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Robert Bullen
Bob Bullen is a fan of Chicago theatre, from its thriving storefront scene to Broadway in Chicago — and everything in between. In addition to his blog, Chicago Theatre Addict, Bob has written about Chicago theatre for CBS Chicago, the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau and the Edge Network. He lives in Chicago with his partner, Gerald.

Entries by Robert Bullen

'Dreamgirls' at Porchlight Music Theatre

(0) Comments | Posted April 18, 2016 | 1:10 PM

I almost skipped Dreamgirls at Porchlight. I've seen and enjoyed the movie, I saw a very decent (if emotionally neutered) touring production 6 years ago, I've watched Jennifer Holliday's landmark performance of the titular first act closer in gay bars and YouTubes galore.

I mean, I've *seen* Dreamgirls.

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Far From Heaven at Porchlight Music Theatre

(0) Comments | Posted February 15, 2016 | 1:47 PM

As a devout musical theater fan, one of the things I love about the art form is how it elevates the everyday into the extraordinary. The combination of music and verse heightens the senses, transcending mere dialogue. And in the artfully crafted musical adaption of the 2002 film, Far From...

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Beautiful - The Carole King Musical at the Oriental Theatre

(0) Comments | Posted December 7, 2015 | 6:12 AM

Jukebox musicals. Such a phrase makes those who love musical theatre shudder with a wave of disgust, as it exemplifies the devolution of the art form. Where the best musicals use carefully crafted music to advance the story and heighten the emotional moments, jukebox musicals simply jam familiar tunes into...

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A Buoyant Merry Widow at Lyric Opera of Chicago

(0) Comments | Posted November 23, 2015 | 3:06 PM

Ooh-la-la! As John Oliver mentioned in response to the recent attacks on France's capital, Paris will endure - largely due to its rich culture and passionate people. And the delightful comic operetta by Hungarian composer Franz Lehár, The Merry Widow, celebrates the very best of Paris.


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Gentleman's Guide Charms at the Bank of America Theatre

(1) Comments | Posted October 5, 2015 | 3:39 PM

If you were to look up "delightful" in the dictionary, I wouldn't be surprised if the 2014 Tony Award winning musical A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder provided an exemplification of the word.

In an an action-packed 2.5 hours, we follow the wholly fictional (and highly entertaining) tale...

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Side Show at Porchlight Music Theatre

(0) Comments | Posted September 20, 2015 | 1:33 PM

A lucky handful of commercially-produced shows become flat-out hits that run for decades. Yet more than often, most shows buckle under the pressures of modern commercial theatre and are sadly forgotten. And then there are shows like Side Show -- a show that struggled and quickly folded when first produced...

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The Boy From Oz at Stage 773

(0) Comments | Posted August 10, 2015 | 9:56 AM

In an age of reality TV and viral videos, star-making stage turns are few and far between. When Hugh Jackman headlined in the Broadway production of The Boy From Oz in 2003, he made such a splash portraying beloved Australian performer Peter Allen, the musical remained a sell-out during its...

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A Funny and Fine Forum at Porchlight

(1) Comments | Posted April 29, 2015 | 12:00 PM

They say tragedy is easy, yet comedy is hard. And in watching Porchlight's delightful production of the hit 1962 musical comedy, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, I took note of how deftly this hard-working cast navigates Burt Shevelove's farcical book and Stephen Sondheim's daffy yet...

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A Transcendent Carousel at Lyric Opera

(0) Comments | Posted April 15, 2015 | 12:28 PM

Unlike Guys and Dolls or The Music Man, Carousel isn't a show that can simply rest on the strengths of its material. While a good number of classic musicals can lean on their score and inner charms to suffice for a pleasurable evening, Rogers and Hammerstein's 1945 masterpiece requires a director...

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Cabaret Artist Joan Curto Finds the Heart and Humor in Sondheim

(0) Comments | Posted March 18, 2015 | 3:28 PM

Stephen Sondheim ain't for sissies -- especially if you're a performer. His lyrics are smart and dense, and his music often veers into counter-intuitive rhythms and phrases. And, most importantly, his songs are character driven, and while they can certainly succeed in a presentational format, such as a cabaret show,...

