Share your thoughts

The past few weeks have been extraordinary as all of us at TimeLine have seen the world premiere of To Master the Art by William Brown and Doug Frew — the first play commissioned by TimeLine to be presented on our stage — open to glowing reviews and thrilled audiences. Response has been so enthusiastic that the eight-week run sold out within days! Very unfortunately, the production is not able to be extended, but we look forward to getting as many people in as possible to see what has fast become one of TimeLine’s biggest success stories.

Karen Janes Woditsch as Julia Child (center) with Craig Spidle as Paul Child (right) and Joel Gross as Gilles in "To Master the Art"
Karen Janes Woditsch as Julia Child (center) with Craig Spidle as Paul Child (right) and Joel Gross as Gilles in “To Master the Art”

Many of Chicago’s theater critics have already had their say (read all the professional critical response at our website …) but we want to give you a chance to share your own review, comments, or questions about the production below.

In particular, we’d love to hear your “Julia story.” Everyone has one, they say!  At least, that’s what we’re finding. In the lobby before and after shows and in discussions we’ve been able to hear about how Julia Child touched so many people, and we’d love to hear how you connect with her and the story that To Master the Art tells.

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Comments (18)

  1. MaryBeth Smith

    From the moment we walked in the door and smelled the shallots cooking in butter, we were hooked! As newly weds many years ago, we watched Julia’s cooking show, had her cookbook and did try several recipes – especially her beef bourginon! I still have her cookbook and enjoy reading it and cooking a few recipes. I never did attempt to de-bone a chicken! To Master the Art was thoroughly enjoyable. We loved every moment. Bravo to the playwrights, the actors and the director!!

  2. Judith Anderson

    I was skeptical…I read Julie and Julia, saw the movie and read My Life in Paris so I came with the story firmly grasped. I wondered if the play could bring anything new to my experience. I was wonderfully surprised. I felt, helped by Timeline’s intimate theater space, transported into Paul and Julia’s life. The warmth portrayed by the actors spread through the room and seemed so real. And as a staging touch, I loved the letter-writers appearing in the scenes. That touched changed flat text as it seemed in the books to drama. Loved it!

  3. judy kirk

    Actually, Judith Anderson said it very well. I would add that I was never a Julia Childs devotee, being more of can of mushroom soup -with- everything and have- time -to do -something- much- more fun -type of “cook.” My husband, Phil, has just mastered the art of warming up leftovers in the microwave. Thus the movie didn’t thrill us, and we were concerned that the play would be more of the same. Au contraire. We were both blown away by the set (as usual), the staging (as usual) and the quality and consistency of the cast (as usual). However, the script, too, was magnificent, making this so much more that a movie about Julia. We both walked away only wishing our friends could see it. This is one you may seriously consider reprising.

  4. Libbet Richter

    Within a year of graduating from college, I had become a Julia fan and Beef Bourguignon…the classic Julia recipe…was the basis of the first meal I cooked for Tobin, now my husband of 40 years, and his mother and brother. The recipe worked beautifully, but Tobin politely and carefully picked out each mushroom! He’d known someone who died of mushroom poisoning (wild mushrooms of course). Today, mushrooms remain in his stew and Julia remains on my kitchen bookshelf in many volumes. Seeing “To Master the Art” was a joy and Julia’s learning curve reminds me of mine, though I know mine was much more gentle, thanks to her careful and thoughtful tutelage.

  5. Michael R. Leonard

    I liked this production better than the movie, though I thought Meryl Streep was wonderful. This production gave me an intimate look at their life in Paris. The actors are extremely talented. I especially enjoyed seeing Joel Gross again, playing several characters. The overall production was wonderful and though I had just had dinner, the aromas made me hungry. Simply superb!

  6. James Henderson

    You do not need to know how to cook to appreciate the aroma of food and the warmth of Julia and her friends on display in this fine production. I found myself alternately laughing and almost in tears from the Proust-like involuntary memories triggered by the sights, sounds and aromas of this play. The whole ensemble gave fine performances and I ended the evening with the feeling that for a couple of hours I had been transported into the Paris of Julia Child.

