Holiday shows abound in Chicago, some old standards and some new versions of old classics. Every so often, we get to welcome something new, something different. Such is the new “On-Holiday Holiday Musical” being presented at Boho Theatre@ Heartland Studio, a charming, intimate storefront along the Glenwood Avenue Theare district in Rogers Park. The current production, a 75 minute musical is “Striking 12” written by Brendan Milburn,Rachel Sheinkin and Valerie Vigoda is performed by four very talented musicians who sing and do quite a bit of acting as well, as they tell this enchanting little story about a young man’s New Year’s Eve.
It turns out that Eric ( Eric Loughlin at the keyboards) is working on the last day of the year, late! Having just ended an engagement, he has no plans for the New Year, not wanting to be a third wheel or even be part of a party, so he is home alone when a young girl knocks at his door selling special holiday lights. The girl ( played by the delightful Mallory Nees who handles the guitar, bass and what I think is a concertina) reminds him of the “Little Match Girl” , a marvelously sad but loving story by Hans Christian Andersen and as he reads the story and is filled in by the other performers in the show, Dustin Valenta ( percussion and comedy parts) and the delightful and bubbly Amy Steele on violin and other sounds, we are taken through the entire story with music that might be considered a combination of folk and rock with one number that is just a little “rap” and we also learn that “screwed up people make great art” a side not about the great success of Andersen in his stories if not his own life. At the end, in great sadness, Eric seeks out the light sales person ( his “match girl” and takes her on a journey to seek out anyone who is sad and give them a strand of these lights- which will make the spirit of the night one of love and of magic.
Director Lara Filip, in her notes states that to her “music is awesome” and that this play allows the story to be told in a special way, through some wonderful music with four very talented people. Her mission was to allow us, the audience to be allowed to become a partner to the performers and during some periods of the show we did. We clapped our hands and stomped our feet and felt the story as if we were being told a new story rather than a new version of an old one. Live theater is supposed to create a magical feeling for the audience and this productions does so to perfection. While Filip claims that she did very little to direct; that she just let the actors get lost in the story, I truly feel that it was her heart and soul that allowed these four performers to achieve 75 beautiful and very memorable minutes of art. This is not to say that they are all screwed up, but to say that they do what they love and they love what they do.
“Striking 12” will continue at the Boho Theatre at Heartland Studio located at 7016 N. Glenwood through January 8th with performances as follows:
Thursdays,Fridays and saturdays at 7:30 p.m.,Sundays at 5 p.m. and for you late-nighters, Saturday at 10 p.m.
There will be NO PERFORMANCE on the 24th.
Tickets are a mere $15 making is a great value and can be purchased by calling 866-811-4111 or online at www.BohoTheatre.com
Parking is available at Morse and Ravenswood and if you take the red line- exit at Morse Avenue stop.