Thursday October 19th 2017

“Julius Caesar”

CST_CAES_Image1 There are many people who fear attending a Shakespeare play as they find it hard to understand. In order to truly see how a classic work can stay fresh, one needs to head down to Navy Pier and view the work of Chicago Shakespeare Theater. This company takes the work of “The Bard” to new heights, and the true proof of how this happens is on the stage now, with a solid, unforgettable production of “Julius Caesar”. First of all, they have modernized the staging, costumes, props and even added a carnival like opening. Directed by Jonathan Munby ( his first production on this stage, and I am sure more will follow), on a set that is marvelous (Alexander Dodge) that takes us to Rome, where the population is jubilant over Caesar’s recent victory over Pompey. Everyone wants him to be crowned King. Of course, there are many who fear that having a King will be the downfall of the republic and so a plot is devised where all of the”senate” members, in order to save the country , will kill this hero. That is the basic story, followed by the destruction of each of those who committed this dastardly crime.

This production is roughly 2 1/2 hours ( with an intermission) and is spellbinding from start to finish.Even though we know it is a tragedy and there is a great deal of death and war, we know that Shakespeare did have a meaning to what he penned. This is a story about politics and one may notice some resemblance to today’s world; it is a story about losing democracy ( or the fear of losing it, if a King is declared); Who should have the power? one man, his cabinet or anyone who wants it? And of course, one of the big ones, what happens when the structure of life changes? We all have our own fears, and as the economy does it’s swing, prices at the pumps rise, taxes increase, we can see that this is not a new fear, it has been around since the days of Shakespeare, and before.

An all-star cast truly makes this a “must see” production! Yes, even if you have never seen a Shakespeare play, I strongly suggest you make this a priority and it will open up your eyes ( and mind) to some of the greatest stories . David Darlow is a strong Julius Caesar and his wife,Calphurnia is played to perfection by Barbara E. Robertson. If you recognize these names, it is because they have graced many Chicago stages with their ability to play almost any type of role.Dion Johnstone ( from Canada) handles the role of Marc Anthony, who takes the side of the senators in order to save his country.British actor John Light handles Brutus and Cassius is played by New York stage star Jason Kolotouros. But there is so much more to this powerful cast of players: The soothsayer , who delivers the message “Beware The Ides of March” is a role that is spoken and chanted and local actress McKinley Carter Nails it!                                                            CST_CAES_Image2

The rest of the cast names reads like a “who’s who” of Chicago stage actors: Brenda Barrie,Terry Hamilton,David Lively, Matt Mueller, Samuel Taylor,Demetrios Troy, Alex Weisman,Austin Talley, Bret Tuomi,Dennis Grimes, Torrey Hanson,Adam Brown and Larry Yando. Each performer takes on their main role and becomes a member of the ensemble where needed. Each character they play is of great importance to the telling of this story. The army scenes are amazing as Soldiers are dropped from what could be helicopters, bombs go off ( Philip S. Rosenberg’s lighting is absolutely amazing). Lindsay Jones handles the sound design, but also, as he does for a number of companies has composed the sensational and often eerie music which adds a great deal to the entire production. The costumes by Ilona Somogyi are amazing and the movement ( almost like dance) is directed by Harrison McEldowney. When it comes to fight choreography, Chicago’s Matt Hawkins brings us the most realistic work and the audience never sees what he does to give it the realistic look with no injuries. This is a solid production team to go along with a solid cast. Who can ask for anything more?

“Julius Caesar” will continue at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier through March 24th . To view the entire performance schedule, visit www.chicagoshakes.com

Tickets range from $58-$78 and can be purchased at the box office, by phone at 312-595-5600 or at the website. There  are $20 tickets ( for students and younger patrons ( under 35) available for all performances. www.chicagoshakes.com/cst20

There is plenty of parking at Navy Pier and lots of dining spots, some fancy, some not. Parking is discounted through the theater and through March 17th, after 5 p.m., parking is only $10 ( a bargain).

On Wednesday matinee performances, there will be talk-backs- no charge

On Saturdays, from 3/2-3/23 there will be a 2 p.m. pre-amble and on Sundays at 1 from 2/24- 3/24   also No Charge

On March 8th, you can join the actors in the pub for a discussion

ALSO: “Access Shakespeare” performances are on March 1 at 7:30 p.m. (sign interpreted)

Saturday,March 23rd at 3 p.m. is the audio described performance

To see what others say, visit  www.theatreinchicago.com  , go to review round-up and click “Julius Caesar”

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