Barbara Cook | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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When Barbara Cook was in Chicago earlier this year, she was anticipating a return to Broadway in a new musical. Well, Carrie has come and gone--Cook starred as the telekinetic teenager's Bible-thumping mama in the ill-fated show's English premiere, but dropped out before it opened in New York (where it became the costliest failure in Broadway history). So, her reputation intact, the onetime ingenue star of such 1950s musicals as Candide, The Music Man, and Plain and Fancy returns to Chicago in her role as a concert artist. Cook's soprano is a shimmering and stylish instrument of tensile beauty, but she doesn't coast on her sound. Whether it's a lyrical ballad by Rodgers and Hammerstein ("When I Marry Mr. Snow") or Stephen Sondheim ("Losing My Mind") or a percolating swing tune like "Sweet Georgia Brown" or Leonard Bernstein's "I Can Cook Too," Cook turns each number into a memorable dramatic monologue--subtle, reflective, brimming with intelligence and mature passion. She doesn't sing a song, she shares it, and no one who's been there to share it with her can ever listen to the song the same way again. Tuesday through next Friday, July 1, 8 PM, next Saturday, July 2, 6:30 and 10 PM, and next Sunday, July 3, 3 and 8 PM, Royal-George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted; 988-9000.

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