Recommended *** Strawdog Theatre Company will be closing its doors on N. Broadway (at Sheridan) very soon. They will remain a company and will continue to do what they have been doing since 1988- bring quality theater to Chicago audiences. From what we were told, they will have what is called an “itinerant home” in Rogers Park, so when the wrecking ball hits the location at 3829 N. Broadway, the venue will be gone, but the shows will continue. They are closing with the Kaufman and Hart classic, “Once in a Lifetime”, a story that takes us to the past and what happens when three vaudeville performers leave New York for the ” rush “of California as the TALKIES start a new trend in film.
Jerry (Mike Dailey) and his girlfriend, May (deliciously played by Kathleen McDonnell) along with their “straight man”, George ( deftly handled by Scott Danielson, who has a great sense of comic timing) are our main characters. When Jerry sees “The Jazz Singer” and hears Al Jolson say,”You ain’t heard nothing yet”, he knows that it is time to use all their resources and get into the movie business. Their plan is not to be IN the movies, but to teach the movie people how to talk. May is the brains, Jerry the promoter and George is just along for the ride.
Directed by Damon Kiely, this is a difficult show for their limited space, but somehow he manages to keep the flow moving. This is a 1930’s show, thus in three acts, for a total running time of 2 hours and twenty minutes. Joe Schermoly’s set is unique in that it contains a New York rooming house, a train “berth” car, a Hollywood office, and a film set. The actors do the moving and changing of sets with dance and song (Mike Ford handles the choreography) making it fun to watch, and Austin Oie’s music along with Heath Hays’ sound make it work. The costumes (Brittany Dee Bodley and Cassandra Bass), the lighting (Jordan Kardasz) and properties(Jamie Karas) are the finishing touches to a clean production.
What truly makes this production work is the ensemble. They are as highly energetic as one can expect from a cast. They are having fun as they take on many roles and have some of the fastest costume changes I have ever seen. Bloomsmith, Kamille Dawkins, Paul Fagen, Sarah Goeden (as Susan, George’s love who becomes a star due to him), Anderson Lawfer, Michaela Petro, Brandon Saunders, Justine C. Turner and the amazing Jamie Vann. These actors change characters and costumes quickly, causing a little confusion at points for the most part, this being a silly comedy of the times, it is easy to stay with them. For the record, it is the goofiness of George who constantly makes mistakes, that changes the world for all concerned. That is all you will get from me, but watch Danielson closely as he is the key to the entire results of what it was Moss Hart and George S, Kaufman planned to offer us. Strawdog makes sure their message is delivered. At the end, before the curtain call, the cast members begin to tear down the studio so they can build a new one. How fitting for this company as they will also be moving to a new venue, Share with them their final moments on Broadway-
“Once in a Lifetime” will continue at Strawdog located at 3829 N. Broadway, second floor thru June 4th with performances as follows:
Fridays 8 p.m.
Saturdays 8 p.m.
Sundays 4 p.m.
Tickets are $28 ($24 for seniors)
call Ovation Tix at 866-811-4111 or online at http://www,strawdog.org
there are also student discounts and RUSH tickets
To see what others are saying, visit http://ww.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Once in a Lifetime”