About Us

Karen Topham

Karen Topham

Critic, Owner

I have a long history with Chicago, having graduated from Northwestern in 1978 with a BA in English (with some theatre thrown in for fun) and a year later again with a Masters in Teaching. I also have a Masters in Directing from Roosevelt, and I taught high school English, Creative Writing, and Drama around here for almost four decades. During that time, I spent 23 years coaching forensics and directed 37 plays: I’ve been breathing the stage for a long, long time. I’ve also written four novels that silly agents don’t think are worth publishing and I am a member of the American Theatre Critics Association. Oh, and I was the first transgender teacher to transition in place in America, which was a hoot. No wonder I needed to retire. Now I wish to immerse myself in the footlights in one way or another, and that passion, together with my experience as both a director and an English teacher, led me to start this site. When not watching plays (or spending hours driving to the city to do so), I hang out with my husband or my cats, or I talk to my grown children. Or I read or write; yeah, there’s still that…

Kelly Romack MacBlane

Kelly Romack MacBlane

critic

Theatre has always been a part of Kelly’s life but it became a passion after she saw her first professional musical, Les Miserables, while in 6th grade. Kelly has a degree from Northwestern University where she double majored in Theater and History and a Master’s of Education from DePaul. Currently she is a theatre and history teacher at Lake Forest High School where she has directed over 15 plays and musicals including a production of Urinetown for which she and her co-director were nominated for a directing award from the Illinois High School Musical Theater Awards. When Kelly is not teaching or directing, she is watching and playing baseball with her husband and three young sons.

Contact

Email: kmacblane@lfschools.net

Joe De Rosa

Joe De Rosa

critic

Joe De Rosa is a part-time writer, full-time teacher, and all-time dad. In his spare moments, he enjoys reading, running, writing theater reviews, thinking about going on vacation, and baseball. You can follow him on twitter @joe_derosa_.

Contact

Email: jderosa@lfschools.net

Beverly Friend

Beverly Friend

Critic

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin with a BS in English (1956) and Northwestern University with a PHD (1976), I have been reviewing plays for the past 20 plus years for Pioneer Press, the Lerner Newspapers and Chicagocritic.com, and am a member of the American Theater Critics Association. I am a retired professor of English and Journalism at Oakton Community College. My 1975 doctoral dissertation was “The Science Fiction Fan Cult,” and I was both a book reviewer and science fiction critic for the Chicago Daily News. Sixty-five years after the shock of being told, “There are no girls in the  marching band” at the University of Wisconsin, I have returned to my love of drumming as a percussionist with the North
Shore New Horizons band.

Contact

Email: friend@oakton.edu

Bradley Laas

Bradley Laas

Bradley Laas is currently pursuing his B.A. in one form or another of the liberal arts at DePaul University. His most recent majors include Theater, Religion, Philosophy, and Political Science. The only thing consistent in his life is his love for theater. He is beyond thankful his dear friend Karen Topham reached out with this opportunity.