Choreographer John Neumeier is a passionate man of deep intellect and wide-ranging creativity. You need do nothing more than listen to him talk about “Sylvia,” the contemporary reinvention of the 19th century classic he devised originally for the Paris Opera Ballet, and is now overseeing as the Joffrey Ballet prepares for its debut of the work, to be performed Oct. 14-25 at the Auditorium Theatre.
David Rabe has long been acclaimed as the “playwright laureate” of the Vietnam War – a man who captured the profound psychological impact of that conflict in a trilogy that includes “Sticks and Bones,” “The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel” and “Streamers.” Now, in “Good for Otto,” his altogether remarkable new play, he has continued his probing of the landscape of the damaged human psyche. But in this case the war is raging inside the minds of those whose battlefield is far closer to home.
“Ride the Cyclone” the eerie, tragicomic, dizzyingly talent-filled musical vaudeville – born in Canada, and now receiving its U.S. premiere on Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Upstairs stage – possesses elements reminiscent of such shows as “Forever Plaid” and “The 23rd Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” But it comes with a whole different level of sophistication.
For her 2003 Jeff Award-winning set design for director David Cromer’s Seanachai Theatre production of “Journey’s End,” Elizabeth Schuch created a World War I trench environment so real it made you want to duck for cover. She has lived in London for more than a decade, but now she is returning to the Chicago area for a brief visit for the screening of “The Winter,” an acclaimed film she made in collaboration with her Greek husband.
While it is not essential to know that playwright Scott McPherson died of the complications of AIDS at the age of just 33 before heading to the exceptionally winning revival of his play, “Marvin’s Room” (now in a winning revival by Shattered Globe Theatre), anyone watching the work’s zany doctor’s office scenes might well appreciate McPherson’s blackly comic take on all things medical in a different way.
Actor-writer-producer James Murray Jackson, Jr. discovered Richard Pryor for the first time when, as a kid, he caught the actor-comedian’s hit movies from the early 1980s, “The Toy” and “Stir Crazy,” on TV. He was hooked. Now he is playing Pryor in his play, “Unspeakable,” opening Oct. 13 at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place.
Douglas Druick is stepping down as president of the Art Institute of Chicago, a position he has held since 2011. Museum officials said he announced his plans at a meeting of the board on Tuesday.
The list of Jeff Award winners honoring excellence in Chicago’s Equity contract theaters during the 2014-2015 season are notable for a number of reasons. Check out the list of recipients named Monday night at the awards ceremony held at Drury Lane Theatre.
There are two solidly dramatic moments in “The BlackWhite Love Play (The Story of Chaz & Roger Ebert),” Jackie Taylor’s new show at the Black Ensemble Theater about the 24-year marriage between the Chicago Sun-Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic and his wife. But overall this show is ill-conceived and full of missed opportunities.
At the heart of Willy Russell’s heart-wrenching musical, “Blood Brothers” – a show that might well be described as a Greek tragedy of the British working class, and is receiving a superb production by Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre – is the much debated question about which is more crucial to human development – nature or nurture.