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)
Ride the Cyclone
West Village
Chicago Tribune

"The dark but perversely lovable little tuner...A work at once macabre and sweet, melancholy and affirmative, merciless and compassionate...'Cyclone' felt a tad tenser, slower and less certain of itself at the MCC Theater than had been the case in Chicago — the performances did not entirely capture the requisite blend of the strange and the deeply intimate. The score revealed itself to be in need of couple more songs...But there's no other show in town even remotely like this one." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"A wildly inventive new musical...'Great Comet' functions as a satire of the trope of turning Russian fiction into musicals...The weakness of Chavkin's fabulously staged production is pretty simple and obvious. Little attention is paid to the emotional inner lives of the characters...It is like you're watching a cutting, a really cool post-modern cabaret lived in real time." Full Review

Falsettos
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"Some of the individual moments of this Lincoln Center production are fantastic — Block, who is so well cast here and doing the best work of her Broadway career, does everything you could ask with the show's great, reflective ballads. You are never entirely convinced that Borle and Rannells are deeply in love...Mostly though, it is an unequivocal pleasure to let Finn's music and lyrics return to your consciousness." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

for a previous production "It's only about 75 minutes, but that's about the right length for what is part biographical sketch, part monologue...For Lewis, becoming a Christian wasn't about the afterlife...In one of the more amusing moments of an involving few minutes in the theater, McLean, who really does look and sound a lot like his man, spits out what Lewis thought about that: 'a bribe.' Speak for yourself, Clive, but you have a solid professional speaking for you, reminding us that your ideas abide." Full Review

Shuffle Along
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"It is no mean feat to revive an archaic Broadway musical and create an entertainment that not only celebrates the classic material but ennobles it further...It is a yet-greater achievement to simultaneously offer what is essentially a lesson in theatrical and racial history... 'Shuffle Along,' has achieved all of this....It suffers from the scale of what it has attempted...An exceptionally important new show...'Shuffle' does all that historical stuff while putting on one helluva tap show." Full Review

Waitress (NYC)
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"It is the warmth of the ensemble, the intimate harmonics of Sara Bareilles' music, the fluid fusion of Diane Paulus' staging and, above all, the flaky layers of vulnerability exposed by the show's golden star, Jessie Mueller, that matter most...Mueller's is a performance stripped of condescension, lived in the moment and rich in musical pleasures...Paulus and Latarro know when to use their ensemble and when to keep it in the booths and leave the stage to Mueller." Full Review

The Crucible
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"Eye-popping and wholly unconventional...A more potent, angrier John (and a more complex Mary) would help this production by leaps and bounds, but it remains a fascinating piece of theater, one that adds layers of visual and sensual meaning to Miller's literate verbosity and thus freshens its point of view...This is a 'Crucible' that focuses on how really decent people can be destroyed by fear and hatemongering; were Miller alive today, he would have approved of its emphasis." Full Review

Blackbird
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"This drama—which I regard as one of the best pieces of writing of the last decade—offers the uncompromising actress Williams the rare opportunity to contort body and soul into a character...Not a moment feels inauthentic or not rooted in something deeply true...What's missing in [Daniels'] work is, in fact, the requisite superficial attractiveness of his guy...These two performances don't always fully jell as a single entity." Full Review

The Humans
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"This talented writer has an innate sense of dramatic tension and theatricality, he also has a rare understanding that you do not need to pop pills for tragedy to bang on your door...A truly remarkable and exceptionally moving play...Mantello, whose work is self-effacing, clearly understands the quality of this play — which represents a whole new level for Karam...Few writers of his generation have achieved anything quite like 'The Humans.'" Full Review

Lazarus
East Village
Chicago Tribune

"Hunky-dory? Not entirely. Not yet...That which is outside of the main issue of going home, or not going home, just does not work. That's because you don't care about it, nor about the instigators of the subplots...'Lazarus' has visual sophistication, pan-sexual weirdness, historicism, the eclectic musical rush of the gorgeous. But in the theater, the shadows of characters in song need flesh, bones and reasons to believe in them." Full Review

China Doll
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"It feel like Mamet and Pacino deliberately dreamed up a project that would have to flounder to make its point. They succeeded. It is hard to imagine a more disorienting show. And yet it's hard to imagine another actor going ahead with what Pacino pushes through here. Well, he doesn't exactly push through. He jumps around in the quagmire, unleashing one gurgle, one spluttering demi-sentence, one gesticulated demand, after another." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"This is the very rare production that matches the complexity of the text, with its mixed-messaged collision of the cerebral and the sensual, a dichotomy at the heart of everything Miller ever wrote…Van Hove's brilliance is multifaceted, but much rests on his ability to focus the mind and soul on a work's tiny moments." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"In the course of the show's move from Chicago director Jerry Mitchell has greatly improved the storytelling and excised a few lingering cliches of the genre. In its final form, 'On Your Feet!' is at once a classy and populist entry into the Broadway season, offering enough of a musical entertainment to please those who danced to Estefan in the 1990s, and also has enough Latin flavor to appeal to an emerging audience usually ignored by Broadway." Full Review

