Tag: Sheldon Harnick

Review: She Loves Me (Marriott Theatre)

David Schlumpf and Jessica Naimy star in She Loves Me, Marriott Theatre LL           
      

She Loves Me

By Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick (score)
   and Joe Masteroff (book)
at Marriott Theatre, Lincolnshire (map)
thru June 18  |  tix: $50-$60  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

May 17, 2017 | 2 Comments More

Review: Fiddler on the Roof (Paramount Theatre)

Classical violinist Mark Agnor plays the titular role in Paramount Theatre's "Fiddler on the Roof" directed by Jim Corti, music directed by Michael Keefe. (photo credit: Liz Lauren)        
       
Fiddler on the Roof 

Written by Joseph Stein (book), Jerry Bock (music)
    and Sheldon Harnick (lyrics)
Directed by Jim Corti  
at Paramount Theatre, Aurora  (map)
thru March 24  |  tickets: $35-$47   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

March 14, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: Fiddler on the Roof (Broadway in Chicago)

John Preece as Tevye of Fiddler on the Roof       
      
Fiddler on the Roof 

By Joseph Stein (book), Jerry Bock (music),
   and Sheldon Harnick (lyrics)
Directed by Sammy Dallas Bayes
Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress (map)
thru Nov 27  |  tickets: $26-$85   |  more info

Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

November 25, 2011 | 1 Comment More

REVIEW: She Loves Me (Writers Theatre)

Writers’ creates a sweet-smelling love story

 

Kevin Gudahl, Heidi Kettenring and Bernard Balbot in SHE LOVES ME - now playing at Writers' Theatre in Glencoe.

   
Writers’ Theatre presents
   
She Loves Me
  
Book by Joe Masteroff
Music by
Jerry Bock, Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
Directed by
Michael Halberstam
at
Writers’ Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe (map)
through November 21st  |  tickets: $65-$70   |  more info

Reviewed by Katy Walsh

When a day brings petty aggravations and my poor frayed nerves are all askew, I forget these unimportant matters pouring out my hopes and dreams to you.’

Writers’ Theatre presents She Loves Me, a romantic comedy written in the 1930’s that went Broadway (1960’s) before going Hollywood (1990’s) – all originating from the the 1930’s play Parfumerie by Hungarian playwright Miklós László. This original “You’ve Got Mail” is set in a 1930’s perfumery. Georg and Amalia are bickering co-workers. Unbeknownst to either, they are also anonymous pen pals in a lonely hearts club. The big clandestine meet-up disappoints and surprises both of them. Can Heidi Kettenring and James Rank in SHE LOVES ME - now playing at Writers' Theatre in Glencoe. detestation blossom into affection? In a time when relationships bud, bloom, and wither with a Facebook status click, She Loves Me is an uncomplicated, lyrical love letter. Writers’ Theatre delivers this old-fashion romance with first- class singing, certifiable casting, and collectible vintage costumes.

The four-piece orchestra is faintly visible but perfectly audible on the stage behind a faux storefront. Under the musical direction of Ben Johnson, the band hits the whimsical balance to accompany the action and the singers. Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock developed a score that showcases each ensemble member with a solo opportunity. Individually, the singing is outstanding. Collectively, a repetitive number thanking customers is a hilarious, harmonious, memorable send-off. In the leads, Rod Thomas (Georg) and Jessie Mueller (Amalia) channel the hate-love in a believable comedy combo as scorned co-workers and love-searching optimists. Thomas brings ice cream to a depressed Mueller in a pivotal scene that is a sweet she-likes-me moment. Thomas is all sugar (again) to Mueller’s salt in the cutesy pairing of opposites. Under the direction of Michael Halberstam, the entire cast blends together to create an enjoyable light, breezy romantic scent. Providing powerful whiffs with a lingering sass, Heidi Kettenring (Ilona) sings of betrayal and new love with wit and resolution. Setting the ambiance for a romantic atmosphere, Jeremy Rill is the animated waiter dishing up laughs with a side of showboat.

 

James Rank and Bethany Thomas in SHE LOVES ME - now playing at Writers' Theatre in Glencoe. Rod Thomas and Jessie Mueller in SHE LOVES ME - now playing at Writers' Theatre in Glencoe.
Jessie Mueller in SHE LOVES ME - now playing at Writers' Theatre in Glencoe. Jeremy Rill, Bethany Thomas and Andrew Goetten in SHE LOVES ME - now playing at Writers' Theatre in Glencoe. Ross Lehman, Kevin Gudahl and Rod Thomas in SHE LOVES ME - now playing at Writers' Theatre in Glencoe.

