All stories by Jack Helbig on BroadwayStars

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

A claustrophobic Crucible by Jack Helbig

The Puritans in New England lived fearful, close-minded, claustrophobic lives. Disdainful of all other Christian sects (especially Catholics and Quakers) and of the Native Americans who they…

SOURCE: at 04:30PM
Thursday, May 11, 2023

Abstraction and realism by Jack Helbig

This double bill of plays from two very different theater companies (Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble and CIRCA-Pintig), working in two very different styles—one abstract, movement-based, very…

SOURCE: at 03:35PM
Thursday, May 4, 2023

Storefront Star Wars by Jack Helbig

Pay no attention to the show’s baggy, forgettable, mildly pompous title. This smart, tightly written play is at once a very funny satire of the Star Wars saga—and Star Wars fans—a hear…

SOURCE: at 10:18AM
Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Still the word by Jack Helbig

There have been many versions of Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey’s Grease: the raunchy one that premiered at Kingston Mines in 1971; a much cleaned-up version that opened a year later in New Y…

SOURCE: at 12:07PM

School of Rock doesn’t quite make the grade by Jack Helbig

The idea of turning Richard Linklater’s brilliant 2003 film comedy, School of Rock (about a struggling guitarist/substitute teacher coaching his prep-school students on how to, well, rock)…

SOURCE: at 10:57AM
Thursday, March 23, 2023

Beckettian summit by Jack Helbig

Dame Peggy Ashcroft considered the role of Winnie in Samuel Beckett’s notoriously difficult Happy Days a “summit part,” one of those roles, like Hamlet or King Lear, that tests an acto…

SOURCE: at 12:53PM
Thursday, February 9, 2023

The one that got away by Jack Helbig

Big Fish bombed on Broadway. Based on Tim Burton’s 2003 movie version of Daniel Wallace’s 1998 novel Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions, the show, with a score by Andrew Lippa and a…

SOURCE: at 11:11AM
Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Back in the USSR by Jack Helbig

I remember when rock was young. So, evidently, does Chicago playwright Katie Coleman, as she well attests in her intelligent, heartfelt play about two young Soviets, hopping and bopping to a…

SOURCE: at 12:54PM
Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Elf off the shelf by Jack Helbig

Like much that passes for entertainment during the holiday season, this 2010 musical, based on the 2003 movie, lives on the infinitely thin line between charm and utter stupidity. The […] …

SOURCE: at 11:30AM
Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Sound and fury by Jack Helbig

Their premise is not half bad: a “still relatively new” (as they describe themselves) theater company uses a fictional 125th-anniversary “jubilee” to bring together a collection of s…

SOURCE: at 10:10AM
Thursday, October 27, 2022

Luminous storytelling by Jack Helbig

Siena Marilyn Ledger’s brand-new two-person play, being produced here with 16th Street Theater and Dragonfly Theatre as part of the National New Play Network rolling world premiere program…

SOURCE: at 11:24AM
Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Bullish on Bull by Jack Helbig

This is a play of tiny moments and small details, a play in which characters change slowly, the way people and seasons change—silently, imperceptibly at first and then with the […] The p…

SOURCE: at 04:26PM
Wednesday, October 5, 2022

A life in song by Jack Helbig

The UrbanTheater Company’s performing space on Division Street is not small—I have seen them stage plays there just packed with actors—but it is really not large enough to contain all …

SOURCE: at 04:51PM
Thursday, September 22, 2022

Lookin’ swell by Jack Helbig

Hello, Dolly! is not revived that often. It only feels that way, because Jerry Herman’s score (book by Michael Stewart, based on Thornton Wilder’s play The Matchmaker) is so infectious […

SOURCE: at 12:56PM
Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Flawlessly in tune by Jack Helbig

Originally conceived in the mid-70s as a vehicle for Nell Carter but opening on Broadway in 1981 with Jennifer Holliday in the role that might have been Carter’s (if Carter’s […] The p…

SOURCE: at 12:24PM
Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Chagall’s Camelot by Jack Helbig

