REVIEW: Writers’ Theatre’s “Oh Coward!”

| December 6, 2009 | 4 Comments

Mad about the boy!!

 

Doug,_John,_Kate_on_piano,_Rob-H 

Writers’ Theatre presents:

OH COWARD!

A Musical Comedy Revue

Words and music by Noel Coward
Devised by
Roderick Cook
Musical direction by
Doug Peck
Directed by Jim Corti

Thru March 21st (ticket info)

reviewed by Katy Walsh

“I am not a heavy drinker. I can sometimes go hours without touching a drop.”

Writers’ Theatre presents OH COWARD!, a musical revue celebrating the words and music of Noel Coward. Nicknamed “The Master,” Noel Coward (1899-1973) was a playwright, lyricist, composer, actor, singer, director and producer. The musical revue was devised by Roderick Cook, who won the Tony Award for Best Actor in 1987 for his performance in it.

“It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.”

This memorable Coward quote reflects the philosophical basis and impetus for much of his work. The bawdy lyrics of songs like “Mrs. Worthington,” that tell a stage mother not to put her ugly daughter on stage, are shockingly hilarious. Coward is The Master in spinning tales of drinking indulgences, sexual indiscretions and people that annoy into delightfully witty tunes. A 1930’s party-goer would have been wise to cozy up to Coward for an evening’s amusement of gossip and to avoid becoming a target. Without Coward’s actual presence, OH COWARD! is the perfect party substitute.

Kate,_John,_Rob-Horiz_ActI_martini

First, any successful party requires the right ambiance. Scenic designer, Kevin Depinet , has reconfigured the theatre space into a 1930’s night club with blown-up pictures of Noel Coward on the wall. The audience sits in a U-shape, allowing for a true intimate cabaret experience. Next, the wrong music can be a party buzz kill. For this particular soiree, Coward’s songs are at the epicenter of the festivities. Under the musical direction of Doug Peck, the lively melodies add to the fast paced merriment. At pivotal moments, the soulful ballads “If Love Were All” and “Mad About The Boy”, both arranged by Peck, give the party guests a breather and a shocker at the honest glimpse into Coward’s private isolation.

The absolute key to turning any gathering into a bash is if the host knows the right people to invite. Director Jim Corti has the A-List in attendance with Kate Fry, Rob Lindley and John Sanders. With a glass of champagne or a martini, party gossip is best delivered with playful wit. OH COWARD! has a superstar tri-fecta! Under The Masters’ (both Coward and Corti) influence, Fry, Lindley and Sanders are beautifully synchronized in songs and stories. The best part of their harmonized performance is the genuine enjoyment that radiates. In true imagined Coward fashion, these three seem to have spontaneously taken over a party with their flawless entertainment skills. OH COWARD! is THE party of the year!

“I have always been very fond of (drama critics)… I think it’s so frightfully clever of them to go night after night to the theatre and know so little about it.”

Oh Noel, you are hilarious!

Rating: ★★★½

 

Doug,_Rob,_Kate,_John-Vert_formal

Aside: Sipping the bubbly next to me, Shawn describes the show as “Better than hayfever!”

WAITING FOR THE SHOW

Tourists to Glencoe, we searched the main village square for a pre-show nosh. Surprisingly, there weren’t many options. We decided to try An Apple a Day and Meg’s Café (317 Park Ave Glencoe, Illinois). Although not quite the bustling party scene, the 2-staff wait service was very friendly and efficient. We ordered up the very tasty Earth Pinot Noir (pronounced like Hearth without the “H”). A novelty for Chicago folks, an entrée comes with a house salad. I had the recommended chicken parmesan. Although the kitchen was accommodating to substitute the angel hair pasta for corkscrew, the pasta was cold. The chicken parmesan tasted like chicken parmesan. The portion was ample enough for another meal.

Post show, not wanting the party to end, we decided to head back to Chicago for martinis. I highly recommend the Sheridan Drive alternative from Chicago to Glencoe during December. The already beautiful houses are lit up spectacularly, combine that with holiday tunes on the radio and it’s the best kind of drive-through Christmas party! Since it was one of the first cold nights, the cozy comfort of the forty minute trip squashed the party vibe and we decided to just go home. Oh Coward, we aren’t the partier you were!

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Category: 2009 Reviews, Katy Walsh, Musical Revue, Writers' Theatre

Comments (4)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed


  1. [...] Check out the rest of the review at Chicago Theater Blog. [...]


  2. [...] 9. Oh Coward! – devised by Roderick Cook – Writers’ Theatre (our review) [...]


  3. [...] Check out the rest of the review at Chicago Theater Blog [...]


  4. [...] Theatre  (our review ★★★½) Oh Coward! – Writers’ Theatre   (our review [...]

Leave a Reply