Chris Jones

Chris Jones is a critic with Chicago Tribune. This account has been auto-generated, and does not indicate that this person is an active member of Show-Score.com. That said, if you "follow" this member, you will automatically be updated whenever s/he writes a new review.

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Reviews (162)
Chicago Tribune

“Rebeck’s lively, weaponized, often confusing and richly caustic new Broadway play...When the play sticks to the words that reside on the marquee...the work is a fascinating reminder that before any social change becomes mainstream, someone has to be a pioneer...McTeer mostly makes mincemeat of her pliant co-stars...The problem there is that everyone seems so cowed by Bernhardt/McTeer that this works against the main theme of the play." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"At times it feels like you're at 'School of Rock,' although no one's a kid anymore, but the show actually lands closer to a low-rent version of 'The Full Monty' crossed with 'Rock of Ages' and transplanted to New Jersey...This isn't a show that worries at all about internal logic or credibility or diversity; it's an ode of lamentation to lost youth, a theme as old as Broadway itself. No crime there and some discount ticketbuyers will have fun. There even are a few touching moments." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

for a previous production "In Adam Rapp's 'The Sound Inside' in Williamstown, Mary-Louise Parker is a Yale professor facing cancer" Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"Mantello wants his audience to breathe in not just his characters, with their one-liners, quips, power trips and deep sadness, but also to imbue the breathtaking contrast with the self-assured men who now are playing them, luckier men not born when the play was written...I swear there is no place better than the theater to be overwhelmed by suddenly comprehending the transformations of 50 years in 110 minutes." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"Poignant, vulnerable, and intimate, Washington's distinguished performance bobs around in a sea of circling sharks...There is more pleasure taken here in the poetic verbosity of the play, delivered without invasive subtext...Wolfe didn't forget O'Neill's tacit observation that no one yet has definitively determined alcohol to be a palliative any less valid than any other against the usual ravages of life." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"It is, at once, a feast of epic theatricality in celebration of the imagination; an immersive coda to the most powerful literary brand of a generation; and a must-see, totally enveloping, thoroughly thrilling chance to experience the global power of shared storytelling at its most robust...Tiffany, Hoggett, and Jones carved out a theatrical playing space for the storytelling, something that interacts with what you have in your head and does not compete with the images of the movies." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"A production brimming and heaving with the emotional complexity of its own endeavor in the here and now...Peck's work is groundbreaking...within the emotional trajectory of dance storytelling...Despite there being so very much here to love — truly — for the show to work at its peak prowess, you have to see what she first thinks she sees in Billy...Here, that is difficult. Some of the issue comes from a lack of connection between these two gifted lead performers." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"Fey still writes funnier, smarter, sharper satire than most anyone else...Janice and her sidekick Damian have the heart of the story, but not the stage-time. And that, in the end, is a structural strain...Packed with body-twisting and often witty choreography...So stocked with stimulation that it rests not for a second, a choice that does not help Henningsen really change, given that Richmond's score, as energetic and funny as everything else here, is hardly centered on self-reflective balla... Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"An extraordinarily bone-chilling production from the director Joe Mantello featuring a trio of heart-stopping performances...Mantello’s stunning production bulges out the vascularity of this fantastic play...There is a feast of acting to appreciate...Fundamentally, here is what this production, the best Albee staging I’ve ever seen, achieves: it makes Albee, and what he had to say, more for everyone. It expands and ennobles him, while smoothing off nothing." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"Vastly improved from its rocky Denver tryout...replete with richer storytelling, less extraneous comedy and with its crucial pair of sisters...finally letting go enough emotionally to thaw the center of their mutually dependent story...Truly, these both are very admirable and well-matched performances...And when it matters, you now feel them come together...The physical production remains a weird Nordic-Goth fusion...so "Frozen" never feels aesthetically or confidently unified." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"Rylance dives deep inside wacky Philippe in a performance as empathetic as it is seemingly spontaneous...A strange and slow-burning theatrical experience in many ways and seemingly focused on just one relationship, actually turns out to be a remarkably complicated exploration of the most important question in the arts of the last 500 years, i.e., who gets to go? And, of course, you get the incomparably immersed Rylance, that most live of performers." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"A justly loved one-act musical...No radical revisionism...But as compared with previously major stagings of the work, Arden’s in-the-round production notably steps back from the cruise-ship version of the Caribbean popular in the early years of stagings of this show...The sculpted live-ness of the conceit makes for a very au courant and youth-friendly staging…This is all the way it should be with 'Island,' a 90-minute pleasure all about reviving a story still very much of use." Full Review

Meteor Shower
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

“I cannot imagine anyone here thinks the tollway really can hold this A-list vehicle barreling down the mountain...It is being steered in so many directions at once. Which is not to say it does not achieve something worthwhile: an updating of absurdism for Gen Xers…I don’t think I’ve ever seen farce collide so messily with satire, while at the same time lurching honorably if haplessly for a moment in which the world has changed so drastically that no one knows her place. Interesting. And quick.” Full Review

