We review Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia and the horse it rode in on, namely Writers’ Theatre’s new Jeanne Gang-designed home. Then K., suffering from an excess of enthusiasm, recommends two shows in Rogers Park: Rent at Theo Ubique and Pride & Prejudice at Adapt Theatre, while J. restricts himself to a single pick: After All The Terrible Things I Do (a/k/a his autobiography) at About Face.
Savannah Quinn Hoover as Mimi and Patrick Rooney as Roger in Theo Ubique’s production of Rent. Photo by Adam Veness.
The first time I saw Rent I was underwhelmed; that’s because I didn’t see it done by Theo Ubique. Now I understand what all the noise has been about: the gorgeous choral harmonies of Jonathan Larson’s score make its La Boheme-inspired story of freezing artists and wannabes resonate with those of us who aren’t freezing. Director Scott Weinstein, Choreographer Daniel Spagnuolo and—especially—music director and pianist Jeremy Ramey make the lives of the downtrodden a treat for eye and ear.
The show is flawlessly cast: Matt Edmonds as Mark, who spends the show documenting everything with his video camera instead of experiencing it, has the perfect imperfect face and a voice which makes melody out of even Larson’s least melodic songs, including the title number. Patrick Rooney as Roger, sulking in his tent like a contemporary Achilles, has the classic floppy-haired tragic romantic look, and is complemented wonderfully by Savannah Hoover’s Mimi. And Aubrey McGrath deserves a special acknowledgment: he plays drag-queen Angel, a part written for a Latino actor, with such life-giving energy that any and all prejudices—for or against drag queens; for or against casting against ethnic type—simply melt away. Without naming every single member of the cast, I can’t do justice to its quality: suffice it to say, go.