Wednesday April 23rd 2014

“To Master The Art”

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED   In its short history ( since 1997) little Timeline Theatre Company has become one of Chicago’s strongest in dealing with story lines that our inspired by history and people familiar to many. Their current production,  “To Master The Art”,  a World Premiere, written by  William Brown and Doug Frew is a chronicle of the beginnings of famous writer, chef Julia Child ( a powerful performance by Karen Janes Woditsch, who captures the very essence of Ms Child) and her husband Paul ( another bravo performance by the always reliable Craig Spidle). So strong are these two actors, that it doesn’t feel that we are watching a performance at all- it seems as though we are peering through the fourth wall of a time past in France starting in 1948 and continuing on until  the early 60′s. Directed by Mr. Brown with all the heart and soul of a writer, this is proof that Timeline’s recent success stories are not just by chance. They have truly  mastered the art of bringing powerful stories to an intimate theater on Wellington near Broadway.

This is truly a love story and romance for this young couple as he is shipped to France to work his government job. During their stay, from the first time Julia ate the cooking of France, she fell in love with the flavors and while Paul was working each day, she learned to cook. Most everyone in America knows that her best selling book ( which led to her TV appearances)  changed the way our society judges fine cuisine and watching her discover her new life and talents ,over the shortest 2 hours and 20 minutes I have ever sat in a theater, is pure magic. As I have always said, the ensemble members are a key to a production being complete and this one has a fine cast of actors; JeannieAffelder, Ian Paul Custer, Amy Dunlap, Joel Gross, Terry Hamilton ( who has two key roles in this play),Juliet Hart, Ann Wakefield, Ethan Saks- all powerful in each of the characters they bring to life.

Since the theater is smaller than many, Designer Keith Pitts establishes a set that serves as several kitchens and no matter how hard you try, you will find hunger pangs appearing by the time you get to intermission. Andrew Hansen’s original music and sound were sheer perfection to set the moods of each passing year and Julia Eberhardt’s props are wonderful. Try to imagine how many pots and pans and plates and bottles of wine as well as eggs need to be in th right place at the right time- her group did it!. Rachel Anne Healy has mastered the look of the era with her glorious costumes and the two musicians ( Greg Hirte and Malcolm Ruhl) create just the right touch with Hansen’s music. As I stated earlier, this is a love story- two young artists seeking to find a perfect life, after all is said and done, do! Bill and Doug have captured these people, even to the troubles in their lives when because of some of their relationships with other artists, are also accused of being Communists as well. They endure it all and Julia Child has endeared her way into the hearts of many American women who have learned  to “Master The Art of French Cooking”- Voila!

“To Master The Art” will play, to full houses, I am sure, through December 19th. I am not sure if they will be able to get an extension on this one ( as the last few have been extended) so you might have to take a chance on getting in on this one. Performances are as follows:

Wednesday and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m.,Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

There will be NO performance on Thanksgiving, what actor wants to be in the kitchen on “turkey day” so they have added a 4 p.m. performance on Friday,November 26th.

Tickets are $28-$38 depending on which day, and these are extraordinary prices for a show of this quality. Students ( with ID) can get a $10 discount, subject to availability. You can order your tickets by calling the Timeline box office at 773-281-8643 or online at www.timelinetheatre.com

The theater is located at 615 W.Wellington ( inside the Wellington Avenue United Church) and is very close to several bus stops. There are two flights of  ( short flights) stairs and no elevator. There is limited street parking, but discounted parking is available at Broadway Center, 2846 N. Broadway, at Surf) or the Century Mall, 2836 N. Clark- $8 with validation.

If you can get in, do not miss this opportunity to view a sure fire award winning production.

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