CURRENT SEASON REVIEWS
Barnum: "A must see show!" [full review]
Barnum: "'Barnum' has big-top appeal." [full review]
Talking Broadway: Chicago
Barnum: "All of this design is more than matched by the performers on stage." [full review]
Time Out Chicago
Barnum: "Quest's fanciful aesthetic is well matched to Cy Coleman's musical bio of the all-American huckster." [full review]
PREVIOUS SEASON REVIEWS
Blue Nativity, 2003
The Chicago Reader, 12/18/03
"Against a simple backdrop of blue fabric...ten performers reenact highlights of the Nativity with oversize puppets, some 12 feet tall, most with reverent faces carved from blue papier-mache moons. The simple narration - a chain of hymns and love songs sung a cappella by the ensemble...establishes a mood of quiet reflection."
"The biblical story is fraught with drama...But creator-director Andrew Park forgoes most of these details in favor of a few symbols and the creation of a feeling that something profound is occurring. Blue Nativity would make a lovely Advent meditation or vespers service in a dimly lit sanctuary, a fact that was evident even in Saint Andrew's auditorium, where I saw a matinee....it was clear we were witnessing a miracle of sorts."
Blue Nativity, 2004
The Chicago Reader, 12/11/04 - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
"The faces of the Quest puppets are the shape of crescent moons, their posture that of caparisoned giraffes. But when their procession commences up the center aisle of the church sanctuary, heralded by a chorale and banners, these ten-foot-tall apparitions invoke all the grandeur of angels on parade. Audiences for this 30-minute pageant are likely to be familiar with the events surrounding Jesus' birth, but a score composed of original songs and traditional carols tells the story with a simplicity accessible even to those who might be encountering the sacred myth for the first time."
The Wizard of Oz
Windy City Times, 8/31/05
"...Quest approaches its first secular mythology show with plenty of creative aplomb....Stylistically, everything is entrancing under Nick Rupard's production design of warped masks and stretched bas relief puppets. Jason Bowen's costumes also look rich and plush. This Wizard of Oz also moves with grace and agility thanks to Kerrie Korzatkowski's choreographic blend of ballet and modern dance interludes with director Andrew Park's inventive staging."
"...An energetic cast mixed with talented dancers and singers each add plenty of zing to the performance."
"...In addition to the classic film score, Quest also incorporates snatches of classical music by Tchaikovsky and Scott Joplin, making this Oz not only a fun but an artistically expanding experience for young kids who don't get enough music education in schools...'"
"...Take your nieces, nephews and any other Oz lovers immediately. Wicked may be the juggernaut show saying 'Bring it on' to Chicago's smaller Oz productions, but Quest's Wizard of Oz shows that the Goliath hit show had better watch out from smaller theatrical Davids in Chicago. And in this case, you can't beat Quest's all-inclusive price."
The Chicago Tribune, 7/7/06
"...In both storytelling skill and staging, it's a surprisingly sophisticated and sometimes moving version of Carlo Collodi's beloved 1883 novel, cleansed of the Disney cutes."
Sword in the Stone
Chicago Sun-Times, 7/13/07
"This is, by far, the most professionally produced and handsome-looking Quest production yet....[Andrew] Park, who conceived the show, wrote its book and directed it, has managed to find a new layer to the ancient and well-known myth."
"One would never call the Quest Theatre Ensemble timid. Their track record of visual invention and creative risk taking continues with this original musical adaptation of the legend of King Arthur's rise to the throne."
"For a company that relies on donations, coming up with and producing an original musical is quite an incredible accomplishment that can only happen in a theatre town with depth of dedicated talent. There is a lot of creativity in this company..."
Windy City Times, 2/28/07
"...Directed by Andrew Park, The Drunkard receives a clever physical production in which scenic designers Buck Blue and Nick Ruppard have constructed a miniature 19th-century theater within the large church hall Quest calls home."
"Playing into the stereotypes of melodrama, audiences are encouraged to boo and hiss and throw popcorn ($1 per generous bag) at the villain. They have a great time (yeah, bring kids) and I found it contagious...The enthusiastic company, who are better than they need to be, won me over. They'll win you over, too."
The People's History of the United States (Jeff Recommended)
Chicago Reader, 7/22/08
"This is unquestionably the best, most sophisticated example of the elementary school-style history pageant I've ever seen."
Time Out Chicago, 7/31/08
"Quest combines a homemade aesthetic with great technical skill to create a night of theater both accessible and sophisticated, a celebration of America that doesn't whitewash its flaws. Best of all, thanks to the company's dedication to making theater available to everyone, the whole thing's free."
Alas! Alack! Zorro's Back!
"Zorro is a feel-good musical comedy that allows audience members to sit back and enjoy a mythical world where everything is clear-cut, where good always triumphs and where you are heartily encouraged to throw popcorn every time the bad guy comes on stage. On top of the over-the-top antics, Zorro also adds an overture with a mix of puppetry, flamenco, interpretive dance involving two gendered cacti and a barbershop quartet singing theme songs from cartoons like "The Flintstones" and "The Woody Woodpecker Show."
Evolution/Creation (Jeff Recommended)
Chicago Theater Beat, 3/2/10
"This ingenious piece of performance art, adapted and directed by Andrew Park, offers depictions of each narrative, set to the same original score by Scott Lamps and performed simultaneously on the same stage by a cast of 14."
"Quest excels at visual invention. Their puppets, masks, costumes, props and sets always amaze."
Chicago Theater Beat, 2/27/11
"With a spirited cast, ingenious design, and decent songwriting, The Four Seasons bursts with life."
"Quest Ensemble has this secret nailed down. The brilliant puppetry, unafraid to show the strings, makes this show far more complex and fascinating than mere children's theatre. The puppeteers bring bees, birds, and a myriad of other creatures to life. The tale is as much about the natural world as it is about the characters that ground it."