Monthly Archives: December 2022

Romantic! Dear Jack, Dear Louise at Red Barn Theatre in Key West (Through January 14, 2023)

During World War II, Jack and Louise are introduced by their families and encouraged to write letters to each other. Jack is working as an Army doctor in Oregon treating patients coming in from the Pacific. Louise is living in New York City as an actress searching for work on Broadway. They enjoy writing to each other so they agree to meet up in New York City. However, Jack finds it very difficult to obtain a leave from the army in order to make the trip.

Ken Ludwig has written a very nice play that is very enjoyable as the romance slowly develops. It is a tribute to his parents, who also wrote letters to each before they met. At times in the production, it seems more like they are talking on the phone or texting, as the back and forth is very quick. While this makes the communication by letter less realistic, it makes the play feel more lively instead of just two monologues.

Jessica Miano Kruel is so sweet and nice as Louise. She does a great job getting Jack to open up. Cody Borah is at first very awkward and formal as Jack Eventually, he opens up and expresses his emotions fully which allows for a deep connection to form.

Get tickets now for Dear Jack, Dear Louise through January 14th!

Cost of a ticket: $53

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price +

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney


Family Friendly: Slow Burn Theatre Company Presents Footloose the Musical at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (Through January 1, 2023)

In 1984, the film version of Footloose was released starring Kevin Bacon and John Lithgow. In 1998, the musical version opened on Broadway. In 2011, another film version was released starring  Kenny Wormald and Dennis Quaid. And now, in December of 2022, Slow Burn Theatre Company’s production opens at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

Ren has just moved to the small town of Bomont from Chicago with his mother. At high school, Ren thinks everyone is playing a joke of him when they tell him that dancing is illegal. He soon learns that after four kids died in a car accident coming home from a dance, they passed this law. At first, he tries to go along with it, but eventually he decides he needs to fight it.

 Photos by Larry Marano

This is a great family friendly musical. It’s good light-hearted holiday fare. The choreography is excellent, especially in the opening and closing numbers. The entire cast is great and truly bring this story to life. If you are a fan of the films, you will definitely enjoy this production.

Cost of a ticket: $57

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Get tickets now for Footloose through January 1st!

Quinn Delaney

A Soulful Voice: Nathan Graham opening for Sister Hazel at House of Blues Chicago (December 17, 2022)

Nathan Graham is a singer and songwriter who was born and raised in Chicago. This past weekend, he was the opener for Sister Hazel at the House of Blues, a band and venue close to his heart as he was on the exact stage just last year with Sister Hazel. During his performance, he shared his fond memories as this was also the stage he first performed at following COVID. 

Mr. Graham has been performing for years and has established his career as a performer over the past decade connecting with his fan base locally in Chicago, as well as internationally. His list of accolades and experiences also includes being a contestant on The Voice in 2017 where he performed, Chris Stapleton’s, “Nobody to Blame.”

The song choice reflects his music style which according to Mr. Graham merges influences of South Side Soul and Nashville Americana. During this performance, the venue was packed and fans enjoyed the performance as they sang along to his most popular hits including, “Somebody Else,” “Fake Friends,” and “I’ll Get it Right.” With his soulful voice and meaningful songwriting, there is no doubt that Mr. Graham will continue to expand his fan base. 

Cost of a ticket: $39
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother


Deeply Emotional! Broadway in Chicago Presents Dear Evan Hansen at The Nederlander Theatre (Through December 31, 2022)

Dear Evan Hansen first premiered at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. in July 2015. It opened on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre in 2016 and ran until September 2022. It won Best Musical, Best Book, and Best Score at the Tony’s. On a national tour, it stopped in Chicago at the Cadillac Palace from February 12th to March 10th in 2019. The film version was released on September 24, 2021 And now, in December of 2022, it opens at the Nederlander Theatre.  