Dressing up the ensemble with 30’s finery, Nan Zabriskie provides a multitude of exquisite costumes. The chorus coming and going from the shop provide a marathon vintage fashion show. Beautiful! Halberstam, along with choreographer Jessica Redish, provide many amusing, visual stunners, including; Christmas shopping and silhouette dancing. Not quite the Anna Karenina of romantic literature, She Loves Me has all the guarantees of a blockbuster romantic comedy. It requires limited emotional or intellectual investment and promises laughs and a happy ending. She Loves Me makes finding love simply a pluck of the petal to determine the emotional connection: she loves me, she loves me not, she loves me… Aw, if it was only that easy, dear friend!

   
   
Rating: ★★★½
   
   

Running time: Two hours and thirty minutes includes a ten minute intermission

 Rod Thomas, Kelli Clevenger, James Rank, Bethany Thomas, Kevin Gudahl and Stephanie Herman in SHE LOVES ME - now playing at Writers' Theatre in Glencoe.

 

September 30, 2010 | 0 Comments More

REVIEW: Fiddler on the Roof (Marriott Theatre)

Marriott takes the Jewish out of Fiddler

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Marriott Theatre presents

Fiddler on the Roof

Book by Joseph Stein, music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
Based on the stories of Sholom Aleichem
Directed and choreographed by David H. Bell,
musical direction by Doug Peck
Through April 25 (more info)

Reviewed by Leah A. Zeldes

With its haunting melodies, endearing characters and poignant, historic story, Fiddler on the Roof is one of the greatest musicals of all time. Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick crafted a musical so beautiful, so compelling, that — from Broadway theater to high-school auditorium — it’s a tough show to screw up. As with any production of this engaging show, Marriott Theatre’s "Fiddler" offers much to enjoy, but it’s a long way from a great version.

fiddler03 The story of Tevye, a Jewish dairyman, and his family and friends in the Russian shtetl Anatevka, ca. 1905, is a multi-layered tale both personal and sweeping. In its conflicts between progress and tradition, between generations, between duty and desire and between different faiths and cultures, "Fiddler on the Roof" offers many universal truths. Tevye is a father coming to grips with his children’s coming of age. Anatevka stands for a lost way of life, as exotic and vanished a culture as Brigadoon.

Yet despite the looming presence of the disruptive outsiders, Anatevka represents not just any lost society, but a Jewish homeland, a tight community whose people spoke their own Jewish tongue (Yiddish, the language in which Sholom Aleichem wrote the original stories that inspired this musical) and where they brought up their children according to age-old Jewish customs. Tevye, above anything else, is a deeply religious Jew. Further, his people’s traditions were not just left behind by the passing of time, they were murderously stolen by bitter bigotry.

Fiddler on the Roof, first and foremost, is a Jewish story. Director David H. Bell, in his perception of Tevye as a bland "Everyman," seems to have missed that point.

You’ll rarely hear any Yiddish or Hebraic accent in his version of "Fiddler." When the script or score compels it, as in the "bidi-bidi-bums" of the klezmer-style song, "If I Were a Rich Man," Ross Lehman, as Tevye, seems ill at ease, almost swallowing the fiddler04syllables. James Harms, meanwhile, plays the village rabbi like an Irish priest, complete with rolled R’s. The whole rhythm of the show seems off, in part because it lacks the cantorial cadence normally imbuing the lead.

Lehman may be the least patriarchal Tevye ever — not discounting those high-school productions. It’s not that he’s a tenor in a role typically cast for a baritone and a physically smaller man than the actors famous for this part; it’s mostly his tone. Tevye, a devout and spiritual man, expresses his deep, personal relationship with God and with his family conversationally and often sardonically throughout the play, but he isn’t snide. Lehman’s Tevye is snarky where he ought to be good-humoredly ironic, arch when he should be aggravated. His performance evokes Paul Lynde or Edna Turnblad (his most recent role at Marriott, a brilliant turn) more than Zero Mostel or Topol.

Beyond casting flaws, Bell’s direction and choreography frequently disappoint. Although he’s no newcomer to Marriott’s theater-in-the-round stage, this show seems to have challenged his ingenuity. From my seat in Section 4, far too many scenes had me looking at actors’ backs. Faces were often obscured by vertical posts or the back of another player’s head. This particularly marred the scenes where Tevye and the butcher Lazar Wolf (an oddly low key David Girolmo) talk at cross purposes and in which Tevye recounts his nightmare to his wife, Golde. Bell redeems these scenes somewhat by well-executed dance numbers, but there, too, I often seemed to be viewing them edge on.

