Now and Forever
Thrilling choreography, stunning vocals make for must-see event
|Marriott Theatre presents|
|Now and Forever:
The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber
Review by Catey Sullivan
Dis Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber if you will – he’s bombastic, shamelessly melodramatic, altogether too fond of simplistic power chords and guilty of creating the show tune equivalent of three-chord rock and roll. And indeed, his music is often all of the above. So what. The revue of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music running through March 17th at the Marriott Theatre is wholly sensational. Directed by Marc Robin and conceived by Robin and Aaron Thielen, Now and Forever: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber is a stunner of a show packed with bravura vocals, thrilling choreography and sweeping emotion.
The piece begins with that iconic chandelier (how could it not?), a thousand or more twinkling crystals the focus of a mini-light show that provides an appropriately over-the-top visual accompaniment to the thunderous riff of the Phantom of the Opera’s theme. From there, Robin sculpts not merely a revue of Webber’s music but a rich reinvention of songs ranging from the composer’s earliest works (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) to shows that have yet to premiere in the United States (Phantom sequel Love Never Dies.) Taken from their context, these songs still succeed as a parade of stand-alone showstoppers.
Among the strongest of the pieces is the pulse-rate-increasing overture to Jesus Christ Superstar, choreographed with scintillating, aggressive athleticism by Matt Raftery. Here, the incendiary anger of Judas (Max Quinlan) finds its target in the mesmerizing Monique Haley, whose Jesus is a white-hot embodiment of grace and power. The interaction between the two is no less than electrifying. As is Quinlan’s killing rendition of Supserstar’s Gethsemene, a number that requires the stamina of a marathon sprinter and the vocal chops of a virtuoso. Quinlan – fresh off a turn as the male ingénue in the 25th anniversary tour of Les Miserables – unleashes a voice and a charisma he only hinted at as Cosette’s boyfriend, revealing a glorious range in both voice and acting abilities.
Equally marvelous is the three-tenor treatment of “Love Changes Everything”, wherein Quinlan, Travis Taylor and Ben Jacoby – a resplendent trio of modern-day Prince Charmings in black tie – deliver a love song that captures the overwhelming, all-immersive power of the song’s titular, transcendent emotion. As for Brian Bohr’s (with guitarist Jameson Cooper) interpretation of “Close Every Door”, it’s quietly, insistently haunting.
The women are just as impressive. Stephanie Binetti delivers a fiery, joy-infused take on “Buenos Aires” while Susan Moniz creates a soaring heartbreaker with “Tell Me on a Sunday”. Erin Stewart’s rich, silvery soprano gives the title song from “Love Never Dies” a bittersweet loveliness and stretches her range toward the rafters with “Think of Me”, giving the last, impossibly demanding measures a sparkling confidence that fills the theater. Catherine Lord brings a winning sense of wonder to “Unexpected Song.” And although Broadway vet Linda Balgord tends to over-emote on the money notes, she’s in terrific voice, bringing a gorgeous vibrato and a resonant belt to the aging siren songs of “Memory” and “With One Look”.
Interspersed between vocal numbers, Robin has filled the revue with dance numbers defined by both technical prowess and intense emotion. Collaborating with Raftery and Harrison McEldowney, the choreography – which ranges from ballet to modern dance to tap spectaculars – is a sumptuous treat for both eyes and heart. As is Now and Forever throughout.
Now and Forever continues through March 17th at Marriott Theatre, Ten Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire (map), with performances Wednesdays 1 and 8pm, Thursdays/Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 4:30 and 8pm, Sundays 1pm and 5pm. Tickets are $40-$48, and can be purchased by calling their box office at 847-634-0200 (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at MarriottTheatre.com. (Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes with intermission)
Photos by Peter Coombs
Linda Balgord, Brian Bohr, Ben Jacoby, Susan Moniz, Max Quinlan, Erin Stewart (Singers); Lauren Blane, Michael Darnell, Ellen Green, Monique Haley, Raymond Interior, Luke Manley, Sam Rogers, Melissa Zaremba (Dancers); Stephanie Binetti, Jameson Cooper, Catherine Lord, William Travis Taylor (Ensemble)
behind the scenes
Marc Robin (director, choreographer); Harrison McEldowney, Matt Raftery (co-choreographers); Aaron Thielen (lead artistic director); Ryan T. Nelson (music director); Diane Williams (lighting); Thomas M. Ryan (set); Nancy Missimi (costumes); Robert E. Gilmartin (sound design); Patti Garwood (musical conductor); Peter Coombs (photos)