Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-12-05
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



THEATER REVIEW Melancholy Play: a chamber musical
by Scott C. Morgan, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Book and Lyrics: Sarah Ruhl; Music: Todd Almond. At: Piven Theatre Workshop, 927 Noyes St., Evanston. Tickets: 847-866-8049 or; $20-$35. Runs through June 7

Former Chicago-area playwright Sarah Ruhl is famous ( some would say infamous ) for the large amount of whimsy infused throughout her writing. It's certainly the case with Piven Theatre Workshop's Midwest premiere of Melancholy Play: a chamber musical, which is a homecoming for Ruhl.

Ruhl received much of her extracurricular theater schooling through Piven while growing up. And Piven stood by Ruhl by mounting some of her early works, such as premiering the original Melancholy Play back in 2002. Now that Melancholy Play has been adapted into a full-blown musical with a score by composer Todd Almond, it's only natural that Piven to premiere it.

Now a musical, Melancholy Play once again focuses on the beautiful but depressive bisexual bank teller Tillie ( Stephanie Stockstill ) and the various people who fall under her alluring spell. These folks include her generalized European therapist Lorenzo ( a mustachioed Ryan Lanning ), tailor Frank ( Chris Ballou ), physicist-turned-hairdresser Frances ( Lauren Paris ) and her British nurse lover, Joan ( Emily Grayson ).

It's precisely Tilly's depressive nature that helps make her so attractive to everyone. Yet once she becomes truly happy ( for whatever reason ), all her admirers and lovers are thrown into a tailspin by the sunny change in her disposition—so much so that one woman turns into an almond. So everyone tries to find a way to transform her back to a human again.

As forewarned, this is truly whimsical stuff. But with Almond's added musical score and the dedicated and enthusiastic performances of the cast, this doesn't feel as cloying as it could be. Scored for a string quartet with Aaron Benham as the pianist/music director, Almond's score flows in and out like recitative and fits in with the chamber nature of the intimate venue. In fact, the music makes the quirkiness and daffiness of the characters and the fantastical situations feel far more acceptable by heightening the unreal nature of it all.

Director Polly Noonan has created a simple and largely amusing production that capitalizes on the charisma and comic timing of her fine cast. Stockstill certainly makes for an entrancing Tillie. Yet Stockstill seemed a bit too cheery in Tillie's questioning depressive state, so there wasn't so much of a transformation when she proclaimed her newfound happiness. The rest of the cast is impressive by being so vocally assured and dedicated to their characters' dilemmas.

So if whimsy isn't your thing, it might be best to keep away from the new musical version of Melancholy Play. But as a Piven homecoming for a Tony Award nominee and successful playwright like Ruhl, Melancholy Play serves as a marker to the importance of this Evanston-based company and its important impact on American theater.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Best of The Infinite Wrench 2018 2018-12-08 - Playwright: The Neo-Futurists At the Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland Ave. Tickets:; $10 - $20. Regular run through: Dec. 9 with a New ...

Gay News

Holiday Hootenanny Radio Hour presents Cricket on the Mantle, benefits AVER 2018-12-08 - CHICAGO ( November 16, 2018 ) — The Holiday Hootenanny Radio Hour is pleased to announce Nick Thornton's heart warming new radio play ...

Gay News

Interrobang Theatre Project to present "I Call my Brothers" 2018-12-07 - CHICAGO ( December 6, 2018 ) Interrobang Theatre Project is pleased to continue its ninth season, exploring "identity/crisis"with the Chicago premiere of Jonas ...

Gay News

Haven Theatre, About Face Theatre announce casting for The Total Bent 2018-12-06 - CHICAGO ( December 5, 2018 ) — Haven Theatre, in association with About Face Theatre, is pleased to announce casting for its Midwest ...

Gay News

About Face Theatre announces casting for DADA WOOF PAPA HOT 2018-12-06 - CHICAGO ( December 6, 2018 ) — About Face Theatre is pleased to announce casting for its Chicago premiere of DADA WOOF PAPA ...

Gay News

Critics' Picks 2018-12-05 - The Safe House, City Lit Theatre at Edgewater Presbyterian Church, through Dec. 16. The occupants of the title dwelling may be a three-generation ...

Gay News

'When Adonis Calls' through Dec. 9 at Pride Arts 2018-12-05 - Thompson Street Opera Company is collaborating with Pride Films & Plays on the production When Adonis Calls, which will run Fridays through Sundays ...

Gay News

DINING Gift drive, Theater on the Lake, 'Charlie Brown' Christmas 2018-12-04 - —Caffe Umbria, in Logan Square ( 2545 W. Armitage Ave. ) and River North ( 346 N. Clark St. ), is hosting a ...

Gay News

Jane Lynch, Kate Flannery make the yuletide swing 2018-12-04 - Actresses Jane Lynch and Kate Flannery are teaming up this holiday season and hitting the road. The album—A Swingin' Little Christmas! Jane Lynch—features ...

Gay News

Familiar 2018-12-04 - Playwright: Danai Gurira At: Steppenwolf Theatre Company, 1650 N. Halsted St. Tickets: 312-335-1650;; $20-$109. Runs through: January 13 The foundation ...


Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.