The Wolves

‘The Wolves’ at Goodman Theatre (Photo: Liz Lauren)

“Sometimes a fantastic piece of art is offered at the perfect cultural moment for receiving its honesty, and it amplifies a work that would still be effective in a vacuum. Such is the case with Goodman Theatre’s Chicago premiere of The Wolves from playwright Sarah DeLappe.

#MeToo meets the empowered social consciousness of Generation Z in this 2017 Pulitzer Prize finalist. DeLappe’s work introduces a number of twists to bring freshness to the teen girl coming-of-age comedy-drama. For one, all of the onstage action occurs on a truncated soccer field. Scenic design veteran Collette Pollard, a regular Goodman contributor, should clear space on her mantel come awards season. By the end of the performance, I was ready to fold my program into a Jeff Award and hand it to her. It’s hard to overstate how well the creative team as a whole executes DeLappe’s vision.

The dynamic and diverse cast of 10 young women who make up the players and supporters of a fictional soccer club do so much more than provide an audience with real, accessible and imperfect characters. The Wolves is a literal exercise in personal growth. For 90 minutes, these girls grapple with issues as complex and relevant as racism, eating disorders, death, sexual discovery, menstruation, gender dynamics and more – all while doing calisthenics. It’s like watching old Michael Jackson concert footage – how could he continue singing full-throated AND dance that way?”

Read the full post at The Broadway Blog.

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The Cubs Care: More Than Great Pitching at Spring Training 2018

“Those lucky enough to get to Mesa, Arizona for Cubs Spring Training action can expect to see lots of A-list talent on the mound. I’m hard pressed to think of a more exciting starting rotation in any Cubs era. Bruce Levine of CBS 2 Chicago wrote last week:

‘The Cubs added the best pitcher available in free agency in right-hander Yu Darvish over the weekend after signing right-hander Tyler Chatwood back in December. They’ll join left-hander Jon Lester, left-hander Jose Quintana and right-hander Kyle Hendricks as starters who could all produce 180 to 200 innings. Beyond them, left-hander Mike Montgomery is a valuable swingman plenty capable of filling in the rotation.’

And Jake Arrieta still hasn’t found a new home. A girl can dream…

Speaking of dreams come true, the Chicago Cubs demonstrated this week that Spring Training 2018 has much game – and heart. The local Fox affiliate in Mesa reported that four children, patients from Advocate’s Children’s Hospital here in Chicago, were treated to a special up close and personal experience.”

Read the full post at Wrigleyville Nation.

John Kelly Still Has a Job: Why Team Trump Will Never Get Right with Female Voters

“At other moments away from Contemptor, to be honest, the effort of putting my pained – and very female – American perspective out into the world hasn’t always felt worthwhile. I trust my voice and believe that our democracy faces unprecedented peril that requires committed resistance. But as a female writer, sometimes a break from Twitter trolls to come up for air is necessary self-care. One particularly dedicated jeerer, @lightbluecollar, last week blamed me and my work for an 18 month-old case of mother/daughter incest in Oklahoma. I’m no stranger to angry white men on the Internet, but it’s a source of personal exhaustion to engage them with the anger and ignorance on 11 that comes with Making America Great Again.

Anyway, here I am – older, wiser and ready to resume the rhetorical battle for our country, its solvency and soul on this platform. While we’re on the subject of being trolled, let’s talk for a moment about the Trump White House and its continually audacious personal and civic inability to respect women – the interest group that comprises more than half of the American electorate.

The Rob Porter scandal is nearly two weeks old, a veritable eternity for the Trump administration and its ability to generate controversy. Yet the story still occupies front page real estate on The New York Times website. Why? Because of Camp Runamuck’s puzzling, but by now expected impotence in publicly condemning domestic violence, and rooting its practitioners and acolytes out of the West Wing.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

You Got Older

(l to r) Francis Guinan and Caroline Neff in Steppenwolf’s ‘You Got Older.’ (Photo: Michael Brosilow)

“The show, as it were, belongs to Guinan, as it frequently does when one finds him in the Playbill. Francis Guinan joined the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in 1979, the same year as his friend and collaborator John Mahoney. The two also shared screen time during Mahoney’s long run on Frasier.

There is a scene toward the end of the second act where an increasingly frail Dad sheds a few subtle tears while discussing the trajectory of his life with Mae. There is no doubt that Guinan’s prodigious talent and emotional range includes the ability to weep on demand. But Wednesday’s night’s performance had something else that the actor was willing to share with his audience. The vulnerability of a man grieving the loss of a friend, dead of the very same disease that afflicts Dad. Guinan did not weep alone. The muffled sobs of hardened theatergoers were audible in the scene’s moments of quiet.

The latest Steppenwolf production of You Got Older would be a terrific success without the ghost of John Mahoney floating around the edges. It’s stripped down, raw human experience across the psychological spectrum. And the material is in the hands of a wildly capable cast and crew. But Mahoney is there, and his creative presence adds an additional layer of urgency. This is one to see.”

Read the full post at The Broadway Blog.