Light Opera Works has done it again! They have put together a “cabaret” musical evening recognizing the works of one of America’s greatest composers, George Gershwin that is sure to please both young and old. It is called “Gershwin’s Greatest Hits” and to be hones, is only a portion of his greatest hits, otherwise the show would go on for days and days. While many of us are used to seeing the BIG musical productions that Light Opera Works is known for, full orchestra , full set and great costumes to go along with some wonderful talent, BUT, since they are limited in the number of BIG productions, they can do each year we are now getting to watch “cabaret” type shows such as this one in the very intimate space created in downtown Evanston called The Nichols Concert Hall.
The Concert Hall was at one time a church and so the audience does sit in pews, but they are padded and quite comfortable. The sound system is not perfect, but the cast assembled for this glorious concert by director George Andrew Wolff, is able to overcome the slight drawback of having speakers on the stage , so despite a few technical problems, we get to hear the beautiful voices along with the three pieces that back them up. Valeri Maze, serves as the musical director and her piano solos of “Promenade” and the opening for the second act, “An American In Paris”/”Rhapsody in Blue” are amazing to watch and to hear. A condensed version, only 7 minutes in total, but to be hones, the heart and soul of the piece is felt by all who listen to Ms Maze.
Colette Todd ,who does a great job with songs like “The Man I Love”, “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”, a rousing production of “Boy Wanted” and an enchanting “Embraceable You”.
Sophie Grimm, who shows her range with numbers such as “He Loves and She Loves”, “But Not For Me”, “Little Jazz Bird”, “I Got Rhythm” and plays a mean trumpet to boot!
Sarah Lynn Kelly, who makes her preofessional debut with this company- remember this name , as you will see it over an dover, “Someone To Watch Over Me”, “S’Wonderful ( with David), an outstanding “Summertime” ( from “Porgy and Bess”
David Schlumpf ( not an easy name to pronounce, but a solid talent on the stage and quite a song and dance man) as he does “S’Wonderful”,”I’Ve Got A Crush on You”, and “I’ll Build a Starway to Paradise”
Martin L. Woods, who handles the Baritone songs, but stuns the audience as he takes on some of the “porgy and Bess” numbers-“bess, You Is My Woman Now”, “I Got Plenty of Nuttin” and “There’s A Boat Leavin’ Soon For New York”. I would have loved to hear him take on “Old Man River”
These five singers fill almost two hours with some of the greatest music to ever be written. Songs that were written during a period from 1914- through 1938 and will live on for generations. This is classic- this is Gershwin. Watching the audience watch the show was as much fun as just listening. The songs were familiar and the presentation, delicious. The first act started with “period costumes” and the second act, a little more formal. You know, Black Tie, top hat stuff! Very fitting for Gershwin.There is no set, just some props and wardrobe (Alicia Ann Lees), Lighting ( Mac Vaughey) and sound(Palmer Jenkins). The other musicians who make this show very complete Bill Harrison on the bass and Phil Martin on the drums-
If you love good music and enjoy forgetting your troubles for a few hours and just being entertained, then you want to mak ethe trek to Evanston ( not reall far from the city or the burbs), but you only have until October 13th to catch this wonderful show-
The Nichols Concert hall is located at 1490 Chicago Avenue ( that is the Evanston extention of Clark Street) in Evanston. The performance schedule is as follows:
Sat. October 5th at 2 and 8 p.m.
Wednesday,October 9th at 2 p.m.
Friday, 10/11 at 8 p.m.
Saturday 10/12 at 2 and 8 p.m.
Sunday,10/13 at 2 p.m.
Tickets range from $30-$60 and can be purchased by calling 847-920-5360 or online at www.LightOperaWorks.com
Under 21- half price. I wish the tickets were lower in price, but will tell you that what you get is one heck of a show- if this were downtown, you would have to pay twice the price and in Evanston, there is less expensive dining and loads of inexpensive parking.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Gershwin’s Greatest Hits”