Evan Hansen is a high school student with high social anxiety. He finds it difficult to make friends, especially a girlfriend. His only companion is a friend of the family. A therapist suggests that he write letters to himself. After resisting for a while, he begins one with “Dear Evan Hansen”. He discusses his troubles and worries. This letter eventually gets into the wrong hands and he lies about it. These lies snowball into a bigger and bigger lie while at the same time helping Evan overcome his anxiety.

This is not your typical joyful Broadway musical. It is deeply emotional as it explores dark content. It is very well done and there is a lot of joy and laughter as well. The singing and music are also excellent, especially “Waving Through A Window”.

Anthony Norman is perfect as Evan, who is on stage for most of the show. He expertly expresses the social anxiety, even when it makes the audience uncomfortable. Pablo David Laucerica is charming and fun as Evan’s family friend. Alaina Anderson is excellent as Evan’s love interest. Nikhil Saboo greatly captures the conflicted brother character of Connor. John Hemphill and Lili Thomas expertly play Connor’s parents. It’s a very powerful moment when Hemphill’s character releases his emotions. Micaela Lamas is solid as Evan’s classmate searching for her place. Lastly, Coleen Sexton is powerful as Evan’s single mother struggling with work and classes.

Photos by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

Cost of a ticket: $132 (Orchestra Center)

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Get tickets now for Dear Evan Hansen through December 31st!

Quinn Delaney

Top 7 Moments at Broadway in Chicago Presents A Magical Cirque Christmas at CIBC Theatre (Through December 11, 2022)

  1. Carisa Hendrix is very charming and sweet as Lucy Darling, the hostess and magician. It’s very impressive when she has a volunteer lie on a table and then proceeds to have her float above it. She also does a many slight of hand tricks that are executed impeccably.

2. Jonathan Rinny riding a unicycle about ten feet tall with all wheels instead of chain and gears. He also rides a super small bike that is about a foot long.

3. Nicky Faubert and Olivier Belzile in the duo straps act. At many times, Nicky is not connected to the strap which has the audience on the edge of their seat!

4. Itzel Salvatierra and Scott Cooper are incredible in their hand to hand duo act as he swings her all around impressively.

5. Christopher Stoinev juggling light-up multicolored bowling pins in the dark that create an amazing sight of movement and color.

6. Aryn Shelander is outstanding as she contorts her body while using a bow and arrow to hit the target every time!

7. Jonathan Rinny balancing on five skateboards stacked on a cylinder is an incredible feat of balance (see the featured image). He then ups the ante by balancing eight cylinders alternately stacked on top of each other to a height taller than himself.

Cost of a ticket: $94 (Central Orchestra) or $36 (Orchestra Obstructed View)

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It + (Obstructed View Seats, you won’t miss much)

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Get tickets now for A Magical Cirque Christmas through December 11th!

Quinn Delaney

Hilarious! Second City Presents What the Elf? at Up Comedy Club (Through January 1, 2023)

A pair of gift masters (GMs) take the stage. They explain that they will figure out the perfect gift for anyone. An audience member sitting on the rail raises her hand and is selected. She says she is looking to buy a gift for her sister’s boyfriend. The GMs make a funny face and then say that she should not get him a gift, but to tell them more about him anyways. She says he is a balding accountant who used to play hockey. The GMs literally put their heads together and come up with the idea. Get him a new life, including a new girlfriend who is not related to you!

Another audience member on the rail is selected to receive gift advice. He is looking for a gift for his fiancée. He says that she likes yoga, beaches, and talking with her friends. The GMs put their heads together and again come up with a great idea. Get her a girls trip to the beach with her friends!

Lastly, an audience member says she wants to get a gift for her father. He is stubborn, likes buying gifts for himself, and enjoys using tools. The GMs suggest getting him DVDs of the show “Escape to the Chateau” about renovating an old French Chateau. (Or getting him a subscription to Peacock, so he can stream it).

All of these ideas are really good and this is a fantastic improvised sketch to include in this show.

