When one sees “Hershey Felder Presents” on the marquee (or on a poster) of a theater, one expects the highest of quality on the stage of that theater. Once again, with his newest entry into the season of Felder at The Royal George Theatre in Chicago “Baritones Unbound”, exceeds these expectations! Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!, rang out through the theater from the first song to the finale. You may ask, “What is “Baritones Unbound” ? In reality it is a definition of the vocal range of that treasured voice, The Baritone. This particular vocal range is often referred to as “the uncommon voice of the common man” , not to be confused with the Tenor or the Bass- it is the voice between them and one that after seeing this show, will make far more sense to you as an audience member.
The “play” which also can be looked at as a “Cabaret” entertainment is a story that was conceived by three time Tony Award nominee Marc Kudisch and written by him along with Broadway veteran Merwin Foard, Metropolitan Opera star Jeff Mattsey and Musical Director Timothy Splain. On the stage, designed in great detail by Hershey Felder, himself, Kudisch and Splain are joined by Nathan Gunn and Mark Delavan, two very powerful voices representing this “race” of singers, the Baritone! These three men have voices that will shock and delight you. Brilliance is the best description, and hearing them sign is an theatrical experience to savor! Splain is a solid talent at the keyboard, and even shows off his harmonica and singing skills (as a Baritone also).
Directed by David Dower, this two hour and fifteen minute masterpiece (there is a 15 minute intermission) is quite impressive. There were some audience members stirring in their comfy seats as the show began, only because in order to talk to the Baritone situation, they needed to speak about the Opera, circa 1791 when the first major role for a baritone came to be. Papageno in Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”. Yes, the early journey into the Baritone and his journey to stardom might take a few minutes to get into, but once they start doing Gilbert and Sullivan (the operetta period), you know it won’t be long before they hit the Broadway stage and the greatest of the crooners that were also “Baritones”
Everyone thinks about the great tenors of the world and often are confused by the Bass voice when they are truly thinking “baritone”. In “Baritones Unbound” these three men take us on a wild trip through the musical stage and how their particular voice, “The Baritone” made the difference. Think about the first truly American theater musical “ShowBoat” and the mind-boggling “Old Man River”. In fact, their rendition of this song is spellbinding, chilling, and is worth the price of the admission ticket on its merit alone! But, you will hear so many other show tunes from “Oklahoma”, Carousel”, “Man Of LaMancha” and a great series of Sondheim that will delight all of his fans. In fact, they open the show with “Some Enchanted Evening” (as one would dream to hear it) and along the way satisfy every audience member with some special moment that touched their lives.
But “Baritones” are not just from the opera and the Broadway stage. They are the crooners like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra (who they salute in a very memorable way). They also bring Elvis into the mix, as he too was one fo them- a Baritone! In fact, Country Western fits the mold as well and who else but the “Man in Black” represents the baritone to perfection? You got it my friend. They salute him as well. These men sing, strum guitars, play with the audience and each and every patron, as they left the theater had a smile on their face and a melody in their hearts. What an experience!
The only problem with this production is that it will only be in town thru January 3rd ( not enough time for all of Chicagland to have the chance to enjoy this experience! So, here is the schedule:
Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.
Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m.
Sundays at 3 p.m.
NO PERFORMANCES on December 24th,25th and January 1st
SPECIAL ADDED performances on December 28th and 29th
Tickets are only $60 ( a bargain) and are available at the theater, by phone at 312-988-9000 or online at www,ticketmaster.com
The Royal George Theatre is located at 1641 N. Halsted Street (just North of North Avenue) and they do have valet parking available. Looking for something special for the holidays- this is it!!!
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Baritones Unbound”