Junk
Upper W Side
Chicago Tribune

"Although playwright Ayad Akhtar's moralistic and cynical new drama...does not tell us much we do not already know, there is still something illuminating and undeniably stimulating about watching the multifarious fiscal sins of the ’80s all laid out before you...Especially as produced here, 'Junk" is an epic, strutting, restless, sexually charged, slam-bang-wham piece of work...A show ideal for those who become bored easily with traditional theatrical manufacturing." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

“This is not merely a massively profitable concert residency...‘Springsteen on Broadway’ is a very serious attempt at self-definition as written and self-directed by one of America’s most intense and driven performers, a man who cannot act as one other than himself, and does not care to try, but who sure can make his own past live in the present moment. He can take you there for he takes himself there, and lives there again.” Full Review

Prince of Broadway
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"The show functions mostly as a cautionary tale about the difficulty of anthologizing directors in a Broadway show...The extracts from those seven decades of shows are, for the most part, competently performed by a talented cast of nine...If only 'Prince of Broadway' took a moment to explain much of anything about directing or, indeed, this particular director...Prince is a risk-taker without theatrical peer. He deserves a far more complex, and far less cautious, lifetime achievement award." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"Hnath has created a fascinating and frequently very funny little play that is less about the issues raised in 'A Doll's House,' and more about returning to greet your former responsibilities...The other takeaway of this quite compelling little exercise is that acts of revolution can flow from privilege...This really is a multilayered performance: you can see Ibsen's Nora herein, plus the woman Nora became and the compassionate cracks in her armor. And Rashad rises up to meet her." Full Review

Anastasia (NYC)
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"Works quite delightfully when the star is center stage, and struggles mightily when she is off in the wings, where the charming Christy Altomare spends far too long...A clunky start...Tresnjak forges some potent later scenes...This is not a musical that wants to start a revolution. To say the least. But once McNally's book finds its feet, and the physical production gets out of the way of the several gorgeous, old-school ballads therein, 'Anastasia' has its moments of credible emancipation." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

“All the visual and audible cues suggested that no one in the building that night had the slightest interest in being anywhere else but in that room. With this adored star. In this beloved show…David Hyde Pierce squeezes some laughs out of what can often seem like a thankless part…I don't want to imply there is some revisionist revelation at work here, for there is not, nor any deep emotional probation. But you can easily intuit the really, really good time everyone seems to be having." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"Overstuffed and near-chaotic production...This is still a new Broadway musical that works—even one that has a few moments of greatness, replayed and redux...Minchin is about the wittiest lyricist on any rialto, and his songs in this show are a series of deliciously funny, quirky and waggish little ditties that make you laugh out loud...It takes a few minutes to get used to what Karl is doing—but this really is, in the final analysis, a highly effective and intensely skillful lead performance." Full Review

War Paint
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"Very classy and elegant new Broadway musical...Deceptively complex direction of Michael Greif...The show ultimately demurs when it comes to holding the great titans of makeup, and the men who surrounded them, to moral account. And that is what might just have made 'War Paint' a truly great musical, instead of a highly entertaining and provocative one...A tad too admiring of its subjects for its own good." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

for a previous production "'The Play That Goes Wrong' goes wrong so many times, in such mellifluous ways, and with such far-gone commitment to physical comedy...The rare farce with actual worth. A farce that bucks you up by reminding you of the great human capacity for resilience...The exceptional direction of the piece, by Mark Bell, embraces risk and danger to an extraordinary extent. That means 'The Play That Goes Wrong' never seems safe or comfortable in its own skin." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"DeVito is offering a spectacularly funny performance in director Terry Kinney's resonant if not wholly satisfying Broadway revival of, to my mind, one of Miller's bleakest and most personal plays...I think Kinney's direction fundamentally understands the currency of this play. Hecht clearly gets the quiet trauma of what is being bought and sold, and both Ruffalo and Shalhoub have individual vulnerability, even if you don't always believe they are in this, for better or worse, as brothers." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"Starkly unforgiving, mostly unafraid and surely unforgettable revival...Stars an extraordinary young newcomer, Madison Ferris...That first entry is an act that clearly taxes and costs Field and Ferris, immediately bonding them in a different way than you've seen with this play...There will be some who argue that Gold's production fundamentally alters Williams' play...I'd say that Gold should have gone further." Full Review

