HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - 'Honeymoon in Vegas'
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ⋆⋆⋆⋆
When it comes to musical theater, one can always rest assured that the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire will bring quality to their stage. Even when they opt to do a show during the season that is not highly rated, when they put it on their stage, often it is even better than the original. Part of it is the directors that they use and the other part is the actors that are available here in Chicago. We are the BEST place for an actor to live and work! This explains why a show like “Honeymoon In Vegas” based on the film of the same name ( hard to believe this, but in 1992, 25 years ago) with a book by Andrew Bergman and music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, takes on a better life than the original staged version on Broadway.
Marriott did bring the original Broadway director, Gary Griffin ( a master of the musical stage and in particular, the stage at Marriott Theatre) back for this production. Transferring a big musical to the in-the-round- stage at Marriott is no easy task, but having Griffin at the helm assures success! Let me tell you the story-line of “Honeymoon in Vegas”. Our main character is Jack Singer ( played to perfection by Michael Mahler, who can do anything and everything). His late mother Bea ( a great comic performance by Marya Grandy) has put a curse on him so he will never marry. She has been gone 10 years, and for the past 5 years, he has tried to propose and wed the adorable Betsy Nolan (a wonderful performance by Samantha Pauly), a smart teacher who truly loves him back.
They decide that they can wait no longer and will take off for Vegas where they will finally get married. Both are excited and anxious as they make their plan and arrive in the hotel. Meanwhile, the gambler (perhaps one might call him a mobster) Tommy Korman ( an incredible job by Sean Allan Krill) is in Vegas to make sure his hotel and casino are operating to perfection when he spots Betsy. She reminds him of his late wife who passed away from cancer (as it turns out , far too much sun-he does a song ” Out of the Sun” to tell the story) and instantly falls in lust with her.
He invites Jack to a friendly card game and during the game, Jack loses it all. Not being able to pay his debt, and hearing the alternatives, he postpones the wedding so Betsy will spend the weekend with Tommy to settle the debt. No hanky-panky, just an extended date. What follows is Jack trying to win back his fiancée and Tommy attempting to go even further with Betsy by marrying her. There are many comic situations in this kind of “hokey” story, but we all know that musical theater is, for the most part, designed to take our minds away from everyday situations and the troubles of life, allowing us to laugh our troubles away- and this show does that- we have a great time.
Yes, we will not recall any of the words to the musical numbers , although they do propel the story, but we will recall the story itself and the sons do take us on a great roller-coaster ride of love and romance for this love-triangle. The choreography is very “Vegas” (Dennis Jones) and as usual the tech aspects of the show are amazing given the limitations an in-the-round-stage presents. Kevin Depinet (set) did it again and Jesse Klug’s lighting, Robert E. Gilmartin’s sound, Brian Hemesath’s costumes ( the Elvis stuff was great), along with Sally Weiss’s props made the show work.
Patty Garwood and her nine musicians certainly made the music sound as if the orchestra were much larger. One of the special parts of attending a Marriott performance s knowing that the ensemble will change costumes and characters brilliantly. I have always believed that the ensemble members are the “key” to a musical being memorable for the audience and this one is another winner. Cole Burden (his Roy Bacon is an adorable character), Steven Strafford, DeShawn Bowens, Christine Bunuan (an adorable Mahi with a great number “Friki-Friki”), Aaron Choi, Shana Dagny, Devin DeSantis, Alejandro Fonseca, Alex Goodrich, Anne Gunn, Kristina Larson, Tyler John Logan, Richard Manera, Jessica Wolfrum Raun, Drew Redington, Laura Savage, Allison Sill and Ambria Sylvain- great work!