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Bigger, Brighter, Louder: 150 Years of Chicago Theater as Seen by
     

Bigger, Brighter, Louder: 150 Years of Chicago Theater as Seen by "Chicago Tribune" Critics

by Chris Jones
 

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The first known Chicago Tribune theater review appeared on March 25, 1853. An anonymous notice, it shared the page with two other announcements—one about a pair of thousand-pound hogs set to be slaughtered and another trumpeting the largest load of lumber ever to leave Chicago. “And thus Chicago’s priorities were starkly laid out

Overview

The first known Chicago Tribune theater review appeared on March 25, 1853. An anonymous notice, it shared the page with two other announcements—one about a pair of thousand-pound hogs set to be slaughtered and another trumpeting the largest load of lumber ever to leave Chicago. “And thus Chicago’s priorities were starkly laid out right there on that page,” begins Chris Jones in the introduction to this eyewitness cultural history. “Hog butcher for the world and windy self-promoter, specializing in commerce-driven superlatives. The arts came a poor third. Critics, and the artists they covered, would rail against that perceived set of civic priorities for years.”

The Chicago of today, on the other hand, is regarded as one of the world’s premier cities for theater, and no one has had a more consistent front-row seat to its ascendance than the Chicago Tribune theater critics. Bigger, Brighter, Louder weaves together more than 150 years of Tribune reviews into a compelling narrative, pairing full reviews with commentary and history. With a sharp eye for telling details and a keen sense of historical context, Jones, longtime chief Tribune theater critic, takes readers through decades of highs and lows, successes and failures.

The book showcases fascinating early reviews of actors and shows that would go on to achieve phenomenal success, including a tryout of A Raisin in the Sun with newcomer Sidney Poitier and the first major review of The Producers.  It also delves into the rare and the unusual, such as a previously unpublished Tennessee Williams interview and a long conversation with Edward Albee’s mother. With reviews from Claudia Cassidy, Peregine Pickle, William Leonard, and more, many never collected before, Bigger, Brighter, Louder offers a unique lasting record of an ephemeral art and a riveting look at the history behind Chicago’s rise to theatrical greatness.

 

Editorial Reviews

Roy Leonard

“From Joseph Jefferson as Rip Van Winkle in 1868, to the notorious critic of the ’40s & ’50s, Claudia Cassidy, to the Goodman Theatre's The Iceman Cometh with Nathan Lane in 2012, Chris Jones writes a rich and rewarding history of Chicago theatre. It’s a must for any theatergoer.”
Roche Schulfer

“An invaluable addition to the history of our city.” 
Time Out Chicago

"Bigger, Brighter, Louder is a fascinating read, with Jones providing a thoroughly accessible exegesis."
Chicago Reader - Michael Miner

"Bigger Brighter Louder is more than an anthology of reviews; Jones follows each of them with a commentary, and these tell us things—not necessarily flattering—about the critic, the production, the state of Chicago theater at the time, and sometimes even the Tribune. Jones has done his homework; he's consistently interesting. . . . So-called lost writing rarely gets this good."
Chicago Critic

Bigger, Brighter, Louder is a must read for all theater lovers; for all young Thespians; and for all critics. I thought I knew a few things after seeing and writing 3,000 reviews over the last 12 years but I learned much from Chris Jones’ terrific book. This book should be required reading before anyone writes another theater review."
Artvoice

" A constantly engaging and illuminating lesson in the role a great newspaper played in developing and sustaining a great theater town."
Dramatics - Jeffrey Sweet

"I devoured these pieces, and the accompanying commentary by Chris Jones, as if I were working my way through a jumbo bag of M&Ms. There is pleasure in reading about plays, writers, players, and productions that few today could have seen. . . . One can trace the evolution of both the theatre and the society it serves through columns originally assumed to be of temporary value."
Chicago Book Review

"Bigger, Brighter, Louder is a natural for those already hooked on the theater. It also may appeal to others such as those just starting to attend stage shows and to movie die-hards who are wondering what some people find so fascinating about live theater."
Playbill

"Bigger, Brighter, Louder gives us dozens of reviews—some perceptive, some notorious, and some bitingly funny. I warrant that you will find Mr. Jones' Chicago-eyed view of theatre sharp, amusing and incisive."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226059266
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
10/04/2013
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
376
Sales rank:
1,374,726
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author


Chris Jones is the chief theater critic and a Sunday columnist for the Chicago Tribune. He has covered culture, the arts, politics, and entertainment at the paper for more than fifteen years. Prior to theTribune, Jones was a national critic and touring Broadway analyst for Variety and Daily Variety and a frequent contributor to American Theatre. He is also adjunct professor at the Theatre School at DePaul University, where he previously served as associate dean after serving for many years as associate director of the School of Theatre and Dance at Northern Illinois University. A native of Manchester, England, he received his PhD from Ohio State University. 

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