Wednesday July 26th 2017

” I Do! I Do!”

Light Opera Works is often overlooked by theater audiences as they do their big massive productions at Cahn Hall which are short in duration, but they also have a “second Stage” located at 1420 N. Maple Street, in Evanston, just a short hop from the “downtown” area. Here they do shows that are more intimate with far less production expense, but productions that are equal to any of the area theaters in Metro Chicago. Their current production, “I Do! I Do!” written by Harvey Schmidt (Music) and Tom Jones ( book and lyrics), the gentlemen who gave us “The Fantasticks”, another small look at life and love. In ” I Do! I Do!” we are taken on a sentimental roller coaster ride of 50 years in the life of newlyweds Michael, a sterling performance by  Larry Adams, who always is on top of his game. His wife, Agnes is played by the adorable Cathrine Lord. We begin with their wedding day ( and night) as they sing the title song “I Do! I Do!” and the proceed to follow their lives for 50 years in the time span of  2 hours and twenty five minutes. May I add, a delightful 2 hours and 25 minutes of song and dance as directed and choreographed by Rudy Hogenmiller.

This is a small stage with a fairly bust but wonderful set by Adam L. Veness. The play, based on “The Fourposter” by Jan De Hartog, mostly takes place in their bedroom and the marriage bed is stage center the entire time. There are some clever touches as they swirl the bed around the room, making the bed almost a third character. During their years together, they have a son and daughter ( who we never see), their ups and downs, personality conflicts as he becomes a well read novelist and she feels that once her last child is married, her job is over. Through all that takes place, we never stop liking these two people, even when they are at odds, they are lovable and while the script is well written, a lot of this comes from the two strong performers and of course the direction of Hogenmiller.

There are 19 songs in this perfect little play, most of them just a part of the play leading from event to event, but ones that are very memorable including  “I Love My Wife”, “What is A Woman”, “My Cup Runneth Over” and of course the title song. Hogenmiller has also added a special touch to the adorable “A Well Known Fact” and “Flaming Agnes” sequence. A time when Michael and Agnes appear to be splitting up and each talks ( or sings) about who they really are and what they will do when this happens. It doesn’t. Yes, they have their differences but “Nobody’s Perfect” ( another of the adorable and sweet songs from Jones and Schmidt).

As I said earlier, the theater is very intimate and the stage kind of small, but it is used to the greatest advantage and this is a show where the propmaster deserves a big hand. There are lots and lots of props and each one is important to the overall quality of the production, so let’s hear it for Mealah Heidenreich and Deborah Lindell! The costumes by Darcy Elora Hofer and the lighting by Charles Jolls are the icing on the cake. The music ( two pianos- a Jones and Schmidt thing) are handled by Roger L. Bingaman and Linda Slein who are also the co-music directors. This is a flawless production that while sentimental in many ways is filled with comic touches as well. A two person musical is not an easy task, but thanks to the talents of  Ms. Lord and Mr. Adams, this is one not to miss!

“I Do! I Do!” will continue at Light Opera Works Second Stage through  November 14th with performances as follows:

Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.

Tickets range in price from $27-$42 ( half price for students under 21, but I suggest children under 12 miss this one until they are older) and can be purchased by calling 847-869-6300 or online at www.LightOperaWorks.com

FYI-There is street parking and a parking lot just south of the theater on Maple. The building is called the McGawYMCA Children’s Center and is easy to find and well worth the trip.

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