Thursday October 19th 2017

“elemeno pea”

lmnop3Recommended *** Citadel Theatre, Lake Forests’ hidden treasure, has been doing some new and exciting productions. Musicals in their small space have been an amazing change of pace. Their current production, while from the normal “book” of plays, which are old fashioned stories with a moral story, is however, a bit different for this very “suburban” playhouse. It has language unbecoming to the North Shore “bedroom community” it serves. In fact, in the first few minutes of Molly Smith Metzler’s “elemeno pea”, we hear the “F” word several times. Once we get past that there is such language in Lake Forest, we can settle in for a story that will hit deep in the heart of many audience members.

While this play is considered a comedy, and has some very funny spots (often very “sit-com” funny), the dealings of sibling rivalry, class concerns, and human kindness and frailty are keys to the story line, which by the way is one-hour-forty -minutes with no intermission. Because of all the openings the past two weeks, I ended up coming to one of their Wednesday 11 a.m. performances (they are done with this run) and was very surprised to see almost 75% of the 140 comfy seats filled. This on a day when it is also 70 degrees in February!. Hats off to Citadel for having an active audience pool to support live theater on a Wednesday morning!

Back to the story. The play opens as Simone ( deftly handled by Sarah Hecht) brings her sister Devon (a strong performance by Maggie Kettering) to her beach home at Martha’s Vineyard. Well it is not her home, but that of her employer, Michaela ( powerfully handled by Grayson Heyl). Simone is Michaela’s personal assistant and paid handsomely for her 24/7 services. She is, by the way, a trophy wife to a billionaire, Peter, who we never meet. Devon is uncomfortable with the changes that she sees in her sister, who was raised very “blue -collar” in Buffalo New York and now seems to be the servant, although, a highly paid one, to this woman.lmnop7

The comfort zone gets worse as Michaela comes home after being tossed out of the car by Peter, thus causing their trip to be postponed and Michaela’s life to become topsy-turvy. It seems that she and her wealthy hubby had a pre-nup and we are very close to the “out” date. Not wanting to ruin the story, I will leave that part alone. There are two other characters in the play. Jos-B (this is an old joke used in poor taste, as they already have an employee named Jose, thus the next would be “b”) is played to near perfection by Ray Andrecheck. We learn very early how he feels about the upper class people he works for, and watch him change his tune as the story unfolds. The other character is Ethan (Nic Fantl , who I truly enjoyed in Light Opera Works “Mame”, but thought he came on a bit too swishy for Simone to truly fall in love with) Peter’s best friend. Ethan does nothing all day but has wealth and while he thinks “class”, this is truly lacking.

During the course of the story-telling, Ms Metzler allows us to get deeper into the sisters and their relationship. The title, “elemeno pea” in reality refers to the “alphabet Song” and sequence: abcd, efg, hijk, LMNOP, qrst, uv, wx yand z. Now I know my ABC’s, next time won’t you sing with me”. A clever little story that truly changes the lives of these two siblings. Director Ellen Phelps does a masterful job of using the small stage in this intimate theater and the set by Eric Luchen is good enough to move into. The lighting (Emma Magrady) and the sound (Bob Boxer) along with the costumes (Katherine Pavlovna Goldberg) and props (Cathy Jacobson) round out the technical aspects.

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I found “elemeno pea” to be a warm and very human, kind of sit-com transferred to the stage, and yet, when I left the theater and started home, I thought about people in my life who truly thing “what you own” or “who you know” is more important than, “Who You Are and what you do”. There is still some time to see this production as it will remain open thru March 5th with performances as follows”

lmnop2Thursdays  7:30 p.m.

Fridays  8 p.m.

Saturdays  8 p.m.

Sundays  3 p.m.

Tickets range from  $35-$38 with discounts for students and seniors and can be purchased by calling 847-735-8554.

The theater is located in Lake Forest at 300 South Waukegan Road (Route 43) just south of Route 60 with plenty of free parking.

To learn more about Citadel, visit www.CitadelTheatre.orgcitadel

To see what others are saying about this production, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “elemeno pea”

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