Spill
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

for a previous production “The piece, which feels long and unwieldy, still struggles with the inherent lack of surprise…There is some visual poetry in the theater, but a political piece like this also needs more verbal poetry — more shaping of the disparate amounts of factual material that has been discovered. It all feels at the moment like the metaphoric key has yet to be found. There are some fine performers on the stage…But not everybody has the text down , lending the sense that the show still is in development." Full Review

Sylvia
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"When you have a dog played by a woman and rendered in human terms, this still is an awkward moment. You've got a woman in some pain obliged to be nice to a guy who, on some level, just caused it. You can make the metaphoric leap, kinda. But the moment is still emblematic of some of the tricky aspects of a comedy that now feels, well, problematic — not in an inter-species way but in matters of gender." Full Review

Hamilton (NYC)
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"The Founding Father never had a friend so loyal and true as Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose audaciously ambitious and supremely executed new musical is surely the most entertaining, provocative and moving civics lesson in Broadway history...Many of the songs are quite staggeringly beautiful — richly melodic and passionately performed ballads of fear, hope, determination and pain. They feel traditional and revolutionary at the same time." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

for a previous production "The main issue toward the end of the show is that you feel no sense of her pain and struggle...The machinery of its visual structure, and its dramaturgy, are both secure. The performances are richly connected. The emphasis on unity and family are the right impulses, given the Estefan biography and the Cuban moment. There is a carefully modesty to the whole affair — a tone that can be progressively upped and amplified in the work before Broadway." Full Review

Airline Highway
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"D'Amour has done some good work since Chicago...'Airline Highway' does not go for the jugular nor rage with the anger that some in New Orleans legitimately feel...it feels very much like the work of a hometown writer, whose first impulse is affection and surely not cold-eyed analysis. This still is a play that breathes the New Orleans air and, to his credit, Mantello offers a sophisticated reading of those rhythms, jagged and unpredictable, somnolent and then crackling with energy." Full Review

Dr. Zhivago
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"'Doctor Zhivago' is playing to an audience that has shown up for a love story that plays out across three decades of Russian upheaval and personal angst. But that love story is lost in a melange of flame, ice, death and frantic characters rushing around a heavily raked stage without ever seeming really to know where they are going...Alas, you never believe they, or their show, really have a chance." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"A troubled musical that does not quite know what to make of Barrie and his famous friendship with the Llewelyn Davies family...The actual finding in "Finding Neverland" never feels logical. Nor does the score, which often has a rootsy, "Big River" feel and, despite some sticky melodies, remains far removed from the show's milieu. The show lacks a journey." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"Had this ambitious new musical fully committed to telling its story through the love of movement, especially movement that does not have to compete with digitized scenery drawing pictures of its own...then "American in Paris" would have touched the heart and soul more...But the doings of Nazis rarely make the right frame for a romance and this strange reluctance to let love explode all over the stage gets in the way of what is an aspirational fantasy that should make us all want to move to P... Full Review

Hand to God
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"Arresting, funny and thoroughly disconcerting...highly original and laudably fearless and politically incorrect...Askins sets his play, which is directed with real punch by Moritz von Stuelpnagel somewhere in Texas. Crucially, though, the script and the production show great compassion for this group of struggling, lower-middle-class characters...That compassion is what takes "Hand to God" beyond the usual condescension you find on Broadway toward Texans or people of faith in general." Full Review

The Audience
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"Aside from giving the redoubtable Helen Mirren another chance to essay Queen Elizabeth II, Peter Morgan's "The Audience" succeeds because it intuits the heavy price a monarch must pay in a constitutional democracy...'The Audience' will be catnip for Anglophiles, certainly. But this play also is an accessible but quite profound exploration of the intersection of the regal and procedural aspects of any government." Full Review

Honeymoon in Vegas
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"The sexist values of the show are not so much 1992 as 1952...This is, of course, an old-fashioned musical comedy, a genre not known for its progressive values. And the warm-centered tone is never crass or sleazy. Still, this thing badly needed the safety of some chronological remove, especially given that women buy most of the tickets to shows like this." Full Review