    • M. L. Stracke

      I agree wholeheartedly. Wonderful comment. I am flabbergasted at the comments of those who said they were bored (and I can be quite critical).

  7. Richard Eastline

    Over the past three seasons I’ve come to expect high performance levels from TimeLine’s casts regardless of the plays’ subjects and overall mood. It may seem improbable to outsiders but I have yet to be disappointed. Even with so-called blockbuster productions and their promotion budgets as competition, the theater experience offered by TimeLine continues to be exceptional. The current offering about Julia and Paul Child (along with their engaging assortment of friends) typifies this theater’s commitment to quality and in its first commissioned offering comes up with an appealing–and appetizing—evening that is particularly satisfying. One may take exception to certain parts of the storyline or even the minimal attention given to Julia’s own cooking, but that is personal, and probably minor, fault-finding which is overshadowed by the positives in this handsome production.

  8. Cynthia Raskin

    I’m a big fan of Timeline and share with whoever will listen how terrific it is.
    Unfortunately, this production was the worst I’ve seen. The acting was good. The script was so weak and immature I thought of leaving.
    Unfortunately after the film, we all knew what was going to happen.
    It was boring at best. I felt trapped as I kept thinking it was going to get better.

  9. Playee

    Acting – superior. Script – okay. Enough with Julia. We left at intermission. The marketing led us to believe that the play would focus on her and Paul’s rôle(s) in the OSS. Instead, yet another paean to Julia Child. Yawn. This subscriber was disappointed in the content.

  10. Carolyn Shear

    This was a PERFECT production. . . in every way. The only drawback is that it should be running much longer. I would like everyone I know to see it. Remarkable!

  11. Florine and Henry Marks

    We have been Timeline subscribers from almost the beginning and will also tell everyone who will listen about what a fine theatre company it is. However, this was not one of their finest. The acting was good but the script was lacking and the character development was non existent. It was a pleasant production to watch and inhale, however Timeline should work with the playwriters before it goes anywhere else or it will fall flat on its face.

  12. Carol Senal

    I did not like the play at all. It arrived to soon after Julie and Julia. I was bored to death.

  13. Jack LaBolt

    “To Master the Art” boasted some decent acting and a beautiful set, down to the light pouring through the kitchen window but the script was amateurish at best and the play was lifeless and dull, a bit like my mother’s cooking. I toyed with the idea of leaving at intermission, was overcome by guilt and suffered through the second act.

  14. Sandra Shane-DuBow

    I did not especially like the movie; I especially liked this production, though I thought some rewriting might enhance the Childs’ personalities. The acting was top rate and often magical. Dramatic forays into each of their life obsessions was interesting, but could be more compelling if tightened. Nevertheless, well worth seeing and relishing. Good show.

  15. Playee

    The script was poor – empty, random. I felt sorry for the actors. Although we consider ourselves good audience members and think the world of Timeline, we actually fell asleep during the first half. Without guilt, we left at the intermission.

  16. Sharon Shaughnessy

    I had read Julia Child’s book “My Life in France” and loved it. I learned so many things abut Julia that I did not know, especially about her life with Paul. While the movie “Julie & Julia” portrayed many good emotions from the book, I would have preferred a production solely about Julia Child. Your play “Mastering the Art” has filled that void. I absolutely loved it and was especially heartened to read that it too had been inspired by the book that I had so enjoyed.

  17. M. L. Stracke

    How did we like To Master the Art? From the moment the curtain opened- no! from the first moment Julia walked out until it was (sadly) over we were involved, amused, fascinated.
    The French atmosphere was wonderful and real. My son and I went to the last Sunday matinee. Husband said he had no interest whatever – fool! You always do such a beautiful job in so little space. The set was ingenius. I was afraid we would miss it – you helped so much getting us in at the last minute. Thank you. The actors are amazing – every one.