About Face Theatre is a growing company that is known for development of new work exploring gender and sexual identity. It is no wonder that their “holiday” show would be “We 3 Lizas”, a musical about a box maker, one Conrad Ticklebottom ( a wild portrayal by a highly energetic Scott Duff). Once a world renowned “artist” is now alone and forgotten- what can he do to regain his fame? He decides to make a new concept commercial and has asked his right arm person, Reggie ( the bubbly and ever so talented Dana Tretta) to get him Liza Minnelli or he will be doomed.
Enter three wise men, or are they witches who will become, as the saga continues ,three versions of Liza Minnellis who will escort him through what was, what could be and what the “f”. ( a spin off on the Ghosts in “A Christmas Carol” to be sure), but with some wonderful music by Alan Schmuckler ( who also did some of the lyrics) and a book and other lyrics by Scott Bradley, this new version of “We 3 Lizas”, not to be confused with the edition we saw in 2012 at Steppenwolf’s Garage, is one hour and forty minutes ( no intermission) of pure, unadulterated “camp”.
It is funny and gay! It is silly and gay! Directed by Scott Ferguson and well choreographed by Patrick Andrews, this is sheer fun and a solid diversion to the world events that we face each day. It is a tale of hope and recognition as well as just a fun night at the theater. Yes, Liza is made fun of and the fact that three portrayals are part of the oicture is unique. One in drag, one larger than life and one, who you might think is “the real thing”. There are some wonderful moments on a unique set (Jerre Dye, you have outdoen yourself with this one), sound (Josh Horvath) and lighting (Mac Vaughey). Eleanor Kahn’s props are divine to say the least and the costumes (Mieka Van der Ploeg and Robert S. Kuhn, are colorful and very hip for the purpose of the show.
The band directed by Aaron Benham ( on the keyboards) is composed of some very solid talent: Jed Feder ( percussion),Debra Johnson ( bass) and Andrew Abromowitz(back up percission) making the entire theater fill with the sounds that are very “Liza-like”.
Not to give away who’s who, I must tell you that the three Lizas are all sensational, each in their own way. I will tell you , in case you saw the original that Danielle Plisz is back as the Liza-WAS and is as solid as ever. Just watching her is worth the price of the ticket, but the show needs all the cast memebers that have been assembled to make it was good a sit is, so hates off to the rest of teh cast, John Francisco and Andrew Swan ( who portray Grinch characters as well as others- great dancers,singers and look as if they belong in a Fosse production), the lovely Sharriese Hamilton, Mark David Kaplan ( who plays several roles of note) and the always delightful Bethany Thomas, who continues to show us what she has in a big way. As I said, do not confuse this show with what you saw at The garage- this is a much tighter, controlled show with a stronger presentation, and while it is not your usual holiday fare- it is a fun evening of theater.
Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays at 3 and 7:30 p.m.
Sundays at 3 p.m.
Valet parking is available, some street parking ( metered and non) and if you dine at Cooper’s, they have parking.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “we 3 Lizas”