Tuesday August 22nd 2017

“Now & Forever; the Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber”

nowandforever1Highly Recommended**** When we think about all the amazing years that Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire has been bringing us musical theater, we tend to think about the “book” musicals of the past and of recent years, along with a new one every so often. They have given us slick productions of our old favorites as well as some recent first regional theater shows. What they are presenting now is something very unique- the World Premiere tribute to Andrew Lloyd Webber, called “”Now and Forever” The music of Sir Webber from the endless list of musicals that he was partly responsible for. The theater was offered a song list to select from by the Webber people and made a selection that will have you singing all the way home ( and even later) after leaving the theater. The theater then selected none other than Marc Robin to put the show together and as director and choreographer ( with the use of two other choreographers to truly sparkle the dance portion of the show ,Matt Raftery and Harrison McEldowney) he has a reiue that would be classified as “very special” and a once in a lifetime opportunity to set the stage for theater companies to have a special work to do in years to come.

While the show assembled is a true tribute to the works of Webber, what makes it very special is the cast that has been put on the stage- eighteen, very tealented performers, some singer, some dancers but all performers who give 100% to please an audience. As the show opens, with the overture from “The Phantom of the Opera” complete with a beautiful chandelier and blazing lights( Diane Ferry Williams) we know that we are in for a special treat, There is no actual set, but Thomas M. Ryan, who truly knows how to use the in-the-round stage at Marriott, does create a feeling of glitz and glamour, Nancy Missimi, who has done it all, creates a non-typical revue costuming as we do not have  tux and evening gowns ( until the finale) but a combination of costumes that either fit the plays the songs are from or just  add flavor to each number. Ryan T. Nelson and his  musical direction under the guidance of Patti Garwood makes the sounds of Webber as rich as if there were 40 pieces instead of  11- boy, do they sound great!

In most cases, a musical revue is song after song, with a possible narrative between songs- this is not the case with” Now & Forever”. It is constant music from the master, but with some sung and other danced. The dancing by the way is a combination of ballet, jazz, modern interpretation, typical show dancing and of course, tap. The dance numbers are to songs that we are used to hearing as songs sung, so it  allows us to watch the wonderful choreography they have created and to highlight the dancers themselves- they are fantastic.

The cast of players:                                                         nowandforever2

Linda Balgord,Stephanie Binetti,Lauren Blane, Brian Bohr, Jameson Cooper, Michael Darnell, Ellen Green, Monique Haley, Raymond Interior, Ben Jacoby, Catherine Lord,Susan Moniz, Luke Manley, Max Quinlan, Sam Rogers,Erin Stewart, Travis Taylor and Melissa Zaremba. The vocal range of these singers is unreal with notes being held for what seems an eternity and all to perfection. When we hear “Love Changes Everything” from “Aspects of Love” as done by Max Quinlan,Travis Taylor and Ben Jacoby, you will say to yourselves “How does Marriott find this talent?” The Three tenors have nothing on these voices. And when Quinlan , just back to our area after a year on the road with “Les Miserables” does “Gethsemane”  and “Superstar” ( with ensemble) from “Jesus Christ Superstar”,you will swear that you have dies and gone to heaven. In fact, I don’t think the audience wanted the first act to end due to the energy that “Superstar” filled the house with.

Moniz, a veteran of marriott’s book of musicals, was in fine form as she did “Don’T Cry For Me Argentina” and “Tell Me On A Sunday”. There are so many wonderful Webber experiences during this two hours and twenty minutes that it would take pages to list them all. Catherine Lord’s “Unexpected Song”, Linda Balgord handling songs from “Sunset Boulevard” as well as  “Memories”( which she originated on Broadway) from “Cats”; Erin Stewart doing “Think of Me” and “The Phantom of The Opera ( with Quinlan doing the Phantom) from “Phantom of The Opera”- what a voice she has; Stephanie Binetti doing “Buenos Aires” from “Evita” and not only singing, but leading the dancers is a very slick number and on and on. Song after song; singer after singer- dance after dance- as the evening progresses, you will get more into it and never want it to end. While I know the show is very complete, maybe, just maybe Sir Webber will allow just one song for an encore to be added so the audience gets to keep their “high” for just a few minutes more.

This is a very slick production with only one problem as I see it- because it is in the round, and some very special lighting effects have been placed in the show, there were a few times, where the actors walked from light to darkness while moving to the next spot. I would think that  the Williams crew will find a way to eliminate that small weakness  to an otherwise brilliant production that is just perfect for this theater, this cast and their typical audience.

“Now & Forever” the Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber will continue at The Marriott Theatre of Lincolnshire located in Lincolnshire at 10 Marriott Drive ( just south of Half Day Rd/Rte 22 and East of Milwaukee Avenue/Rte 21) through March 17th. The performance schedule is as follows:

Wednesdays at 1 and 8 p.m.,Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.,Saturdays at 4:30 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 1 and 5 p.m.

Tickets range from $40-$48 and Students and seniors get $5 off for any of the matinee performances. Tickets can be purchased at the box office, by phone at 847-634-0200 or online at www.MarriottTheatre.com

There are also dinner packages on Wednesdays and Thursdays for as little as $55 ( a true bargain). There are several restaurants on the premises and of course along Milwaukee Avenue almost anything  you desire from a burger to a lobster.

To see what others say, visit www.theatreinchicago.com , go to review round-up and click on “Now & Forever”.

There is plenty of free parking and of course Valet parking is available.

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