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Marriott Theatre typically stages musicals with large casts beautifully, yet the "Fiddler" stage often seemed cramped and overcrowded, particularly in ensemble numbers such as the "Sabbath Prayer" sequence. Thomas M. Ryan’s set is lightly furnished (except for those unfortunate posts) and he’s used hanging lanterns and other tricks to expand the stage beyond its physical space, so that fault can’t be laid at his feet.

The ensemble as a whole perform very well, and nothing can rob the power from "To Life" or "Sunrise, Sunset." Andrew Keltz, as Motel, does a sweet version of "Miracle of Miracles," but there are no strong individual voices. Again, beyond Nancy Missimi’s traditional costumes, the characters, even in otherwise excellent performances such as Jessie Mueller’s anguished Tzeitel, Rebecca Finnegan’s brisk Yente and Paula Scrofano’s forthright Golde, rarely convey any sense of Jewish or Old World identity.

The residents of Bell’s Anatevka don’t need to go to America at the end of the play. They’re already there.

 

Rating: ★★½

 

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February 28, 2010 | 5 Comments More

REVIEW: Lyric Opera’s “The Merry Widow”

 Shopping around for a second husband can be so much fun!

mw

The Lyric Opera of Chicago presents:

The Merry Widow

Libretto by Viktor León and Leon Stein
Based on Henri Meilhac’s comedy “L’attache’ d’ambassade”
English lyrics and dialogue by Sheldon Harnick
Conducted by Emmanuel Villaume
Stage directed by Gary Griffin
Thru January 16th 

Review by Katy Walsh

mw9 Boy loves girl. Family won’t let him marry her because she’s penniless. She marries another and becomes a wealthy widow. Boy still loves girl. Now, his country wants him to  marry her because she has 20 million francs. Girl loves boy but fears he loves her for her money. Add in a cheating wife, French lover, overbearing Baron and dancing girls and the results are the Lyric Opera of Chicago presents The Merry Widow. Originally produced in German in 1905, The Merry Widow is sung in English as an operetta in three acts.

Arguably, an operetta basically stands for “opera lite.” Tastes great, less filling. With its origins in the 1800’s, an operetta introduced a less dramatic version of opera to audiences. Utilizing comedy, simpler plots and happier tunes, the operetta became the precursor to contemporary musicals. For diehard opera fans, an operetta is like drinking Miller Lite when you prefer a Guinness. For opera newbies, an operetta is like sipping your first beer to acquire a taste for hops. For all, The Merry Widow is a lively romantic comedy presented with all the grandeur and majesty as is the Lyric Opera hallmark.

 

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Unlike most traditional operas, The Merry Widow has segments of spoken dialogue, dancing sequences and informal familiarity. Breaking the fourth wall, Roger Honeywell (Count Danilo Danilovich) emphasizes a joke by guffawing with the audience. Honeywell, along with Jeff Dumas (Njegus) and Dale Travis (Baron Mirko Zeta), set the playful mood with physical comedy. A particularly fun musical dance number, “Every Woman,” has several of the male cast members commiserating on how difficult women are. Later, it’s the ladies’ turn with dance hall girls performing the Can-Can, a line dance complete with pulled up skirts and leg shaking. Elizabeth Futral (Hanna Glawari) has the vibrant presence to carry the main title The Merry Widow. Although she captivates the audience with her soprano precision, there are moments for her and Honeywell where vocal subtlety is overwhelmed by the orchestra.

From the moment the curtain rises, the audience is treated to spectacular sets (Daniel Ostling). The first act is built around a magnificent staircase, several stories high. Later the scene at Maxim’s features a moving stage on stage within a bi-level dance hall. The costumes (David Burke and Mara Blumenfeld) range from early 1900 elegant aristocrat to vibrant gawdy Can-Can dancer. Visually appealing and lighthearted amusing, this production shows how much fun shopping around for a second husband can be.

 

Rating: ★★★½

 

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December 8, 2009 | 0 Comments More

New team announced for Theatre Building Chicago’s ‘Musical Theatre Writers Workshop’

Theatre Building Chicago announces it new team of Steinhagen, Holland and Chambers

theatrebuildingchicago-street

Theatre Building Chicago is pleased to announce that Jon Steinhagen and Patrick Holland will join Artistic Director Allan Chambers to “team teach” TBC’s Musical Theatre Writers Workshop. The workshop’s curriculum will continue to focus on the development of the artist in specific fundamentals related to creation of new musicals. The Fall semester focuses on lyrics, music and book and the Winter/Spring semester Practicum takes workshop members through the planning, writing and rehearsal process of a new musical. The introductory workshop sessions will be team-taught by Jon Steinhagen, Patrick Holland and Artistic Director Allan Chambers. This triumvirate of theatre artists brings a wealth of musical theatre writing, directing, and teaching experiences to the workshop. Their years of experience will guide members as they instruct and lead the critique sessions for the introductory first year members.

