Theatre at the Center is a wonderful venue located just over the state line in Munster Indiana ( just a short drive from the loop and only an hour from the North Shore, on a Sunday afternoon). Today was the new opening of a new musical, “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” a musical version of the Academy Award nominated film of the same name. Conversion from a straight story to one with music and dance is not always easy and this one with a book by Jeffrey Lane and Music and Lyrics by David Yazbek, has some great moments but may still need some work. First of all, for those of you unaware of the situation, a week prior to the opening, one of the lead actors (Chicago area favorite, Bernie Yvon, was killed in a tragic auto crash) which makes this a little harder to write than my normal review. With a heavy heart (over the years,Bernie and his partner Matt had become friends as well as performers). But the show must go on and this brilliant cast, under the skilled direction of William Pullinsi, tightened their belts and made sure that they did a production that Bernie would have been proud of. Taking over his role of the Taxi Driver, George Andrew Wolff, who like Bernie is a Chicago favorite and who put his heart and soul into bringing his own special uniqueness to the character. I will say, watching him work did make me think of Bernie and how he might have used his special talents. This cast did Bernie proud!
Now, let us get to the story. The 1980’s musical which has never played our area is the story of a group of women whose relationships with men lead to heavy emotional stress. In particular one man, Ivan (the always dependableLlarry Adams) who is an actor as well as womanizer extraordinaire. We are in Madrid, Spain where love reigns strong.He is leaving his current girlfriend, Pepa (the extraordinary Cory Goodrich) a model, who as we find out is with child and is looking for him so he can be told. Meanwhile, his estranged wife, Lucia (another dazzling character brought to life by the incredible Hollis Resnik) who has spent the last 19 years raising their son,Carlos deftly handled by Nathan Gardner). Carlos is engaged to Marisa (Dina DiCostanzo, who will wow you with her dancing in this production very Spanish!), but as the story unfolds finds himself falling for Pepa’s best friend ,Candela ( another solid performance by Summer Naomi Smart who plays sexy to the nth degree and does it to perfection).
Yes, the show is contrived and in many ways, inane, but with the set (Ann N. Davis), lighting (Shelly Strasser Holland), sound ( Barry G. Funderburg), props (Jessie Howe) and costumes (Brenda Winstead) we have two plus hours of great fun. Danny Herman’s choreography is very Latin and his dancers truly have the flavor that is often missing when Gringos take on Latin dances- they truly have it! We get to watch a cab and a motorcycle circle the stage and lots of great dancing. The songs are certainly nothing to write home about. In leaving the theater I found myself not humming anything, but, I did find myself laughing at some of the things that happened regarding a certain beverage that many drank. I found myself thinking about the marvelous and enticing dance routines ( this may be rated R so don’t bring the little ones). I missed having Bernie on the stage, but George Andrew Wolff took on the role and as the play progressed made me feel good about him in the role. Bernie would have smiled down on what we saw tonight!
Wednesdays and Thursdays at 2 p.m.
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets range from $40-$44 and can be purchased at the box office, by phone at 219-836-3255 or at 1-800-511-1552 or online at www.TheatreatTheCenter.com
Lots of free parking and Munster, being in Indiana, is the perfect place to fill up your tank ( the prices are lower). There are also lots of restaurants in the area, again at lower prices than in the city.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”.