Tag: Mick Weber

Review: American Myth (American Blues Theater)

Mick Weber stars in American Blues Theater's "American Myth" by Christina Gorman, directed by Steve Scott. (photo credit: Johnny Knight)        
American Myth

Written by Christina Gorman  
Directed by Steve Scott
at Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln (map)
thru April 6  |  tickets: $29-$39   |  more info
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March 23, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Compulsion (Next Theatre)

Jenny Avery and Mick Weber in Next Theatre's "Compulsion" by Rinne Groff, directed by Devon de Mayo. (photo credit: Michael Brosilow)        

Written by Rinne Groff
Directed by Devon de Mayo
Noyes Cultural Arts Center, Evanston (map)
thru Nov 17  |  tickets: $30-$40   |  more info
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October 20, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Taming of the Shrew (Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks)

Petruchio (Matt Mueller) carries off his bride Katherina (Ericka Ratcliff) in the Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks' production of "The Taming of the Shrew", adapted and directed by Rachel Rockwell. (photo credit: Michael Litchfield)        
The Taming of the Shrew 

Written by William Shakespeare  
Adapted and Directed by Rachel Rockwell 
at various Chicago parks (dates and locations)
thru Aug 19  |  tickets: FREE   |  more info
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August 1, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Lover (Soul Theatre)

Ravi Batista and Mick Weber, Soul Theatre, The Lover       
The Lover 

Written by Harold Pinter  
Directed by Paul Wagar
at A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells (map)
thru July 15  |  tickets: $10-$20   |  more info
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June 30, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: After the Revolution (Next Theatre)

Christine Stulik as Emma - After the Revolution       
After the Revolution 

Written by Amy Herzog  
Directed by Kimberly Senior  
Noyes Cultural Arts Center, Evanston (map)
thru May 13  |  tickets: $30-$40   |  more info
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April 12, 2012 | 1 Comment More

Review: Short Shakespeare! The Taming of the Shrew (Chicago Shakes)

Hortensio (Matthew Sherbach) fails in his attempt to teach music to the wildly spirited Katharina in Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Short Shakespeare! The Taming of the Shrew, adapted and directed by Rachel Rockwell       
Short Shakespeare! 
   The Taming of the Shrew

Written by William Shakespeare 
Adapted and Staged by Rachel Rockwell
Chicago Shakespeare, Navy Pier (map)
thru April 7  |  tickets: $16-$20   |  more info
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February 27, 2012 | 3 Comments More

Steppenwolf Theatre’s First Look Repertory: Want

Janelle Kroll - Steppenwolf Theatre       

Written by Zayd Dohrn
Directed by Kimberly Senior 
Steppenwolf Garage, 1624 N. Halsted (map)
thru Nov 20  |  tickets: $20   |  more info

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November 8, 2011 | 1 Comment More

Review: Meet John Doe (Porchlight Musical Theatre)


‘John Doe’ Gets the Job Half Done


MJD--Jim Sherman (Connell) and Sean Effinger-Dean (Beany)

Porchlight Music Theatre presents
Meet John Doe
Music/Book by Andrew Gerle
Lyrics/Book by
Eddie Sugarman
Directed/Choreographed by
James Beaudry
Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map)
through April 17  |  tickets: $38  |  more info

Reviewed by Paige Listerud

Nothing sets the tone for Porchlight Music Theatre’s Meet John Doe like its foreboding, expressionist set design (Ian Zywica). Stage right, a bold graphic sticks out from a wall of newsprint: “JOBLESS MEN KEEP MOVING–We can’t take care of our own.” Now, if that doesn’t lock and load your head for a Depression Era period piece, nothing else will. Andrew Gerle (music) and Eddie Sugarman’s (lyrics) musical follows through with ample period perfection–from driven pace, to musical style, to its tough and cocky dialogue. James Beaudry’s direction accents the production’s expressionistic edge, framing the action, whether in crowd scenes or backroom MJD--Karl Hamilton (John Doe) and Elizabeth Lanza (Ann Mitchell)conferences, so that the show’s language hits right between the eyes about our own desperate political and economic plight. Fabricated news stories, populist heroes spun out of thin air, media manipulation of the masses by cynical moguls–and a down and out populace looking for any flicker of hope to lead them. Everything old is new again.

Porchlight could not have picked a timelier musical. In some ways, it contains improvements on Frank Capra’s 1941 film. For one, the musical’s Ann Mitchell (Elizabeth Lanza) is a much tougher, moxie-er, foxier newshound than her original film version played by Barbara Stanwyck. Given the pink slip during her newspaper’s takeover and transition to the New American Times, Ann submits her final column with a fake letter from “John Doe”—a man so sickened by the current economic downturn he threatens to commit suicide in protest by jumping off a bridge on Christmas Eve. Lanza has the voice, the sass and the legs to pull off her role and she’s not afraid to use them—a point she more than drives home with the song “I’m Your Man.”

Once circulation jumps in response to the letter, Ann restores her job by devising a whole series of columns based on John Doe. Out of a mass of jobless men, she and her world-weary editor, Connell (Jim Sherman), pick out a former bush league ball player to be their John Doe (Karl Hamilton). Hamilton definitely brings that Everyman vibe that they—and we–go for, but it’s his rich tenor voice that awakens sympathy and warmth to John Doe’s reintegration into showered, shaved and employed life once more, with “I Feel Like a Man Again.”

Unfortunately, for all the attention it has gained at Ford’s Theatre in 2007 with seven Helen Hayes nominations and with the 2006 Jonathan Larson Award, Meet John Doe still feels half finished. The first act is a beauty. Beaudry’s direction builds its tension with consummate skill and his taut cast carves its dramatic arc in expressionist stone. From the opening moments, where the terror every newsman has for his job is quite palpable – to John Doe’s escape from his first public speech – the first act is non-stop, smart and tough entertainment. In between, Lanza and Hamilton solidly sketch the growing relationship between Ann and John, while John’s hobo friend, the Colonel (Rus Rainear), adds much needed salt to the proceedings. Finally, even with a limited voice, Mick Weber gives us a smooth MJD--Elizabeth Lanza as Ann Mitchelland seductive menace as D.B. Norton, who sits atop of his new newspaper like an American Silvio Berlusconi, ready to manipulate John Doe’s image to further his political ambitions.

It’s the second act that doesn’t know where to go with this build-up. In part, this has to do with over-reliance on Capra’s plot.  In other sections, however, Gerle and Sugarman’s book diverges from it counter-intuitively. Capra himself changed the ending to his film five times before he settled on its own muddled and unsatisfactory finish. Suffice it to say that suicide, far from being painless, is actually a downer, whether for a musical’s uplifting final moments or for a real-life social movement. Therefore, John Doe’s final self-sacrificing act might make psychological sense for the character, but not for the unity of the crowd after he does it. Act Two contains choice moments, like Connell’s gorgeous reminiscence of his WWI army service with “Lighthouses” or the verbal hits John Doe delivers against Norton’s cadre of privileged, slime-ball cronies. But on the whole, it’s rewrite time once again for this plotline. Time once again for John Doe to re-create himself—let’s hope for his sake, and ours–that that he gets it right.

Rating: ★★½

MJD--Elizabeth Lanza (Ann Mitchell) and Jim Sherman (Connell)

All photos by Johnny Knight

March 11, 2011 | 0 Comments More