“I Ought To Be In Pictures” Review – A Wonderful Evening With Neil Simon

People came from near and far to enjoy an evening with Neil Simon’s poignant play I Ought To Be In Pictures playing at JCC Chicago - Mayer Kaplan JCC in Skokie. This was an Emergent Theatre production. This theater company began in 2010 and this production is it’s fourth.  The audience comments were very positive and this opening performance received a standing ovation.

 

Jim Saltouros(Herb) and Kelly Levander (Steffy)

 

Emergent Theatre is about telling stories. As they say about themselves,Our goal is to celebrate and depict the human spirit in an honest and entertaining way through the telling of story. Whether it's a classic or new work, a comedy or drama, we aspire to tell it in a manner that will leave the audience affected, moved and fulfilled. Visit the Emergent Theatre website for more information.”

 

 

In contrast to the previous Emergent Theatre production which was very “heavy”,  his play was chosen because it is one of Neil Simon's lesser, if not seldom, produced gems. “We believe it is a story that has universal resonance with people on a number of fronts: family, abandonment, fear (of commitment, responsibility, growing up, etc.) love, hope, promise, and the proposition that it is never to late to start anew. Not from any point in the past, but rather from this point forward. That having been said, we felt it was every bit as humorous as it was heart-warming. Thankfully, it seems to strike a chord with virtually everyone, even if it is for very different reasons.”

 

 

Directed by Robert Constanzo , I Ought To Be In Pictures is the story of Herb Tucker (Jim Saltouros), a struggling Hollywood screenwriter experiencing a writer’s block who receives an unexpected visit from his daughter, Libby (Kelsey Gilbert)and Herb’s girlfriend Steffy (Kelly Levander). The technical team for this production includes Marlana Carlson (Stage Manager); Lauren Angel-Nichols (Set Designer); Erik Berry (Lighting Design); Issac Nichols (Sound Design) and John Ofori (Technical Direction).

 

 

In this comedy-drama we quickly learn the Herb has abandoned his wife daughter and son in New York.  Libby shocks her father when she arrives at her father’s West Hollywood home asking for his help in her goal of becoming an actress.  In the course of the two weeks that Libby stays with her father she establishes a relationship with her father and also forces him to reconnect with her mother and brother and face his on-again/off-again relationship with his girlfriend, Steffy.

 

This performance was compelling and charming.  Each of the actors was convincing and captivating but the standout was Kelsey Gilbert’s Libby.  The set and staging were completely consistent with the story. The venue was excellent.  It was well located, comfortable and parking was available.  It was a pleasant, hopeful experience, a great night out. Go see it!

 

The production runs until April 27, 2014 at the Mayer Kaplan JCC Theatre, 5050 Church Street, Skokie, Illinois 60077.  Performances times are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm, Sundays at 3:00pm.  Tickets are $25.00 for Adults and $15.00 for Senior/Students.  Tickets are available at Brown Paper Tickets or by calling (773) 729-7294. 

 

Photos: Courtesy of Emergent Theatre

Check: Chicago Theatre Beat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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