Hamlet Act 2, Scene 2
Plop down in front of the TV? That's a near daily occurrence. Visit the local Cineplex? We may do that a couple of times a month. But for most of us, live theater is a rarer, more delectable experience. It no longer requires donning a sport coat and tie, but whether it is plotting a route to the Loop, planning a theater weekend in New York City, or just a suburban drive to Lincolnshire or Oakbrook, there is a specialness about the experience. I have written about some wonderful theater we have seen. But what goes around comes around, and it's time to let loose on some of the stinkers. So, in no particular order, here are seven shows we have seen, and wished we hadn't.
- Biggest Disappointment: Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boubil, composers of Les Misérables, will always be our heroes. But their miserable concoction The Pirate Queen, which played Chicago in 2006 before debuting in New York in 2007, managed to avoid any of the tunefulness or dramatic story lines of its predecessor. No surprise that the show quickly walked the plank on Broadway.
- Easiest Show for Us to Make an Early Exit: We have seen some wonderful shows with our intermittent subscription at the Marriott Lincolnshire Theater. Cabaret, from the 2014-2015 season, comes to mind. But that same season also had a production of Godspell that was absolutely dreadful. Half the audience, including Barb and I, filed out during intermission with no intention of returning. Maybe everyone was inspired to head to their favorite church, synagogue or mosque to seek divine forgiveness for buying tickets to this snoozer. Did people really like the original production in 1971?
- Best Show to Leave When Your Son Gets a Fever: While we are dissing the Marriott, here's one more low blow. A production of Chess, the Tim (Evita) Rice/Benny Anderson-Bjorn Ulvaeus (both from ABBA) collaboration was so dreadful we almost cheered when we learned at intermission that Michael had a temperature of 102°. Good thing we left. The reviews said the second act was even worse than the first.
- Lacking Star Power: Back in 2009 you had to know someone to get a ticket to see James Gandolfini and the rest of a great cast in God of Carnage. It wasn't quite Hamilton but it was big. By the time we caught the show a few months after the openning, the cast had turned over, and we were more interested in whether or not we would make our post-matinee flight back home than in the on-stage shenanigans.
- Overheated: This should have been a winner. F. Murray Abraham starring as The Merchant of Venice at the Private Bank Theater downtown. We might have enjoyed the show if someone had mentioned to the theater manager that it can get hot in Chicago, even in March. Without air-conditioning the theater was absolutely stifling; our view of the stage was blocked by everyone fanning themselves with their Playbills.
- Sob Story: Barb cried and cried at the movie theater during the Bette Midler tearjerker Beaches. I cried and cried being forced to sit through the interminable stage version at the Drury Lane Theater in Oak Brook. As far as I know, this Pre-Broadway tryout has still not found a path to the Great White Way.
- A Hot Mess from Start to Finish: Who remembers the theatrical version of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. I didn't think so. A good cast featuring Patti LuPone, Laura Benanti, Sheri Rene Scott, and Brian Stokes Mitchell trapped in musical nightmare. I hear the London version lasted a little longer than the New York City version. That's reason enough to kick Britain out of the EU.
What's your worst theater experience? Leave a Comment below. Just remember the Comment section on the ChicagoNow website is after that row of ads. I hate that set-up but that's the way it is.
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