Getting Wicked in Arlington Heights | The Reader's Guide Feature | Chicago Reader

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Getting Wicked in Arlington Heights

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Apple Tree Theatre is reprising its 1999 hit production of Old Wicked Songs for its second offering at Metropolis Performing Arts Center, with Daniel J. Travanti and Tom Daugherty returning for the show. Here's what Reader critic Adam Langer had to say about it when it ran in Highland Park:

"One of the most reliable star-vehicle formulas pits a cantankerous elder (the star) against a young innocent (played by an up-and-comer) who ultimately thaws their relationship. Here Hill Street Blues regular Daniel J. Travanti plays a caustic, melancholy Austrian voice teacher who forges an unlikely friendship with a young American piano virtuoso (Tom Daugherty in an engagingly sympathetic turn) who's lost the will to play. Set in 1986 against the backdrop of anti-Semitic Vienna during the presidential campaign of Kurt Waldheim, Jon Marans's Old Wicked Songs explores the enduring influence of the Holocaust on two characters alienated from their histories. Other than the deft use of Robert Schumann's music, there are few surprises in this intelligent, well-crafted play, structured around a series of music lessons. The revelation here is Travanti, who spends his first few moments onstage clenching his fists, grinning manically, sniffing the air, and speaking in a garbled Austrian accent, then settles into the role and delivers a sparkling, nuanced performance. Giving the disconsolate, occasionally suicidal Josef Mashkan a richly detailed and idiosyncratic set of physical and vocal mannerisms, Travanti demonstrates without mawkishness or sentimentality that he's precisely the sort of actor for whom plays like this are written."

Old Wicked Songs opens October 18 and continues through November 12 at the center, 111 W. Campbell in Arlington Heights. Performances are Wednesdays through Fridays at 8, Saturdays at 5 and 8:30, and Sundays at 3. Tickets are $32; call 847-577-2121.

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

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