A Delicate Balance
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

for a previous production "Albee's gift to humanity, you might say: a pleasurable three acts of watching others teeter on the brink, which always helps you last another day on terra firma yourself." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"Good luck getting one of the many zesty, sticky numbers out of your head...It is impossible to experience 'A Bronx Tale without myriad other musicals popping into your head...'A Bronx Tale' is a wildly uneven show—some parts feel just ridiculous in the broadness of their strokes, others entirely charming. The greatest strength of the piece lies in its characterization of Sonny...Sonny, like this show, is a thinly veiled but incurable romantic." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"It is both miscast and misdirected. Also — to be fair to director Josie Rourke and all involved here — time also has not been kind to a play that, to be frank, centers on a scene that now feels too much like the sexual abuse of a minor...This plodding, dull production does not seem to understand the pitfalls of that particular scene, and thus does not do enough to remediate those concerns...The major problem is Liev Schreiber." Full Review

The Front Page
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"For one near-perfect third act of the old farcical school under the direction of Jack O'Brien, Lane delivered a sublimely funny tour de force...O'Brien's star-crusted revival starts out slow but reaches a boil precisely because it captures the addictiveness of newsgathering...'The Front Page' is always a fun play. But you don't normally get the benefit of Lane's readings...This was a great Chicago play by great Chicago writers, here performed by actors who understand." Full Review

War Paint
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

for a previous production "A intriguingly juicy and glamorous, if overly binary and yet underwritten, new musical…For the Goodman audience the pleasures of seeing and hearing Ebersole and LuPonewere understandably considerable. Frankel's score and Korie's dry, unstinting lyrics represent an extensive, lush and ambitious composition...It's a weighty and complex suite of writing that mostly needs more interwoven scenes, not least to provide some prose to allow its musical highlights to pop." Full Review

Tuck Everlasting
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"Lewis, the spunky young actress in this role, is one of the show's great assets, as are Carmello and Park, who beautifully evoke loving parents...'Tuck Everlasting' does have its charms and some likable moments—including a few pleasing numbers, some warm relationships...But there are some crucial story points that get insufficient prominence—including, bizarrely, the moment when Winnie decides whether or not to drink...Not everything will track if you don't know the story." Full Review

American Psycho
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

“Goold's staging evidences little in the way of consistency...a tendency that, frankly, infuriated me all night long, mostly because I could see the argument for taking that very approach…It's a myopic mess, musically...‘American Psycho’ still ends up as an often cheap parody of the late 1980s rather than an in-the-moment vivisection of the time...For that, the show needs sharper edges and much more careful observation.” Full Review

Bright Star
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"Martin forged score, book and story for this wholly original musical—a piece that, despite its tonal unevenness and frequent, needless diversions from truth, still feels like a significant, distinctive and artful entry into the Broadway repertory...It would be an even-better thing if this show acknowledged the racial complexities of the era of its setting...A moving story that got under my skin despite some resistance, and a score that elevates the Broadway-bluegrass fusion." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"A cleverly self-protected show that embraces kitsch with aesthetic intensity.…In terms of subtlety and satiric nuance, ‘Disaster!’ makes the heavy-metal spoof ‘Rock of Ages’ look like Cole Porter...There's cheap puppets! Life preservers on bungee cords! 'I Will Survive.' Will you? Will you care? Never mind the imperative for dry land, how about some dry wit?...There's no consistency to the comedic business—I'd say about 20 percent of the shtick works." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"For the first time in its long history of its dramatization, 'The Color Purple' has been afforded an incarnation fully in sync with one crucial aspect of Walker's original authorial intent — that the audience must participate in the imaginative act in order to comprehend its richness of theme and story. And, in this production, so they do. Willingly. Delightedly. When they are not rising to their feet to stop the show…The show's one weakness is the lack of attention to the conversion of Mist... Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"Webber has pushed to the fore a group of rockin'-out U.S. youngsters so capable, charming, vulnerable and aspirational, their open hearts surely will fell any and all resistance...'School of Rock' offers the audience a chance to be kids again, only with more talent than we ever had...Connor made one great decision above all others, which was to ensure that the kids stay serious and vulnerable. Crucially, this gives the show weight and enough gravitas." Full Review

Misery
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"To say that Willis keeps this performance hidden under his bedclothes is a bit like saying that King sold a book or two. The character upon whom King projected his fear of some day being at the mercy of a totally wackadoodle fan is reduced mostly to various manifestations of the mumble...The lack of a zesty scene partner who is really going to challenge her and go for broke eventually seems to wear Metcalf down — it is like watching a two-hander with one of the hands shrouded in mist." Full Review

