Highly Recommended ***** While this is “not” a play, but instead, one of a series of staged readings with music and dance, I have opted to classify my article as a “review” and also at Cabaret. Porchlight Music Theatre is a very special entity to our city. How lucky for Chicago that a musical theater like this is here to bring high quality shows to the intimate space it calls home at Stage 773. While this company brings us a wonderful array of musical theater during each season, their Board of Directors and Artistic Director Michael Weber, go even one step further. They bring us staged concerts of the big musicals that have been “lost” over time. This is the third year of doing these concerts, which also feature some of Chicago’s finest talents.
Tonight, we were witness to “Applause” with a book by Adolph Green and Betty Comden and music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Lee Adams. It is the musical version of the film “All About Eve” which was based on the short story, “The Wisdom of Eve” and tells the story of Broadway legend Margo Channing (played to perfection by Chicago favorite Heidi Kettenring) and her “overzealous “fan” Eve Harrington (deftly handled by Lauren Roesner, making her Chicago debut- a name to remember, as you will see it often, I am sure), who works her way up the rung to “stardom” by doing anything it takes, including attempting to steal Channing’s life/career and her man, Bill Sampson (another Porchlight newcomer, David Schlumpf-where do they keep finding these bright talents?). This was a staged reading using the existing set of “Far From Heaven”, making it a little harder than having a real set and furniture.
Under the solid direction and choreography by Christopher Pazdernik, one hardly even notices that the actors are carrying scripts. They are props that they take a look at from time to time, but to be honest after the first big number, I never even noticed they still had them. This is a bright cast made up of fine performers who make us see the glory of the old musicals that have been “put to pasture” and should not have been. Watching this cast act, sing and dance, I am hopeful that this Board will take this show to heart and find a place to do a full- blown production on their stage in the near future. The “Revisits” program only allows for three nights, meaning that only a few selected theater-goers get to see the magic happen. Why not all of Chicago?
There is no program so credits for all concerned are only what is posted in the lobby- they are a solid cast! The musical numbers are strongly delivered (musical direction by Nick Sula)- I feel that we need to mention each one of them:
This show will be presented on the 2nd and 3rd as well at 8 p.m. HOWEVER, the doors open at 7:15 for the Michael Weber story behind the story. A short historical peek at the times when this Musical became what it was. It is historical, educational and makes the staged reading easier to understand. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased by calling 773-327-5252 or at www.porchlightmusictheatre.org. Stage 773 is located at 1225 West Belmont with valet parking available. There are more of these in the series:
February 2017 “Little Me”
May 2017 “On A Clear Day You Can See Forever”
Meanwhile ,Porchlight will host another series, “New Faces Sing Broadway 1972″ on Tuesday, March 22nd at 8 p.m. at The Uptown Underground” where I just saw another great cabaret evening. You will feel that you have taken a step back in time as you walk down the cascading stairs to the lower level “speakeasy” where none other than Heidi Kettenring will be your host as lots of young talent will bring us the music we love to hear. There was a Broadway series called “New Faces” back when I was young(er) and I recall the ones in the 1950’s. Return with Porchlight to those thrilling days of yesteryear to our Broadway located at 4707 N. Broadway. There will also be another version, 1949 in June. Tickets are only $22 and can be purchased by calling 773-777-9884 or at www.porchlightmusictheatre.org
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Porchlight Revisits…Applause”