15 Favorite Chicago Shows in 2015

My New Year’s resolution for 2015 was to see more theatre, and given that I went to 326 shows in 2015, I think it’s safe to say that I succeeded. On average, I went to 27 shows a month (32 in both April and July, 31 in August). 47% of shows were plays; 32% were musicals; 10% were readings; 3% were operas; 3% were concerts; and the last 5% were other kinds of shows (puppet, magic, dance, etc.).

I saw 153 plays, and although nearly all of them were separate plays, I did see the Hypocrites’ 12-hour-long Greek play festival All Our Tragic twice. I saw 104 musicals, though only 70 different shows (I tend to return to musicals). I made my first trip back to Broadway since 2006 – over two weekends, I saw nine shows, including the 2015 Best Musical Tony Award winner Fun Home and the presumptive 2016 Best Musical Tony Award winner Hamilton. And since Broadway shows like Hamilton rather skew the results, I will limit my 2015 list of favorite shows to Chicago productions.  Continue reading

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REVIEW: The Jungle [Oracle Theatre]

The director and adaptor of Oracle Theatre’s The Jungle, Matt Foss, writes in the director’s notes about Upton Sinclair’s disappointment that his book “led to sweeping pure-food laws, rather than to changes in the living and working conditions of America’s workers.” In comparison, Foss’s adaptation focuses tightly on the workers, creating the most disturbing, powerful, impactful piece of theatre I have seen all year.

In The Jungle, brutality and corruption reign supreme, particularly over the poor and unwary. While unions remain a shadowy specter around the edges of the play, the gains they have made are starkly obvious against the nigh impossible working conditions in the play. The Jungle follows a small group of Lithuanian immigrants who arrive in Chicago in the early 1900s, knowing no English beyond the city’s name. They have minimal savings and a friend who owns a delicatessen – very modest beginnings, but by the end of the play, their starting point seems unreachably high. Continue reading