Lush, lively show honors Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music
Stephanie Binetti sings and dances in "Buenos Aires" in "Now and Forever." | Photo by Peter Coombs, Marriott Theatre
‘Now and Forever: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber’
Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire
1 p.m. and 8 p.m. Wednesdays; 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays; and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sundays, through March 17
$40-$48, discounts available for students and seniors
(847) 634-0200 or visit www.marriotttheatre.com
Updated: January 28, 2013 3:38PM
Without a doubt, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s signature work is “The Phantom of the Opera.”
That was abundantly clear when riotous applause greeted the opening of Marriott Theatre’s World Premiere production of his music the evening of Wednesday, Jan. 23 — a sound and light extravaganza with a massive chandelier and the deafening organ music that opens that show.
However, “Now and Forever,” as the show is called, demonstrates that this enormously popular composer has given us much, much more. Remember that he wrote the music for “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” and “Jesus Christ Superstar,” as well as the delightful “Cats,” “Evita,” and “Sunset Blvd.” They are all represented in this highly entertaining musical revue.
There is no attempt to string songs together in some sort of flimsy plot. Instead director/choreographer Marc Robin wisely presents the numbers one by one, using some of the best vocalists around and dancers who just wouldn’t quit.
Stand-out numbers include the whole company’s performances, like that of “Masquerade” from (yes) “Phantom,” are made even more memorable with costumes by Nancy Missimi, who dresses the whole show. One gown is lovelier than the next.
Two numbers unfamiliar to me are heartbreaking in their power: and “Tell Me on a Sunday,” tenderly sung by Marriott favorite Susan Moniz and “Take That Look Off Your Face,” the country-style lyrics given a knock-out rendition by Stephanie Binetti, who dances as well. Binetti also sizzles in fire-engine red, dancing and singing “Buenos Aires” from Evita.
The petite Moniz also sparkled in “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” and “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.”
The casting of certain songs is just right. Broadway veteran Linda Balgord sings “With One Look” from “Sunset Blvd.” “Anything But Lonely” and has the final solo in the Marriott production, “Memory.” Her costume in that wonderful song from “Cats” is a skin-tight black sequined mini-dress, just what an ex-chorus girl with fabulous legs might wear.
The find of the night might be Erin Stewart, who has the clear, bell-like voice of an operetta heroine. It is no surprise to see that during her career she has played roles created by Julie Andrews in “My Fair Lady” and “Camelot.”
She has toured in “Phantom” and sings the title song and “Think of Me” as well as “Love Never Dies” in this show.
Male singers have some great moments as well: Travis Taylor in “’Til I Hear You Sing,” who’s joined by Ben Jacoby and Max Quinlan to sing sequentially “Love Changes Everything,” and Jameson Cooper’s sweet performance of “Any Dream Will Do” from “Joseph.” Quinlan also raises the roof with the tortured “Gethsemane” from “Superstar.”
These dancers are athletes as well as dazzling hoofers, and their numbers pack real punch, including “The Jellicle Ball” from “Cats,” choreographed by Robin, the Overture to “Jesus Christ Superstar” choreographed by Matt Raftery to Techno-style accompaniment. My favorite is the sublime ballet number danced by Luke Manley and Ellen Green to Webber’s “Pie Jesu” from his “Requiem,” choreographed by Harrison McEldowney.
This show covers all the bases and knocks every pitch out of the park. Even if you are not a “Phantom” fan, don’t miss all the splendid songs and fancy footwork. It’s a great show.