Allegiance
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"Takei, of course, was a kid at the time, and a survivor in every way. Indeed, the moral authority of his presence...is about the only thing that really works in 'Allegiance,' a musical...that seems, alas, wholly out of sync with its subject matter, especially when directed at such breakneck speed by Stafford Arima." Full Review

King Charles III
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"Bartlett's quite brilliant play offers an entrancing if apocalyptically chaotic vision of the royal follies yet to come, once Elizabeth is gone…On this side of the Atlantic, the play, directed by Rupert Goold, gains certain interesting echoes.” Full Review

Therese Raquin
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"The overarching problem with this production is that neither Knightley nor Ryan evidences any joy in their initial coupling…Even their extramarital sex is perfunctory… Knightley is an expressive actress and her work here has integrity. But it doesn't feel like an entirely secure performance because, well, it is not fully connected to anything else on view…Edmundson's adaptation deserved better.” Full Review

Ride the Cyclone
West Village
Chicago Tribune

for a previous production "A quirky, bizarre, creepy, clearly commercial, emotionally hefty and generally rather tantalizing musical…This staging is blisteringly good, sophisticated and detailed down to the very last moment…’Cyclone’ needs to live as a legit musical, and it is not yet fully there. But this thing sure is smartly written; it's rare in a new musical at this stage that the score is more of a problem than the book. And it is not that much of a problem at all." Full Review

Amazing Grace
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"The hymn "Amazing Grace" has a remarkable and singular place in history, a legacy, alas, unlikely to be enjoyed by the earnest but insufficiently sophisticated new musical that shares its title, from the hitherto unknown composer Christopher Smith...The same issue haunts the book, an overly linear piece of storytelling never better than serviceable that lacks nuance and ambiguity, even as the production it accompanies lacks a truly vibrant theatrical metaphor." Full Review

The Visit
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"It remains a weird musical...this show most assuredly deserves to be here, if feeling, music and craft are the perennial guideposts. Sometimes they just take you to strange, difficult places, as they should." Full Review

Something Rotten!
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

"The wacky new Broadway musical has the best opening comedic number of the season — heck, several seasons...To say the show opens with a bang does not do it justice...That level of anarchic comedy is not, alas, fully sustained. That is, perhaps, one of the dangers of starting out with such intensity, rather than pacing yourself." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"'Fun Home,' the gorgeously wrought and emotionally overwhelming new musical, is not so much interested in what happens to a loving but riven family, but why it happens, and, yet more important, what you do, as an old child, about the pain of your parents. It's a 100-minute piece that never lets you out of its embrace for a moment." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"There are times when 'It Shoulda Been You' feels as if it belongs to a previous generation of shows with similarly chirpy scores that you thought had choked long ago on the prime rib once served for dinner...The ease of identification, coupled with strikingly lively direction and a veritable plethora of superb farcical performances explains why a great deal of the content in this show lands with its audience." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"Anemic, sterile — and, at times, rather creepy...This is a revival demonstrably afraid of sexuality. But if everyone is so nervous about seduction, then you really don't have a "Gigi," which has romance and seduction at its core. The French are better at walking these murky paths along the River Seine. This "Gigi" has no idea how to proceed with its own material...Maybe the entire enterprise was hoping for too much, but wit, style, panache and truth would all have helped Gigi on the stairway... Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"This revival won't convert detractors who think this material tired or second tier, and it makes no great revisionist play for its source. But there's a lot to admire about this production for extant fans of old musicals...None of this would travel though, without the clarity of the Ellis storytelling, the real fire in the engine here." Full Review

Fish in the Dark
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

Larry David's first foray into Broadway comedy is like watching a weird — but undeniably entertaining and, God help us all, even potentially transformative — fusion of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," Borscht Belt comedy of the old school, long-form improv of the Chicago school, and the kind of black situational farce associated with Joe Orton or other radicals with dark, anarchic souls and a taste for shows commanding premium prices. Well, that, and "Old Jews Telling Jokes." A plethora thereof." Full Review

Airline Highway
Midtown W
Chicago Tribune

for a previous production "A romantic treatment of the town's colorful loners and outliers and the spontaneous families that spring up among those let down by real relatives. A frequently poetic piece of writing and a fine match for an ensemble-oriented group of distinguished actors who imbue these characters with spunk, spirit and vulnerability. That far — and it's a long way traveled — so very good...It sometimes verges on an unintentional Disney-fication of the dispossessed which needs more edge, and more grit." Full Review

Annie
Brooklyn
Chicago Tribune

for a previous production "Whaddya wanna know? I'd venture it's whether the latest bus-and-truck 'Annie' delivers the full 'Annie' experience....The answer is yes...The people who put this show together know what they are doing, and have done for decades." Full Review