Awhile back, I wrote about the coming of this new show, a one woman show written and performed by Carol Dunitz- well, now I have seen it. The presentation is playing at Maxim’s ( The Nancy Goldberg International Center) located in the lower level of a high rise located at 24 E. Goethe Street, right in the heart of the Gold Coast. This is a lovely little room that WGN Radio’s Rick Kogan speaks about on a regular basis. This was my first time in this room, which is more a restaurant set-up than a night club/cabaret, but Ms. Dunitz and her musical director made it work. The show details the life and times of Sarah Bernhardt who is often referred to as the “most famous actress” that ever lived. The time period of this story is the 1890’s, and the audience was much older than most cabaret shows. Let’s face it, most of the under 50 generation really never heard of her.
Ms. Dunitz takes on her character with great style and grace and despite some a/c problems and some sound system snafus, takes us on a trip through time as we learn about this woman who formed her own theater company, at a time when women would never have tried, and sold out tocrowds all over the world. The famous people in her life were amazing and there is no question that Ms. Dunitz loves what she is doing just as Ms. Bernhardt loved what she did. She loved and lived to act! There are twelve songs in this almost two hour production, which may have worked better as a ninety minute, no intermission tribute to the Divine Sarah. Phil Pennington who arranged the music and accompanies her brings a lot of sound to the music, but I think one of them missed a cue or two, which made the show seem more real. Afetr all, this is an older lady telling us her story and as we all know, age brings memory loss.
The songs, written by Ms. Dunitz are a combination of comedy, ballads and torch type songs. I loved “I Never Promised You”, a song that Sarah’s grandmother sings to her and “More Than Everything” brought a slight tear to my eye. I found the show to be well written, albeit to long and due to the limitations of the venue and the sound system, Ms. Dunitz was unable to play the audience as she seemed to want, so in her small area, she captured the essence of her character and once she previews this show to larger audiences and prepares to put it on an actual stage with props ( Ms. Bernhardt loved props), I feel it will develop into a wonderful entertainment and historical experience.
There will be two more performances of this World Premiere at Maxim’s- October 21st and 28th at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 and include a taste ( or two) of the bubbly. You can call 312-742-TIXS or reserve online at www.maximschicago.org
To see a little of the show and learn more, visit www.BernhardtOnBroadway.com