"The Book Thief" (Steppenwolf Theatre): Gray Steals Hearts!

"The Book Thief" (Steppenwolf Theatre):  Gray Steals Hearts!

Steppenwolf Theatre for Young Adults, in partnership with Chicago Public Library’s One Book, One Chicago, presents THE BOOK THIEF.  Leisel’s mother is dead.  Her father is in prison.  She and her brother are being adopted.  En route to their new home, her brother dies. What could possibly be worse than what she has already survived?  Nazis, WWII, concentration camps, starvation:  Leisel’s life is about to go from tragic to catastrophic.  Yet, she finds solace and pluckiness in the pages of books.  THE BOOK THIEF will steal your heart before she tears your soul.

Playwright Heidi Stillman adapts the bestselling novel to stage.  Since it is a show about a girl’s love of books, there are multiple stories and backstories and life stories that surround Leisel.  Stillman uses a narrator to guide us on the journey of a Nazi-infested and war rampaged German village. Francis Guinan plays the narrator aka Death.  It’s through his eyes that we view the horrific results of the Hitler tyranny.  A commanding Guinan delivers a matter-of-fact litany on the death count.  Under the direction of Hallie Gordon, Francis Guinan keeps us amused and organized.  He connects us to the various characters and life events.  From lights up, Guinan’s fascination with Leisel’s scrappy spirit intrigues him.  And us!  Rae Gray (Leisel) is transfixing! Gray showcases impressive strength, emotion and spunk.  Her exceptional performance is a 3+ kleenx minimum.

But it really does take a village!  The talented ensemble support Leisel and Gray with a beautiful and hopeful spirit.  Guinan questions human kindness during the Nazis atrocity.  And Stillman and Gordon effectively point to the answer.  Despite personal fear, grief, and starvation, people can be kind at their own peril. For wartimes, this is surprisingly a feel-good play! The cast’s subtle and ordinary choices make for extraordinary storytelling.  They all lend voice to Leisel’s powerful journey.  Some outstanding performances included a gentle Mark Ulrich (Hans), a coarse Amy J. Carle (Rosa) and a charismatic Clancy McCartney (Rudy).  Wow!

THE BOOK THIEF has a limited run and available tickets.  Don’t let yourself get robbed of this experience, buy a ticket ASAP!  With THE BOOK THIEF upstairs and GOOD PEOPLE downstairs, Steppenwolf has launched a kick ass 2012-2013 season.

Running Time:  Two hours and fifteen minutes includes an intermission

At Steppenwolf’s Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted

Novel written by Markus Zusak

Adapted by Heidi Stillman

Directed by Hallie Gordon

School performances are sold out

Tickets to public performance are limited

Thru November 11th

Buy Tickets at www.steppenwolf.org

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