Kokandy Productions, one of the newer theater companies in town just keeps rolling along with stylish productions. Often, they take productions that we have seen before and with a little “twist” bring something new to the overall picture that makes it seem new and exciting. That is one of the reasons I , for one, prefer “live theater” over film for story-telling! Each production, with a different set, director and cast, can make it all seem as if we are having a brand new experience. Such is the case with Kokandy’s latest production, “Loving Repeating”, Frank Galati’s marvelous tribute to one of his favorite people, Gertrude Stein. The words are hers, the music by Stephen Flaherty, but it is the combination of her words and Galati’s interpretation that makes this one of the finest 70 minutes of theater to come along.
I have seen other productions of this piece, but often they are larger productions. Knowing Galati (we went to high school together at Glenbrook, before there was a North and South) as I do, this version, more of a “chamber musicale” than a musical play, would make his eyes shine with delight. Directed, with elegance by Allison Hendrix with some wonderful choreography by Andrea Louise Soule, Kokandy has brought another wonderful production to their space at Theater Wit. Kory Danielson is the musical Director and plays the keyboards along with his three talented musicians : Mike Matlock (reeds), Kyle McCullought (guitar, banjo and mandolin) and Desiree Miller (cello). this is an orchestra that is small in size, but HUGE in talent, and despite the venue being smallish and very intimate, at no time did I ever find the music over powering the lyrics.
The set is stunning with its levels that allow us into the study of Ms Stein and many other areas (Ashley Ann Woods is a clever lady) and the props design by John Buranosky are wonderful additions to this sterling production. Add to these, the costumes (Kate Setzer-Kamphausen) and lighting (Cat Wilson) along with the sound (Jenna Moran) and you will understand the beauty of the picture being painted by this production. Gertrude Stein loved art, no matter what others thought. She said that “beauty is beauty, even when it is irritating”. She also said to a critic of her writing ( my words, not hers) “You should read her work as she wrote it instead of her having to write it so you might understand it”! As art was going through changes in the 1930’s, so was language. At least that of Ms Stein.
This is a love story! A true love story between Ms Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. It is a love story about them, their language, their self expression and how what they had made them perfect for each other. To re-emphasize , I have seen other productions of this wonderful story, but, nothing that can stand up to this amazingly cast production that has an ensemble that appears to enjoy bringing this story to us as much as we enjoy watching every moment of the 70 plus minutes. Cast as our Narrator Gertrude, is the fabulous Caron Buinis. As young Gertrude, the amazing Amanda Giles, a newcomer to this company- welcome aboard. Alice is played to perfection by Emily Goldberg, another addition to Kokandy (where do they find this talent?). The ensemble of Three Boys and Three Girls is made up of Sarah Hayes, Andrew Lund, Jake Morrissy, Maise Rose, George Toles and Stephanie Stockstill. Great voices, skilled dancers, wonderful comic touches and they even help make the small set changes. The beauty of a “chamber musicale” is the intimacy of sharing the story with those telling it as well as the people sitting with you. This is one that should be on your “TO SEE ” list.
Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m.
Sundays at 3 p.m.
Tickets are $38 and can be purchased by calling the box office at 773-975-8150, at the box office or online at www.kokandyproductions.com
Want to help this company with their pet project? Project Fierce, helping Chicago’s young homeless people/ Buy a $60 ticket, get a signed show poster with your ticket and know that they are working to assist these kids who have no place to call home. www.projectfiercechicago.org
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Loving Repeating”.