Merely hearing favorite songs would be enough reason to see “Now & Forever: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber,” a world premier now playing at Marriott Theatre.
However, add in creative, romantic and jazzy dance numbers, a terrific band and some exceptional vocals and you have a great evening of, as one Webber show title says, “Song & Dance.” The production glows like the "Phantom's" crystal chandelier.
The show opens on a dramatic note. House lights, out. The ominous chords of the “Phantom of the Opera Overture,” echo and bounce. A crystal chandelier that had been poised at eye level, rises and glows with changing colors. Drapery and smaller chandeliers appear.
The Webber tribute, conceived by Jeff award-winners Lead Artistic Director Aaron Thielen and Director/Choreographer Marc Robin, is off to rousing, appreciative applause.
And the applause continues throughout the show. Each song and dance number stands alone on the merits of its talented performers.
In Act I, Broadway regular Erin Stewart, (“A Little Night Music,” “Phantom”) does a memorable “The Phantom of the Opera” number with Max Quinlan who just played Marius in the 25th anniversary tour of “Les Miserables.”
Near the end of Act II, Quinlan does an amazing “Gethsemane” from “Jesus Christ Superstar” that is worth returning with friends just to see it again.
Earlier in Act II, is the terrific trio presentation of “Love changes Everything” from “Aspects of Love” sung by Quinlan with Utah Shakespeare Festival regular Ben Jacoby and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre performer Travis Taylor.
Singer Jameson Cooper, regularly seen at Marriott (“Hero,” “Legally Blonde,” “For the Boys, “A Chorus Line” shows his band-performance talents as the guitarist in “Close Every Door” from “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” sung by Brian Bohr (Marriott’s “Joseph.”
The show also stars singers Linda Balgord (Marriott, Broadway, national tours), Catherine Lord (Light Opera Works, Marriott) and Susan Moniz, Marriott, Chicago Shakespeare Theater).
From rhythmic and contemporary to ballet and traditional numbers, exceptional dance routines are as much a part of “Now & Forever” as the songs.
Melissa Zaremba (“42nd Street” national tour, Marriott’s “My One and Only” dance captain) did a spectacular routine from “Song & Dance,” with Cooper, Michael Darnell (Inaside Chicago Dance, Marriott) and Raymond Interior (Dance Alloy, Winifred Haun and Dancers), choreographed by Marc Robin.
Lauren Blane (Giordano Dance Chicago) Darnell, Ellen Green (Royal Danish Ballet and Ballet Chicago) and Luke Manley (Lyric Opera of Chicago, River North Dance Chicago, American Repertory Ballet) shone in a “Song & Dance” piece choreographed by Emmy nominee and multiple award winner Harrison McEldowney (Lyric opera, television,, film, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Wilson Dow Group, Under the Radar).
Singer Stephanie Binetti (Marriott’s White Christmas and Legally Blonde)led a fun number with the show’s dancers in “Buenos Aires” from “Evita,” choreographed by Marriott Associate Director/choreographer Matt Raftery.
The production also features dancers Sam Rogers (Broadway, Lyric Opera) and Monique Haley (River North Chicago Dance Company).
Unless you are an avid fan of Webber or musical theater, you might not be able to match all the song or dance numbers with their shows. Numbers come from “Phantom, “Aspects of Love,” “Sunset Boulevard,” “ Cats,” “The Woman in White,” “Song & Dance,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Starlight Express,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat ” “Lover Never Dies,” “Evita,” “Requiem,” and “Whistle Down the Wind.”
Don’t worry. The stage bill lists them. But because the musical numbers chosen for a performance can vary, an insert is added into the program that details the day’s choices.
Details: “Cats” had seemed like the “Forever” Broadway show until supplanted by “Phantom” which opened on Broadway January 1988 and is still there. “Now & Forever: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber,” is at the Marriott Theatre now through March 17. Tickets are $40-$48. For more information and tickets visit MarriottTheatre and call 847-634-0200. The Marriott Theatre is 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, IL 60069 (at Milwaukee Avenue immediately south of Illinois Highway 22).