Seeing Is Believing In Theo Ubique's Captivating ASPECTS OF LOVE
Reviewed by : Russell Goeltenbodt
“Aspects of Love was introduced to Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber in 1979 when he was approached to write a film version of the David Garrett novel titled by the same. When nothing came of it, Sir Webber suggested to Trevor Nunn that they collaborate on a stage adaptation. In 1983 they both presented a cabaret of the numbers they had written. However, it was not until five years later that the project was completed. “Aspects of Love” was produced and premiered at London’s Prince of Wales Theater in April 1989, where it ran for 1325 performances, closing in June 1992. A replica of the production was brought to New York’s Broadhurst Theater in April 1990 which ran for 376 performances and closed in March of 1991. Then in September of 1991 a revised version toured on a 29 city tour in Canada and the United States, ending in Cost Mesa, CA in June 1993.
The Chicago’s Theo Ubique Cabaret Theater production of “Aspects of Love” at Roger’s Park’s No Exit Theater depicts the version that was performed during the 1993/94 UK tour. The story “Aspects of Love” explores a series of intersecting love triangles
and relationships among an English painter, his young nephew, a French actress, the painter’s Italian mistress and the daughter of the painter and actress. The story is complicated. The French actress named Rose (played by Kelli Harrington) is in search of companionship, not necessarily for love, but does not want to be lonely. Rose meets a star struck 17 year old follower named Alex (played by Matthew Keffer). Alex is smitten with Rose and brings her to his uncle’s house where she meets his Uncle George (played by Sean Thomas). Rose’s attentions are redirected toward Uncle George and Alex is tossed aside. The story picks up through various lengths of years where Rose marries George and Alex resurfaces still in love with Rose. Even though Rose is married to Alex’s uncle, she is flirtatious with Alex and George’s Italian mistress Giuletta (played by Colette Todd). The story continues through the years where George and Rose, where 15 year old daughter Jenny, (played by Rochelle Therrien) meets Alex and falls for him. Being cousins, Alex keeps her at a distance but continues to lead her on to the chagrin of her parents. However, interestingly enough, Alex was not much older fifteen years earlier when he met Jenny’s mother Rose. This story is sometimes more about infatuation than it is about love. The audience needs to pay close attention to capture all of the various twists and elements of this production.
The singing and performances of the cast of “Aspects of Love” are wonderful. The well-trained voices of Kelli Harrington, Matthew Keffer, Sean Thomas, and Rochelle Therrien are superb. Many times when viewing a production written entirely in music, the acting sometimes falls short. However, the entire ensemble of Aspects of Love” provide a wonderful combination of beautiful singing and acting to make their performance believable.
The direction by Director (Fred Anzevino), is good and very tight. Considering the size of the production and limited space of the theater, Anzevino manages to successfully pull off this large production. Kudos to Musical Director; Jeremy Ramey’s fine musical direction. It is evident that Jeremy put his heart and soul into this production. The balance between the instruments, which included; piano, violin and woodwinds; and vocals were perfect. This is a great accomplishment considering the cast does not use microphones, and the performance is in a small theater.
There are many wonderful moments in “Aspects of Love” which included a circus scene with the ensemble dressed as harlequin clowns singing “Journey of a Lifetime; Jenny, (Rochelle Therrien) singing the “Mermaid Song”, and Alex, (Matthew Keffer) and Rose, (Kelli Harrington) singing “Seeing is Believing”. This does not limit the enjoyment of the reminder of the music.
I really love The No Exit Cafe. I loved Smokey Joe’s Café which appeared there in the fall, and has now moved on to The Royal George Theater. This venue is truly a jewel of Rogers Park. It has successfully created many Jeff award winning productions, which undoubtedly will earn many more in the future. My only suggestion would be to scale down the size of the stage. The stage is way too big for this intimate venue. Even though, The No-Exit Café is very capable of producing larger productions, which proved to be true with the Jeff award winning production of “Light in the Piazza”. A little more thought needs to be given to the performance space. The stage was wonderfully constructed by Resident Scenic Designer; Adam Veness, who created the illusion of a theater, art studio, and an estate with a veranda. Unfortunately, the narrow piece of stage coming out approximately 12 feet from the main stage into the audience, took up a lot of room. This design limited the seating and visibility for audience members to adequately enjoy this fabulous production. The theater’s setting and cabaret seating transports you to an intimate performance where the audience becomes a part of the show. This experience creates an engaging up close and personal relationship between the audience and the cast, where the cast and becomes part of the production. If there is limited seating or view obstruction, the audience is at a disadvantage by not being able to see and enjoy the show. However, don’t confuse this note to limit the talent of this show. It is a wonderful show that the Theo Ubique Cabaret Theater once again provides a captivating evening of theater and music.
This production of “Aspects of Love” delivers and creates a show and performance that would make Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber proud. It is truly a wonderful evening of theater, which I recommend.
Aspects of Love plays through April 21, 2013 at No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood, Chicago, IL 60626. Ticket Service Number: 800.595.4849: Theo Ubique Information Line: 773.347.1109 For more information visit www.theo-u.com. For calendar information visit www.TheatreInChicago.com