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 2020-05-13
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Marvin's Room
by Scott C. Morgan, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Playwright: Scott McPherson. At: Circle Theatre at Madison Street Theatre Studio, 1010 W. Madison St., Oak Park. Tickets: 708-660-9540;; $24-$28. Runs through: Sept. 30

AIDS is never mentioned in the late gay playwright Scott McPherson's acclaimed and award-winning 1990 comic drama Marvin's Room. Yet AIDS acts as a behind-the-scenes scourge to the play, since the disease untimely felled McPherson at the age of 33 in 1992.

At least the native of Columbus, Ohio, who found successful work as an actor and playwright in Chicago was able to see Marvin's Room go onto be a off-Broadway hit in 1991 and finish a screenplay adaptation for the acclaimed 1996 film starring Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Now, Marvin's Room is back in the Chicago area with an intimate studio staging at Circle Theatre in Oak Park. Though elements of director Mary C. Redmon's production aren't always the most ideal, Marvin's Room shows how nearly timeless and insightful it is in exploring issues of family loyalty, disease and death.

Marvin's Room focuses on Bessie (Amanda Hartley), who has devoted a good portion of her adult life taking care of her slowly dying father, Marvin (voiced by Paul Chakrin), and her aging aunt Ruth (Kate Kisner). When Bessie is diagnosed with leukemia, she's forced to contact her long-estranged and bitter sister, Lee (Elizabeth Morgan), and her troubled sons, Hank (Todd Aiello) and Charlie (Danny Mulae), with the hope that they'll be matching bone marrow donors.

If you think this all sounds like a relentless downer, fear not. McPherson layers on the laughs throughout Marvin's Room so that they outnumber the teary-eyed moments, for sure. But wringing out those potential laughs isn't always the strong suit of Circle's production, which has some issues with casting (Mulae is too old for the role of Charlie) and comic timing. (Kisner's Ruth, Liliana Mitchell's psychiatrist/retirement counselor and Eliza Shin's flustered Dr. Wally all aren't quite there in making their characters the laugh riots they could be.)

Undoubtedly, Morgan makes the biggest impression as Lee, especially when she sarcastically deals with Aiello's sarcastically defiant Hank (who starts the play in a mental institution for his destructive pyromania). Hartley as Bessie is good, but could plumb the depths of her character's fears beneath her outward and enduring show of strength and fortitude.

Even if Circle Theatre's production of Marvin's Room is far from perfect, the play itself remains a must-see. Not only does Marvin's Room survive as a wonderfully insightful blend of comedy and drama, the play is a lovely memorial to McPherson as an artist who was only beginning to bloom into greatness before AIDS cut his life short.

facebook twitter pin it 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.


Gay News

Steppenwolf names first woman director 2020-05-22 - Steppenwolf Theatre Company announced that Brooke Flanagan—who previously worked at Steppenwolf for seven years—will return to the organization in the role of executive ...

Gay News

STREAMING THEATER REVIEW To Master the Art 2020-05-22 - Playwright: William Brown and Doug Frew. At: TimeLine Theatre, streaming. Tickets:; $15-$25. Runs through: June 7 TimeLine Theatre commissioned To ...

Gay News

STREAMING THEATER REVIEW School Girls; Or The African Mean Girls Play 2020-05-22 - Playwright: Jocelyn Bioh At: Goodman Theatre online at Tickets: $20. Runs through: May 31 Ranking in popularity on the list of ...

Gay News

STREAMING THEATER REVIEW The Happiest Place on Earth 2020-05-21 - Playwright: Philip Dawkins At: Sideshow Theatre online. Tickets:; $5+ ( pay what you can ). Runs through: Open run Playwright Philip ...

Gay News

Broadway In Chicago reschedules 'Frozen' 2020-05-21 - In response to the COVID-19 ( coronavirus ) pandemic, Broadway In Chicago announced that the upcoming engagement of Disney's Frozen—originally scheduled to run ...

Gay News

'SapphFest' to take place virtually May 28-29 2020-05-21 - On May 28-29 at 7:30 p.m., Violet Surprise Theatre will present SapphFest—a digital variety show celebrating queer women and non-binary artists from all ...

Gay News

First Folio to stream 'Cymbeline' in June 2020-05-19 - As a way to help address the absence of live theater performances, First Folio Theatre will offer a streaming video recording of the ...

Gay News

Hell in a Handbag updates season with 'Girls,' 'Tiger Queen' 2020-05-19 - Hell in a Handbag Productions announced several updates to its 2020 season, including a streaming production slated for this summer and a world-premiere ...

Gay News

Victory Gardens announces IGNITION Festival of New Plays 2020-05-18 - Victory Gardens Theater outgoing Artistic Director Chay Yew and Executive Artistic Erica Daniels announced the lineup for the 2020 IGNITION Festival of New ...

Gay News

Broadway in Chicago updates show schedule 2020-05-15 - ( Chicago — Friday, May 15 ) The safety and health of our patrons, staff and theatrical companies is our top priority. In ...


Copyright © 2020 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  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar 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      Post 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 publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.