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Oct. 31, 2012
Sometimes classical music fans enjoy a symphony concert, and at other times a chamber music concert of Beethoven’s “late quartets”. Sometimes it is great to see a large-scale musical on Broadway or on tour at DPAC, but is also delightful to see a work such as The Landing, a set of three small jewels now at the Deep Dish Theater. For this work, John Kander, who wrote the music for Cabaret and Chicago, has now brought us a chamber musical. At the Deep Dish we see four musicians accompanying four actors playing different roles in three short works. Instead of bringing us another big musical, 86-year-old John Kander has brought us his own late quartets.
Last year Kander teamed up with 35-year-old playwright Greg Pierce to bring us The Landing in New York. This fall, Paul Frellick of Deep Dish Theater is staging The Landing for its second time. Paul Frellick’s direction is spare, clean, and not self-indulgent. What adds to the stories’ poignancy is the use of the unamplified instruments and voices.
One of the themes of the three stories is that of loneliness and the longing -- and need -- for companionship of different kinds. You will also find common themes among the three stories made clear in the third play, but that each has its own unique twist.
The acting is all top-level. In the second, Mark Ridenour gives an extraordinary performance. Yet he still gives actress Erin Tito enough room to perform amazingly in what is the lead role. With disciplined acting, the second story is a well-crafted example of the theater of the absurd. Equal to the first two actors – and giving us an acting clinic of his own -- is John Allore in a series of small cameos (some of which are stunning) and well as principal roles. The three actors work well-together with marvelous performances by thirteen-year-old Neil Bullard. Under Frellick’s direction, the ensemble plays well together in all three chamber musicals.
In the future, playwright Greg Pierce could certainly write larger-scale plays or musical dramas. But many of us would also be delighted if he and Kander kept working on their own, small-scale works until Kander is 96.
Don’t miss “The Landing” at the Deep Dish Theater. Its three chamber musicals are jewels.
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