Highly Recommended .The Storefront Theater is a remarkable little space on Randolph Street where many smaller theater companies present productions that we might not otherwise see. At present, Caffeine Theatre and Chicago Opera Vanguard, in association with Chicago DCA ( part of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs) is presenting a different and unique look through the lookingglass in the small fun filled “opera” “Boojum! Nonsense,Truth and Lewis Carroll”. Written by Martin Wesley-Smith and Peter Wesley-Smith, we get a chance to meet Charles Dodgson ( skillfully played by Alex Balestrieri, with just the right touch of stutter in his speech) and of course his alter-ego , Lewis Carroll ( deftly handled by the always reliable Jeremy Trager, who, no matter the role he plays becomes the character and does so to perfection).
“Boojum” takes us on a ride into the mind of Dodgson/Carroll following the poem “The Hunting of a Snark” and introduces us to all types of characters, some of which you will recall fro the “Alice in Wonderland stories”. What we also learn is more about Alice and their relationship. Dodgsdon befriended the Liddell family and found himself telling stories to their three daughters, one of which was Alice. Rumor has it that despite his sad and lonely life, there was a period of happiness, the years that he spent with young Alice. Further rumors suggest that they had a love affair for a period of five years ( his diary is missing all of the pages during this period, so who can tell).
Directed by Jimmy McDermott on a set by Marianna Csaszar, this is a two hour romp with some zany characters that helps to define the writer and the man and his inspiration form a young girl that in many ways changed his very being. Alice ( played by Marielle de Rocca-Serra who has a powerful voice and moves with great grace) is also shown as an adult and here played by Heather Townsend, who also has a lovely voice. In fact, this is a show filled with music ( 34 total musical numbers), some quaint and comical and some romantic and a few very powerful songs that will send chills down your spine. While we have some “main characters” in this solid production, it is a true ensemble piece and what a glorious assembly of actors/singers/dancers ( while not a large dance show, there are some very clever steps by choreographer Natalja Aicardi); Kevin Bishop,Laura Deger,Kevin Grubb,Stephen Rader,Michael Reyes ( a very strong voice and a flair for comedy) andSara Sevigny. They are indeed of great import in making this production so powerful as is the work of Andra Velis Simon, who not only plays the keyboard to perfection, interplays with some of the characters with great flair.
The costumes by Philip Dawkins, lighting by Casey Diers and props ( there are a lot of props in this show) by Jessica Rosenlieb round out this production and we , the audience are treated to a musical romp into the mind of one of history’s greatest story-tellers, Lewis Carroll. I will warn you that this is not a show for little children as it has many dark moments and some of the projections and content make reference to Dodgson’s love of taking nude photos of children ( including Alice). The story is somewhat factual, but of greater importance it is fun theater, a great diversion from what we hear and read every day, so if you are seeking a break from the holiday “stuff” and want to partake of a fantasy adventure story that will give you some insight into the creator of the story that we all love, “Alice in Wonderland”, this is it!
“Boojum” will continue at the DCA, Storefront Theater located at 66 East Randolph Street through December 19th with performances as follows:
Thursday,Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m.
Tickets are $25 ( general admission) and for students and seniors, only $15 ( a super bargain for a show of this quality)
To order your tickets call 312-742-8497 or visit www.dcatheater.org you can also visit the box office located in The Cultural center at 78 E. Washington Street from noon- six.
To learn more about these companies