Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-12-12
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Best of 2010
by Jonathan Abarbanel

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

There are 200 or so theater companies in Chicago and 'burbs staging upwards of 800 shows a year and no one person can see more than one-third of them and remain sane. Best of 2010? Who the hell knows? I saw, maybe, 200 shows and here's what I though best of that relatively narrow sampling. In alphabetical order:

—Billy Elliot the Musical, Broadway In Chicago. A dynamic, hard-edged and faithful stage version of the hit film about a coal-miners boy who wants to dance, with a pounding score by Elton John who now has learned how to write music that's part of a show, not music applied to the show. Gorgeous staging and choreography, and four brilliant boys alternating in the demanding role of Billy.

—Boojum! Nonsense, Truth and Lewis Carroll, Caffeine Theatre and Chicago Opera Vanguard. Co-authored by Australian twin brothers, this chamber opera puts Charles Lutwidge Dodson in confrontation with his literary alter-ego, Lewis Carroll. Somewhat arcane to all but devoted Lewis Carroll fans, it nonetheless featured a brilliant pastiche score straddling the line between pop and opera, and wonderful (and handsome) 10-person cast. It was Chicago Off-Loop at its best.

—The Brother/Sister Plays, Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Theater began as communal story-telling through rituals of music, movement and language, and the sheer joy of this production was the connection it made between a contemporary story and the primitive and communal nature of theater itself. The wonderful, large ensemble cast was guided by playwright Terell Alvin McCraney and insightful director Tina Landau in a true creative partnership.

—K., The Hypocrites. Greg Allen—former artistic director of the Neo-Futurists—directed his own wonderful adaptation of Franz Kafka's The Trial with an abundance of meta-theatrical devices, especially the brilliant scenic design of 15 doors. Allen turned the story into an Absurdist comedy; in which Joseph K awakes to an arbitrary world in which there are no reasons or answers. Would Kafka approve? Who knows, who cares? He died before finishing this one.

—Master Harold ... and the Boys, TimeLine Theatre. Written in the 1980's but set in 1950, Athol Fugard's three-character play illuminates nothing less than the soul of South Africa on the brink of national tragedy. Seemingly simple, the play begins as comedy and then breaks your heart. Under director Jonathan Wilson, the TimeLine production was a profound event, exquisitely acted by Alfred H. Wilson, Daniel Bryant and Nate Burger.

—Mistakes Were Made, A Red Orchid Theatre. We watch a man and a producer totally melt down before our eyes in Craig Wright's darkly comic look at deal-making and life, equal parts valentine and stiletto hurled at showbiz. Essentially a monologue conducted between man and telephone, it requires a fucking brilliant actor. Ta-da! Michael Shannon is a fucking brilliant actor with weirdness and charisma to spare.

—Romeo and Juliet, Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Australian director Gale Edwards showed Chicago audiences that R&J can be driven forward by its text and not slowed down by treating the text as poetry. Her production successfully juxtaposed classic and modern visual devices, had slam-bang fight choreography and galloped along while cutting nary a word. Also, it was the most handsome production of the year (scenic and costume) and provided a clearly-gay Mercutio lusting after Romeo.

—A Streetcar Named Desire, Writers' Theatre. A claustrophobic and physically-brutal staging by MacArthur Fellow David Cromer, which allowed me to see this often-parodied Tennessee Williams classic with fresh eyes. What higher praise can one give any production of a familiar work? Cromer physicalized things Williams left to the imagination—such as two men discovered in bed—and I didn't agree with all his choices, but they were bold choices that certainly made the play a sweaty and sensual experience!

—Travels with My Aunt, Writers' Theatre. One of the best shows and comedies of the year. Grahame Green's richly comic novel—think Auntie Mame but her nephew is 55 instead of 12—has been wittily adapted for four adept actors all of whom dazzle and charm in multiple roles. The clever scenic design and the turn-on-dime staging make this a huge show in a most intimate venue. Best of all, it's still running (through March 27).

—Trust, Lookingglass Theatre Company. This bleeding-heart liberal play won me over by the integrity of its acting and directing, and the truth of the family relationships portrayed. Not a play about internet sex predators—as some made it out to be—Trust was about family relationships, especially that between father and daughter, who end in a state of hard-earned grace, although sadder and wiser. Co-authored and directed by David Schwimmer who did himself proud.

—The Year of Magical Thinking, Court Theatre. Joan Didion's one-woman adaptation of her own memoir about life and death was funny, touching, acerbic, heart-stopping, angry, philosophical, wise, profound, brave, clean and reverent ... and deeply moving. Performed to glory by Mary Beth Fisher, one of the best actors working today (and I don't mean only in Chicago, where we are damn lucky to keep her busy), and directed by Charles Newell.

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


The Play That Goes Wrong 2018-12-12
Hedwig' tour in Chicago in 2019 2018-12-12
The Second City 107th Mainstage Revue, Algorithm Nation or The Static Quo 2018-12-11
T.R. Knight talks about upcoming 'Dream' role 2018-12-11
Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins 2018-12-10
The Santaland Diaries 2018-12-10
Critics' Picks 2018-12-10
Stomp 2018-12-10
Les Miserables comes to Cadillac Palace Theatre July 2019 2018-12-10
Twelfth Night 2018-12-10
Best of The Infinite Wrench 2018 2018-12-08
Holiday Hootenanny Radio Hour presents Cricket on the Mantle, benefits AVER 2018-12-08
Interrobang Theatre Project to present "I Call my Brothers" 2018-12-07
Haven Theatre, About Face Theatre announce casting for The Total Bent 2018-12-06
About Face Theatre announces casting for DADA WOOF PAPA HOT 2018-12-06
Critics' Picks 2018-12-05
'When Adonis Calls' through Dec. 9 at Pride Arts 2018-12-05
DINING Gift drive, Theater on the Lake, 'Charlie Brown' Christmas 2018-12-04
Jane Lynch, Kate Flannery make the yuletide swing 2018-12-04
Familiar 2018-12-04
SPOTLIGHT on The Book of Merman 2018-12-04
A Christmas Carol 2018-12-04
HeLa 2018-12-04
The Buttcracker, A Nutcracker Burlesque 2018-12-04
The Revolutionists 2018-12-03
Steppenwolf to honor Gurira Dec. 10 2018-12-03
Q Brothers Christmas Carol 2018-11-28
Mansfield Park 2018-11-28
Spotlight on A & A Ballet's Art Deco Nutcracker 2018-11-28
Critics' Picks 2018-11-28
The Neo-Futurists mark three decades 2018-11-28
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat 2018-11-28
It's a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! 2018-11-28
Chicago Magic Lounge celebrates New Year's Eve, holds child-friendly night before 2018-11-27
Sidetrack's OUTspoken! Series: December's featured storytellers 2018-11-27
Nia & Ness use dance, poetry to tell story, analyze identity 2018-11-26
Raul Esparza to be in 'Hamlet' next year 2018-11-21
YEPP launches 'Rise Up' at Chicago Theater Works 2018-11-20
Wife Material 2018-11-19
Ghosts 2018-11-19

Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Submit an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.