REVIEWS The Mistress Cycle

This beguiling, sophisticated concept musical--a remount of Apple Tree Theatre's 2007 regional premiere--examines the consorts, concubines, and courtesans who provide men with the sympathy and sensuality lacking in their marriages…... Director Kurt Johns's alternately refined and bawdy production unfolds on the stage of the Auditorium Theatre, with viewers also seated onstage. This is thought-provoking, high-quality, offbeat musical theater….. This ingenious arrangement perfectly suits The Mistress Cycle, one of the most sophisticated and musically captivating musicals in recent memory. Sitting on the stage of the Auditorium, I was always aware of the graceful arches, beautiful murals, and gentle amber lighting behind me, yet never distracted from the subtle staging and delicate choreography before me. Albert Williams- Chicago Reader

The Mistress Cycle, currently on stage (literally) at the Auditorium Theatre is a transfer of the hit Apple Tree production and is one of the finest productions to be produced in years. Under the masterful direction of Kurt Johns, the Auditorium Stage is transformed into a beautiful red mosaic of colors which the audience is privileged to surround as five mistresses at different points in history, melodically and emotionally tell their story via one of the most vibrant and luscious scores to be penned in a two decades. 
Michael Roberts – Showbiz Chicago

The Mistress Cycle is receiving a stunning downtown Chicago premiere at The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Don’t worry about the notoriously cavernous Auditorium because the stage has been converted into an intimate space, proper for a chamber musical. Director Kurt John’s production is a textbook example of less is more, putting the focus on storytelling rather than spectacle. Tom Williams –

Kurt Johns’ staging of this Apple Tree Theatre hit is itself performed on the stage of the Auditorium Theatre, sacred ground for its own famous ghosts. The linkage works well, given the intensity of these driving ballads and invigorating choruses and the diversity of the cycle’s reflections on passion. These women who “came in second” make a powerful argument for the primacy of freedom in love, something men assume like oxygen. – Lawrence Bommer – Chicago Free Press

But because of Giering's gorgeous music and Blatt's richly textured lyrics, "The Mistress Cycle" is quite a moving and provocative affair that manages to pack a lot of wisdom and poignancy on matters of love and power into its short duration. And Kurt Johns' fine production features a cast of empathetic women with beautiful voices. The production at the Auditorium Theatre this summer originated at the Apple Tree Theatre in Highland Park, in the theater's depressing temporary quarters. The show transcended those surroundings, and it surely deserved the greater elegance afforded by this transfer to the Auditorium, where both show and audience occupy the stage in intimate configuration. Chris Jones – Chicago Tribune

A sensuous delight in every connotation of the word, it is no surprise that the production received a Jeff nomination for Best Revue pursuant to the 2007-2008 season. The only shock is that it did not walk away with the trophy. Forget everything you thought you knew about musical revues in the past. Though light on dialogue, the Mistress Cycle has a strapping narrative arc, a compelling and moving plot, told through one emotionally reverting song after another. Rebecca Sarwate – Edge Chicago

It’s fitting that “The Mistress Cycle” takes the point-of-view of “the other woman,” a perspective usually overlooked in most romantic narratives, since it’s the first theatrical production watched from the stage of the spectacular Auditorium Theatre, and that’s an equally unusual vista. Set in a “black-box” seating a mere 200, it’s awe-inspiring to gaze out on the nearly 4,000 empty seats, and to take in Adler & Sullivan’s glorious space from a vantage usually reserved for performers…. Nevertheless, director Kurt Johns moves the whole thing along so smoothly that you’ll forget you’re sitting in this spectacular mammoth cave, and get lost in the souls on stage. (Brian Hieggelke)- NewCity Chicago

I missed the press opening last week, but did catch the Sunday matinee performance, which both entertained and interested me and had me on the edge of my seat…It's 80 minutes long without an intermission, free-flowing, song by song, as each woman's story unfolds detail by detail. Even the staging and style for this production is intriguing.  Kurt Johns is back to repeat his Jeff-nominated direction with musical direction by Diana Lawrence, at the piano as a sixth cast member of the show….I'm not always overly anxious for a nearly hour and half musical without an intermission. But these entwined songs, lives and stories are so easy and interesting to follow, the time passes all too quickly. NWI Times –Phil Potempa

REVIEWS for THE MISTRESS CYCLE at The Apple Tree Theatre

"...Kurt Johns' bold and passionate production of "The Mistress Cycle" is one of those shows. It's hard to overstate the sense of relief one feels. It's like a much-loved cultural institution has suddenly returned to creative life..."The Mistress Cycle" is a must-see for lovers and supporters of new musicals.... it does provide exquisite -- truly exquisite -- musical snapshots of life from the point of view of the other woman.... the main reason to see this show is to enjoy the emotional intensity of these richly connected actresses -- a blend of established pros and up-and-comers -- these ensemble performances are, without exception, both beguiling and beautifully sung. It's a very timely reminder of what Apple Tree long has meant to Chicago theater."
Chicago Tribune - Chris Jones

"The Mistress Cycle," is setting the stage ablaze... riveting 85-minute show. Director Kurt Johns chose wisely when casting the show with a mix of up-and-coming talent as well as more established musical theater actresses... there are moments that will take your breath away.
Chicago Sun Times - Mary Houlihan

This Highland Park troupe mounts outstanding musicals and you can add The Mistress Cycle to that list. This is a wonderful, serene chamber piece filled with lush voices from the five players...This is a captivating, lusty and magical song cycle that creates a haunting mood as it hones into the heart of each character...This is a special musical treat—the singing is outstanding!

"...this probing 85-minute musical revue is making a smashing regional premiere at Apple Tree Theatre under the creative direction of Kurt Johns. Ultimately, "The Mistress Cycle" brings home a positive message about survival...
Tickets Please!
Lake County Journal - Tom Witom

“It’s undeniably juicy material…Director Johns makes the best of these moments, and elicits some lovely performances…”
Time Out Chicago - Kay Daly

"And Apple Tree's well-cast production has Kurt Johns' fluid, unobtrusive staging; Diana Lawrence's expert music direction; and a terrific cast .... to recommend it."
Daily Herald - Barbara Vitello

"Kurt Johns, one of Chicago's most talented actor, singer and now directors, has assembled a first-rate cast of singers…the performers and direction of the show are well worth the price of admission.  I give a lot of credit to Apple Tree, Kurt Johns and the cast and crew for giving us this chamber song cycle." – Richard Eisenhart

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