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  WINDY CITY TIMES

THEATER REVIEW Blue Over You
by Scott C. Morgan, Windy City Times
2018-01-10

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Playwright: Daniel Noonan

At: Spot On Company at Northminster Presbyterian Church, 2515 Central Park Ave., Evanston. Tickets:BlueOverYou.com; $20-$25. Runs through: Jan. 28

You probably know of musical-theater fanatics who can break out into song at the drop of hat. So be aware that this is the kind of guy you'll be spending 90 minutes with in Daniel Noonan's world-premiere solo show Blue Over You for the new Spot On Company.

Noonan centers Blue Over You around Francis O'Brien ( Michael Joseph Mitchell ). He's an Evanston-based high school drama teacher, which explains why he is so well-versed in slinging out showtune lyrics.

But the songs that Francis sings aren't entirely happy, since he is reeling from the sudden and strange disappearance of his wife, Mitzi. Suffering from a bout of insomnia and worry, Francis confides to his guardian angels ( the audience ) about the reasons why Mitzi would have up and left him.

It's possible that Mitzi has run off with Joey, the hunky janitor at the elementary school where she teaches. Or maybe it's all part of an elaborate government scheme to protect Mitzi following a harrowing street crime that she narrowly escaped from.

As Francis posits and ponders, Noonan paints a picture of an unconventional marriage. Francis freely admits to sexual experiences with men before he tied the knot, plus he questions whether Mitzi was entirely happy with his push not to raise a family of their own.

There's also something not quite right about the way that Francis keeps on referring to himself in the third person. This of course is a foreshadowing to the rather unhappy conclusion that Noonan reveals to show why Mitzi is missing.

While Blue Over You arguably could do with a bit of trimming here and there, Noonan does do a good dramatic job of keeping audiences chuckling and guessing through the show. It's also a tremendous help that Mitchell is so very engaging as Francis, finding subtle line deliveries and reactions to spur laughs all along the way before things turn uncomfortably dark.

Director Sarah Whitney is great at setting the right tone between Francis' happier reminiscences versus high-tension moments. And production designer Dave Ferguson ( sets and lights ) also helps enormously in Northminster Presbyterian Church's intimate basement space with clever transitions to delineate the locales that Francis finds himself in while solving his very personal mystery.

So though some will find Francis' showtune quoting habit to be annoying, it does help the character stir himself out of his unhappy bewilderment. And when Noonan reveals what happened to Mitzi and Francis, you can't begrudge him finding whatever way he needs to find forms of happiness that he desperately needs.

Related article at the link: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/HIV-playwright-pens-Blue-Over-You/61410.html .


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