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Hedy Weiss Reviews: ‘End of the Rainbow,’ ‘King Charles III,’ More

Judy Garland was one of the most distinctive American entertainers of the 20th Century. A new play looks at the extreme highs and lows of a legendary life in showbiz that ended at age 47.

Chicago Sun-Times theater critic Hedy Weiss reviews that show, plus four other productions in and around Chicago.

“End of the Rainbow”
Highly Recommended

When: Through Dec. 9
Where: Porchlight Music Theater, at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont
Run time: 2 hours and 25 minutes, with one intermission

Angela Ingersoll as “Judy Garland" (Photo by Kelsey Jorissen)Angela Ingersoll as “Judy Garland" (Photo by Kelsey Jorissen)

“Angela Ingersoll was born to play Judy Garland. But the word “play” doesn’t come close to suggesting just what this petite, raven-haired actress with the astonishing voice (and a remarkable physical resemblance to Garland) does during the course of the Porchlight Music Theatre production of “End of the Rainbow,” Peter Quilter’s play-with-music that conjures the tragic, chaotic months that led up to Garland’s death in 1969, when, at the age of 47, she succumbed to a barbiturate overdose.” Read Weiss’ full review.

“King Charles III”
Through Jan. 15, 2017
Where: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 800 E. Grand on Navy Pier
Run time: 2 hours and 30 minutes, with one intermission

In an act of conscience, Charles (Robert Bathurst) makes a startling proclamation to the assembled Parliament in in Mike Bartlett’s award-winning new play “King Charles III.”  (Credit: Liz Lauren)In an act of conscience, Charles (Robert Bathurst) makes a startling proclamation to the assembled Parliament in in Mike Bartlett’s award-winning new play “King Charles III.” (Credit: Liz Lauren)

“Written primarily in blank verse, the audacious drama, already seen in London and on Broadway, is receiving its local debut at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Gary Griffin directs a cast led by Robert Bathurst, the actor best known on this side of the pond for his role as Sir Anthony Strallan, the middle-aged suitor who left Lady Edith at the altar in “Downton Abbey.” Read Weiss’ interviews with Bathurst and playwright MikeBartlett.

“East Texas Hot Links”
Highly Recommended
Through Jan. 22, 2017
Where: Writers Theater, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe
Run time: 95 minutes, with one intermission

"East Texas Hot Links" (Credit: Michael Brosilow)"East Texas Hot Links" (Credit: Michael Brosilow)

“The current blistering production, full of both comic exuberance and inevitable tragedy — all animated by the kind of vividly defined characters and layered storytelling fans of August Wilson will appreciate — is shattering.” Read Weiss’ full review.

“Crazy for You”
Highly Recommended
Through Jan. 8, 2017
Where: Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace
Run time:  2 hours and 30 minutes, with one intermission

(Courtesy of Drury Lane Theatre)(Courtesy of Drury Lane Theatre)

“Jeffrey D. Kmiec’s elaborate two-story set (lit by Heather Gilbert) slides in on a track and captures the essence of the Old West. And Caitlin McLeod’s captures 1930s style to perfection. But more than anything, “Crazy for You” is a reminder of the timeless genius of the Gershwins and just the latest proof that the Chicago area musical theater scene has never been hotter.” Read Weiss’ full review

“Singin’ in the Rain”
Through Dec. 31
Where: Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Dr., Lincolnshire
Run time:  2 hours and 15 minutes, with one intermission

Danny Gardner as Don Lockwood in “Singin’ in the Rain” (Courtesy of Justin Barbin) Danny Gardner as Don Lockwood in “Singin’ in the Rain” (Courtesy of Justin Barbin)

“The Marriott in-the-round edition is a charmer. Director William Brown has taken the Betty Comden-and-Adolph Green screenplay and smartly underplayed some of its frequently belabored examples of how the advent of “talking pictures” left some vocally untrained silent film stars in the dust. Throughout, choreographer Tammy Mader has made dance (tap, tango, Charleston, romantic ballroom, acrobatic) the production’s unquestionable star attraction. Every big number is a mix of impressive virtuosity and pure pleasure.” Read Weiss’ full review.

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More from Hedy Weiss

Catch up on more reviews from the Chicago Sun-Times theater critic.