All stories by Jack Helbig on BroadwayStars

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Rose Valley Theatre Group debuts with Sunday Evening by Jack Helbig

Bulgarian playwright Zachary Karabashliev's ddrama shows promise, but falters. Bulgarian playwright Zachary Karabashliev's 2008 play, about two entwined dysfunct…

SOURCE: at 12:45PM
Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Nestor Gomez and 80 Minutes Around the World land at Fillet of Solo by Jack Helbig

The Guatemalan immigrant shares his own perspectives on failure and finding his voice. Nestor Gomez, "creator, producer, curator, and host" of the immigrant-focu…

SOURCE: at 06:55PM
Tuesday, December 17, 2019

America's Best Outcast Toy is heartfelt and funny by Jack Helbig

Some familiar cast-offs get a chance to show off their reality-competition chops in this new musical. America's Best Outcast Toy, by Larry Todd Cousineau (book a…

SOURCE: at 06:20PM
Wednesday, December 11, 2019

A Xmas Cuento Remix suffers from last-minute cast shuffling by Jack Helbig

Maya Malan-Gonzalez's contemporary Latinx take on A Christmas Carol shows promise despite production difficulties. In retelling Charles Dickens's perennial holid…

SOURCE: at 01:30PM
Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The Land of Forgotten Toys has forgettable songs, but a charming story by Jack Helbig

A young girl must save Christmas in this new family musical. This original Christmas show (story by Larry Little, music by Dylan MarcAurele, book and lyrics by J…

SOURCE: at 07:01PM
Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Oliver! earns its exclamation point at Marriott by Jack Helbig

The Dickensian melodrama-turned-musical features an outstanding ensemble. Lionel Bart's musical adaptation of Charles Dickens's 1839 novel Oliver Twist first pre…

SOURCE: at 06:55PM
Wednesday, November 6, 2019

My Life is a Country Song has too many flat narrative notes by Jack Helbig

New American Folk Theatre's world premiere needs stronger characters and a more compelling story to match the music. The story Anthony Whitaker tells in his 90-m…

SOURCE: at 07:00AM
Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe: A Love Story finds the broken heart in the horror by Jack Helbig

Oak Park Festival Theatre's production promenades through the Cheney Mansion. Staged in various rooms throughout Oak Park's Cheney Mansion, David Rice's clever a…

SOURCE: at 07:00AM

Jimmy Carrane is back after 18 years with World's Greatest Dad(?) by Jack Helbig

He never got the big breaks, but the 1990s improv and solo stalwart has figured some things out. Jimmy Carrane first made a name for himself 28 years ago when he…

SOURCE: at 07:00AM

I'm Not a Comedian . . . I'm Lenny Bruce captures the complexities of a comic genius by Jack Helbig

Ronnie Marmo's one-man show isn't hilarious, but it's arrestingly honest. In the painfully honest spirit of Lenny Bruce, let's begin with a couple of blunt obser…

SOURCE: at 07:00AM
Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Blonde Poison has a fascinating history, but it lacks dramatic tension by Jack Helbig

A real-life Jewish "catcher" for the Gestapo never takes compelling shape in this Agency Theater Collective production. Nicknamed "blond poison" by the Nazis (he…

SOURCE: at 07:00AM
Wednesday, October 9, 2019

A small pond makes a great home for Big Fish by Jack Helbig

It flopped on the Great White Way, but BoHo Theatre's production finds the heart in this musical about tall tales and father-son relationships. Based on Daniel W…

SOURCE: at 07:00AM
Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The Color Purple fills Drury Lane's stage with triple threats by Jack Helbig

Lili-Anne Brown's staging of the musical based on Alice Walker's classic novel brings down the house. There is no doubt the 2005 musical adaptation of Alice Walk…

SOURCE: at 07:00AM

Opposites unite in The Best of Enemies by Jack Helbig

Mark St. Germain's play outlines an unlikely friendship between a Black civil rights activist and a onetime member of the KKK. Some plays seem tailor-made for sm…

SOURCE: at 07:00AM
Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Five Presidents walk into a funeral . . . by Jack Helbig

In Rick Cleveland's play, the five men who followed Richard Nixon as POTUS open up about the job at his memorial. American Blues Theater's Chicago premiere of en…

SOURCE: at 07:00AM
Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Hannah Ii-Epstein revisits Hawaii's drug trade in Pakalolo Sweet by Jack Helbig

