Theo Ubique proves Jule Styne’s songbook is truly timeless
BY HEDY WEISS Theater Criticemail@example.com June 13, 2012 12:54PM
“Time After Time: The Songs of Jule Styne” stars Khaki Pixley (from left), Andrew Sickel, Stephanie Herman, Christopher Logan and Danielle Brothers.
‘TIME AFTER TIME: THE SONGS OF JULE STYNE’
♦ Through July 29
♦ Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, 6970 N. Glenwood
♦ Tickets, $29-$34
♦ (800) 595-4849
Updated: June 19, 2012 3:49PM
While Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre’s Jeff Award-winning, multiply-extended production of “The Light in the Piazza” continues to play through July 14, a new topnotch musical revue, “Time After Time: The Songs of Jule Styne” (running through July 29) has been added to the mix, with a rotating schedule and clever dual-purpose set design making this double-duty operation possible.
There is just no stopping Theo Ubique, the remarkable storefront operation that continually wins converts with its gorgeously acoustic shows that spotlight both veteran and fresh-faced talent.
Jules Styne (1905-1994), was the bravura Broadway composer who began his career as a classical piano prodigy, worked with jazz bands in Chicago in the 1920s, and subsequently collaborated with a slew of hugely gifted lyricists (Sammy Cahn, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Stephen Sondheim, Bob Merrill, Leo Rubin and E.Y Harburg) on songs for Hollywood movies, and on the scores for such Broadway shows as “Gypsy,” “Funny Girl,” “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and “The Bells Are Ringing.”
In “Time After Time,” directed by David Heimann, the term “cabaret” is the operative word. The innovative arrangements of outstanding pianist and musical director Aaron Benham clearly have been designed to make audiences think about familiar songs in new ways, while less familiar ones are given neatly theatrical renderings. That indelible Barbra Streisand hit, “People,” for example, is now performed as a richly harmonic a cappella work for the distinctive cast of five (Danielle Brothers, Stephanie Herman, Christopher Logan, Khaki Pixley and Andrew Sickel), subtly underscoring the power of vocal camaraderie.
A number of other songs are grouped thematically. Those gathered under the title “Adventure!” move deftly from “Never Never Land” (from “Peter Pan”), to the hilarious “When You Meet a Man in Chicago” (from “Sugar”), to a Latin-beat in “It’s Delightful Down in Chile,” and more.
Another medley of songs about loneliness features the men pining away with such tunes as “Talkin’ to Yourself,” “I’ll Walk Alone,” “Saturday Night is the Loneliest Night of the Week” and “I Don’t Want to Walk Without You, Baby.” But the women quickly get to subvert all that romanticism with a series of sharp-edged songs about the male of the species including “Men,” a terrifically dishy number performed with great zest by Brothers and Pixley. Of course even more to the point is “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” and Herman, the show’s curvaceous platinum blonde (and practiced torch singer), brings edgy sparkle to every clever line. (“It’s not compensation; it’s self-preservation,” the song notes, explaining the need for jewels.)
The newfound star in the show is Pixley, whose radiant face, playful persona and glorious voice combine for total watchability. Brothers, with her strikingly low voice, brings a fierce determination to anthems from “Funny Girl” (Don’t Rain on My Parade”) and “Gypsy” (“Some People). The warm-voiced Sickel is boyish, fervent and vulnerable in such tunes as “I Fall in Love Too Easily” and “There’s Nothing Rougher Than Love,” while Logan is the song-and-dance man with panache who makes the most of Emily Rogers’ choreography in “All I Need Is the Girl.”
The whole production has an aptly 1940s and ’50s vibe (underscored by costume designer Bill Morey’s ideal vintage outfits, and set designer Adam Veness’ use of a giant photo of New York’s Grand Central Station).