Sunset Boulevard
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"You could argue that 'Sunset' is a commentary on women in Hollywood — but Hampton and Lloyd Webber never really followed Wilder there. And Price is not about to take that on here either, any more than he is about to cast anybody who might pull too much focus from the star...What makes this performance work is Close's palpable vulnerability...It's a very tart and terrifying performance at the core of one of the more lush, sentimental and absurd musicals of the 20th century." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"Samantha Barks, the truly formidable young star, achieves something close to a miracle...This is the Samantha Barks show, and she sure takes command as she emotes center stage...'Pretty Woman' has found a smart sweet spot somewhere between nostalgic retro romanticism and the current necessity for heroines to take charge...The show hardly is advancing the art in any kind of profound way...But it clearly pleases an audience that wants to escape." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"A lot of harder-edged Go-Go’s fans who find their way through the door will wonder what on earth all of these silly theater people are doing with their beloved music...Many of the performances are perfectly solid...But 'Head Over Heels,' which is so anxious to please as to be overplayed, is too arch to drive real suspense and not detailed enough in how it explores this music to allow you to feel a sufficiently organic connection." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"Most celebrity-driven jukebox shows settle for belting out the hits...Others are more ambitious, focusing on intense emotional engagement. 'The Cher Show' will work only if it does both. And in order to do either, it first will need to lose its outer frame....And if the needless fictional show were nixed, that would come with an additional benefit: The Chers would get more agency in telling their own collective story. And this is the era of agency...They don’t roar as they should." Full Review

The Originalist
Midtown E
Chicago Tribune

for a previous production "Since Scalia expounding in a lecture — entertaining as that might be — does not a play make, Strand imagines that Scalia has knowingly hired a young, lesbian law clerk, Cat...Even if you are willing to go along with that contrivance, it is still mighty hard to buy the exact nature of their interaction, mostly because it just feels so reductive...You're not getting a profound work of theater. But you are in the presence of a thoroughly enjoyable performance from Gero." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"A valedictory experience, not an honest story, only tolerable for die-hard fans...Summer’s music is perfect for this treatment by Des McAnuff: her voice came with perfect pitch and a driving, irony-free intensity that was, in its disco moment, peerless...It is a cliche for critics to announce about musicals with less-than-distinguished books, and this is one such show with an especially egregious hole in Act 2, that the audience didn’t care...The audience did not just respond to the music, i... Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"The central question that besets anyone watching this production is whether or not this show still works if Higgins and Eliza feel no affection for each other whatsoever. That’s the way it feels here...The production is colossal...This really is one of those shows that make you wonder why they chose this material if it made them so uneasy...There is an excellent ensemble...But no hearts no change." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"Ridloff, who communicates superbly on myriad levels is making a most distinguished Broadway debut in a role she has made entirely her own...While it remains easy to understand the how and the why of this play meaning so very much to so many people, it no longer is so easy to pull for the success of their relationship as you sit in the theater. And, frankly, that messes with the dynamic of the whole affair...These issues are exacerbated by a strange and chilly aesthetic structure." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"As the movie made a star of a young Julia Roberts, so 'Pretty Woman: The Musical' likely will do the same for the sensational 27-year-old actress Samantha Barks...Although he has nary a moment of inauthenticity, Kazee needs to perk up, sex it up, charm it up, take off his shirt, emote less and smile more...You really have to admire how well 'Pretty Woman' has walked the line between respecting the affection people hold for the source movie and avoiding its threatening potholes." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"Lane is extraordinary in a staging that, in some other ways, too badly wants to pull a text that still demands to be at the center of the political discourse in the direction of the theatrically quixotic...Garfield takes theatrical command of Prior in a way that initially jars, but ultimately elevates the character...Lane may have the most dominant performance, but Garfield’s revisionist and ennobling work is perhaps the most conceptually successful element of this new production." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"If you can swallow the premise, you'll find some lines that land, and some clunkers that make you sink deeper into your seat. You will find some comedic and counterintuitive arrangements and placements of the Buffett songs...You will note great similarities with 'Mamma Mia!'...But you also will find genuine heart and — most important of all — you will be at the rare Broadway show that is genuinely interested in what Middle America enjoys." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"It is to the credit of the determined, big-hearted director and the charming, gifted star of 'SpongeBob SquarePants' that they have stayed relentlessly focused not only on the show’s famously goofy optimism but on its happily anarchic aesthetic...Not every attempt at singularity works, but, in its best moments, it is very much its own thing. Proudly so...In the final Broadway analysis, a show for those in the know and, of course, for kids...This is not a piece that will create many new belie... Full Review

The Parisian Woman
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"A stunningly smug, utterly incredible and wholly inept political satire...All of the nuance, sophistication and intellectual complexity of a presidential tweet...One of the fundamental problems of this terrible show is that you never for a moment believe that anyone involved here really knows how the people they are lampooning actually function...But you can’t blame Trump (or Willimon) for some of the incomprehensibly terrible acting on view." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"Typically unstinting in his Chicago-honed artistry of peeling away layers of human defense, Cromer treats this musical as merely a play with music...Moses' book is droll enough that the show has comedy, but it is not a comedy. It is observational and philosophical. Quite breathtakingly so...For some, it will seem like a strange and esoteric Broadway musical, which is not wrong...This is a remarkable and boundlessly compassionate and humanistic piece of theater." Full Review

