The Big Voice: God or Merman?--A Musical Comedy in Two Lives | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Big Voice: God or Merman?--A Musical Comedy in Two Lives

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THE BIG VOICE: GOD OR MERMAN?--A MUSICAL COMEDY IN TWO LIVES, at Theatre Building Chicago. Notwithstanding the minimalist set, it's a little misleading to present this funny, fully realized award-winning musical comedy under the auspices of a workshop program. In fact, writer-composer-performers Jim Brochu and Steve Schalchlin, who are partners in life as well as onstage, are ringers: The Big Voice is an off-Broadway show running on Belmont.

In their autobiographical "solo for two," Steve is the obedient son of an evangelical Baptist family and Jim a devout Catholic adolescent who aspires to be the first Brooklyn-born pope. Both misfit kids look forward to faith-based futures. At life's turning points, they wait for "the big voice" to speak to them. But they're gay. How does that work? They're disillusioned. How does one choose? Suddenly it hits them: Catholic pageantry and evangelical exhibitionism are a lot like...showbiz! Now they have a calling. Theater, says Jim, is like church with energy.

Forget about your boredom with coming-out/coming-of-age stories. This double-oddball autobiography is all about joy. These fiftysomething guys are Candide. They're Forrest Gump. Make yourself happy--go.

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