For the Boys, a musical world premiere at Marriott Theatre, is a five star winner.
Unlike many Marriott shows that showcase exceptional dancing, For the Boys depends on suburb acting to carry off its poignant theme of entertaining the troops in the trenches. Audiences are more likely to leave the theater thinking about the sacrifices made in today’s wars instead of leaving with one of the show’s melodies on their lips.
The musical stars Michele Ragusa and Timothy Gulan, two Broadway and National musical tour veterans who beautifully balance comedy, anguish and family struggles with the “show must go on” attitude – particularly when it is for the troops.
Adapted for the stage by Marriott Theatre Co-Artistic Director Aaron Thielen, the musical is based on the 1991 20th Century movie of the same name.
The film starred Bette Midler and James Caan as Dixie Leonard and Eddie Sparks, two USO entertainers who performed for the troops during World War II, Korea and Vietnam and did a television show together in spite of their often contentious relationship.
Ragusa has the perfect personality and voice to play, Dixie, a 1940s big-band singer who reluctantly teams with Eddie, a song and dance man with an ego to match his popularity. Gulan has a strong, fine voice that sometimes plays a secondary role to his convincing take as Eddie the charming rogue.
Longtime Midwest actor Michael Weber who is also artistic Director of Porchlight Music Theatre, acts as a dollop of honey when first, as Dixie’s uncle Art Silver and Eddie’s comedy writer, he brings them together, then, later on he attracts McCarthyism’s sting.
Silver pairs with Loretta Brooks, a delightful Rose Marie (Dick Van Dyke show) type of character played by popular Midwest actress Anne Gunn.
Horizontal movie screens, clothes and aging personalities mark the show’s decade changes. It all comes together in well-conducted harmony under the skillful direction of Marc Robin who also choreographed the show, the set design by Thomas M. Ryan and fine costuming by Nancy Missimi.
The music also reflects the decades. Instead of writing new songs, copyrights were obtained for popular music of the 1940s, 50s and 60s such as “You are My Sunshine, “GI Jive,” I Remember You,” “I Wish You Love” and “Come Rain or Come Shine.”
Details: For the Boys opened Aug. 26 and and continues through Oct. 16, 2011.
Tickets $40-$48 Marriott Theatre, 847-634-0200
Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, IL 60069