Tuesday August 22nd 2017

“White Noise”

Tonight, we were at the World Premiere of the new “Rock Musical” with a book by Matte O’Brien and music and lyrics by Robert Morris,Steven Morris and Joe Shane, “White Noise”. Most of what you have heard and seen has been attached with the name Whoopi Goldberg, one of the many producers involved with bringing this show towards Broadway. A lot of the attention has been on the term ” a cautionary musical” that appears on a lot of the press info and some of the advertising. You may ask, “What does this mean?”. Well, this musical that runs about one hour and forty minutes with no intermission is one that deals with hate, but not just hate! Hate for African Americans, Jews and of course Mexicans( in fact all Hispanics) by people who feel they are of the “Master Race”. No, the story does not take place in the Hitler era, but he is indeed the hero to three of the main characters, Eva (  the beautiful and talented Mackenzie Mauzy) and her sister Eden ( the lovely Emily Padget) as well as their guitar player Duke ( Patrick Murney) a true “skinhead”. They are found by record promoter Max ( Doug Sills) who sees them being a money machine if he can control their emotions. He also has a Black brother team, Dion and Tyler ( Wallace Smith and Rodney Hicks), both Ivy League grads who are now getting their message out through rap. While they are in it for the money, their message is clearly that it is time for the “Blacks to kill the Whites” and at the same time the White Noise band is spreading its hate against all the others, but Max uses his man Jake ( a powerful performance by Eric William Morris) to subdue this group by convincing them that by changing a word or two, they can convey their message to the masses and sell  CD’s even to those they are spewing hate about!

This play or rock musical almost begins as if it is a concert, but director/choreographer Sergio Trujillo quickly turns the corner in getting us to see where the play is headed. They call it a “cautionary musical” because it deals with topics that will make one think- free speech, the right to express one’s views, and the power of music in today’s world. The music is loud and the lighting very bright ( a little to much shines into the audience and while the effect may look great, it is somewhat blinding for the audience in the center of the Royal George. This is an intimate house with a small stage which works with us, the audience , being able to get kind of up close and personal with the cast and the story, but we need to hear the performers and we need to see the action to make this truly work!

The musical direction by Jesse Vargas is strong although there are not to many memorable tumes, melodies or lyrics, but they are imperative to the telling of the story. While we see the rise of these two groups, we also see that they themselves become infected by the money and fame they have earned. There is a study guide available for younger people so they can understand that the point of the story is not to show that by being a radical racist, you can achieve fame and glory, but rather that we must learn to listen! To hear what people say in hateful tones, often in some type of code and to speak out about it! These characters may be stereotypes, but guess what? There are real people who have these feelings and believ what they feel. In the case of the two girls, their father took his own life because he lost his job to an illegal immigrant who was willing to to the job for a lesser salary. From that they knew they had to get out of their little town, Eva and Duke more the crusaders and  Eden the follower. The play ends on some sad notes , which I will not give away, but I will say, that I was a bit uncomfortable with how the story ends. I , for one, did not find it completed, but perhaps, this proves that life doesn’t always answer all our questions.

“White Noise” is hoping to bring its message to Broadway after its run at The Royal George and I am sure that along the way, corrections and fixes will be made. Many a pre-Broadway show in Chicago, when it comes back on a road trip is quite different than the original we saw. That is one of the beautiful parts of live theater. It, like a child, can grow and mature and the reaction and comments from those who saw it  first can make for a better show in the future, one that people will want to see, allowing for the message of  The producers, writers and actors to get to the people. The show will continue through June 5th at The Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted with performances as follows:

Tuesdays,Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.,Fridays at 8 p.m.,Saturdays at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

SPECIALS: added Matinees on April 20th and May 18th at 2 p.m.- NO performances, evening on April 17th,May 17th.

Tickets range in price from $54.50-$74.50 but students can purchase tickets for $20 ( with student ID)

Tickets can be purchased at the box office, by phone at 312-988-9000, through Ticketmaster or online at www.whitenoisetickets.com


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