Monday, December 24, 2012

My One and Only: 'S Enjoyable? Yes. 'S Wonderful? Not Quite -- Chicago Theater Review

Theater Review

My One and Only
Marriott Theatre, Lincolnshire, IL
Thru January 6, 2013

There's nothing particularly wrong with My One and Only, and no reason I would recommend that anyone avoid seeing it at Marriott Lincolnshire, which always stages excellent musical productions to the largest subscription base in the country.

The compilation Gershwin score is lovely, even if it traipses much the same ground as Crazy For You, the now-on-Broadway Nice Work if You Can Get It and classic movies like An American in Paris and Funny Face. But it is never a bad thing to hear "I Can't Be Bothered Now," "'S Wonderful," "Strike Up the Band," "Kickin' the Clouds Away" and other gems by George and Ira.

For those who enjoy tap dancing--and I do--the show is a joy just for having so much of it, including several group numbers, a sensational solo turn by Ted Louis Levy, the impressive trio of Quinn M. Bass, Jarran Muse and Clinton Roane, and some great hoofing by the show's star, Andrew Lupp as Captain Billy Buck Chandler.

I would be duplicitous if I didn't admit to enjoying watching many of the legs doing the dancing, as the women in the ensemble were quite attractive (and often scantily clad), as was very much so the female lead, Summer Naomi Smart as Edythe Herbert. And my sister and her friend spoke similarly about some of the men.

Of course, there was also much great singing, by Lupp, Smart and longtime Chicago theater stars like Paula Scrofano, Felicia P. Fields and Roger Mueller.

So you had great songs, fine singing, terrific dancing, good acting and beautiful people to look at. What more could you want?

Strictly in terms of an entertaining show making for enjoyable evening, not much.

As I said above, there was nothing particularly wrong with My One and Only.

But for all the good things about it, for me it never reached the level of being fantastic. Mainly because the story--a 1927 romance between Billy, a pioneering pilot, and Edythe, a famed swimmer of the English Channel--and the songs never felt like they fully congealed into a thoroughly satisfying whole.

Although the book for My One and Only, which had a nice Broadway run starring Tommy Tune and Twiggy starting in 1983, was co-written by the esteemed Peter Stone and Timothy S. Mayer to accompany the Gershwin songbook, the sum of the show's parts are just better than its whole. I think "book problems" might well be what kept it from being truly sensational, although I also didn't sense a whole lot of chemistry between Lupp and Smart. Both played their roles well--though Smart's English accent tended to come and go--but it was hard not to note the considerable age gap.

I imagine My One and Only may well be a delight for many of the mature subscribers who fill most of the Marriott's Theatre's seats. But coming in a week where I also saw The Book of Mormon, War Horse, Metamorphoses, one other musical (The Grinch Who Stole Christmas) and a great concert (The Killers), not every show can be the very best.

But that's OK. Sometimes a likeable musical with good songs, dancing, performers, etc. can be just fine.

And that's what My One and Only is, for better or worse: just fine.

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