Chicago Theatre Review
Millennials on the Move
Fugitive Songs – Boho Theatre
Sometimes life takes us to places we never intended to be and into situations that eventually turn stale. We find ourselves surrounded by people with whom we simply cannot share our lives anymore. It’s during these moments that we all become fugitives, ready and eager to move on. This song cycle, written by theatrical musical team Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen (their Broadway debut will be the score for the upcoming book musical “Tuck Everlasting”) had its premiere back in 2008. Featuring a cast of six talented men and women, director Zachary L. Gray, with top notch musical direction provided by Jeffrey Poindexter, has creatively fashioned a toe-tapping, tuneful 80-minute show that explores the wanderlust many of us harbor deep inside.
Not all of the songs are gems but many are delightful, poignant or simply fascinating and unique. The 19 tunes range from folk to bluegrass, pop to gospel. They tell stories of a disillusioned photographer’s assistant who wants to develop his own pictures, a Subway sandwich artist bored with his mundane existence, a former cheerleader who comes to realize there’s more to life than just settling, a young stoner who unexpectedly finds he’s an accomplice to a robbery, and many others. The opening ensemble number, Reasons to Run,” nicely sets up the evening of millennials on the move, young folks ready to leave their lives behind in search of something new and exciting. “Washington Heights” is one young man’s need to leave his Upper West Side neighborhood for parts unknown; “Kansas Highway Sky” features three traveling companions looking for fresh air to breathe; “Spring Cleaning” is a young woman’s desire to get rid of everything (and everyone) that’s cluttering up her life. The show travels these roads easily and blends from song to song with style and grace.
All three young women in this cast are exceptional. Demi Zaino (“Lost”), Elissa Newcorn (“Don’t Say Me”) and Charlotte Morris (“Break a Branch”) are terrific, whether laying their hearts and souls on the stage, provoking a laugh or a smile or providing onstage instrumental accompaniment. The young men, particularly Justin Adair, are equally incredible. Justin’s gorgeous voice and rugged good looks give him the requisite star quality that leads this production. Accompanying himself and other cast members on acoustic guitar, and joined by lovely Charlotte Morris on violin, they’re joined offstage by Mr. Poindexter on keyboard, along with Justin Akira Kono on percussion. Together they all make this song cycle sound beautiful. Greg Foster sparkles in many of the evening’s more humorous songs (“Subway Song” and “Wilson”) each sung with skill and a comic flair, and Julian Terrell Otis shows great promise, especially with his “Passing Tracy.”
The show is performed within a makeshift cavern, designed by Anthony Churchill, comprised of mountains of suitcases. Some of these are portable and used by the cast, stuffed with significant props and costume pieces. After the actors have used a prop, it’s hung on the trunk and branches of a large oak tree, displayed there like trophies until the characters have each returned home in the end (“One of These Nights”). Two giant roadmaps adorn the walls, further illustrating the myriad of routes these young people will take.
This intimate revue is a melodic treat for the ear and a heartfelt journey for the soul. The show is creatively staged by Zachary L. Gray and beautifully performed by a half dozen of Chicago’s finest young actor/singers. It’s a small piece, to be sure; but it’s genuine, offering a welcome, warm addition among the many productions to be found in Chicago during this cold winter.
Reviewed by Colin Douglas
Presented February 11-March 13 by BoHo Theatre at the Heartland Studio, 7016 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago.
Tickets are available by calling 866-811-4111 or by going to www.BoHoTheatre.com.
Additional information about this and other fine area productions can be found by visiting www.theatreinchicago.com