Highly Recommended ***** Although I’ve always heard good things about Light Opera Works, I’ve never been able to see one of their shows for one reason or another. I was delighted to see that I finally had an open date that coincided with the opening of their fabulous new revue, “Let Me Entertain You: Jule Styne’s Greatest Hits”. What a treat! This was definitely a 4 Spotlight show!
Although the venue, Nichols Concert Hall in downtown Evanston, was easy to find, parking was harder to find. Once we got inside, we saw a lovely space with a domed ceiling, wooden seats and white accents. The layout and acoustics reminded me of a more intimate Carnegie Hall.
Director Rudy Hogenmiller selected 38 of Jule Styne’s songs, some well-known, some obscure. He chose six performers, Justin Adair, Larry Adams, Emily Barnash, Kelly Britt, Mary Robin Roth and William Roberts, with incredible voices.
He added a touch of glamor with stunning costumes. In Act I, the three women wore black cocktail dresses and shoes with sparkly earrings, necklaces and bracelets. The men were formal with black ties and white rose boutonnieres. In Act II, the theme was red and black. Roth wore a black dress with a wide white collar and red belt, accessorized with red shoes and jewelry. Barnash wore a dress with a black top over a black, gray and white plaid skirt, a red belt, shoes, and jewelry. Britt sparkled in a red dress with a black belt, shoes and jewelry. She had her hair in a ‘40s style with a red ribbon. The men wore red ties and red rose boutonnieres.
“Let Me Entertain You” led off with crowd pleasers from “Gypsy”, Styne’s most successful Broadway Show written in collaboration with Stephen Sondheim, “Let Me Entertain You”, “Broadway, Broadway”, “Together Wherever We Go”, “You’ll Never Get Away From Me” and “Small World”. Mary Robin Roth absolutely brought down the house with her rousing rendition of “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”.
The program was a pleasing mix of Styne’s music from Hollywood, Broadway and the hit parade. It included Oscar-nominated songs from the movies, “I’ve Heard That Song Before”, It’s Magic” and “It’s Been A Long, Long Time”, as well as the Oscar-winning title song from “Three Coins In The Fountain.”
Frank Sinatra hits, “The Christmas Waltz” and “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow”, are two of my personal favorite songs.
Just some of the Broadway hits – “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and “People” from “Funny Girl”; “Just In Time”, “I Met A Girl” and “The Party’s Over” from “Bells Are Ringing”; “Ev’ry Street’s A Boulevard (In Old New York)” from “Hazel Flagg”; “Neverland” from “Peter Pan”; and “Saturday Night (Is The Loneliest Night Of The Week)” from “All-Star Bond Rally”.
Although Jule Styne was born in London, his family moved to Chicago when he was only eight. He wrote his first successful score for future film producer Mike Todd while he was still attending Chicago Musical College. He wrote music for movies and for Broadway. Over the course of his career, he collaborated with lyricists like Sammy Cahn, Stephen Sondheim, Betty Comden & Adolph Green, Frank Loesser, Bob Merrill and Leo Robin.
Light Opera Works’ “Let Me Entertain You: Jule Styne’s Greatest Hits” runs through October 16th at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston.
Running time is 1 hour, 55 minutes, with an intermission.
Thursday, October 13, at 2 pm
Friday, October 14, at 8 pm
Saturday, October 15, at 2 pm and 8 pm
Sunday, October 16, at 2 pm.
Tickets start at $30. Parking is difficult to find. FYI (847) 920-5360 or www.lightoperaworks.com.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at ” Let Me Entertain You: Jule Styne’s Greatest Hits”