The Baritones | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The Baritones

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The inventive Noble Fools make even the most inane audience suggestions into rich comic fodder in this "fully improvised crime-family drama." When someone offered "flautist" as an occupation, that became the handle of a flamboyant new hit man. The suggestion of "church" had obvious possibilities, but the ensemble ingeniously pushed the idea further by having Tony's son, A.J., turn choirboy so he could skim money from the devotional boxes. And when Tony's daughter, Prairie, decided after a deliciously funny emotional outburst that she wanted someone bumped off for killing her cat, the Noble Fools made her reason for revenge work too. Although segments are sometimes drowned out too soon by musical cues, no scene goes on too long in director Pat Carton's smart spoof of The Sopranos. Norah Helling, Sarah Markey, and Lynda Shadrake are particularly versatile, adeptly channeling the TV characters' personalities. And the men effortlessly exploit the comedy in machismo. Not every oddball subplot in the show's 60 minutes is on target, but Sopranos fans will surely enjoy the cast's endless creativity. Noble Fool Theater Company, 8 E. Randolph, 312-630-2631. Open run: Fridays, 10 PM. $20.

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