2011′s Theatrical Dazzlers

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As I said in my previous blog post, I flew lots and lots of miles over three continents in the course of 2011. But when I was in Chicago, I made sure I slid my butt into a theater seat (over the objections and recriminations of friends and (ex) lovers who I ended up not seeing during those so few weekends). So I still managed to go to a significant number of shows this year despite feeling as if I lived at O’Hare instead of my Ravenswood loft.  No regrets on this end, since Chicago continued to be a dazzling North American capital for live performance, with a bounty of world premieres, Chicago stops of great touring productions, and storefront theatrical treasures.  Here, then, is my annual top ten list of Chicago theater:

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Thrilling, Stirring

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A good friend of mine and avid reader of this blog asked me recently whether he should see this “X” show or this “Y” show this weekend, and my response to him was – “If you are going to the theater this weekend in Chicago, why would you go to anything other than Black Watch?”  And I don’t mean that statement as any form of disrespect to the many, many terrific shows currently onstage in Chicago, but as an unqualified, enthusiastic tribute to what is certainly the best play I have seen this year so far (and in the top five of the past couple of years), the National Theatre of Scotland’s globally-heralded depiction of soldiers from the famous Scottish regiment while they are deployed in Iraq, brought to our city by Chicago Shakespeare TheatreBlack Watch is the reason why I go to the theater – it impressively, searingly co-mingles idiosyncratic theatricality with raw, powerful emotions, and a pointed, insightful engagement with the issues and concerns of our contemporary world.  It is theater at it’s very, very finest and most memorable, and shame on you if you call yourself a passionate Chicago theatergoer and you haven’t run out yet to get your ticket to this unmissable theatrical moment.

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