Once Upon a Time in New Jersey | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Once Upon a Time in New Jersey

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Susan DeLallo and Stephen Weiner's new musical breaks no ground and strains credulity, but director Marc Robin's cast spins the Italian stereotypes in amusing ways. Set in 1956 New Jersey, shy Vinnie secretly loves Angie, but she's hot for womanizing Rocco, who's chasing after buxom, neglected Celeste. When Celeste's mobster husband puts a hit on Rocco, the greaser convinces Vinnie to switch identities (because that always works), under the guise of coaching Vinnie to win Angie's heart. Marriott gives this world-premiere production star treatment, with a leading cast of Broadway veterans (although Jim Weitzer's Vinnie is about as Jersey Italian as Pat Boone) and strong supporting players. Robin's staging is less luminous than normal (with a surprising number of obstructed views) but conveys the era's rosy-cheeked pep. Through 9/10: Wed 1 and 8 PM, Thu-Fri 8 PM, Sat 5 and 8:30 PM, Sun 1 and 5 PM, Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, Rte. 21 (Milwaukee Ave.), Lincolnshire, 847-634-0200, $42-$45.

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