Diary of a Skokie Girl | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Diary of a Skokie Girl

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Time for a new holiday tradition? How about Christmas Eve in Skokie with that town's funniest Jew? Caryn Bark is back with the show that will not die, Diary of a Skokie Girl. Since 1994 it's been produced at Footsteps Theatre Company, Centre East, Apple Tree Theatre, the Royal George, and the Skokie Club. Next stop: the Mir space station. Bark's pointed, poignant reminiscences of growing up Jewish in 1960s Skokie are a welcome tonic during a holiday either sentimentalized in Currier & Ives soft focus or commodified into Christmas, Inc. Recalling a time when the corner deli wasn't a Lettuce Entertain You concept, she takes her audience on a walking tour of her old neighborhood. Her chaotic family portrait, with people kvetching one minute and offering a nice piece of fish the next, is more accurate and endearing than the "wholesome" version offered up in endless celebrity Christmas specials. And if you're too busy singing the Messiah Christmas Eve, you can ring in the new year with Bark and toast her success with the mandel bread she hands out at every show. North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, 847-673-6300. Wednesday, December 24, 7:30 PM. $25. Then at Michael's Red Hot Cabaret, 1879 Second, Highland Park, 847-432-3380. Wednesday, December 31, 7:30 and 10:30 PM. $60 for the 7:30 PM show (includes dinner--doors open at 5:30 PM), $40 for the late show (includes dessert--doors open at 10 PM). --Justin Hayford

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): theater still.

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