Tuesday November 21st 2017

“King Liz”

Somewhat Recommended ** I need to begin my review of the latest opening at Windy City Playhouse ( the most comfortable and intimate theater space in Chicago) by saying that they have a slight problem in script selection of late. Their latest production, “King Liz” is conceptually a story that sports fans would greatly appreciate, but this two -hour play (with an intermission) might be better off being a 90-100 minutes , no intermission, production. This could be done just by cutting 17-20 of the “F” word segments.

The play, written by Fernanda Coppel is a look at a female agent in the mostly male sports arena. The production is in its Chicago Premiere and let’s face it, Chicago is a wild and crazy sports town. The smooth direction by Chuck Smith makes this work more plausible than one might think and the cleverly designed set (Courtney O’Neill) shows how a small theater can use its space to full advantage. In fact, the technical aspects of the production: Devon Green (props), Elsa Hiltner (costumes) , Thomas Dixon (sound) and Jared Gooding (lighting) are wonderful. The stage is three sections and a wall that spins allowing for several changes that might have not been possible without the cleverness of O’Neill. I must take my hat off to the technical aspects of the play.

The story is, as stated above, one about a female in a male dominated world- sports. Liz Rico (powerfully played by Lanise Shelley) a strong female agent, who has risen from the depths of the “projects” to become a top agent in the world of Basketball. She is strong and will do whatever it takes to hit the next level of power in her chosen career. The young man she selects to represent, a high school super-star, Freddie Luna (deftly handled by Eric Gerard) is also from the “projects” and she feels the kinship will allow her to take him from the lowness of his personal life to the stardom that he was meant to achieve. Can he adapt to her way of doing business? Is his past (somewhat checkered) a hinderance of what she has planned for him? Can Liz become the head of the agency?

These are important questions and while the show is well -directed, and has a solid cast of players, including Jackie Alamillo as Gabby ( Liz’s assistant, who is also vieing for her position), Caron Buinis as Barbara Flowers, a TV Reporter who is out to get ratings, no matter the cost to those she interviews,  Philip Edward Van Lear as Coach Jones , the coach that brings young Luna to the Knicks (and also has deep feelings for Liz) and Frank Nall as Mr. Candy, the agency head who relies on Liz to do exactly what he would want her to do in every situation.

As you can see, the story-line is one that should be worth seeing, but the script tends to have far too much “F word” and other stuff that would have been better left out. Coppel may want to look at this and make a few cuts to improve the ability to let young audiences, who might truly learn from this story, do so. Perhaps during some of the new “Nightcap series” after show discussion groups, patrons will offer feedback that indicates what I am saying. The discussions take place every Wednesday after the performance.

“King Liz” will continue at The Windy City Playhouse, located at 3014 West Irving Park in Chicago thru July 16th with performances as follows:

Wednesdays  7:30 p.m.

Thursdays  7:30 p.m.

Fridays  8 p.m.

Saturdays  8 p.m.

Sundays  3 p.m.

Tickets range from $15- $55 (discounts for students and seniors) and can be ordered by calling 773-891-8985 or online at www.WindyCityPlayhouse.com

There is a full -fledged bar and snacks which can be brought into the theater (this is a cozy, comfy theater with lounge type seating).

Street parking , some metered, some not is available and public transport will get you there with ease. Lots of dining in the immediate area as well.

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

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