James Sherman began his career as an actor; he joined the Second City in the 70s, while he was still a student at Illinois State, appearing in the shows Once […] The post Chagall’s Camel…

SOURCE: at 05:56PM
Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Fast times at North Shore Magnet High by Jack Helbig

Journalist, playwright, screenwriter, theater critic, arts editor, and novelist Adam Langer was born in Chicago, grew up in West Rogers Park, went to school in Evanston, and spent the early …

SOURCE: at 12:25PM
Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Marvin Tate takes us on a dreamwalk through North Lawndale by Jack Helbig

When Chicago poet, sculptor, and musician Marvin Tate was in elementary school, he had a terrible stutter. To help him, his older sister gave him a poem to practice reading aloud. The poem w…

SOURCE: at 12:56PM
Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Winter in July by Jack Helbig

This is a great play for the summer—despite its title—because The Winter’s Tale is as much about the coming of spring as it is the dreary desolation of December. At least that is what …

SOURCE: at 12:08PM
Friday, June 24, 2022

Pleasant posies by Jack Helbig

My daughter tells me she likes the 1989 movie version of Steel Magnolias because you can have it running in the background while you do other things, and still more or less follow the plot. …

SOURCE: at 10:15AM
Tuesday, June 14, 2022

The dark visions of David Hauptschein by Jack Helbig

Writer and artist David Hauptschein has been working in Chicago since the 80s, curating live performances, writing plays, and working in visual arts, but his work has been produced more ofte…

SOURCE: at 10:56AM
Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Puppet revelations by Jack Helbig

Puppets are cool, but they are also creepy. Very creepy. Even the cute ones, like Kermit the Frog or Ollie the Dragon. There is just something deeply unnerving about how puppets seem like au…

SOURCE: at 11:24AM
Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Remembering John Michalski by Jack Helbig

John Michalski, onetime Chicago improv teacher and performer, never found great fame. But he embodied the art form at its purest. John Michalski died May 24. In …

SOURCE: at 06:54PM
Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Del Marie: locked down, but not out by Jack Helbig

The rapper-dancer-performance poet rolls with the pandemic punches. 2020 started off so well. January and February were great months for 27-year-old rapper, danc…

SOURCE: at 05:30PM
Tuesday, August 4, 2020

iO past, present, and nonfuture by Jack Helbig

Remembering the comedy theater’s humble beginnings and reflecting on its dramatic end How did you find out about iO closing?…

SOURCE: at 04:45PM
Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Upright Citizens Brigade shutters its New York venues by Jack Helbig

A critic reflects on UCB's early history in Chicago. Last week the folks at the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) sent out a letter announcing they were permanently…

SOURCE: at 06:25PM
Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Middletown skims the surface by Jack Helbig

A starry cast can't inject a lot of life into Dan Clancy's middlebrow story. Dan Clancy's four-person play about two couples living a middling life in a middle-c…

SOURCE: at 05:45PM
Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Secret of My Success needs a sharper book by Jack Helbig

The 1987 Michael J. Fox film gets a toothless musical treatment. This musical version of the 1987 Michael J. Fox vehicle, receiving its world premiere at the Par…

SOURCE: at 07:50PM
Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Shear Madness is retro, but not rewarding by Jack Helbig

Mercury Theater Chicago's revival of this murder mystery party game can't overcome the dated material. Adapted by Marilyn Abrams and Bruce Jordan from the origin…

SOURCE: at 06:00PM
Tuesday, February 11, 2020

An American in Paris works best when it faces the music by Jack Helbig

It's Gershwin for the win in Drury Lane's production. You don't have to know the classic 1951 movie musical to be disappointed by this 2015 stage version, but it…

SOURCE: at 07:20PM

Alabaster brings two women together in the aftermath of loss by Jack Helbig

Audrey Cefaly's story of a photographer and an agoraphobe goes far beyond Madison County. Audrey Cefaly's new play, receiving its world premiere at 16th Street T…

SOURCE: at 07:10PM

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