TREVOR, the soul-stirring and exceptionally executed new musical at Writers Theatre, managed to simultaneously break my heart and make me grin uncontrollably over the course of its two-hour run time. With book and lyrics by Dan Collins, music by Julianne Wick Davis, and direction by Marc Bruni, Writers Theatre has a surefire hit on its hand with this show based upon the Academy Award-winning short film of the same name. Centered on the titular 13-year-old growing up in 1981 and coming to terms with his sexuality, TREVOR captures all the agony of those rough middle school days without ever feeling cliched. As embodied by Trevor, Collins and Davis have so beautifully articulated both the joys and challenges of discovering one’s own identity amidst the turbulence of adolescence. If you have experienced the trying times of middle and high school, I have little doubt that you will identify with this breathtaking piece of theater.
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Mercury Theater’s revival of the iconic rock musical HAIR infuses some peace, love, and sunshine into this Chicago summer. While Gerome Ragni and James Rado’s lyrics still resonant today, this production stays firmly rooted in the late 1960s. Brenda Didier’s direction, Robert Kuhn’s costumes, and Jeffrey D. Kmiec’s set design all have a “traditional” feel—at least traditional by the show’s standards. Certainly HAIR’s call for peace and embrace of the Tribe’s diverse identities echo the present and remind us of the progress yet to be made, but this staging does not underscore that relevance based on production choices.
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Christopher Wheeldon’s visually stunning production of AN AMERICAN IN PARIS has come dancing into Broadway In Chicago’s Oriental Theatre. Wheeldon’s complex and extensive choreography is the most striking and entertaining element of this new musical, based upon the classic Gene Kelly film and with a new book by Craig Lucas that weaves together George and Ira Gershwin’s lush song catalog. AN AMERICAN IN PARIS enjoyed a successful Broadway run in 2015, and this touring company can certainly keep up with Wheeldon’s moves as well as the original ensemble.
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