Kokandy Productions, a theater company celebrating 6 years of bringing shows to Chicago, just keeps bringing us quality shows- one after another. As someone who sees a great number of productions per year, I thank you for the choices you make and the fulfillment of your “mission” to bring quality musicals to the smaller and intimate spaces of our city. Bravo! Their current production, “Tomorrow Morning” was written by Laurence Mark Wythe (book, music and lyrics) and might be classified as a “chamber musical” due to its great intensity, emotion, and story-telling. The music is handled by a single piano, and yet, filled the theater with the richness and sound that held our attention from start to finish ( by the way, 90 minutes, no intermission).
“Tomorrow Morning” is a sort of love story, or maybe a better description is a tale of two love stories, as we follow two couples, separated by time. Both of the couples are preparing for the next day’s events. John (a sterling portrayal by Neil Stratman) and Kat ( stunningly played by Tina Naponelli) are about to become man and wife, and begin the life they had dreamt . Jack (played to perfection by Carl Herzog) and Katherine (deftly handled by Teressa LaGamba) are preparing to meet with their attorneys to sign the divorce papers that will terminate their years of wedded bliss. What we witness is the fear and doubt that each of the four characters are experiencing.
Sharply directed by John D. Glover on a set designed by Ashley Ann Woods, allowing us to witness four distinct areas as we watch the events of this special night in their lives. The action takes place in the space at Theater Wit called Theater Three, with the audience seated on two sides and the stage between them. Glover, knowing full well that this can be awkward ,makes sure that we are not blocked by any obstacles of actors as he uses the stage and set to its fullest. The single piano is placed to one corner and almost disappears into the woodwork, and yet, the sounds produced are hauntingly beautiful. Kory Danielson is the musical director. There is some choreography in the show and is well created by Cameron Turner. This being a four person show, there is no ensemble. It is the four actors who handle their roles and when the music calls for it, add harmony to the other cast members that makes this musical such a treat to the ears and the eyes.
I must tell you that the four performers all have a terrific range of voice ,and there is never a moment when we cannot hear or understand a lyric. The sound by Mike Patrick is superb. The costumes (Bob Kuhn) were the only drawback, in particular those worn by Katherine. The props (Johnny Buranosky), lighting (Cat Wilson) and sound engineer ( Kirsten Johnson) are all solid ingredients allowing the recipe for a dynamic musical piece to have an impact on the audience. This one sure did! This piece is both heartwarming as well as heartbreaking! As we watch the stories unfold, some will see lives of people we have known be exposed. To others, they might just see signs of things in their own experience. Relationships can be difficult. Often, despite all the great plans and dreams one has, fate changes as we change and life doesn’t always end as beautiful as it began. Change affects us all. How we deal with it and where we end up is based on how we adjust as well as what we are willing to do to make it work.
I make it a habit to never expose any hidden secrets that may take place in a play, musical or not! I will keep my promise to report to you and never spoil any part of the production. I will, however, ask that you pay close attention to the words of the songs and those spoken by the characters. If you do, you are in for an amazing experience. That being said, let me tell you that “Tomorrow Morning” will continue at Theater Wit, located at 1229 West Belmont Avenue through August 28th with performances as follows:
Fridays 8:00 p.m.
Saturdays 8 p.m.
Sundays 3 p.m.
Tickets are $38 ( a value for a show of this quality) and can be purchased at the box office, by calling 773-975-8150 or online at www.kokandyproductions.com
Parking in the area is a mix of metered and zoned, so please read the signs. Some of the meter boxes do not need to be fed after 6 p.m. ( don’t let the city know which). There is also parking at Cooper’s Restaurant across the street where a great dinner can also make for a very special theatrical experience.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Tomorrow Morning”.