Sunday October 23rd 2016

“Road Show”

RoadShow_PEAs many of you know, I am a lover of the works of Stephen Sondheim. I , for one, feel that he is indeed the greatest “wordsmith” to write for the musical theater stage for eons and marvel at his ability to write a jaunty tune filled with what appears to be to many words for the length of the music, and make it work! To  perfection, no less! I also feel that to do Sondheim works, the producer and director must understand his talent and work towards bringing his feeling and heart to their stage. Gary Griffin, is THAT Director, and continues to prove it as he take son the works of the master , both old ( “Gypsy”) and new ( “Road Show”) at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre on Navy Pier. Strange , isn’t it that we have two productions on the stages of this temple to the Bard, but neither of them celebrates those works or words, but rather, the other wordsmith, Stephen Sondheim Fitting isn’t it!

“Road Show”, to many is a new musical, but the truth be known, this may be one of Sondheim’s only failures, as the full scale production that was known as “Bounce” that had it’s pre-Broadway debut at The Goodman Theatre over 11 years ago. While the basic story ( book by John Weidman) it is now a more trim , mor intimate, “chamber musical” and as staged in the Upstairs ( studio-like) theater at CST, under Griffin’s tender loving Care, a far superior way of telling the story about  the Mizner Brother ( a true tale ) as we watch them reach for the stars with their get rich quick and flim-flam lives. While it is Wilson, the younger of the two played deftly by Andrew Rothenberg who appears to be in control of their destiny and paths, it is Addison ( Michael Aaron Lindner, who appears to have been born to play this role) who we, the audience care about. He is in fact an artists with a soft heart searching for love and happiness, while his brother is only seeking  fortune, no matter who he must crush to get to his goal.RoadShowThumb6

We watch them travel from the Alaskan Gold Rush to their final quest for the gold during the Florida real estate boom, constantly leaving each other, coming back together and still , despite disliking each other loving each other as brothers do. They are witness to the loss of their parents by Larry Adams and Anne Gunn, who also take on ensemble roles). The only true love that we witness, other than that of the brothers is a relationship between Addison and  Hollis Bessemer ( Robert Lenzi, who also does an adorable Jockey). he rest of the ensemble is made up of solid singers/actors and many who also play musical instruments as Griffin has musicians on the stage, at the corners, producing a very special feeling for the audience during this experience often highly charges, yet emotional.

Talents like Mckinley Carter, Matt Deitchman ( who also is the piano player thru April 20th), Jim DeSelm, Derek Hasenstab,Regina Leslie, Jake Mahler, Bri Sudia and Tom Vendafreddo. what this cast lacks in numbers is more that compensated for by the talent they bring to make this a far superior  way of telling the same story. By keeping it at the 90 minute mark with no intermission, there is no chance that the audience will forget where they were and lose track of the marvelous ( and factual) story of two men, brothers , who while they  were together, were in fact apart. One wanted the money, the other was more caring and in this production, we can feel each and every emotion of what the story is all about. Bravo!                                  RoadShowThumb6

Being an intimate space, there are no body mikes, yet we can hear every word ( an important factor when the words are by Sondheim) -thanks to Ray Nardelli ( sound). Mike Mahler is  the musical director for this production and Greg Hoffman ( lights), Melissa Veal( wigs and make-up) and Mara Blumenfeld ( costumes) round out the production team to make Scott Davis set, one that is very simple, yet perfect work for this “chamber musical”! “Road Show” will continue at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier through May 4th with performances as follows:

Fri, Mar 21: 7:30pm
Sat, Mar 22: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Mar 23: 2:00pm
Tue, Mar 25: 7:30pm
Wed, Mar 26: 1:00pm & 7:30pm
Thu, Mar 27: 7:30pm
Fri, Mar 28: 7:30pm
Sat, Mar 29: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Mar 30: 2:00pm
Wed, Apr 2: 1:00pm & 7:30pm
Thu, Apr 3: 7:30pm
Fri, Apr 4: 7:30pm
Sat, Apr 5: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Apr 6: 2:00pm & 6:30pm
Tue, Apr 8: 7:30pm
Wed, Apr 9: 1:00pm & 7:30pm
Thu, Apr 10: 7:30pm
Fri, Apr 11: 7:30pm
Sat, Apr 12: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Apr 13: 2:00pm
Tue, Apr 15: 7:30pm
Wed, Apr 16: 1:00pm & 7:30pm
Thu, Apr 17: 7:30pm
Fri, Apr 18: 7:30pm
Sat, Apr 19: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Apr 20: 2:00pm
Tue, Apr 22: 7:30pm
Wed, Apr 23: 1:00pm & 7:30pm
Thu, Apr 24: 7:30pm
Fri, Apr 25: 7:30pm
Sat, Apr 26: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Apr 27: 2:00pm
Tue, Apr 29: 7:30pm
Wed, Apr 30: 1:00pm & 7:30pm
Thu, May 1: 7:30pm
Fri, May 2: 7:30pm
Sat, May 3: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, May 4: 2:00pm







Tickets start at $48 and can be purchased at the box office, by phone at 312-595-5600 or online at

Patrons under 35 years of age can purchase their ticket for $20 and there is deep discounted parking at Navy Pier with validation ( $10 is a bargain).

To see what others are saying, visit, go to Review Round-up and click at “Road Show”





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