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A word on being a critic, by a critic, after 'Birdman'

In the Alejandro Gonzalez movie "Birdman," a formidably expansive, admirably unstinting yet deeply affectionate portrait of the many layers of neuroses and insecurities common to the artist, a washed-up movie actor named Riggan Thomson finds himself doing a show on Broadway. It's a forlorn...

What's on stage, holiday shows to 'Humans'

This weekend is the beginning of peak theatergoing season in Chicago. So let me try and walk you through some decent options for you and yours.

Chicago theater openings for the week of Nov. 28 to Dec. 4

FRIDAY | "Shining City" | In Conor McPherson's ghost story, presented by the newly renamed Irish Theatre of Chicago, a man says he's seen the specter of his dead wife. Through Jan. 4 at The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 866-811-4111 or irishtheatreofchicago.org

Assorted 'Nutcrackers': Our list of 11 productions

So, you want to take the family to "The Nutcracker." If you have little dancers of your own, your choice is probably made. But if not, or if you want to branch out, where to go? Timing, location, price, and quantity and quality of artists might all be factors in a dizzying field of options....

A scene from 'The Humans'

Just in time for Thanksgiving comes this week’s Theater Loop Showcase video: Kelly O’Sullivan and Sadieh Rifai in “The Humans,” a new play by Pulitzer Prize-finalist Stephen Karam at American Theater Company.

REVIEW: 'We Three' at Side Project

Imagine a creepier version of Lake Wobegon — perhaps one designed by Harold Pinter. That gives you some idea of the claustrophobic but ultimately uninvolving world of Mary Hamilton's "We Three," now at the Side Project under Josh Sobel's direction.

REVIEW: 'Jet Black Chevrolet' at Side Project

Seldom has a coffee table so earned its moniker as in Scott T. Barsotti's "Jet Black Chevrolet" at the Side Project. The table in question — the banged-up centerpiece of the seen-better-days living room of Catherine and Sam Curie — overflows with coffee mugs surrounding a coffee...

REVIEW: 'Hot Georgia Sunday' by Haven Theatre Company

Tank tops, shorts and sweaty sexual desire are the main currency of the aptly titled "Hot Georgia Sunday," the engaging little sleeper of a show from the rising Haven Theatre Company, staged at The Den Theatre in Wicker Park and directed by Marti Lyons, who is rapidly becoming a leading...

REVIEW: 'A Q Brothers' Christmas Carol' at Chicago Shakespeare

This is just the second year for "A Q Brothers' Christmas Carol," the seasonal attraction at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, featuring Chicago's Q Brothers, whose core brand involves taking classics and updating them with hip-hop stylings and an irreverent attitude. The dudes who show up at...

REVIEW: 'A Christmas Carol' at the Goodman Theatre

Anyone who just played King Lear is ready for a little fun. So that might explain why the hard-working Larry Yando, once again starring in "A Christmas Carol" at the Goodman Theatre, seems especially eager to arrive at the end of the show, when a newly cheery Mister Scrooge, suddenly aware that...

Stand-up Scene: 'Blind Bet,' and other chances taken

At the “Blind Bet” stand-up show at The Pony Inn, David Drake is trying out new jokes: “I’m covered in hair,” says Drake. “I’ve got this thing called the creep,” he says pointing to the body hair just below his beard and just above his chest hair....

Rooting for The Last Ship and Applauding MTC

Two things happened in theater yesterday that had me thinking -- The New York Times reported Sting was going into The Last Ship, which...

Celebration of Sheldon Patinkin announced

A celebration of the life of Sheldon Patinkin, the influential teacher and Chicago comedy pioneer, has been set for Jan. 23, it was announced Monday. The event will take place in the main theater at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Review: 'The Lookingglass Alice' by Lookingglass Theatre

Some of us must have been "dreaming as the days go by," but the "Lookingglass Alice" is now, well, older than Alice herself.

Jesus' mother lays bare her grief

As most theaters trot out their Scrooge, Schooner or George Bailey, the Victory Gardens Theater opens a difficult, sparse, austere, intense and most assuredly haunting piece that — given the graphic depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ therein — is something one more readily...

REVIEW: Uplifting return by Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dance Theatre of Harlem has risen from the dead with stunning aplomb and force. It's not a miracle, though, except perhaps of perseverance and hard work. When the company announced a yearlong hiatus in 2004, it had 44 dancers and a $2.3 million debt. Eight years later it returned from the grave...

Chicago Children's Theatre gets $5 million in state funds

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is expected Saturday night at a fundraising gala for the Chicago Children's Theatre — where he will announce $5 million in new state funding to help the long-itinerant, non-profit theater company purchase and renovate a former police station in Chicago's West...

REVIEW: 'Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas!'

Cindy Lou Who'd believe it? The Grinch got his union card! I don't mean that Shuler Hensley, who plays the verdant old meanie on the road, is the newest member of Actors' Equity Association. Au contraire. Hensley has more Broadway credits than the Whos have Roast Beast, including a Tony...

A scene from 'Burning Bluebeard'

This week's Theater Loop Showcase video is Leah Urzendowski in "Burning Bluebeard," the dark holiday play from The Ruffians beginning Dec. 13 at Theater Wit.

BROADWAY REVIEW: 'A Delicate Balance' at Golden Theatre

NEW YORK — “But in the end how do you get hold of hollowness,” was the rhetorical question asked by the perplexed critic Walter Kerr, when Edward Albee's “A Delicate Balance” first opened on Broadway in 1966. Back then, critics and audiences had just come to...

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