Sunday November 19th 2017

“For The Boys”

Marriott Theatre  in Lincolnshire is known  for bringing us the highest quality in Musical Theater and over the years have brought back old favorites as well as some original works. They have taken another step in bringing us a Play with music based on the hit movie “For The Boys” that starred Bette Middler and James Caan; a story that is somewhat based on the life of one of America’s great entertainers/humanitarians, Martha Raye., a comic who did many USO shows for the troops during wars we were involved in and one who never feared being where the action was. Aaron Thielen, one of Marriott’s Artistic Directors, who at one time appeared on the stage in this theater, took on the challenge of taking a film and rescoping it as a  live production with music. This is not as easy as it might sound, because a live theater cannot allow for the many special effects that one can use in a film and in Marriott’s “arena” stage, it is even more difficult as the actors have to play to all four sides with very little set.

How does one make something like this come to reality? The first thing is to bring on a director who understands the theater itself and how to use it to full advantage. Enter Marc Robin, an artist when it comes to making this small stage appear much larger, as director and choreographer. While this production has far less choreography than we are used to, Robin’s creative juices make every transition in this story, covering from 1942 through 1981 a work of art. Unlike the film which is all “flashback”, we are taken from the beginning to the end on a marvelous trip of personalities.  Dixie Leonard( a dynamic and powerful performance by Michele Ragusa, who brings more realism to this role than Middler) is a “big band” singer raising a small son while her husband is off at war.  Eddie Sparks ( an amazing performance by Timothy Gulan)  is America’s favorite song and dance man who was known for his time spent entertaining the troops ( many of you, who remember Bob Hope and his USO tours will relate to this character) and was riding on top of the world until Dixie was asked to fill in for his singer. Dixie was powerful and became a favorite of the troops. While great friction and conflicts existed between them, when they were needed, they were there- “For The Boys”! 

This is a powerful and emotional story as we bear witness to the results of  war and the effects it has on their lives as well as those of the troops they entertain. There are great moments of comedy and highly emotional scenes, almost life transitions as we see the results of the wars that we ar einvolved in. Dixie’s son, played by the adorable Johnny Rabe ( at 5 years old), Zachary Keller ( at 14) and Jameson Cooper as an adult ( Marine) is a strong character that brings a great deal to the sub-plot of Eddie’s love for Dixie ( or is it just envy of her having a boy while he has only daughters). While this is one of their conflicts, Danny is also what brings them together as they end the story by being awarded  The National Medal Of Freedom!

The elements that make this production, A World Premiere, so strikingly beautiful are the  wonderful projections ( designed by Sage Marie Carter), The fantastic lighting (Diane Ferry Williams), The costumes ( Nancy Missimi) and the set design ( small but effective by Thomas M. Ryan)- these are regulars at this theater and as always, give them a challenge and they will accept it with open arms! Ryan T. Nelson, as always directs the orchestra with Patti Garwood’s excellent musical supervision.

One of the joys of attending productions at Marriott Theatre is watching some of their regular ensemble members work. Many of them whom we have seen in major roles, have no problem taking on smaller roles or just being members of the ensemble. You may ask why? The answer is most definitely “for the audience”- they love what they do and they recognize that the Marriott audiences enjoy watching them work. Names like Anne Gunn, Michael Weber ( who truly shines as Art Silver)Michael Aaron Linder, Bernie Yvon ( who gets to play a little music in this one), Summer Naomi Smart, Johanna McKenzie,Rod Thomas, and Alex Goodrich ( who shows that even a small part can make a difference) and a sparking ensemble making some of this music so memorable. Musical numbers such as “You Are My Sunshine”, “Come Rain or Come Shine” leading into a soulful transition with “America The Beautiful”, “I Remember You”, an adorable “baby, It’s Cold Outside” and “What A Wonderful World”- there are more, but these alone are worth the price of a ticket!

“For The Boys” will continue at Marriott Theatre at Lincolnshire through October 16th with performances as follows:

Wednesdays at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.,Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.,Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Tickets range in price from $41-$49 ( plus tax and handling fee) but very worth it. There are some Senior and student discount performances as well as some dinner packages on Wednesday and Thursday evenings for only $55 ( plus tax and handling) To order tickets call 847-634-0200 or You can also stop by the box office located at The Marriott Resort in Lincolnshire, 10 Marriott Drive ( just east of Milwaukee Avenue /route 21 and south of Half day Rd., route 22) in Lincolnshire. There is plenty of free parking on the grounds as well as dining spots as well as in the surrounding area.

For more info on the theater visit   


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