Highly Recommended***** Magic on Glenwood- that is what Fred Anzevino and his cast are bringing to the intimate space, No Exit Cafe with their latests production, “Passion” a romantic “Chamber” operetta that surely shows the magic of wordsmith Stephen Sondheim. It is not often produced and for this, I am sorry , but now it is in the right place at the right time. For those of you who are unaware of The No Exit and Theo Ubique, this is a small storefront, where the audience sits at tables ( and dines) or in chairs on risers, depending on the particular show, with the actors also being the wait staff for the meal before the show, or the drinks and other beverages. For every production, the re-do the layout and for this particular production, Adam Veness has designed a set that is sparkling in detail allowing us to view changes of sets with very little in the way of pieces, but well done.
The story is a love triangle set in the 1860’s in Italy, we first meet young Giorgio ( played to perfection by Peter Oyloe, who more than likely will get another Jeff nomination) and his lover,Clara ( the amazing Colette Todd) who is married, with child and who he can only see when her husband is away. Their love is strong, at least for Giorgio and yet we wonder if it can sustain itself as he leaves for duty in the military. We are treated to love songs through the letters they write daily and some wonderful music and lyrics ( Sondheim is a master of making words fit strong melodies).
At the base where Giorgio is stationed he meets Fosca, a plain and sickly young girl (a powerful performance by Danni Smith), lonely and in search of love. She is the cousin of his superior and the other men laugh at her weakness. She of course has fallen in love with Giorgio and he , being polite and a good soul does what he can to humor her in hopes that he can ease her pain during her illness.
The music and words are with us for the two hours plus in lovely romantic songs and as performed by the three leads in this amazing cast, we can hear every word and feel each emotion.There are some moments that you may feel you have heard the melodies in other Sondheim plays, but do not let that get in your way. This is a powerful story (Book by James Lapine) that allows us to see how strong love can be and how powerful an emotion it can be. We see obsession become so strong that Fosca can only live with the knowledge that she controls the inner feelings of the man she loves, and we see that while one might think they are in love with one and repel another, all that we see is not all that truly is! because of the intimacy of this theater, we are able to feel the emotion of these performers, and sitting as close to the action as we do, we can see the tears swell up in their eyes as the emotional tale progresses. I will not divulge the ending as I feel strongly that you should put this production on your MUST SEE list. Kudos also to John Leen and Peter Vamvakas and to the rest of the cast as well on an evening of beauty and “Passion” at Theo Ubique located at 6970 N. Glenwood Ave. where “Passion” will continue through April 27th with performances as follows:
Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.
Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Sundays at 7 p.m.,
Tickets start at $34 and you can add dinner for an extra $25 ( a bargain) with the cap at only $39 ( a solid play at a bargain price). To order your tickets, and I suggest you do not wait, call 800-595-4849 or visit www.theo-u.com to see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Passion”- Fred- Bravo!