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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

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

(0) Comments | Posted February 13, 2015 | 3:00 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 | 10:29 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 | 2:44 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 | 11:14 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 | 1:54 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 | 6:41 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 | 8:32 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 | 4:54 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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A Refreshingly Hilarious Buyer and Cellar at Chicago's Broadway Playhouse

(0) Comments | Posted May 19, 2014 | 3:52 PM

I have a confession. I'm not a huge Barbra Streisand fan. Sure, I admire early Barbra -- like sitting on stool in a plaid shirt and belting out duets with Judy Garland Barbra Streisand. I even enjoyed her Dolly Levi. But everything circa 1970 and beyond I find her exhaustingly...

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Interview with Buyer & Cellar Star, Michael Urie

(0) Comments | Posted April 17, 2014 | 3:49 PM

Actor Michael Urie is best known for his work as colorful and meddling assistant Marc St. James in the long running ABC series, Ugly Betty. His scenes with the statuesque Vanessa Williams exemplified two actors at the top of their game who clearly delight in being bad. However, Urie, a...

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Catch This Starcatcher Before it Flies Off

(0) Comments | Posted April 7, 2014 | 6:01 PM

The musical Peter Pan is one of my childhood delights. I love me some Mary Martin in a flying rig. Or Cathy Rigby. The story, about a boy who won't grow up and the magic and heartbreak of choosing to do so, hits me right in the sweet spot of...

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Making Onstage Chemistry: A Chat With the Stars of Goodman's Venus in Fur

(0) Comments | Posted April 2, 2014 | 2:54 PM

In Goodman Theatre's intense production of David Ives' hit play, Venus in Fur, palpable onstage chemistry is critical (read my review here). It's what elevates this two-person dark comedy from a tawdry romp into a thrilling exploration of dominance and power.

In Goodman's production, Rufus Collins and Amanda...

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Goodman's Venus in Fur: A Power Play With a Twist

(0) Comments | Posted March 20, 2014 | 12:49 PM

Where to start with David Ives' twisting, tantalizing and tawdry dark comedy? This is the kind of work that delights and surprises in the moment, yet following the event you begin to look past the intoxicating veneer to unravel the underlying puzzle. And you wonder: Is there any soul beneath...

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Making Sondheim Sing: Interview with Michael Mahler, Music Director of Chicago Shakespeare's Road Show

(0) Comments | Posted February 24, 2014 | 3:38 PM

Beginning March 13, Chicago Shakespeare Theater will debut a revised version of Road Show, a show that Chicago audiences first saw in 2003 at the Goodman Theatre, albeit with a very different book, a modified score and a different title.

I caught that production (then called Bounce), and felt it...

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Interview With Louise Pitre, Mama Rose in Chicago Shakes' Gypsy

(0) Comments | Posted February 11, 2014 | 1:22 PM

Director Gary Griffin knows his Sondheim. And he's found his muse in Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Having presented two highly-praised and award-winning productions of the celebrated composer/lyricist's works in the past four years, including a haunting Follies and a spine-tingling Sunday in the...

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Porchlight's Ain't Misbehavin' Delivers Smoldering Sass

(0) Comments | Posted February 7, 2014 | 2:45 PM

The joint is certainly jumpin' at Stage 773. Porchlight's rollicking production of the "Fats" Waller revue, Ain't Misbehavin', playing through March 9, is the kind of show that offers enough heat and harmony to melt through the layers of ice that have crystallized Chicago.

This isn't the shiny, slick...

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Refreshed Phantom Still Dazzles

(0) Comments | Posted January 21, 2014 | 9:54 AM

Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera holds a special place in my heart. Hal Prince's original blockbuster production, which I saw no less than four times in Toronto back in the mid '90s, was one of my first exposures to big, professional theatre, and I quickly became...

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Ghost the Musical National Tour: Nothing But Smoke and Mirrors

(0) Comments | Posted January 10, 2014 | 11:57 AM

I'm a fan of Ghost the Musical. Or, well, I was. At some point early into the first act of this first national tour, I turned to my friend and said, "I'm so sorry."

Something happened between when I saw the show in London nearly two years ago and...

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A Solid Cast Fails to Solve Remy Bumppo's An Inspector Calls

(0) Comments | Posted December 12, 2013 | 3:20 PM

If there's any mystery in Remy Bumppo's An Inspector Calls, it's how this play is considered a classic of the mid-20th century English theatre. J. B. Priestley's drama is less an Agatha Christie parlor mystery and more a heavy (heavy!) handed morality play delivered with all the subtlety of a...

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Timeline's The Normal Heart Proves a Sobering, Searing Reminder

(0) Comments | Posted November 11, 2013 | 7:48 PM

Watching David Cromer as gay rights activist Ned Weeks storm the stage, with his hands over his face in a perpetual mixture of anger, outrage and fear, is not unlike watching a staged panic attack. And rightly so: the world is crumbling around Ned (a stand-in for playwright and groundbreaking...

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