The entire cast is excellent. Tim Metzler is hilarious as the coworker who when he does mind reading, his body takes a big toll to do so. Javid Iqbal is so funny as the Holiday Cher and in the song about the Muslim holiday, Eid. Bill Letz is superb as the guy who just can’t get foreplay quite right. Yazmin Ramos cracks everyone up as the love interest in the Hallmark Channel movie and as she flies across the stage in the office chair dance. Maureen Boughey is so good as the star of the Hallmark movie, a high powered consultant from Boston sent to Holly, Iowa. Lastly, Jenelle Cheyne is fantastic as the deeply dark elf of death.

Cost of a ticket: $64 (GA)

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Get tickets now for What the Elf? through January 1st!

Quinn Delaney

Joyful! The Buttcracker: A Nutcracker Burlesque at Greenhouse Theater Center (Through December 31, 2022)

The posted showtime is when the cocktail hour begins. Do arrive at this time and check out the Jepson table. Here you can sample many of their products including their bourbon, vodka, espresso martini, Dogma Amargo de Chile, and Malort. Their representative will also give you a lot of information about the spirits including their history. Also during the cocktail hour, a tableside magicians is performing at the VIP tables.

Photos by Matthew Gregory Hollis

After an hour, the show begins. It’s a burlesque Nutcracker in a very fun and friendly atmosphere with the audience cheering on the performers. It’s a celebration of the return to live performance since it was forced online in 2020 and then went on hiatus in 2021. The joy is evident in the smiles from all the dancers.

Cost of a ticket: $46 (GA)

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Get tickets now for The Buttcracker through December 31st!

Quinn Delaney


The sponsors, Jeppson’s Malort and CH, were only there for opening night, but they have Malort available at the bar for all performances. The cocktail hour performers change each week, and are on Friday’s and Saturday’s.

Thursday night is Vendor Night during the cocktail hour, and Sundays are Butt Brunch with goodies from Uprising Bakery and Cafe in Lake in the Hills, IL.

There are four ticket tiers for people to choose from: $20 standing room available at the door, $30 for general admission house left, $40 for general admission center and $75 for the VIP experience which includes things like table service for the bar, a cast meet and greet and swag.

Powerful! Trouble in Mind at Timeline Theatre (Through December 18, 2022)

Trouble in Mind was written by Alice Childress in 1955. White producers planned to put it on Broadway if she changed the ending and the title to So Early Monday Morning. She refused and thus it never appeared on Broadway during her lifetime. She does have the honor of being the first Black woman to have a play professionally produced in NYC, but not the first on Broadway due to this dispute. It did finally open there in 2021, which garnered it a Tony nomination for Best Revival of a Play.

In the play, it is 1957 at a Broadway theatre in New York City.  The cast and the director have gathered to rehearse a new play called Chaos in Belleille, a Southern drama about lynching. The white director and the lead black actress disagree strongly about the interpretation of the script and they argue about it frequently. It’s a powerful play that expertly explores the racial struggles in the 50’s.

Ron OJ Parson (Relentless, To Catch a Fish) did an excellent job directing this play. It must have been confusing at times directing the actor playing the director Tim Decker (Million Dollar Quartet) is intense and often angry as the director. Shariba Rivers (School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play) is outstanding as the lead actress fighting to act truthfully instead of in black stereotypes. Vincent Jordan is great as the newcomer taking advice to be a yes man when working with a white director from the lead actress. Charles Stransky is solid as the doorman who used to work the lights at the theatre. is solid as the white male lead. Kenneth D Johnson is superb as he tells a truly horrifying story about witnessing a lynching as a child.  Guy Van Swearingen ,Tarina J. Bradshaw, Jordan Ashley Grier (Relentless), and Adam Shalzi are all solid in their roles.

Photos by Liz Lauren

Cost of a ticket: $47

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Get tickets now for Trouble in Mind through December 18th!

Quinn Delaney