Chicago Theatre Review
R.S.V.P for this “Catered Affair”!
By Lazlo Collins
Porchlight Music Theatre’s, “A Catered Affair”, now playing at Stage 773, is ultimately pleasing and emotionally charged. When you enter the theater, the set (Brian Sidney Bembridge) is as solid as the residents that this musical is about. The main characters take us “onward” through a day, and then a life of love; with its many pitfalls and rewards.
The Hurley’s are Aggie (Rebecca Finnegan), Tom (Craig Spidle) and Janey (Kelly Davis Wilson). Janey is one, very in love, daughter; announcing her nuptials to one Ralph Halloran (Jim Deslem). This simple declaration is complicated by a few things that see this play through its emotional journey.
Her brother is dead, her father has just agreed to buy his share of his cab, and her mother wants to have a proper wedding for the daughter they ignored. Toss in a live-in gay uncle that does not get invited, and let the action begin.
This ninety minute musical is lovely in its pace and execution. The tenderness of the score (John Bucchino), and sometimes searing book (Harvey Fierstein) is treated well.
The music moves this musical for sure, under the careful direction of Doug Peck.
As the war inside this family unit wages on, Ms. Finnegan, as wife Aggie, is a remarkable prescience in this role. She leaves the audience breathless more than a few times. But her execution singing “Our Only Daughter” was a showstopper. She brings the audience to heartbreak and smiles throughout the show.
Mr. Spidle as her husband Tom is equally chilling and tender in his turn as a man in a seemingly loveless marriage. His rage and tenderness are both exacting and exciting to watch.
The love born couple of Ms. Wilson and Mr. Deslem are youthful and full of hope. Their passions and misgivings are well played throughout the show. Ms. Wilson was so believable to me. She was dead on with her portrayal of a daughter understanding her predicament and challenges.
Uncle Winston’s character was a unique one for me. The story for his need of acceptance was sad. Not only acceptance for himself, but for others as well. Jerry O’Boyle was sweet and funny in his portrayal of this complicated character. He character grew on me and ultimately won me over; and was grateful for his ultimate victory of self assuredness.
Rounding out the talented cast were the neighbors, friends and in-laws by Larry Baldacci, Brittani Arlandis Green, Anne Sheridan Smith, Caron Buinis and Lauren Villegas.
Again, the music was moving and wistful; the performances powerful and resolute.
With strong direction under Nick Bowling, “A Catered Affair” is a gem of a musical well worth a beautiful reception.
Porchlight Theater’s “A Catered Affair” runs through 1 April 2012 at Stage 773.