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First Wives Club Musical Feels Like a First Draft

(0) Comments | Posted March 16, 2015 | 5:02 PM

Faith Prince. Those two words served as the motivation for me to visit this pre-Broadway tryout of The First Wives Club: The Musical. I consider Prince among the very best musical comedy stars -- right up there with Carol Channing and Judy Holliday. The Tony-winning actress is the sort of...

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Get Ready to Be Amazed by The Illusionists

(0) Comments | Posted March 16, 2015 | 10:35 AM

Upon receiving the marketing materials for The Illusionists - a new multi-city magic show now playing Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre through March 22 - I couldn't help but conjure up camptacular images of '90s David Copperfield specials and Burt Wonderstone.

But, let me tell you: This show...

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Porchlight's Sondheim on Sondheim Explores the Art of Making Art

(0) Comments | Posted February 13, 2015 | 2:00 PM

In the new musical revue, Sondheim on Sondheim, the chorus opens the second act with a self-deprecating number about how Stephen Sondheim is a "God." Though the purpose of this second act opener is tongue-in-cheek (Sondheim himself wrote it), I'd argue that most people in the opening night audience of Porchlight...

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Black Ties, Boleyns and News Boys: Three Shows in Four Days

(0) Comments | Posted December 15, 2014 | 9:29 AM

The challenge was simple: Three wildly different shows in four days. My 68-year-old mother joined me and provided her input. Here's the recap:

Living the History -- 125 Years of the Auditorium Theatre


Chicago's historic landmark performance venue, the Auditorium Theatre, received...

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From "The Nutcracker" to the NFL: Celebrating Auditorium Theatre's 125 Years

(0) Comments | Posted December 8, 2014 | 1:44 PM

One of my favorite Chicago theatre memories to date is when Broadway in Chicago presented Fuerza Bruta - a theatrical event that I can only describe as a near-chaotic interactive dance party performance art. While the experience itself proved jaw-dropping, what elevated it was the venue. All the action took...

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The Sun Does Come out in This Delightful Annie Tour

(0) Comments | Posted November 20, 2014 | 10:14 AM

Kids and animals onstage in a daffy and heartwarming musical comedy? Depending on whom you talk to, this could either be a horror show or a holiday delight.

Typically, I lean toward the latter -- one can only take so much sweetness in one sitting. However, Annie, especially this...

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A Satiating Sweeney at Porchlight

(0) Comments | Posted October 20, 2014 | 12:54 PM

Sweeney and I go way back. It was the first musical where I found myself blown away by not just the music, but also the plot. I still recall my 15 year-old self sitting in my grandparents living room giving the original Broadway cast album a spin on my trusty...

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Goodman Theatre's Brigadoon Offers a Delightful Romp in the Heather

(0) Comments | Posted July 28, 2014 | 5:41 PM

"Isn't Brigadoon the one with the leprechauns?"

No, that's "Finnian's Rainbow," clarified my theatre companion as we walked into Goodman's suprisingly delightful new production of the Scottish-based Lerner and Loewe tuner.

Brigadoon is a show that I'd firmly dismissed. Many of those warhorse musicals often feel...

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Bailiwick Chicago's Carrie Hits the Heart But Not the Horror

(0) Comments | Posted June 9, 2014 | 7:32 PM

Callie Johnson is Carrie White in Bailiwick Chicago's 'Carrie: The Musical'

There are essentially two reactions I get when telling people I'm going to see Carrie: The Musical:

- Reaction 1: People who know the musical's sacred lore as one of the...

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An Energetic Yet Emotionally Empty Motown the Musical

(0) Comments | Posted May 22, 2014 | 3:54 PM

Twice a day, on the way to and from work, I pass the Oriental Theatre, where the national tour of Motown the Musical is running through August 9. Of all the shows that have played at the Oriental, this one is unique in that I constantly see couples, groups and...

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