Chicago Theatre Review
Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back
My Way…A Musical Tribute To Frank Sinatra – Theo Ubique
Hang up the holly, trim the tree, light the Menorah, and then get thee to Rogers Park to the No Exit Cafe, where you’ll be treated to Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre’s nostalgic, lush, tuneful, nostalgic homage to Ol‘ Blue Eyes. A blend of almost five dozen hits, this two-hour revue, created and written by David Grapes and Todd Olson, features songs by some of 20th century’s greatest composers: Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, Rodgers & Hart, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern and so many others. It’s performed in a sleek, stylish, 1950’s nightclub setting, created by scenic designer extraordinaire Adam Veness. The simple setting’s watched over by a carefully created portrait of Frank Sinatra, smiling with approval. The show features four very talented singers dressed to the nines and backed by Jeremy Ramey’s terrific three-piece combo. You might say that this revue is the musical equivalent of a soothing hot toddy on a cold winter night.
Fred Anzevino once again brings his considerable artistic skill, experience and love to this production, in both his casting and directing. With a deft touch and careful eye he moves his performers around the Cafe through multitudes of meaningfully staged vignettes, liberally seasoned by choreographer Maggie Portman’s spirited dance breaks. Jeremy Ramey’s fine musical direction spotlights oodles of rapturous solo and duo performances by his four singers, but the icing on the cake comes from his beautifully blended choral harmonies. Masterful Mr. Ramey also manages to recreate that big band sound using only piano, bass and percussion, providing a polished mellifluous soundscape for Anzevino’s capable cast. Adorned in cocktail dresses and white dinner jackets, William Morey’s costumes recall the sophisticated simplicity and allure of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, while Adam Veness’ supper club setting and Maya Michele Fein’s warm mood lighting frame the actors in elegance.
The gifted quartet serving up Sinatra’s hits include lovely Kyrie Anderson (critically acclaimed in Anzevino’s recent production of “Blood Brothers”), Christopher Logan (a hit as Peter Allen in PF&P’s production of “The Boy From Oz”), and two welcome newcomers to Theo Ubique, Caitlin Boho and Carl Herzog. Of the four, Mr. Herzog stands out with a voice that sounds very much like Sinatra’s. Basking in the spotlight, he croons his way through familiar songs like “All of Me,” “It Was a Very Good Year” and “The Way You Look Tonight.” The charismatic, accomplished Christopher Logan, often joining Herzog and the two ladies in song, excels as the resident Gene Kelly of this production. Whether tapping, foxtrotting or just hoofing up a storm, Mr. Logan is, as always, terrific. Voluptuous Caitlin Boho purrs and belts her way through songs like “My Funny Valentine,” caressing each note and lyric of so many other memorable numbers. And as the sweetheart of the show, the alluring, graceful Kyrie Anderson lifts her angelic, crystal clear voice up to the heavens and beyond.
However the unquestionable star of this show is Frank Sinatra’s music. With uptempo, joyful tunes like “Chicago,” New York, New York,” “High Hopes” and “The Lady is a Tramp,” as well as gorgeous, often melancholy music such as “One For My Baby,” “Strangers in the Night,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “That Old Black Magic” this show is a tender trip down memory lane. Produced as professionally and well-sung as this, Fred Anzevino and Jeremy Ramey’s latest musical revue evokes enough smiles and fond memories to send audiences out onto Glenwood Avenue and back to their homes, filled with fond remembrances and a renewed appreciation for the taste and talent of Ol’ Blue Eyes.
Reviewed by Colin Douglas
Presented November 27-January 10 by Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre at the No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood, Chicago.
Tickets are available by going to www.theo-u.com.
Additional information about this and other fine area productions can be found by visiting www.theatreinchicago.com.