Chris Jones is the chief theater critic and a Sunday culture columnist for the Chicago Tribune. His reviews of theater, performance, circus and comedy for the newspaper now number in the thousands and his weekly, wide-ranging Sunday column explores all aspects of culture and its relationship with American life and ideas.
He also serves as a critic for CBS-2 Chicago, appearing live each week, and, in 2014, he became the new director of the National Critics' Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Connecticut. He also is the author of "Bigger, Brighter, Louder: 150 years of Chicago Theater," published in 2013 by the University of Chicago Press.
Prior to joining the full-time staff of the Tribune in 2002, Jones served for many years as a critic for Variety and Daily Variety, publishing several hundred reviews with an emphasis on pre-Broadway tryouts. He has covered the arts in numerous cities throughout the United States during his career, including a stint as Variety's Broadway critic. His arts criticism and interviews also have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post, American Theatre magazine and other newspapers and magazines. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he was a film critic and interviewer for WCBE-FM in Columbus, Ohio, and a long-time film critic for the Columbus Alive newsweekly.
Jones has twice served on the drama committee of the Pulitzer Prizes.
His major public interviews in Chicago have included events with Stephen Sondheim, Ayad Akhtar, David Henry Hwang, Harvey Fierstein, Richard M. Sherman, Tracy Letts and many others. He has appeared on "Nightline" with Ted Koppel, CBS Sunday Morning, NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" and a variety of other networks including the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the BBC.
Jones also has had a career in academics. After receiving his doctorate from Ohio State University in 1989 at the age of 26, he spent a decade teaching at Northern Illinois University, where he was both a tenured associate professor and as associate director of the School of Theatre and Dance. He also served as associate dean of DePaul University's Theatre School, where he continues to be an adjunct professor in its graduate program.
His honors include the Gold Medallion from the American College Theatre Festival for his work with young theater critics, the 2012 Award of Honor from the Illinois Theatre Association and the 2013 Society for Midland Authors' James Friend Award for Literary Criticism. He gave the keynote address at the 2011 Educational Theatre Association's national conference.