REVIEWS.

South Pacific
Chicago Tribune April 11, 2013 Chris Jones

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

...director David H. Bell's carefully wrought and strikingly nuanced revival at the Marriott Lincolnshire has much that is right
>> Read the Full Review Here



Chicago Sun Times April 11, 2013 Hedy Weiss

MARRIOTT'S 'SOUTH PACIFIC' TAPS INTIMACY AND TRANSCENDENCE

Bell's ability to make a story unspool with the most natural fluidity and deftly punctuated wit is a given, and here he has even handed over his usual choreographic duties to Matt Raftery, very much the skilled protege.
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Chicago Reader April 11, 2013 Tony Adler

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

...the great score renders all objections moot, and David Bell's staging represents it nicely.
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Chicago Theatre Review April 19, 2013 Colin Douglas

THERE'S "SOME ENCHANTED EVENING" AWAITING IN LINCOLNSHIRE

David H. Bell, together with musical director Ryan T. Nelson and choreographer Matt Raftery, have crafted a richer, darker, more realistic version of this romantic story ... Bell must be praised, too, for how he's paced his production, allowing scenes to unfold and easily flow, without ever disconnecting the audience with blackouts while scenery's being changed. The tempo of this production, both music and book scenes, moves naturally but with an urgency, like the war itself. Much of the extraneous music is either eliminated or shortened in order to drive the plot. And the play's last moments are finally staged the way they should be instead of the usual boring, stock finale. There is so much to recommend in this gorgeous, theme-driven production that to miss it is to miss out on one of the year's very best.
>> Read the Full Review Here



Hero
Variety July 10, 2012 Steven Oxman

A CHARMING SCORE AND A SINCERE PREMISE BUOY 'HERO'

A charming score and a sincere premise buoy "Hero," a new musical set in a Milwaukee comicbook store that explores the distance between superheroic aspirations and everyday reality.... Director David H. Bell clearly understands that the show alternates between two worlds and manages to find the right reality....
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Murder for Two
Chicago Sun-Times May 17, 2011 Hedy Weiss

'MURDER FOR TWO - A KILLER MUSICAL' DELIVERS FUN TO DIE FOR

I confess I am not a Ludlamite, but audiences tend to love the sendup of conventions (in this case, all those Agatha Christie whodunits) and the fast-and-furious, larger-than-life role-playing he championed. And in "Murder for Two," directed by David H. Bell, both such stylistic exercises get a heavy-duty workout...
It is, indeed, a "killer musical," and perhaps that alone is a good enough reason to catch it.
>> Read the Full Review Here



Time Out Chicago May 25, 2011 Kris Vire

MURDER FOR TWO AT CHICAGO SHAKESPEARE THEATRE

This infectious new musical murder mystery comedy could get belly laughs from a corpse. Staged by Bell, working right in his wheelhouse, and expertly performed by Kinosian and Schmuckler, it's irresistibly infectious, old-fashioned fun. Murder should slay even the most jaded party guests.
>> Read the Full Review Here



Gut Bucket Blues
AJC October 2, 2010 Wendell Brock

'GUT BUCKET BLUES' CAPTURES SOUL OF BESSIE SMITH

Gut Bucket packs joy and heartbreak by creating a fully realized, delicately nuanced musical portrait.... this superb new musical biography is as big and unstoppable as a speeding locomotive.
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WABE   Lois Reitzs

'GUT BUCKET BLUES' WAS STUPENDOUS

No, it was better than stupendous. The entire cast was fantastic, and I’m sure that Adrienne Reynolds has Bessie cheering her on from the “Great Beyond.” David Bell’s work deserves the highest praise.



ArtsCriticATL.com October 3, 2010 David Lee Simmons

A RICH MUSICAL ABOUT BLUES DIVA BESSIE SMITH

"Gut Bucket Blues" is often as bright and raucous as its subject, but also done with an economy of scale that is reflective of back then - and of right now... "Gut Bucket Blues" is a hell of a value, packing 18 numbers into its two acts... it's a great way for recession-ravaged Atlantans to spend an evening, chasing the blues away.
>> Read the Full Review Here

 

 

The Comedy of Errors
Chicago Sun-Times April 20, 1998 Hedy Weiss, theatre critic

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

If director David Bell vacationed in Naples, Italy, last year, he should be allowed to deduct the entire cost of the trip from his income taxes. If he depended only on his protean imagination to stage the ingenious production of "The Comedy of Errors" that opened Sunday night at Shakespeare Repertory, he should have the right to claim the cost for the upkeep of whichever side of his brain is responsible for motion, merriment, and mischief.

The first 10 minutes of Bell's production alone are worth the price of admission (don't come late). And on top of that, almost everything that follows sustains the the same high level of physical comedy and demented energy. This is high praise for Shakespeeare's early Roman-style comedy that, in lesser hands, often becomes a tedious chase of multiple sets of identical twins, mistaken identities and long lost parents.

