There is an art to doing Cabaret and making it more than just singers singing songs, but instead, a production with a story that is told through the music being performed. Fred Anzevino’s TheoUbique Cabaret Theatre is sheer perfection when it comes to doing these shows. The No Exit Cafe is his venue and the talent that he finds to bring his shows to life, whether a full scripted “Big Musical”, a small scale intimate musical or his speciality, the Cabaret show featuring the music on a particular writer, he does it best.
But as time goes on, and the talent he has found begins to mature, Fred has started to allow his talented performers to spread their wings and so the latest “must see” show, “A Marvin Hamlisch Songbook” is directed by Courteny Crouse who also conceived the idea with Musical arranger Aaron Benham- great idea guys, and from paper to reality, a super sensational, high energy, high spirited show that gives the audience almost two hours of pure escape from reality. Bravo!
TheoUbique has been the starting place for many of Chicago’s talented performers who in many cases have moved on to other venues taking on larger roles in larger productions, but no matter who moves on, TheoUbique keeps finding replacements who are as talented as one could hope for. This cast of six is just another feather in their cap. Six talented boys and girls, who sing the works of Hamlisch, dance the steps as choreographed by Christopher Logan and make the very intimate audience feel as if they are involve din every song.
Hamlisch is probably best known for”A Chorus Line” (probably his most famous musical), but others were “The Goodbye Girl”, “Sweet Smell of Success” and “They’re Playing Our Song”. While “A Chorus Line” is the one that most people associate with him, and it does have some standout numbers, they all show the pure magic of the creativity this man brought to our generation. Movies like “Same Time Next Year”, “Sophie’s Choice”, “The Sting”, “The Entertainer”, “The Champ” and “The Way We Were” written with lyricists Carole Bayer Sayer, Alan and Marilyn Bergman and Howard Ashman to name a few will bring back “Memories” for you and whomever you are sitting with.
The songs are arranged in a unique fashion by Benham and the use of the stage and aisles is one that keeps the audience on their toes from start to finish. Nice job Courtney! You have truly learned how to make the audience feel good. The cast- what a cast! Caleb Baze who is back at TheoUbique shows us his terrific range in “If You Remember”, Patrick Byrnes, a newcomer to the stage on Glenwood shows his stuff with “If You Really Knew Me”, and Garrett Lutz handles many a romantic tune with just the right touch. The three ladies are amazing in all of the numbers they do, but the extraordinary presentation of “At The Ballet” is worth the price of admission alone- the one word that describes this number is “AWESOME”! A True Showstopper!
The ladies, Sarah Larson (her “That’s How I Said Goodbye” section has great range), Sarah Wasserman shows her operatic background and range in “A Beat Behind” and Stephanie Hansen (another returner) truly one of the most energetic performers I have seen on this stage will wow you with “Travelin Life” (another Wow!). I applaud them all for the high energy they bring to Hamlisch’s Songbook. Unlike typical “cabaret shows” where the singer just sing, these six performers do just that, perform! They sing, they dance and they sell us the music in a way that tells us a story. The story that Hamlisch wanted us to know! From his first HIT song, “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows” made famous by Lesley Gore until his passing away, just two years ago, Marvin Hamlisch created wonderful music, won many awards and left us with some great memories and a legacy that will live on for generations.
While No Exit Cafe is a storefront with very little in the way of set, the tech crew for this one adds to the overall experience. Adam Veness (Set), Maya Fein (lighting) and Bill Morey (costumes) along with state manager Rachel Holiday, who makes sure that everything is as perfect as a TheoUbique production should or could be. They do it every time! “A Marvin Hamlisch Songbook” will continue at No Exit Cafe, located in Rogers Park at 6970 N. Glenwood through July 12th (although I smell an extension) with performances as follows:
Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Sundays at 7 p.m. (no Sunday on 6/28)
Tickets range from $29-$34 and there are discounts for students and seniors.
To order yours ( and I suggest you do not delay) call 800-595-4849 or visit www.theo-u.org
There is an option for dinner with the show at a $25 cost, check on the website for the menu choices. Parking is a bit of a problem in the area, but they do have a lot and a shuttle available (check on the website) or better yet, take the RedLine and exit at Morse Ave. for less stress. The running time is just under two hours. Enjoy a drink and have a solid theatrical experience. You will not want to miss this one!
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “A Marvin Hamlisch Songbook”