Theater Review: TOGETHER AT LAST (The Second City’s 109th Revue in Chicago)

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by Dan Zeff on October 15, 2021

in Theater-Chicago

TOGETHER IN SPIRIT MORE THAN LAUGHS

After an 18-month hiatus inflicted on Chicagoland theater because of the virus pandemic, the Second City has finally opened its 109th revue, the upbeat-titled Together at Last. Second City not only had to endure the COVID disruption, but organizational and backstage turbulence seemed at times to threaten the very existence of perhaps Chicagoland’s most iconic entertainment venue.

Asia Martin, Adam Schreck, Evan Mills, Sarah Dell’Amico, Jordan Savusa, Mary Catherine Curran.
Photo by Timothy M. Schmidt.

Happily the company has returned to its near North Side home in the familiar format of a group of six young performers taking comic and satiric shots at various and sundry issues on the local and national scene. In recognition of the lingering impact of the pandemic, the theater’s first 10 rows, the best seats in the house, are unoccupied to meet the requirement of a 10-foot distance between the performers and the audience.

Mary Catherine Curran, Asia Martin, Jordan Savusa. Photo by Timothy M.Schmidt.

The revue material is the traditional mix of dialogue, music and improvisation offered in performing units ranging from solos to full ensemble. The jokes touch on everything from TikTok to vaccines and the domestic dynamics of working at home during the shutdown. And being Second City, the state of the state of society is viewed through undisguised liberal eyes.

Adam Schreck, Evan Mills. Photo by Marisa KM.

It would be a joy to report that Second City returned to live action with a triumphant production filled with continuously witty and trenchant material. But such joy is not to be found in much of the evening’s program. The improvisations, always a game of chance, generally fell flat as the troupe struggled to make the material come alive. The skits often labored to ignite any spark, one exception being a graphics-illustrated comparison of life in Sweden versus life in the United States, to the detriment of the USA.

Mary Catherine Curran, Asia Martin, Sarah Dell’Amico. Photo by Timothy M. Schmidt.

What was most annoying (an issue that has increasingly bothered me in recent revues) is the reliance of torrents of profanity and sexual content to coax laughter from the viewers. Some patrons seem to respond to the cast, especially the three females, spouting expletives and over-obvious sexual tropes throughout the nearly 2 hour show. The relentless use of four letter words unhappily reveals the chasm between what is genuinely funny and what is trying to be funny. The best moment of Together at Last is the ensemble musical finale, a hymn to the guarded hope that through all of contemporary tribulations, we will emerge emotionally whole. We may or may not triumph but we certainly can endure.

Sarah Dell’Amico, Adam Schreck. Photo by Marisa KM.

The ensemble is made up of Second City veterans Mary Catherine Curran, Sarah Dell’Amico, Asia Martin, Jordan Savusa, Adam Schreck, and newcomer Evan Mills. It’s too early designate any of the performers as the next Barbara Harris or Severn Darden. Of the sextet, Savusa seemed the sharpest in the improve bits and made me laugh the most and Asia Martin delivered a funny and caustic rap on racism.

Asia Martin. Photo by Marisa KM.

The revue’s director is Anneliese Toft and the musical director is Jeff Bouthiette. The production seemed a bit under rehearsed on opening night, but that can be expected to improve with time. More urgently, a lot of the material requires upgrading and the language urgently needs to reduce its X-rated dominance.

Jordan Savusa. Photo by Marisa KM.

The show gets a rating of 2½ stars.

Mary Catherine Curran. Photo by Marisa KM

poster photo by Michael Broilow:
(front) Sarah Dell’Amico, Adam Schreck, (back) Evan Mills, Asia Martin, Mary Catherine Curran, Jordan Savusa.

Adam Schreck. Photo by Marisa KM.

Together at Last
The Second City’s 109th Revue
The Second City Mainstage Theatre, 1616 N. Wells St
Wed & Sun at 7; Thurs, Fri, & Sat at 7 & 10
open run
for tickets, call 312-337-3992 or visit Second City

for more shows, visit Theatre in Chicago

Evan Mills. Photo by Marisa KM.

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