Highly Recommended **** One thing I have found over the years is when the name Hershey Felder appears on any show, whether he is in it or has had something to do with the creation of same, you are in for a treat. This is the case with his newest venture, The World Premiere of Chris Lemmon, as his father in “Jack Lemmon Returns”, now on the stage of The Royal George. Felder is a true story teller and always mixes in music to complete the experience.
The story is that of Jack Lemmon as portrayed by Chris who due to DNA shares a great likeness to his father and while many of his mannerisms may be natural, it does appear that many years of living with the man and studying his films have made it quite easy to imitate his very well known star, actor. The one our and twenty minutes of non-stop biography take us from his early days when he left Newton Mass to “save Broadway”. His dream was to be that special actor and as we all know, at least those of us old enough to recall his masterful films, “Some Like It Hot”, “Mister Roberts”, “Days of Wine and Roses”, “Glengarry Glen Ross”, ” The Odd Couple”, “Grumpy Old Men” and “Missing” to name several well known films.
It was his feeling that an actor should not be known for just one type of acting and so he made it his business to thrive and diversify. He did so well and worked with many talents along the way. Many of us were unaware that Lemmon was a pianist ( which is probably a major reason for Felder to get involved) and that he went to an Ivy League college. But in spite of the great success on the screen, many of the stars of those years had lives that were empty of love and found that alcohol was their savior. Hollywood social circles were not made up of real people, but people who used each other for personal gains. Chris Lemmon grew up in all this and witnessed his father’s turmoil as well as his success.
Chris, unlike his father was more passionate abut music and studied classical piano as well as composition and of course, with the name Lemmon, acting and did find himself gaining opportunities, including three movies with his father. In 2006 he published a book “A Twist of Lemmon” which was later re-released. It is the content of this material and Chris Lemmon’s ability to recall his youth that gave Felder the material needed to write the story into his form of story-telling, with music and wonderful video projections ( (Andrew Wilder) on a set that he designed that as usual is centered by a Grand Piano. What else is new?
The show is well directed and the design ( Emma Marie Hay) and sound (Erik Carstensen) all add to the beauty of the story telling. There were many moments as Chris Lemmon stood in front of a projection of his dad that they were one. The voice, the face, the little movement, they were Jack Lemmon! I guess the biggest problem for this production is “who is their audience?” An audience like tonight’s opening- 60 plus is perfect.
“Jack Lemmon Returns” will continue at The Royal George Theatre located at 1641 N. Halsted Street for an open run with performances as follows:
Wednesdays and Thursdays 7:30 p.m.
Fridays 8 p.m.
Saturdays 2 and 8 p.m.
Sundays at 3 p.m.
Tickets 55 and can be purchased at the box office, by phone at 312-988-9000 or online at www.theroyalgeorgetheatre.com
Valet parking is available and there are some lots and street parking.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Jack Lemmon Returns”