NUNN'S THEATER HABIT
Movie Musical Mayhem Makes Its Way to Chicago
Thu. March 28, 2019 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn
The musical Anastasia just arrived at the James M. Nederlander Theatre while in the middle of a tour. Based on the 1997 animated film of the same name, this musical version tells the story of the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia who could have escaped the execution of her family. Lila Coogan plays Anya the amnesiac orphan that is possibly the rightful heiress.
The touring show grounded in some history plays now through April 7 and is artfully put together thanks the creative team that made the original cartoon version so well. The screens, sets and costumes are all top notch.
Coogan has a unique voice and take on the character that puts a nice spin on what could be a one note performance. She strays away from typical music operatics in the process. "Journey to the Past" is a standout piece at the end of the first act and in the second act Countess Lily almost steals the show thanks to the very funny Tari Kelly.
Anastasia has some stellar moments with a story that is intriguing and well crafted. I haven't seen the original since it came out and my memory is almost as bad as Anastasia, but this musical seems like it a vast improvement over the original.
Don't forget to see Anastasia before she journeys out of town with tickets at BroadwayInChicago.com.
Another movie musical currently in Chicago with a much more campy tone to it is Poseidon! An Upside Down Musical based on the 1972 film The Poseidon Adventure.
For those of us who have seen the original or at least watched the trailer on YouTube, the over the top performances of a disaster film work very well on stage. If you haven't seen the movie, many of the jokes still hold up.
A few holes in the boat can easily be fixed to make this an even better production. Learning from past Hell in a Handbag shows, The Poseidenites are all supremely talented and don't get enough to do. How about a spin off instead? That would cut down on the long running time.
When Poseidonite Caitlin Jackson finaly has a touching monologue moment it slows down the momentum of the show and seems to belong somewhere else.
The Climbers are the main focus with David Lipschutz and Tommy Bullington being particularly good. Nicky Mendelsohn goes full out with his roles and obviously has a lot of fun with his characters. Stevie Love is always memorable even with a dead brother scene that drags on a little long.
The live band The Airpockets really add to the experience making this a much stronger version than previous Hell in a Handbag Poseidons.
If you liked Disaster! a similar musical that was created by Seth Rudetsky then this is the show for you. Disaster! played at the exact same space, The Edge Theatre, 5451 N. Broadway, with Poseidon cast member Elissa Newcorn in a more prominent role. For those of us that survived the 1970s disaster films there really is a "Morning After!"
Visit HandbagProductions.org before this ship sails on April 28.