Don Giovanni, Holiday Theater in Chicago — Playtime Chicago Theater Report

NOTE: Below is a lightly edited transcript of my Chicago Theater Report, broadcast on November 17, 2019 as part of Playtime with Bill Turck and Kerri Kendall, WCGO 1590 AM, 95.9 FM.

Links to the audio archive will be posted below as soon as they are available:

WCGO Radio Archive (Scroll down to Hour 2 of the November 17, 2019 episode. Segment starts at around 3:31.)

The Chicago Theater Report begins at about 1:07.
Theater report starts at about 3:36.

Introduction and Show News

The holiday season is theater season here in Chicago, and there are many new shows opening around the city.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, many people now favor experiences over physical gifts: Why not treat loved ones on your holiday list to the gift of theater this year? Take advantage of special discounts arranged between theaters and local restaurants and hotels and create an evening or afternoon to remember!

If you need some ideas for shows, I’ve got a few for you:

A Family-Friendly Christmas Wish

Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish – The Musical at the Greenhouse Theater Center, is a new, family-friendly holiday play by Denise McGowan Tracy and is based on her book of the same name.  

According to the press release, Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish tells the story of a rag doll named Eleanor who lives in the magical world of The North Pole who wishes for a best friend and family of her own.

The show runs from November 16th through December 29th. Children will have a chance after each show to meet with Santa in his workshop: Bring your camera for selfies! Visit GreenHouseTheater.org to purchase tickets.

A Cold Night in Chicago

Cold Town/Hotline playwright and director Eli Newell

The Raven Theatre is host to the world premiere of the heartwarming, family-friendly comedy COLD TOWN/HOTLINE: A Chicago Holiday Story, written and directed by Eli Newell. The story is set in December 1983 at a call center that provides a listening ear to those feeling sad over the holidays. The volunteers find themselves trapped by bad weather at the call center, and are then confronted by an unexpected visitor. The play is recommended for folks age seven and up.

Previews begin on November 30th, and the regular run is December 7th through the 22nd. Tickets are currently available at RavenTheatre.com or by calling (773) 338-2177. 

A Christmas Child

The Christmas Foundling will be making its debut at The Buena stage at the Pride Arts Center on Saturday, December 7th. The show is about an orphan boy raised by two Gold Rush miners living together as a couple in the Sierra Mountains during the 1850s, an experience that proves to be as transformative for the miners as it is for the boy. The show runs through January 5th, and tickets are available at www.pridefilmsandplays.com or by calling 773-857-0222.

Don Giovanni at the Lyric Opera

PHOTO CREDIT: Kyle Flubacker (Lyric Opera, Chicago)

I got to attend opening night of Don Giovanni at the Lyric Opera this week. What a show! Director Robert Falls revives his 2014 Lyric production of Mozart’s classic, setting the opera in Spain of the 1920s. The story is familiar: Don Giovanni is always alert to the scent of a woman, consuming the female sex as, he himself puts it, like bread or even air.

However, Falls’ Don Giovanni is not a womanizer to laugh or even sneer at: After all, it is one thing to be a bounder and a cad, quite another to be a rapist and murderer. In this production, Giovanni is definitely relegated to the latter camp, and I gave a sigh of relief when he met his quite justifiable fate.

The production itself is enthralling, and I frequently found myself missing the supertitles as I was so entranced with what was happening on stage. The costumes by Ana Kuzmanic are a particular delight.

Amanda Majeski and Lucas Meachem PHOTO CREDIT: Kyle Flubacker (Lyric Opera, Chicago)

I must also praise the standout performances of Amanda Majeski as a conflicted Donna Elvira who demonstrates that while hell has no fury like a woman scorned, it is also true that the manipulations of abusers, and their aftermath, haven’t changed much over the centuries. 

Ying Fang and Lucas Meachem PHOTO CREDIT: Kyle Flubacker (Lyric Opera, Chicago)

I also appreciated the work of Ying Fang, making her Lyric Opera debut as Zerlina, the peasant bride who gets a wee bit in over her head. Her voice is a lovely one and her acting superb. I never knew quite where she was taking the character and she kept me a bit on edge throughout the performance. Excellent acting!

Don Giovanni runs through December 8th. Tickets are on sale at LyricOpera.org and discount seats can be purchased at HotTix.org.

Tune in to Playtime with Bill Turck & Kerri Kendall on WCGO radio in Chicago every Sunday from 1-3 pm central on WCGO 1590 AM and 95.9 FM in Chicagoland. You can also stream the show through WCGO’s websiteWCGO’s SmartTalk app or the Tune-In app.


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