Falling in Love With Love | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Falling in Love With Love

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Falling in Love With Love, National Jewish Theater.

This 140-minute Richard Rodgers retrospective is a triumph for director Sheldon Patinkin, musical director Kingsley Day, and choreographer Linda Leonard, as perfectly packaged and solidly conceived as NJT's superlative Irving Berlin tribute, Puttin' On the Ritz. With brains and heart, Falling in Love With Love triumphantly showcases 40 years of beloved but often buried song treasures, from the easily elegant "Blue Moon" to the contagiously happy "Oh What a Beautiful Mornin'" to the urbanely flippant "The Lady Is a Tramp." And the show is collaboration heaven, with John Murbach's Italian-villa set, David Gipson's lambent lighting, Jordan Ross's period-rich costumes, and Day's artful arrangements, which never fail to hit the heart.

The consummate cast is refreshingly unmiked: comedian Nancy Voigts, boy next door Christopher DeAngelis, sophisticated Dale Morgan, dancing phenom Kelly Prybycien, and golden-voiced Anne Kanengeiser. Every song is acted out, felt through, and opened up as far as it will go. Many numbers are unfamiliar but unforgettable, like the cunning creations from Do I Hear a Waltz? (Rodgers's 1965 collaboration with Stephen Sondheim) and the gorgeous "The Blue Room" (from the 1926 The Girl Friend, with typically telling lyrics by Lorenz Hart). Many of the hits from Carousel and South Pacific are not included, and there's nothing from The Sound of Music. Instead this stroll down memory lane features some glorious new memories.

Patinkin's genius is to weave stories through the songs; they're not presented as museum pieces. These performers sing for their supper--and provide a banquet of ambrosia. This is the last National Jewish Theater production definitely scheduled in its home of nearly a decade. It would be a crime against art and audiences if it's the last NJT production anywhere.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Dan Rest.

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