Gapers Block: Best local blog of 2013

Here’s a recap of what I’ve been writing for the A/C page at Gapers Block lately. Cruise on over and see what’s going on there. This 10-year-old Chicago website was just named Best Local Blog on the Chicago Reader’s Best of Chicago 2013 list. It’s chock full of news about our favorite city: politics, music, books, sports, architecture, and arts and culture of all types.

You’ll notice that all the section titles have a driving/traffic theme. Merge. Transmission, Tailgate. Drive-Thru. Slowdown. Don’t know what a gaper’s block is? Check the About page over there.

The Half-Brothers Mendelssohn at Strange Tree Group

My headline says “Strange Tree Creates Head-Spinning Trips in the Time Machine.” Here’s how my review starts.

“What year is it? The opening in 1929 is the only time you’ll be sure.

“The Half-Brothers Mendelssohn begins with a dignified scene. It’s a funeral. The corpse (Joseph Stearns) is at rest in a raised coffin. The mourners are dressed in black. The funeral program informs us that The Rev. Christopher Herbert (Cory Aiello) will give the eulogy and his daughter Margaret (Audrey Flegel) will play selections from Felix Mendelssohn on a piano that someone forgot to have tuned. There also will be “Words From Family Members.”

“Yes, there will be words. Dueling speeches from two widows, in fact (Kate Nawrocki and Jenifer Henry Starewich). And there, 10 minutes into the play, sanity ends.”

timemachineThe Half-Brothers Mendelssohn is a funny, smart play that’s sort of about time travel but it’s really about love, families and surprising outcomes. I loved it and strongly recommend you check it out.  The time-machine itself is a character in the play. My photo shows it in its glory.

Strange Tree is presenting this through July 20 at Signal Ensemble Theatre at 1802 W Berenice. It’s a nice venue in the West Lakeview/Ravenswood area and you might even find unmetered street parking.

Read my full review at



The Pride at About Face Theatre

My headline: “Time Shifts Emphasize Change in The Pride at About Face Theatre.” Here’s an excerpt from my review.

“The Pride is set in two eras, 50 years and eons of attitudes apart. The title reflects how societal and political changes have affected gay people and their straight friends over the years.

“The Pride takes place in London in 1958 and 2008; the players are two sets of characters who each have the same names in both time periods: Oliver (Patrick Andrews), Philip (John Francisco) and Sylvia (Jessie Fisher). The seeming emphasis on the names heightens our awareness of the societal changes that enable the modern Oliver, for instance, to live his life in a different way than the other Oliver could have.”

The Pride is being presented in the Richard Christiansen Theatre upstairs at Victory Gardens/Biograph at 2433 N Lincoln. It runs until July 13. Thought-provoking and very well acted and directed.

Read my review of The Pride on

See a real live playwright at work: The Storefront Playwrights are back

LeagueChgoThtrslogoNearly 40 emerging and established playwrights will demonstrate how their craft works Tuesdays through Saturdays in July. Each playwright will work for a half day in the storefront window at 72 E. Randolph. Viewers will be able to read the work in progress on a large screen. The League of Chicago Theatres initiated this project in December 2012. But July weather should be more conducive to lingering to read while the playwright writes.

See my preview at

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