! The Parody Musical, the central protagonist, L’il Orphan Arnie (Dakota Hughes), complains, “Nothing makes sense when I try to…

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Murder in the Cathedral has fresh relevance by Matt Simonette

T.S. Eliot conceived of his verse play Murder in the Cathedral in 1935. It was performed at Canterbury Cathedral and in the very room where the murder that provides the inciting incident of …

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Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Prelude to a Kiss highlights old souls in a fresh package by Matt Simonette

It’s amazing that this play about old souls moves along at such a brisk pace.  Theatre Above the Law’s new production of Craig Lucas’s romantic comedy/drama Prelude to a Kiss is inten…

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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Children will listen by Matt Simonette

It’s tempting to start a review of Beyond the Garden Gate with a comment like, “The fairy tales I grew up with were never like this.” But let’s face it: The fairy tales we grew up wi…

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Wednesday, February 7, 2024

The power of memory by Matt Simonette

Mark David Kaplan is terrific as Tevye in Drury Lane’s new production of the Jerry Bock–Joseph Stein–Sheldon Harnick classic. The show opens in a deep haze, transporting us into Tevye�…

SOURCE: at 03:42PM
Thursday, December 7, 2023

Even goblins can’t chase away Hershel‘s Hanukkah fun by Matt Simonette

Things get meta pretty quickly when you walk into the theater of Chicago Loop Synagogue to see Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins. Cast members come out to schmooze with the audience members (…

SOURCE: at 10:52AM
Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Cinderella emphasizes the magic of kindness by Matt Simonette

As a burgeoning, albeit un-self-aware, gay kid in the 70s, I developed an inexplicable fascination with TV and film scenes where women changed outfits quickly. When Cher had her own show, sh…

SOURCE: at 10:00AM
Friday, November 3, 2023

Chaos in the co-op by Matt Simonette

A stellar cast more than makes up for some of the inherent unevenness in Charles Busch’s The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife, produced at Skokie Theatre as part of MadKap Productions’s 20…

SOURCE: at 10:11AM

This Bitter Earth dives into the roots of political and personal commitment by Matt Simonette

At one point in Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre’s excellent production of Harrison David Rivers’s This Bitter Earth, the central character, Jesse (Matthew Lolar-Johnson), says to his activist…

SOURCE: at 09:01AM
Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Cooking With Soul by Matt Simonette

Near the end of Black Ensemble Theater’s (BET) superb new revue A Taste of Soul, co-emcee Qiana McNary mentions that the show’s creators hope to leave the audience both “full and hungr…

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Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Emotional landmines on the campaign trail by Matt Simonette

Obama campaign operatives stationed in East Cleveland at the height of the 2008 presidential run felt like they were at the center of the political world. An idealistic—and existentially l…

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Thursday, May 4, 2023

Showfolk follies by Matt Simonette

I’m generally not a huge fan of material wherein creative folk in any discipline—theater, film, publishing, music—turn to their own profession for inspiration. If a movie is about film…

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Thursday, March 2, 2023

one in two provocatively reflects on a lingering epidemic by Matt Simonette

Even as the audience find their seats before the start of PrideArts’s new production one in two, they’ll get a sense that their relationship with the actors for the next 90 minutes will …

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Thursday, December 15, 2022

The Chicken Ranch builds a nest in Evanston by Matt Simonette

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, first presented on Broadway in 1978 and memorably mounted as a film in 1982, is ironically one of the most prescient musicals for the 21st century. The s…

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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Have yourself a dirty little Christmas by Matt Simonette

I try not to lose myself in hyperbole, but I’m guessing Tom Whalley’s Jack Off the Beanstalk (a bawdy take on the classic British “panto”) is the only play this […] The post Have y…

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Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Southern secrets and lies by Matt Simonette

Sarah Sapperstein’s Maggie the Cat commands your attention with her act one monologues in MadKap Productions’s mounting of Tennessee Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at Skokie Theatre,…

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Thursday, November 3, 2022

Great character work helps Boeing-Boeing take off at Saint Sebastian Players by Matt Simonette

In Boeing-Boeing, the 1960 French sex comedy by Marc Camoletti (translated by Beverly Cross and Francis Evans) that’s now being mounted by Saint Sebastian Players, protagonist Bernard (Gar…

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Friday, October 28, 2022

Unearthing raw passions by Matt Simonette

Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama about a rural Illinois family beset by delusion and dysfunction is brilliantly brought to life by AstonRep Theatre Company.   Alcoholic patriar…

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Thursday, October 27, 2022

Medieval love triangle, modernized by Matt Simonette

Music Theater Works (MTW) ambitiously takes on some of the problems with Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s formless and dated book, keeping our focus on Arthur (Michael Metcalf), Guene…

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Thursday, October 6, 2022

On a clear day you can clone forever by Matt Simonette

Dr. Barbra Joan Frankenstreisand (Tyler Anthony Smith)—that ultimate hyphenate: superstar-mad scientist—has commandeered the stage at the Raven Room at Redline VR bar for what she calls …

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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Two Destinos plays center women’s experiences by Matt Simonette

Two emotionally intense woman-centered productions are among the offerings at this fall’s fifth Destinos: Chicago International Latino Theater Festival, with the first focusing on the psyc…

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Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Mixtape romance by Matt Simonette

The titular girlfriend in the local premiere of the two-person musical (book by Todd Almond, music and lyrics by Matthew Sweet) kicking off PrideArts’s 2022-23 season never appears. Referr…

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Thursday, July 28, 2022

The Mamalogues offers real talk with a comic edge by Matt Simonette

Late in Evanston’s Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre’s production of The Mamalogues, one character asks, “If I am my ancestors’ wildest dream, why am I still living out their worst nightmar…

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Friday, June 17, 2022

A brand new print of Airport premieres at this year’s Music Box 70mm Film Festival by Matt Simonette

Airport (1970) introduced many tropes so closely associated with the 70s disaster genre: the reverence for—and subsequent destabilization of—then-new technologies, in this case the Boein…

SOURCE: at 11:00AM
Thursday, June 9, 2022

Bringing the Pride party to the people by Matt Simonette

For LGBTQ+ audiences and their allies who may not want to spend all of their Pride weekend on the north side, the arts collective TRQPITECA offers an alternative. TRQPITECA, formed in 2015, …

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Monday, May 16, 2022

Porchlight puts Passing Strange in the spotlight by Matt Simonette

For Chicago-based director Donterrio, the late-00s musical Passing Strange represents a road map for how an artist—no matter the medium in which they create—can live their life.  The sh…

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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