Radio City Rockettes

To parphrase ZZ Top, the Rockettes have legs…and they know how to use them. So it’s not surprising that the 18 leggy dancers were the stars of the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular,” which opened Friday night at the Rosemont Theatre. Displaying no first-night jitters, the Rockettes lived up to showman Russell Markert’s dream of forming a chorus line that moved and behaved as one dancer.

Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus

Calling itself “The greatest show on earth”–as the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey circus does–is a bold claim to make at a time when Cirque du Soleil is captivating audiences with its sophisticated artistry, and Cher is touring with a team of spunky aerialists (and a battalion of wigs). Opening-night jitters Wednesday at the Allstate Arena may have been responsible for some missed tricks, but Ringling Bros., which was founded in 1871, still manages to put on an entertaining show year after year.

Margaret Cho: “I’m the One That I Want”

In her one-woman show “I’m the One That I Want,” Margaret Cho recalls how getting her own sitcom in the mid-1990s signified acceptance to her–for the first time in her life. What she didn’t realize then was that acceptance came with a price.

`Grease on Ice’ lands perfect 10

Perhaps the best way to present “Grease” from now on is on ice. Ever since Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta starred in the 1978 film version of the play, most productions of the musical have been overshadowed by memories of the movie. But when you’ve got skaters performing double loops and death spirals, you tend to forget about the film and lose yourself in the fun.

“The Wizard of Oz”

Deftly directed by Robert Johanson, who shows a keen eye for detail, the immaculately staged, 90-minute musical is a whirlwind of eye candy. With the collaboration of set designer Michael Anania, Johanson brings the scenes to life. One minute you see the cantankerous neighbor/witch flying high above the stage on her bicycle. The next, a farmhouse is furiously swirling through the epicenter of a tornado. All this sets the stage for the trip to Oz, where the kaleidoscope of colors are as bright as a rainbow and the onstage pyrotechnics just add to the fun.

February 8, 1999

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“Grease”

Synopsis: Greaser Danny Zuko (Todd DuBail) has a summer romance with sweet Sandy Dumbrowski (Sandy Rustin). When they bump into each other in high school, Danny hides his true feelings for her because he’s afraid of looking uncool in front of his buddies. Trying to impress her, Danny joins the track team and becomes a letterman. But in the end, it’s Sandy who trades in her poodle skirt for a skin-tight getup designed to jump start his heart. Never mind the obvious message that this play sends: that the girl has to tramp herself up to get the boy, while the boy returns to his old self. This is a play where you have to suspend good sense. Otherwise, too many things would bother you.

“Stars on Ice”

It used to be that competitive skaters turned to ice shows after they won their medals and wanted to lay off the training. Not any more. With shows like “Stars on Ice,” which glided into town Saturday night at the Rosemont Horizon, many professional figure skaters are in the same physical condition today as when they trained for the Olympics and the World Championships. The two-hour show included something for everyone. American ice princess Kristi Yamaguchi vamped to Elvis’ “Trouble,” executing flawless jumps, while fellow Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton skated all the roles in a whimsical salute to the “Wizard of Oz.”

Chita Rivera Dazzles in `Spider Woman’

Chita Rivera made a triumphant return Wednesday evening when “Kiss of the Spider Woman” opened a five-night run at the Chicago Theatre. Dancing up a storm and singing in perfect voice, the 63-year-old Broadway star gave a smoldering performance that made all the difference in the world. Last year when the musical opened at the same theater, Rivera’s understudy took her place on opening night after Rivera injured her leg. And while all the actors did a fine job, the show was lackluster and I left feeling bored. Not so this night. Regal and poised, Rivera (who won a 1993 Tony Award for her role) started and closed the show with a standing ovation.

Role Rings True for `I Hate Hamlet’ Star Stephen Caffrey

It’s not coincidental that actor Stephen Caffrey is sporting a George Clooney-ish look these days. The star of Paul Rudnick’s play “I Hate Hamlet” portrays a character who used to be an actor on a popular series set in a hospital. “I don’t want to make it sound like I’m basing it on him, but the character in the play is an actor who was on a television series called `L.A. Medical,’ ” Caffrey said. “And he leaves the series after five years and goes back to New York. So it was sort of like what would be the contemporary version of `L.A. Medical,’ and it was `ER,’ right? And George Clooney seemed like a good prototype?”

`Ex’ Marks Spot For Revenge, Fun

There’s a new improv play in town called “Sue Your Ex” that just might be the cure if you’ve been dumped and want revenge. There are lots of things we can do to make ourselves feel better after a relationship sours. But remember – stalking’s illegal. “Sue Your Ex” provides an alternative. There’s nothing quite like having the support of a rapt audience as your love life is played out before you by an ensemble cast.

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