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Starting Here Starting Now Review- The Lyrics Tell the Story

By Barbara Keer

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As my companion, Margie, and I waited for the shuttle to take us from the No Exit Cafe to the parking lot where my car was parked, we reviewed our delightful evening, having seen Theoubique Cabaret Theatre's production of Starting Here Starting Now. The evening began when I parked my car in the free parking lot at the North East corner of Ravenswood and Morse, boarded the waiting shuttle, and quickly arrived in front of No Exit

Entering, we were seated at a small table near the stage and noted the intimate space and informal atmosphere. We weren't able to come early enough to have dinner but some people were finishing dinner, which is provided by Heartland Cafe.  We decided on a soft drink and hot tea and relaxed anticipating the show.  It appeared that this would be a pleasant place to chat with fellow theatre-goers as people who didn’t know one another were sharing tables. Our server was charming.

Before long the performance of Starting Here Starting Now began and we noted our server, Hillary Paingre, was  Woman 1 in the production. Other cast members, Woman 2, Stephanie Herman and Man, Teddy Boone had also served customers at other tables.  Being served by the cast made us feel a part of the action.  The endurance of these young performers who served us before the show, performed, served during intermission, performed, and set things in order after the show certainly impressed us.

Starting Here Starting Now is a review of works by David Shire (Music) and Richard Maltby, Jr.(Lyrics) that opened off-Broadway in March of 1977. Shire and Maltby who were Yale alums ultimately had success writing for stage and film.  Early on they wrote several stage musicals that never made it to Broadway.  In this production there is only a sequence of songs that essentially tell stories.  These songs were selected from works that had not previously been used in plays or film and also many that were.

The performance was engaging, energetic and charming. The songs for the most part had complex melodies that were great to listen to but would be hard to go out singing.  On the other hand the lyrics, also complex, had wonderful rhyming stories to tell.  It was impressive that the words were easy to understand.  The three piece band, Eugene Dizon, piano, Cody Siragusa, Bass and Lindsay Williams, percussion were the perfect accompaniment, giving a "Broadway" feeling but not interfering with the performers.

The lighting (Michael M. Nardulli) and costuming (Raquel Adorno) as well and staging, (Adam Veness) added to the realistic feeling in each of the scenes.  Maggie Portman’s Choreography also deserves mention. All of the voices were strong and the blending of the voices was especially pleasant.  Some of the songs I liked best included the following.  Crossword Puzzles was very cleaver, I Don’t Remember Christmas was very well done, We Can Talk to Each Other very funny, Autumn was moving and One Step had a tune you felt you wanted to sing.  I would be remiss were I not to comment on Barbara, that being my name.  Maltby wrote this for his wife in celebration of their first anniversary.  I certainly would not have objected had my husband written it for me!

Fred Anzevino, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Chicago Theoubique Cabaret Theatre began producing plays at the Heartland Studio in 1997 and moved to Michael James’ No Exit Café in 2004. Theo Ubique has produced 35 shows and received 30 Jeff Awards and 3 After Dark Awards.  I certainly believe that they have fulfilled their mission, which is to “engage actors and audiences in an intimate and honest converstion with great theatrical works.”  It is dedicated to being in Rogers Park.  Visit it for an enjoyable evening.  Arrive early and find yourself a great seat.

 Photos: David Heimann

No Exit Café

6970 Glenwood Ave.

Chicago, IL 60626





Published on Sep 27, 2011

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