Highly Recommended ***** There are songs and there are songwriters that have fame and yet many people have no idea who they are or where the songs they created came from. Confused? You should be! The songwriters I am making reference to are Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse. During the 1960’s they created two musicals, ” Stop The World, I want to Get Off” and “The Roar of the Greasepaint-The Smell Of The Crowd” , with songs such as “”Who Can I Turn To”, “Feeling Good”, “On A Wonderful Day Like Today” and many more. They also wrote the songs for movies during this period, such as “The Candy Man”, “Pure Imagination” and of all things, the title song for the James Bond film “Goldfinger”! If one looks back in time, Sammy Davis Junior loved the work these men created and with their music created one hit after another.
Amazingly, many people have no idea who they were and that these were their creations. But Fred Anzevino, Artistic Director of TheoUbique Cabaret Theatre, located in Rogers Park, not only knows the music of these men, he adores their creations, so when selecting this summer’s “cabaret” show, why not go with music you love. Along with his co-director, Courtney Crouse, they have conceived and directed this glorious 80 minutes of musical elegance on the intimate stage at No Exit Café, their storefront “cabaret” space on Glenwood Avenue in Rogers Park.
Following up their Jeff Award production of “Rent” with this very special evening of musical theater, “An Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse Songbook” is a delight to watch and listen to. As always, TheoUbique finds talent that is perfect for the roles, or in this case, the interpretations of these numbers. The cast of four men and one woman is uniquely special with each handling songs that almost appeared to have been created just for them. A little background on “The Roar of the Greasepaint”. It is based on Beckett’s “Waiting For Godot” in both the characters and the setting. The main character, “Cockey” was played in the original version by Newley himself, as was “World’s Littlechap, who then was replaced on Broadway by Joel Gray. In Theo Ubique’s songbook version, Newcomer Graham Thomas Heacock truly brings these character to life. In fact, if any theater in Chicago has been thinking of doing either of these big scale musicals, I suggest you sign this actor up now! He Is the perfect Cockey/ Littlechap !
All five of the players are superb talents and each has several shining moments. David Wesley Mitchell does a great interpretation of “SIR” from “Roar ” as they open with the comic “Mumbo Jumbo” and Paige Faye Hauer, the only female, does a solid “Goldfinger” along with an adorable “Perfectly English”. Averis I. Anderson will wow you with his rendition of “Feeling Good” and I was amazed at the power of Ryan Armstrong ( the only returnee to the stage at No Exit). If you are familiar with the works of these tunesmiths, you owe it to yourselves to get to Rogers Park and see this amazing show! If you are only somewhat acquainted with the musical numbers , why not get to watch them done as they should be!
This duo has another full scale musical that has never been done in the United States. Perhaps, one day it will be done and maybe cabaret style in Rogers Park. Bricusse is still alive, working in his 80’s and has been a part of “Jekyll and Hyde”, “Victor/Victoria” and movies such as “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”, “Home Alone”, “Hook” and “Superman”. Many big time singers have recorded works by these men, and yet, if you were to ask 10 people to name one of their songs, I doubt you would get half of them to name one. Their work is wonderful and the production now on stage at TheoUbique is one that although 80 minutes in length, will remain in your memory for many years to come!
The choreography by Maggie Portman along with the direction by Crouse and Anzevino makes for a wonderful evening of “Cabaret” or theater or as they say at TheoUbique, Cabaret Theatre! William Morey’s costumes are sheer perfection and the magical props by Katie Beeks complete the technical side of the show along with Adam Veness transforming this storefront into a different world. “An Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse Songbook” will continue at No Exit Café located at 6970 N. Glenwood Avenue through July 31st with performances as follows:
Fridays 8 p.m.
Saturdays 8 p.m.
Sundays 7 p.m.
Tickets are $29 and$34 with a $5 discount for students and seniors. There is also a dinner option for $25 ( a delicious Chicken dinner, with a salad and ice cream MUST be pre-ordered) For those familiar with the theater, your wait-staff are also your performers. To order your tickets ( if you know No Exit, there are only 60 or so seats) call 800-595-4849 or visit http://www.theo-u.com