The 2nd year members and alumni writers will also have the opportunity to work with the three instructors separately or as a team, as they present scenes and songs from full length musicals and one-act children’s musicals. There will usually be two of the three at all session of the 2nd year and alumni workshop. The leader of this group will function as dramaturg/moderator to keep workshop feedback sessions focused and on task.

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Jon Steinhagen is an author, actor, composer/musician, and Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists. His plays and musicals have been produced or workshopped from Manhattan to Seattle; his plays include The Applewood Pistols (an “original Chekhov comedy” based on Chekhov’s notebooks), The Velvet Gentleman, Something More Comfortable, Second Mouse, Dating Walter Dante, Aces, Ponzi on Sunday, Perfectly Natural, a collection of his shorter plays, was produced at the Midtown International Theatre Festival (NYC) in July 2009. Jon wrote the music and lyrics for the musicals The Arresting Dilemma of Mr. K (based on Kafka’s The Trial), The Circus of Dr. Lao, Emma & Company (all developed at TBC and STAGES) and the Jeff and After Dark Award-winning Inferno Beach and People Like Us. Jon is also an award-winning musical director, arranger, and actor who has received four Jeff Awards, six After Dark Awards, and three Jeff nominations for writing, musical direction, or acting. Jon is a graduate of the New Tuners Workshops led by John Sparks. He is an associate member of
The Dramatist’s Guild, a member of the Chicago Federation of Musicians, and ensemble member of Signal Ensemble Theatre.

Patrick Holland is a professional Music Director, Conductor, Arranger, Orchestrator, Musician, and Educator has had the pleasure of working with Theatre Building Chicago on many projects over the past 10 years on such STAGES projects as Crazy Mary, Bringers, Continental Divide, The Hard Road, Take Me America, Hunger, and Rex. Patrick has also had the pleasure of working with Allan Chambers on Saints & Sinners as part of the workshop mini-musical project in conjunction
with Loyola University of Chicago. Patrick’s Broadway and National Tout credits include The King and I (with Yul Brynner), Hello Dolly (with Carol Channing), Guys and Dolls (with Leslie Uggams), A Chorus Line, Annie, The Pirates of Penzance and La Cage aux Folles to name a handful. He has had the honor of working in New York and Chicago with industry giants Sheldon Harnick, Jerry Herman, Charles Strouse, Martin Charnin, and Tommy Tune. In the Chicagoland area Patrick has worked with The Goodman Theatre, Light Opera Works, Bailiwick, Theatre Building Chicago, and Chicago Cabaret. He has taught music and musical direction at
Northwestern University, Loyola University and Roosevelt University.

Allan Chambers, Artistic Director of TBC, has served in many capacities for Theatre Building Chicago including dramaturg, director, workshop coordinator and actor. Allan oversees theatre company client services and now directs the musical program. He is the past-president of the Illinois Theatre Association,
a founding and former board member of Chicago Alliance for Playwrights, and artistic consultant for Creative Musical Theatre, an honors class dedicated to the development of new music theatre voices at Valparaiso High School. Allan has served as an adjunct instructor at Robert Morris College and at North Park University, and has worked in various capacities with the Goodman Theatre, Music/Theatre Workshop, Our Town Productions, Prologue Theatre, American DreamWorks, Different Drummer Theatre, Bailiwick Repertory, The Western Stage, Cabrillo Stage, Bigfork Playhouse and North Shore Music Theatre. M.F.A., musical theatre, San Diego State University. B.S., theatre acting/directing, University of Idaho.

 


About the Workshop

The first workshop will be the weekend of September 26-27.

Aspiring composers, lyricists and book writers are encouraged to contact TBC’s Artistic Director, Allan Chambers to schedule a personal interview to assess your skill level and to learn if the Musical Writer’s Workshop can benefit you in your quest  to create new musical works.

Allan can be reached at 773-929-7367 ext 229 or at allan@theatrebuildingchicago.org

Theatre Building Chicago has plans to strategically grow the musical program from the ground up. The Musical Theatre Writers Workshop is the first stage in the development of new projects that will then be ready for Monday Night Musicals, STAGES Festivals, Intensive Workshops,  and eventually onto full-scale productions.

