We usually subscribe to three theater companies per year:
- Always Steppenwolf: we love our seats, we love the ensemble, and they seem to be the only major Chicago theater company who continues to invest in finding, developing, and showcasing local talent.
- Often Court Theatre. We’re UofC’ers, but more importantly, we’re huge fans of Charles Newell and Court Theatre’s mission to bring classic plays to life. When we drop this subscription, it’s almost always because the trek down to Hyde Park is getting to us.
- Something local. Usually non-equity, relatively low cost, and an identifiable mission or distinct personality that we like.
So this year, our slate was Steppenwolf, Court, and Profiles. All decided upon and purchased last spring. But then I found out about Theater Wit’s subscription/membership… For less than the price of cable, we could be members of Theater Wit and partake of all the theater we could possibly enjoy. Theoretically we could see something every night of the week. Realistically, we could go every other weekend and still get a great deal. So we signed up for that too.
All that said, over the three weeks, I’ve seen:
- BoHo’s The Rainmaker @ Theater Wit
- We Are Wyld Stallions! @ Theater Wit
- The March @ Steppenwolf
- The Iceman Cometh @ Goodman (thanks to a friend who invited me!)
- Angels in America, Parts I & II @ Court Theatre
- Bachelorette @ Profiles
- Timon of Athens @ Chicago Shakespeare (half-priced tickets from Goldstar)
Not a single dud among these shows.
Iceman was very, very long (5 freakin’ hours!) and could have used a bit of editing, but the acting was uniformly stunning. Stephen Ouimette should get more (or heck SOME!) attention in this play, but Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy are soaking up all the ink. Patrick Andrews is also wonderful; I remembered him from Steppenwolf’s American Buffalo and if there’s any justice in this world, he will be a star.
The March was also very, very long (only 4 hours – ha!) and since it’s a new adaptation, will probably be pruned down over the years to come. Ian Barford was, as usual, wonderful. Harry Groener is, arguably, the “stunt” casting (although I may overestimate his star wattage as a fan of Buffy and the original Cupid series) and if he’s not quite as good as he was as King George last year, he’s still remarkable here. Carrie Coon disappears in her role here: I had to double check to make sure she was the same woman we had seen in Steppenwolf’s Virginia Woolf. She’s going to take Broadway by storm when VW moves there later this year…
The Rainmaker was low-key and simply lovely. I loved how this play centered around a smart woman who struggled and overcame her insecurities with a laugh at the very end.
Wyld Stallions was just good fun, explaining how Bill & Ted saved the world. Pure camp in the best sense. That was a great show to watch with a drink in hand!
Bachelorette was more than good fun: the three main gals were fantastic and if the guys were a bit weak, then that works for the play overall. I’m curious to see how Profiles grows into a larger space: this production demonstrated just how awesome they are in their current, intimate space. I do wish I had had a stiff drink in my hand during this one too!
Timon had a perfectly cast lead actor and overly-well cast comedic touches (Timothy Edward Kane was truly, criminally under used) as well as a stunning production design and a truly interesting perspective on the play. Barbara Gaines also effectively edited the play down to a mere two hours.
Angels is a masterpiece, with what should be (but won’t be) a star-making performance from Larry Yando. Tribune’s Chris Jones got this one completely and totally wrong.
And there’s still more on the horizon:
- Rent @ ATC (directed by David Cromer)
- In a Forest, Dark and Deep @ Profiles
I’d also like to see (but don’t yet have tickets):
- Light in the Piazza @ Theo Ubique
- Tigers Be Still @ Theater Wit
- Tick, Tick, BOOM! @ Stage 773/Porchlight Theater
- Freud’s Last Session @ Mercury Theater
Who needs cable when there’s so much awesome theater here?