Thursday, May 21, 2015

Chicago - Three-show Day: Sense & Sensibility: A New Musical at Chicago Shakes

Sisters, sisters! There were never such devoted sisters.
Photo by Liz Lauren
Our three-show day in Chicago continues! After seeing The Herd at Steppenwolf, and First Date at the Royal George, we headed over to Navy Pier to Chicago Shakespeare Theatre for Sense & Sensibility: A New Musical.

This is another ticket that we bought far in advance being 1) die-hard Janeites and 2) musical fans. Plus, Chicago Shakespeare!

Although it's been over the month since we saw the first preview of this world premiere musical, they have just extended to June 14th, so this post is not for naught.

Did I say the staging was spare? Gorgeous, no?
Photo by Liz Lauren
Any Janeite worth her (or his!) salt has pretty strong opinions about how these characters should be portrayed, and this musical is faithful to the characters, particularly in the relationship between sisters Elinor (Sharon Rietkirk) and Marianne (Megan McGinnis). In fact, one of the most indelible images for me from this show is their exit from the curtain call--arms around each other's waists, then around the waists of their newfound loves. So cute. Also, spoiler.

The men, as well, are wonderfully cast. Wayne Wilcox is a sweet, romantic and slightly confused Edward Ferrars and Peter Saide is an extremely tall and dashing Willoughby. Sean Allan Krill as Colonel Brandon is a bit of a departure from the usual stoic but romantic portrayal. He's a bit more transparent in his emotions. How could he not be, singing a song called "On the Wrong Side of Five and Thirty"? Although it was a change, it absolutely worked for me. Krill's voice is perfectly gorgeous, and his Brandon seemed a heck of a lot more fun to marry than many Brandons I've seen.

On the whole, this is a lovely musical, with melodic songs that tell the story beautifully. The humor of Austen's work is kept intact, and is extremely true to the era and story. All of the actors, from Sir John Middleton to Lucy Steele, do marvelous credit to Austen's original characters. The staging, while spare, was inventive and evocative, especially when combined with ingenious lighting that subtly used color to evoke the emotional difference between the sisters--blues for Elinor and pinks for Marianne.
Oh, sigh!  Dreamy!
Photo by Liz Lauren

Chicago Shakespeare is a beautiful theater right on Navy Pier, from the lobby with windows overlooking the lake, to the interior with its Globe-ish courtyard around a thrust stage (wonderfully utilized in this production). It's intimate and comfortable, and every member of staff was welcoming and friendly.

Do not miss the charming mini British pub in the lobby. We pre-ordered our intermission drinks (LOVE pre-ordering) and got a split of champagne in real glasses. Real glasses!  In a theater!

If I lived in Chicago, I'd see it again in a heartbeat. Need more incentive? Here's a bunch of glowing reviews. Now playing through June 14. Go see it!