The Perfect American | Harris Theater | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

The Perfect American New Review (Theater and Comedy) The Short List (Theater) Image Closing (Theater and Galleries)

When: Saturdays, Sundays. Continues through April 30 2017

This Chicago Opera Theater production about Walt Disney’s final days is based not on a biography but on a novel, Der König von Amerika, by Peter Stephan Jungk. An attempt to get inside Disney’s head as he’s about to expire, it has a richly expressive score by Philip Glass, pulsing with tension but also often lyrical. Unfortunately, Rudolph Wurlitzer’s superficial libretto—overpopulated and underdeveloped—is mostly dead on arrival, emphasizing Disney’s exploitive capitalism and purported racism (even playing the sick kid card) without ever getting close to the magic. Busily directed by Kevin Newbury, it’s set in the ultimate anti-Disneyland: a menacing hospital room where Disney (baritone Justin Ryan) receives real and imaginary visitors, including Andy Warhol (tenor Kyle Knapp in a welcome comedic turn) and a disgruntled fictional former employee (memorably sung by tenor Scott Ramsay). Departing COT artistic director Andreas Mitisek conducts a 40-piece orchestra and the Apollo Chorus. —Deanna Isaacs

Price: $39-$125


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