Chicago Theater Review: MY ONE AND ONLY (Marriott Theatre)

Post image for Chicago Theater Review: MY ONE AND ONLY (Marriott Theatre)

by Lawrence Bommer on November 17, 2012

in Theater-Chicago

RETRO GERSHWIN STILL BESTS TODAY’S STANDARDS

Like the unsurpassable Crazy for You, My One and Only is more than more than a dozen recycled Gershwin tunes. In the spirit of those daffy Jazz Age musicals and Gershwin’s own Princess Theatre offerings (here the model is Fred Astaire’s 1927 Lawrence Bommer’s Stage and Cinema review of MY ONE AND ONLY at the Marriott in Lincolnshire (Chicago)romp Funny Face), this Tony-winning song-and-dance spectacle, now delightfully revived at Marriott Theatre, reinvents the kind of plucky tale from which these tunefests seemed to blossom.

Cream-filled with delightfully predictable (and equally improbable) wish fulfillment, the slim-to-invisible boy-meets-girl plot links two wide-eyed hopefuls, archly representative of the period. Captain Billy Buck Chandler (Andrew J. Lupp, now a bit long in the tooth for a role he’s played before), a hick aviator who dreams of being the first to fly the Atlantic Ocean, falls hard for English swimming star Edythe Herbert (Summer Naomi Smart), the “prettiest woman to swim the English channel.” (So much for Gertrude Ederle…)

Lawrence Bommer’s Stage and Cinema review of MY ONE AND ONLY at the Marriott in Lincolnshire (Chicago)Their hunger for fame and Easy Street threatens to harm their equally persuasive love at first sight. Edythe is also plagued by a blackmailing ersatz Russian prince (Roger Mueller, with a Russian accent that could heat a samovar). This fraudster is venally exploiting her through his aquacade waterworld. Of course all troubles dissolve before the euphoric “Kickin’ the Clouds Away” gospel-style finale, since the reassuring plot must treat the characters better than life does us. (If you believe this show, Lindbergh wasn’t the first to fly the Atlantic, just the first to make a big deal about it.)

Lawrence Bommer’s Stage and Cinema review of MY ONE AND ONLY at the Marriott in Lincolnshire (Chicago)Set in 1927, the paper-thin storyline strings together such sensational stuff as “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” and “How Long Has This Been Going On?,” as well as such early Gershwin gems as “Boy Wanted” and the elegant duet “Soon.” It’s an equally serviceable excuse for exotic, if Spartan, settings like an airplane hangar, deserted beach (an excuse to splash the audience to “‘S Wonderful”), Mr. Magix’ Sartorial and Tonsorial Emporium (where Billy gets lessons in love from the tap-dancing proprietor), the Club Havana (an apostolic church in the daytime and alcoholic dive at night), a Club Oasis (filled with the “white baggage of the Kasbah”) and the Uptown Chapel where the lovers are married in a go-for-broke tap-dancing extravaganza.

Never condescending to camp or slowing down to schmaltz, Tammy Mader’s crisp staging lets a superb cast strut their stuff. Dancing as if he were paid by the tap, Lupp kicks up a storm, whether in an Astaire-Rogers tribute with the charming Smart in “He Loves and She Loves” or hoofing it with fleet-footed Ted Louis Levy in the rambunctious title song. Mader’s period-perfect choreography is elegant when Lawrence Bommer’s Stage and Cinema review of MY ONE AND ONLY at the Marriott in Lincolnshire (Chicago)not exciting (and often both), and Nancy Missimi’s sumptuous flapper costumes elucidate the Stock Market crash.

Comic support comes from Paula Scrofano as Billy’s no-nonsense tomboy mechanic and from Mueller as the nasty Russian full of xenophobic malapropisms and a stereotypical Moroccan purveyor of pleasure.  Singing up a storm in “Kickin’ the Clouds Away,” Felicia P. Fields raises the roof as a rhythm-preaching minister. Recalling the tap-dancing, harmony-loving Nicholas Brothers, Quinn M. Bass, Jarran Muse, and Clinton Roane are terrific as the scat-singing, be-bopping New Rhythm Boys. (Well, some rhythms never get old.)

Lawrence Bommer’s Stage and Cinema review of MY ONE AND ONLY at the Marriott in Lincolnshire (Chicago)

photos by Peter Coombs and the Marriott Theatre

My One and Only
Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire
scheduled to end on January 6, 2013
for tickets call 847-634-0200 or visit www.TicketMaster.com

for info on this and other Chicago Theater, visit http://www.TheatreinChicago.com

Comments on this entry are closed.