Wednesday December 13th 2017

“They’re Playing Our Song”

It is not often that I miss an opening. In fact, when it is a show that I enjoy, hardly ever! But with the crazy schedule of late, I was unable to attend the opening of Brown Paper Box Company’s “They’re Playing Our Song”, Neil Simon’s delightful little “two character” play (with choruses) that takes a look at the lives of a composer and a lyricist ,represented as if this was the real life story of Marvin Hamlisch (who wrote the music) and Carole Bayer Sager (who wrote the lyrics), which at heart, may be what it is all about.

It is a love story that brings two people who are very different in nature and upbringing, pitting them against each other and at the same time,  having them fall deeply in love. This company has rented space in Rivendell Theatre on Ridge Avenue, which as it turns out, is probably a great venue for an intimate show such as this. Director Daniel Spagnuolo uses the space to its full advantage by utilizing the actual door as a door, making the audience feel as if they are that proverbial “fly on the wall”. Spagnuolo also handles the choreography which is mostly handled by two of the alter-egos of our characters. Let me explain for those who are unfamiliar with the story- Both of our characters, Sonia (Carmen Risi, who belts out her songs and is charming, but tends to speak too fast, scrambling her dialogue) and Vernon (deftly handled by Dan Gold, who gets a bit carried away with overblown facial stuff) have “the girls” and “the guys”. Three other personalities who represent other emotions and feelings that they tend not to express.

The ensemble, or alter-ego players, were dynamite and truly help make the show as strong as it is. Ariana Cappuccitti (who does the dancing), Deanalis Resto and Elissa Newcorn (who has a shining voice and can do a phone ring sound effect to perfection) and the guys; John Marshall, Jr., Mike Danovich and Bradley Halverson. After you get used to them being there to add flavor and personality, you do not see them as other people- just a part of the characters you are learning about. There is one character that is a major player in the story-line, but who is never seen- Leon! Remember that name! You will fall in hate with him around 15 minutes into the story!

This is a play with music, rather than a musical, but there are some powerful songs in it. “Still Believe In Love” for sure and of course, the title song, “They’re Playing Our Song” and one of my favorites “Fill In The Words”, along with “Just For Tonight” and “Knew Me” and “Workin’ It Out” are all part of the story-telling process that makes this a story with music. One of my personal favorites is “If He (or she) Really Knew Me” when the two begin to see they have feelings for one another.

Despite the music being “canned”, which caused a previous cancellation for us, I found this cast was very able to work with “taped” music (musical direction by Iliana Atkins). I do suggest that they have someone ready to play a piano (and have a piano) so that should they ever lose the use of the computer, they can still do the show. Just a suggestion. The scenic design by Ashley Ann Woods (who also did the props) worked very well in this space and the lighting ( Rebecca “Becs” Bartle) and costumes (Kate Setzer Kamphausen) were effective.

“They’re Playing Our Song” will continue thru August 20th with performances as follows:

Mondays: 7:30pm
Thursdays: 7:30pm
Fridays: 7:30pm
Saturdays: 7:30pm
Sundays: 2:00pm

 


Price: $27  open seating

Box Office: 773-334-7728

Running Time: 2hrs, 10 mins; one intermission

www.BrownPaperBox.org

The theater is located at 5779 N. Ridge Avenue in Chicago. There is parking available at Senn High School, but I have always found street parking without a problem.

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “They’re Playing Our Song”.

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