Buena Vista

Steppenwolf Theatre Company

“And, especially in Karen Vaccaro's scary performance, she's a piece of work—a compulsive hoarder, at once wheedlingly prone to tears and vicious as hell.”

Tony Adler, Chicago Reader

“…but the man's mother (Karen Vaccaro, making a welcome return to Steppenwolf after years away), a hoarder, is stuffed into a chair.”

Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune


The Rise and Fall of Little Voice

Steppenwolf Theatre Company

“With only minimal words Karen Vaccaro indelibly etches the character of Mari’s put-upon sidekick, Sadie.”

Lewis Lazare, Variety

“…Her neighbor Sadie (the poignant Karen Vaccaro, who continues the Steppenwolf tradition of simulated bodily functions by vomiting onstage). And in the show's best vignette, Reed and Vaccaro combine hilarity and pathos as they butt-bump to a Jackson Five record. The dialogueless scene has a naturalness, grit, and whimsicality…”

Albert Williams, Chicago Reader

“Karen Vaccaro, as Reed's fat, simpleminded best friend, uses her girth hilariously in a crude, prolonged get-down-and-boogie duet of celebration with Reed, danced to a Jackson Five record. But she is even better when, at the end of Act One, she stands silent and transfixed outside Little Voice's home, a true believer listening in the dark of the night to the child sing "Over the Rainbow.”

Richard Christensen, Chicago Tribune

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice

Neil Simon Theatre, Broadway

“There are also pungent contributions from Karen Vaccaro as Mari’s enormous confidante.”

Jeremy Gerard, Variety

“Karen Vaccaro may have the most ignominious assignment. She plays Sadie Mai, suffering the crass insults of Mari Hoff, supposedly her best friend, with a look of wan martyrdom.”

David Richards, The New York Times

The Rose Tattoo

Bailiwick Theatre

“In the difficult central role of Serafina, Karen Vaccaro displays a fearless presence and serene gravity no actress lightweight in body or spirit could hope to achieve.”

Mary Shen Barnage, Chicago Reader

“Vaccaro, a longtime Chicago actress with unmistakable stage authority, is commanding here, her Serafina a portrait of a robust, visceral, loud and unexpectedly funny woman. She and Ford, eventually work magic together, two latter-day lovers stumbling over each other and their lives to delightfully tragicomic effects.”

Sid Smith, Chicago Tribune

Measure for Measure

Chicago Shakespeare Theatre

“Measure for Measure is filled with intelligent and felicitous strokes…the interpolated bawdy songs belted out by Karen Vaccaro as a grotesquely rouged madam…”

Richard Christensen, Chicago Tribune

A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur

Northlight Theater

“Karen Vaccaro, zestfully playing a simple woman with a heart as large as her girth, as Bodey.”

Richard Christensen, Chicago Tribune

Happy Birthyday Joseph K

Huron Theater

“Guilty, the best number, well delivered by Karen Vaccaro, first in a Billie Holiday style and then as a bellowing hot mama, mainly in capsules the major Kafka theme that accusation alone regardless of its truth or merit is enough to instill guilt and remorse in most of us.”

Sid Smith, Chicago Tribune

“Vaccaro manages to play both a bullish lesbian and a bespectacled scholar with believability.”

Sid Smith, Chicago Tribune

Threepeny Opera

Bailiwick Theater

“Karen Vaccaro, as his other bride Lucy Brown, is delightfully sly in her cooing bitchiness.”

Richard Christensen, Chicago Tribune

When You Comin' Back Red Ryder

Next Theater

“The show's chief strength lies in the righteousness and reality of the acting, which is embodied in one sharp slashing stroke after another. Watch the flood of tears and the helplessness fluttering of hands that bursts from Karen Vaccaro, as the fat, naive, virginal waitress humiliated beyond endurance in the cruel sideshow that Teddy sets up at the diner.”

Richard Christensen, Chicago Tribune

Chocolate Cake

Next Theater

“Karen Vaccaro’s acting instincts are true and she finds a real sweetness in Anne-Marie's yearning for love.”

Richard Christensen, Chicago Tribune

The Runner Stumbles

Huron Theater

“The character work is also good. Karen Vaccaro, as the priest's housekeeper, playing with a nervous tick and a strange, off-center delivery, is probably the best.””

Sid Smith, Chicago Tribune

“Emoting eloquently, the supporting cast produce some sterling efforts, particularly Karen Vaccaro as the almost too likable Mrs. Shandig (the housekeeper is, after all, the play's principal embodiment of the outside world's nasty-mindedness).”

Lawrence Bommer, Chicago Reader

Miss Margarida's Way

KV Productions

“Karen Vaccaro plays the immensely intimidating harridan, a teacher to keep you in your seat for 90 minutes and force you to become just like her.”

Lawrence Bommer, Chicago Tribune

“Vaccaro gives a bravura rendition of Miss Margarita's mood swings: she's pathetic, scary, and outrageously funny as she veers from soothing sweetness to weepy self-pity to boastful arrogance to psychotic rage. Vaccaro uses her enormous but agile girth, supple voice, and expressive face to wonderfully hilarious and horrific effect. Intimidating us with martial-arts displays at once violent and voluptuous, she looks like a sumo wrestler in drag; incongruously costumed in a floor-length dress made of the same drab plaid that adorns schoolgirls' uniforms around the world, she's larger-than-life, striding around the stage and among the seats, coaxing and browbeating and threatening us--for our own good, of course.”

Albert Williams, Chicago Reader


Goodman Theater

“The stellar cast that Goodman Theatre and director David Petrarca have assembled …. Karen Vaccaro's sad but sympathetic gluttonous roommate.””

Adam Langer, Chicago Reader

Rupert's Birthday

Gare St. Lazare Players

“Vaccaro, meanwhile, turns in the most complete acting job of all, reciting her monologue with a relish for plain American speech and a winking awe for the unashamed truth in her narrative.”

Sid Smith, Chicago Tribune

“There's a reward on the other side in the form of Karen Vaccaro's performance as Louisa May in Rupert's Birthday. [The script is] an excellent opportunity for an actress to take a stage and see if she can hold it. Vaccaro can. Her Louisa May is sweet and funny, with a cracked gravity that makes Jenkins's excesses more palatable--and an intimacy that demonstrates the potential power of a theater where they respect the quiet and the homemade.”

Anthony Adler, Chicago Reader