Thursday October 19th 2017

“Aspects of Love”

aspects-Poster-361-260x400 We have all heard the expression “good things come in small packages”, I am sure. I find this statement to be one of the best descriptions of the productions that are offered at TheoUbique Cabaret Thetare, that little treasure up in Rogers Park where we are offered some of the best talent in Chicago in one of the most intimate of spaces, No Exit Cafe. Yes, in this little storefront theater ( which was a coffee house back in THE day, we get productions of “Evita”, “Cats”, “Chess”,”Light in the Piazza” and now, a show that fits perfectly in this space, Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Aspects of Love”. This is a musical piece that was meant to be a chamber musical, but since it was a Weber product ( although the lyrics were written by Don Black and Charles Hart) it was made into a huge, glitzy Broadway style production. DING!DONG! That was a huge mistake. It has since been retooled, after its Broadway failure, to chamber musical, but even then, no one in Chicago ( a very savvy theater town) has ventured to do this mini-musical. That is until Fred Anzevino, Artistic Director of TheoUbique took another look at the fit it would be for his intimate space on Glenwood Avenue. It has been over 10 years since we have had an opportunity to see “Aspects” and Anzevino’s production is one that should garner his company some more Jeff Awards to add to their trophy case, and may I say, well deserved.

This musical is a story of love triangles and relationships. They are between a noted painter, his nephew, a French actress, the painter’s mistress and then the daughter of the painter and the actress. Sound confusing? Well, as the musical is presented, we get the real stories of these people and the relationships between them. The two most memorable songs in the score are “Love Changes Everything” and “Anything But Lonely”, but if you listen closely to the melodies, you will hear bits and pieces of other Weber musicals interspersed, and while the music is haunting at times, it is the emotion that is expressed in the lyrics along with the melody that allows us , the audience, to peer into the hearts and souls of these people.                                             aspects111-400x300

The Prologue which takes place in 1964 is the powerful theme “Love Changes Everything” performed by  Alex, the nephew (Matthew Keffer is dynamic in his bringing this young man to life) who is a lovestruck young man, having fallen in love with the famed actress Rose ( the return of Kelli Harrington to TheoUbique’s stage after her award winning performance in last year’s “The Light In The Piazza, who again shows her ability to bring feeling and warmth to the stage along with a marvelous voice)..We are taken back to France, 1947 where this romance begins.

While Alex takes Rose off to his uncle’s estate and the romance begins to blossom, Uncle George, a widower who has been off with his mistress Giulietta ( the wonderful Colette Todd who has recently thrilled us with her performances at Light Opera Works) comes home, George ( deftly handled by Sean Thomas) falls in love with Rose as well and Rose, seeing a more financially secure life takes on with him. Alex leaves to join the military and Rose and George have a child, Jenny  ( the adorable and perky Rochelle Therrien).

When Alex comes back years later, Jenny, now 15 finds herself attracted to him and the dysfunctional love triangles become more confusing. It is thought by many that Jenny may in fact have been a residual from the relationship between Alex and Rose instead of George and Rose, but that is never explored to its fullest. Anzevino and his staff, along with his solid cast make this a special evening of musical theater,one where we get to feel the story unfold and the characters develop right before our eyes. The stage is a small one with a jut out into the seating area and the actors use the floor around us, meaning that at times,we could reach out and touch them, but instead, the closeness allows them to touch us- in our hearts and our souls.

Adam L. Veness ( set design) cleverly uses this small area to bring us from space to place, with very little time in changing pieces or props ( which by the way, is almost choreographed as the actors take a chaise lounge off and move a table in lace). Michael Nardulli lights the space to perfection and Bill Morey has done a great job with costumes. Paige Keedy’s props, of which there are  many are quite authentic looking for the period of time and the musicians, under the leadership of Jeremy Ramey are brilliant and never overpower the actors. The words in this musical are of great import and this crew knows how to get them to us.

TheoUbique has a way of taking a large cast and reducing the numbers so that it is quality, not quantity for its telling of the story and this  ensemble is able to take on many roles ( besides being your servers) .Adam Fane,Jamie Finkenthal, Stephanie Hansen ( who does a wonderful solo in the one Carnival dance number ( James Beaudry’s choreography in a small space is beautiful),William Lucas and Daniel Waters fill out the cast and while they are small in numbers, just as TheoUbique is small in size, they are huge in talent!

“Aspects of Love” will continue at No Exit Cafe located at 6970 N. Glenwood Avenue through April 21st with performances as follows:

Thursdays 7:30 p.m.,Fridays and Saturdays 8 p.m. and Sundays at  7 p.m.

Being a small cabaret theater, I would make reservations RIGHT AWAY as seating is very limited and one cannot count on an extension.

Tickets are  $30-$64 ( some dinner packages are in these ranges) and can be ordered by calling 773-347-1109 or online at www.theo-u-com

They also have an 800 number  800-595-4849

Parking in the Rogers park area is often difficult, but the meters on the nearby side streets are off at 6 p.m. and if you check the site, you will find some parking instructions. The Red Line station is half a block away ( Morse Avenue) so that might be your best bet.

To see what others say, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to review round-up and click “Aspects of Love”      aspectsdance

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