The playwright's second play in a trilogy comes from a place of personal experience and pain. Hannah Ii-Epstein hunches over when she talks, her voice soft and v…

SOURCE: at 09:00PM

Something Rotten! goes down easy by Jack Helbig

Two brothers try to steal from the Bard in Marriott's entertaining take on the Broadway musical comedy. Set in 1595 during the glorious reign of Elizabeth I, thi…

SOURCE: at 05:00PM
Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Trump in Space offers toothless satire for troubled times by Jack Helbig

Laugh Out Loud's LA import can't find the funny. Few things age as quickly as topical satire, especially in an age of unrestrained Twitter bursts and 24-hour new…

SOURCE: at 07:00AM
Thursday, August 8, 2019

Ensemble is the first gossip-free oral history of Chicago theater by Jack Helbig

Mark Larson explains how he created his 700-page behemoth. For the past few years followers of Chicago author Mark Larson on Facebook have been teased with littl…

SOURCE: at 03:30PM
Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Much Ado About Nothing needs something more by Jack Helbig

Beatrice and Benedick are better apart than together in Oak Park Festival’s production. Chemistry is everything in romance. The folks at Oak Park Festival Thea…

SOURCE: at 07:00AM
Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Diana Coates is second to none in Henry V by Jack Helbig

Perfect casting in the title role saves First Folio’s production from a conceptual misstep. Shakespeare's Henry V is very much a play of words not action, this…

SOURCE: at 07:00AM
Wednesday, July 17, 2019

There’s nothing bad about The Drag Seed by Jack Helbig

David Cerda’s latest classic makeover for Hell in a Handbag is a winner for summer camp. David Cerda's camp parody of Mervyn LeRoy's 1956 film The Bad Seed, ab…

SOURCE: at 07:00AM
Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Darling Grenadine pours out a familiar showbiz story with a sweet score by Jack Helbig

Marriott’s new musical hits standard narrative notes, but the songs soar Daniel Zaitchik's new musical (he wrote the songs and the book) is a sweet little show…

SOURCE: at 07:00AM
Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The bracingly honest stand-up Jimmy Carrane returns with World's Greatest Dad(?) by Jack Helbig

He's become a master at the kind of storytelling he pioneered 28 years ago in I'm 27, I Still Live at Home, and I Sell Office Supplies. It has been 28 years sinc…

SOURCE: at 07:00AM
Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Lifeline's Emma takes some liberties but remains true to the playful spirit of the original by Jack Helbig

In which five actors play the entire village of Highbury. Phil Timberlake's new dramatization of Jane Austen's 1816 masterpiece, written especially for Lifeline …

SOURCE: at 12:00PM
Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Volta brings back the full death-defying Cirque du Soleil experience by Jack Helbig

The ever-present danger is as much a part of a Cirque show as the spectacle. Volta is Cirque du Soleil's 41st production since 1983 and, like all the others befo…

SOURCE: at 12:00PM
Wednesday, May 22, 2019

More than a decade after its premiere, Next to Normal is still brilliantly weird by Jack Helbig

It's a rock musical about suffering from bipolar disorder and getting electroshock treatment. This award-winning 2008 musical by Brian Yorkey (book and lyrics) a…

SOURCE: at 12:00PM
Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Who thought that Matilda was suitable children's entertainment? by Jack Helbig

Or maybe kids just have a higher tolerance for Roald Dahl's sadism. Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin's musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's 1988 novel about a precocio…

SOURCE: at 12:00PM
Thursday, May 2, 2019

The power of Walt Whitman brings two high school students together in I & You by Jack Helbig

They sound their barbaric yawp through the living room. The premise of Lauren Gunderson's two-hander is remarkably simple: a socially isolated, housebound high s…

SOURCE: at 07:00AM
Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The stage musical of Footloose is just like the movie except without the boring parts by Jack Helbig

Kick off your Sunday shoes. The problem with the 1984 movie Footloose is that it tries so damned hard to be a serious, realistic drama about a rebellious teen fi…

SOURCE: at 07:00AM
Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Firestorm pulls its punches in its examination of white privilege by Jack Helbig

Our hero a racist? No sirree! The premise of Meridith Friedman's 2015 drama sounds all too familiar: Patrick, a popular white politician running for a high offic…

SOURCE: at 07:00AM

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