M. Butterfly
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"The revision of the script is very savvy and potent. But it doesn't solve all the problems with Taymor's revival, which begin with Owen's invulnerability...You do believe Ha, whose very sophisticated, disciplined and nuanced performance is the highlight of a production that embraces a whole variety of styles without ever really committing to a fully consistent point of view...Such scenes require an unstinting embrace of emotional truth — places that this production seems reluctant to go." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"Should be —and could be—a whole lot better....Simply put, 'Frozen' currently puts its focus too much on things that matter less in the theater and not enough on what matters most: the power of myth and the bond between two young women who represent us...The two lead actresses—they’re both well-cast—have forged quite credible characters individually; they have not yet merged as sisters of different stripes, nor does the book or score do what it must to help them." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

for a previous production “Struggles to find the right balance between a character whose enthusiasm and analytical power are unbowed and a excessive-compulsive-neurotic who is about to suffer the same fate as many of those about whom he wrote. The emotional crises in this jumpy show do not feel earned...It all needs more shape. All that said...Blank and Jensen's piece is already a fascinating window into one of the last century's most compelling and fearless critics...There's some juicy stuff there." Full Review

Bandstand
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

“Blankenbuehler's production just never stops for a moment, sometimes at the expense of the narrative flow...The dancing is, however, spectacular…‘Bandstand’ has a serviceable score, although there is so much music that it often tends to blur…The book has moments of freshness and all kinds of potential, but it never strives enough for poetic heights or depth of characters…All in all, this is a show with some frustrations as well as many pleasures for the ear and eye.” Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"A deeply disappointing musical...You do get flashes of Dahl's brand of caustic fun. For a few seconds. They're gone with the snap of a light cue or a bit of a sugar-free trick...It's emblematic of how a musical with unlimited imaginative potential never fully decided whether this was to be a retro experience or a cultural probing of the moment. Either one could have worked. But not without that moment when a world of sugar unfolds, and a boy's aching heart almost stops." Full Review

Indecent
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"A highly skilled, clearly personal and deftly structured piece...You can feel the historical force and weight of Vogel's play, which likely will be a future staple of regional theater...Authentically acted by an egalitarian ensemble and staged with hefty symbolic gravitas and surety by Taichman...Vogel's connection to this play and what it did for her as a young artist is at the core of why 'Indecent' deserves this production and the support it surely will need from the audience." Full Review

Linda Vista
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

for a previous production "In Tracy Letts' 'Linda Vista,' a middle-aged dude just can't get it together" Full Review

Amelie
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"Deeply disappointing...It's so painful to watch the very determined Soo, who is both an exceptionally capable actor and completely miscast here...The director needed to help Soo find a completely different path, but then there's not a lot of evidence here of a viably engaging theatrical path for this show overall, never mind one that Soo could herself take in...It's both afeared of the movie, trying to break away without quite knowing how, and ever more trapped within its memory." Full Review

Sweat
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"Inarguably a schematic socialist drama that clearly decided in advance what it wanted to say about the state of the nation. Its conclusion is not a surprise. But—and, along with a mordant wit, this is its mitigating strength and greatest asset—'Sweat' also is a moral, passionate and richly articulated cri de coeur from one of America's leading African-American playwrights...'Sweat,' which is performed with relentless commitment and respect, feels very much of the moment." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"The show insists on a kind of oral-history equality, constantly shifting from one narrator or protagonist to another...This was no doubt intentional...But it comes at the price of character development...The audience for this show will have been more impacted personally by the losses of Sept. 11...This show never explores that truth...To really do that, Ashley's production would have to be more willing to pause, breathe and challenge, and allow those impacted the most to come to the fore." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"An iconic and justly beloved musical...Gyllenhaal is at once distinctive, self-effacing and the boldest choice made in this uneven if intriguing production...The actor can certainly carry the musical demands of the show, but not with bravura flourish, for he does not have that kind of voice...Lapine's overall approach is a perfectly justifiable and resonant way into this show and, I'd wager, a closer match for where Lapine and Sondheim are with regard to their midlife show." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"Platt's performance...is as profound and heartbreaking a portrayal of a 17-year-old as one might ever hope to see. It is the heart of a superbly crafted and performed show that is unafraid of complexity and ambiguity...This plot, which rarely strains credulity, brings up a veritable plethora of people in pain, and Pasek and Paul have penned a banquet of ballads of anguish and confusion, but they somehow avoid sentimental exploitation." Full Review