I’ve been reviewing theater for the Chicago Reader since last summer, and this seems like as good a time as any to look back on some favorites. Keep in mind, I’ve only seen a small fraction of what’s out there– the Reader’s got a small army of us– so there’s a lot of good stuff that I’ve missed.
In no particular order, here are the five that I’m most psyched to have seen– the ones I walked out of, thinking, “Damn! That was unusually awesome. I’m sure glad I’m alive.”
Arnie the Doughnut, Lifeline Theater
On the morning he’s born, chocolate-covered Arnie gamely resolves to find his life’s purpose. Discovering the shocking truth when his owner attempts to take a bite, Arnie makes his objections heard. Frances Limoncelli’s adaptation retains the absurdist zing of the 2003 children’s book by Laurie Keller while freely adding complementary ingredients, including zippy songs by George Howe and a Kafkaesque subplot involving a totalitarian condo-board president. Brandon Paul Eells brings not only sweetness but wit to the title role–this doughnut is a naive goofball, but nobody’s fool–and makes Arnie’s terror and disillusionment truly affecting. The entire cast provide spirit, charm, and jazzy harmonies under Elise Kauzlaric’s capable direction. The show is a delight–delicious and substantial, even without a kid tagging along. Continue reading