Working in the tradition of the Flying Karamazovs, but never losing sight of Shakespeare's language, or the tinges of darkness and human cruelty that invariably creep into the playwright's work, Bell has latched on to a Neapolitan street scene and played it for all it's worth. In the silent opening scene, for example, a quartet of indolent waiters, in white linen pants and bowler hats set the tables in an outdoor cafe. The action gradually builds until the Chianti bottles, the coffee cups, and nearly every other prop in sight become part of an elaborate juggling act. Bell, who has a long list of musicals to his credit (including "The Hot Mikado"), has choreographed all this with split-second timing.

 

 

Much Ado About Nothing
Chicago Sun-Times October 19, 1998 Hedy Weiss, theatre critic

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Director David H. Bell's lavish production for Shakespeare Repertory, which opened Sunday night at the Ruth Page Theatre, takes full advantage of this manic-depressive energy curve. Straightforward in it's interpretation, it is nevertheless full of spirited flourishes.

The Italian town of Messina, where "Much Ado" is set, is a sleepier and somewhat more severe place than the fanciful Mediterranean setting of "The Comedy of Errors" which inspired Bell's imagination to such giddy heights last season.

But the director, who has spent much of his career in musical theatre, is never short on comic invention-whether wrangling laughs out of sneakily morphing police guards, or putting macho soldiers (led by the excellent Sean Grennan) around a tiny tea table to talk about love, or having one of them slice a cake with a sword.


Lerner Press October 23, 1998 Beverly Friend, theatre critic

BELL DIRECTS ANOTHER WINNER FOR SHAKESPEARE REP

Bravo! Director David H. Bell has equaled, if not surpassed "The Comedy of Errors," his triumph of last season, with his current production, "Much Ado About Nothing." Once again, he guides Shakespeare Repertory through a joyful performance, brilliantly interweaving dialogue and action. This is top-drawer Shakespeare; Chicagoans need not head for Stratford, Ontario-or even Stratford, England-for an evening of sheer satisfaction.

 

 

A Christmas Carol
Atlanta Journal November 23, 2001 Wendell Brock, theatre critic

A HOLIDAY DELIGHT
A GIFT. A TREASURE. A MIRACLE

"Masterpiece" is a very strong word. But it strikes me that Bell's treatment-with its burnished Victorian style, its Broadway-worthy special effects and its celebration of both its source material and the soul of the community-comes very close to being one.

 

 

The Boys from Syracuse
Atlanta Journal April 7, 1994 Dan Hulbert, theatre critic

BOISTEROUS HIT RADIATES SUPERLATIVE STYLE

As "Bottoms Up," the Act 1 finale, zooms to a close, leaving the cast flattened across the stage in partied-out exhaustion, the first thing you might say to the person next to you is,"Boy-I never knew 'The Boys From Syracuse' was so good.

And you'd be right-it never was. The Alliance Theatre makes it better in a big boffo way.

 

 

Falsettos
Creative Loafing September 18, 1993 Bert Osborne, theatre critic

SILVER AND COLD

Falsettos launches the Alliance Theatre Company's 25th-anniversary season with a breathtaking bravado. Under the awesome, inspired direction of David H. Bell (who staged the Alliance's charming 'Once on this Island' earlier in the year), the production is undeniably entertaining and it's irresistable to watch, quite unlike anything else you've ever seen before.

 

 

Damn Yankees
Chicago Sun-Times   Hedy Weiss, theatre critic

'DAMN YANKEES' REVIVAL DEVILISHLY GOOD

Unlike the 1994 Broadway revival of "Damn Yankees" that looked exceptionally dated as it strained to punch things up with a quasi-nude locker room scene and guest star turn by Jerry Lewis, this production, directed and choreographed by David H. Bell, remains true to the spirit of the show's origins. And the sheer polish and exuberance of the cast helps to reveal its enduring charm.

 

 

Arthur, the Musical
Chicago Tribune June 26, 1992 Richard Christiansen, theatre critic

'ARTHUR' KEEPS HUMOR ADDS MUSIC

"Arthur," at Marriott's Lincolnshire Theatre, is notable chiefly as vintage work from Director-choreographer David H. Bell.

The real zip of the production is provided by Bell's direction, choreography and handling of actors, which, with a shrewd but heartfelt mixture of corn and show biz expertise, perfectly tailor the material for its audience.

-as always in a Bell show, the verastile chorus is everywhere, dancing, singing and raising Cain with a variety of hand props. This may be Arthur Bach's story, but it's David Bell's show.

 

 

Matador
Chicago Sun-Times   Lynn Voedisch, theatre critic

BOLD 'MATADOR' TAKES RISKS IN DEBUT

DAZZLING DIRECTION... Director David H. Bell blends the pomp and decorum of bullfighting with the insistent percussive drive of flamenco dance to create a Spanish world that is richly complex yet elegantly spare...A DIZZYING SPECTACLE...It is the inner story of a human being's battle with his insticts...It's a study of dignity defeating fear.

David H. Bell has completely outdone himself with the spectacular direction of MATADOR.