The New Musicals for Kids development pipeline is filling up with exciting new projects from TBC’s workshop as well as the NYU Tisch School MFA program.
TBC also produces the Monday Night Musicals series of concert readings of works in progress. The first Monday Night Musical of the 2009/2010 season is The Spark, October 26, 2009. TBC’s New Musicals for Kids series will open with Tantrum on Tracks October 14, 2009.

TBC’s Musical Theatre Writers Workshop produces the STAGES festival of new musicals. STAGES will be held August 20-22, 2010.  Attendees include producers, directors, writers, composers and musical theatre aficionados from all over the country. STAGES is an opportunity for authors and composers to see and hear their work interpreted by a production team and performed for Chicago audiences. It is also an opportunity for producers and directors to assess new musicals
and musical theatre talent.

September 16, 2009 | 0 Comments More

Review: Topol in “Fiddler on the Roof”

Sunrise. Sunset.

Fiddler Cast 1 copy

Fiddler on the Roof
by Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick and Joseph Stein
Thru June 28th at the Oriental Theatre

Reviewed by Barry Eitel

At its core, Fiddler on the Roof is a coming of age story, of Tevye’s daughters, of Tevye himself, of a people long acquainted with persecution.

Joy, heartbreak, and the ability to survive populate the Anatevka currently located in the Oriental Theatre. The big selling point for this North American tour of the classic musical is Chaim Topol, who has starred as Tevye around the world and in the 1971 film adaptation, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. His tried-and-true performance matches the rest of the production; director/choreographer Sammy Dallas Bayes has recreated Jerome Robbins’ original choreography and direction  from the 1964 Broadway debut for the tour. Instead of some sort of theatrical museum piece, though, Tevye’s tale still comes across as fresh and thought-provoking even Fiddler Cast 2though our Chicago is thousands of miles and centuries away from rural, tsarist Russia.

Tevye and his family were first conceived and published in Yiddish in the late 19th Century by Sholem Aleichem (pen name of Sholem Rabinovich). Composer Jerry Bock, lyricist Sheldon Harnick (a Northwestern University alum), and writer Joseph Stein found the modern resonance in Rabinovich’s tales of family, joy, and hardship, which were long out-of-print by the 1960’s. The title of the show, however, was inspired by painter Marc Chagall. The surrealist paintings of the Eastern European Jew also inspired the sets for the original 1964 production, as well as for the tour. The resulting musical, thematically grounded in the tension between traditional values and the shifting tides of time, is a collection of old and new. On top of being shaped by traditional Judaism and radical 20th Century views, this tour has the added element of Topol, one of Israel’s most famous actors.

Fiddler Cast 3 It took me a few scenes to get used to Topol’s portrayal of Tevye. He makes some unexpected choices, trading in ferocity for the weariness of a poor old man. His ability to underplay the role won me over by “If I Were a Rich Man.” His comic timing and deep emotional arc all spring from a profound knowledge of the character. His rich, baritone voice grabs hold of the audience during the musical numbers, whether they are moving or celebratory. His understanding of the script also allows him to ad lib a bit. If left to his own devices, I suspect these would add another 20-30 minutes to the run time, but Bayes has cut them down to an acceptable level.

Although the musical centers around Tevye (as well as most of the advertising for this tour), it would quickly fall apart without strong supporting actors. Susan Cella’s Golde is powerful, living in a patriarchal society but still having control over her husband and family. The scenes between her and Topol are hilarious, and the number where Tevye asks his wife if she loves him 25 years after meeting him on their wedding day (“Do You Love Me”), is beautiful. The daughters, played by Rena Strober (Tzeitel), Jamie Davis (Hodel), and Alison Walla (Chava), do a fine job settling being daddy’s little girl Cella and Topolwith falling in love without the traditional matchmaker. Erik Liberman’s Motel is plenty geeky, and Colby Foytik as the radical student Perchik is sometimes too wooden, but is also able to use it for comic effect. The townspeople do an excellent job recreating a feeling of small-town life, where tradition is based on local gossip as much as the Torah.

Even though the staging and choreography was recycled from the original production, the strong performances and timeless script make this Fiddler on the Roof as touching as anything Broadway has to offer right now. Balancing traditional values with reality can be as shaky as a fiddler on a roof, whether in 1894, 1964, or 2009.

Rating: ««««

Running thru Jun 28th
Oriental Theatre
Box Office: 312-902-1400, or buy tickets online.

June 12, 2009 | 5 Comments More