Saturday February 24th 2018

“Hatfield & McCoy”

Highly Recommended **** Anyone who knows The House Theatre of Chicago, is aware that what they present is not your “ordinary theater fare”. They are unique! They are The House! Their current production, written by company member Shawn Pfautsch is a drama with music inspired by the true story of the famous feuding families, The McCoys and the Hatfields (families that lived near the border of West Virginia and Kentucky) which first was done back in 2006. This new version, has added a mixture of music spanning Bluegrass, Folk, Rock and Pop in the re-telling of this story about these famous, or should I say, “infamous” families. The music by Pfautsch and Matt Kahler, does add some special flavor to an already brilliant story, and they have also included a touch of “Rome & Juliet” to make the point. The star-crossed lovers in this story are  Rose Anna McCoy ( brilliantly played by Haley Bolithon) and Johnse Hatfield (deftly handled by Kyle Whalen).

Amid all of the fighting between these families, these two fall in love, marry secretly and vow that they will end the fighting once and for all. They will show their families that the families now can be as one. What we experience during the almost three hours of music and drams is a solid telling of this powerful “tragedy”. Directed by Matt Hawkins who is spot-on when it comes to fight choreography, the time moves swiftly and despite its actual almost three hours, feels much shorter. Partly because of the smooth direction and more importantly, the solid cast that has been assembled to pull this off.

The McCoy Clan is led by Anish Jethmalani ( a non-singing role) who helps keep the drama part of the production “on-track”. His wife, Sarah is played by the powerful Stacy Stoltz) and the rest of the family is: Bradley Grant Smith, Collin Quinn Rice, Khloe Janel, Cody Proctor, Tommy Malouf, Royen Kent and Ethan Peterson.

The two members of the law, Marshall Phillips and Bill Stanton are played to perfection by Demond Gray (Stanton) and Jamie Vann ( Mashall Phillips)

The Hatfield Family is led by Patriarch Robert D. Hardaway as Devil Anise and his wife, Levicy (the very funny Marika Mashburn) . The rest of the clan: Bad Lias ( Jeff Mills), Victory ( Jenni M. Hadley), Ellie ( Tia Pinson), Grace (Ann Delaney) and Jim Vance ( Michael E. Smith).

The onstage musicians ( in addition to the actors being able to do some of their own music) are Josh McIntosh on the fiddle, Jake Saleh on the Upright Bass, Matthew Muniz handling the Synthesizer and Drum Machine and Patrick Ahlberg (back-up on fiddle). Muniz is the musical director and Katherine Scott did the Choreography. The other tech aspects of the show are the fabulous set (Lee Keenan, who also did one heck of a job on the lighting), Ellie Terrell for props, Emily McConnell (costumes that are dazzling, yet simple) and sound by Grover Hollway. As I said earlier, Hawkins is knows for Fight direction/choreography, so this part of the production is wonderful, and to be honest, without solid work on this, it would be difficult to pull this one off.

This is not for everyone! It is a well done production that opens up ones’ eyes to what can happen when hate gets in the way of life itself. The “Romeo & Juliet” influence makes us see it clearer and perhaps allows us to understand more about a feud and what can happen involving one, in particular of this magnitude. I prefer not to give away any of the surprises that will become clearer as the story unfolds, but will tell you that there is a wonderful love story being told and that the outcome is “for the best”!

“Hatfield & McCoy” will continue at The Chopin Theatre (Upstairs) thru March 11th with performances as follows:

Thursdays  7:30 p.m.

Fridays  7:30 p.m.

Saturdays  3 and 8 p.m.

Sundays  3 p.m.

Tickets range in price from  $30- $50 and can be purchased by calling 773-769-3832 or online at www.thehousetheatre.com

The theater is located at 1543 West Division Street ( at Milwaukee Avenue/Division/Ashland intersection) so public transportation is simple. Street parking is readily available

Same Day seats for students and industry, subject to availability are $20

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Hatfield & McCoy”

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