Tuesday January 23rd 2018

“Jacques Brel’s Lonesome Losers of the Night”

Recommended *** Back in 2008, TheoUbique, that great little storefront in Rogers Park presented  a revue, conceived by their Artistic Director, Fred Anzevino, that was loved by their regulars and attracted a new audience to the No Exit Café on Glenwood.Those who were fans of the poetic music of Jacques Brel.  The music is amazing and the story is used to bring the songs together, in telling the tale of two soldiers at port back in 1959. The location is a bar in Amsterdam. One that many would prefer to avoid, but on a military paycheck, one cannot be “picky”. The seedy bar is run by the Bartender ( played to perfection by Randolph Johnson, who has a powerful voice to go with his huge body- Fred, you have done it again!) The two soldiers/military men are played by David Moreland and Neil Stratman. They evidently know each other and are friends, but as the eveing progresses, they vie for the attention of the woman in the show ( the adorable Jill Sesso), who was not up to what I expected on a vocal basis, but as far as her acting, it was obvious why both of these men would want to be with her, even if only for the night!

Brel’s lyrics are poetic and deal with sex, death, broken hearts and romances as well as cynicism. His writings are for the most part statements of honesty and for some hard to take! The songs tell the story as each man tries to win the heart of the Whore even though each knows it is only for the time being. Man 2, at least in my opinion, was the winner and the chemistry between Stratman and Sesso was powerful stuff. Sitting at the single table right next to the stage, where the couple played several numbers, I could easily feel the “heat” as these two worked to win the heart of the other. Man 2 would pay for the night and Sesso, although being paid, would have a night worthy of her deep-rooted feelings. Please note that even the photos are very “black andwhite” just to stay with the mood.

The song list is long, and each helps to make the story clear. They drink and they drink, as they escape from their lives and what is waiting for them. They are “The Lonesome Losers”. The overture performed by musical director pianist Jeremy Ramey (who survived a bicycle accident today) gets us into the mood of the location as the company opens with “Amsterdam”. Mostof his lyrics have double meanings. For example in “Rosa” indicating the beauty of this wonderful fragrent flower, he also lets us be aware that each rose also has thorns that can prick you!  His lyrics do propel the story he is trying to convey. The one song that almost everyone in the audience knew was “Don’t Leave Me” ( I could see audience members mouthing the words) and since this comes almost at the end of the evening (90 minutes-no intermission), it sets the tone for remembering the experience much better.

Anzevino directs this production with the love and flare of a man possessed by the work and creation of the poetic writer and his assistant, Courteny Crouse, I am sure understaood exacty what Fred was attempting to bring to his audiences. While there is not a great deal of dance, the choreography by David Heimann is very fitting as are the costumes which do not even have a mention in the program, but the lighting (James Kolditz and set (Adam Veness) along with the props ( Katie Beeks) are all major parts of the story-telling process as done at No Exit Café, TheoUbique!

“Jacques Brel’s Lonesome Losers of the Night ” will continue at No Exit Café, located at 6970 N. Glenwood Avenue through  August 6th with performances as follows:

Thursdays  7:30 p.m.

Fridays  8 p.m.

Saturdays  8 p.m.

Sundays  7 p.m.

Tickets range from $25-$34 and if you desire a three course meal, add $25.00 (drinks and gratuity are extra).

more info call 800-595-4849 or visit www.theo-u.com

Student RUSH tickets at $15 at the door-with college ID (subject to availability)

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Jacques Brel’s Lonesome Losers of the Night”.


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