Jack Lemmon Returns Review - Beautiful, Complex and Poignant

Prior to the May 12th opening, Gary Zidek interviewed Chris Lemmon about his new one-man show all about his father, "Jack Lemmon Returns" on WDCB 90.9 FM  (the interview) now playing at The Royal George Theatre.

 

"A Twist of Lemmon: A Tribute to My Father" by Chris Lemmon is Jack Lemmon’s story as seen through the eyes of his son, Chris Lemmon and is the basis of this performance.  The book is a memoir, which Chris took on the road, and those readings eventually turned into a performance piece.  This was successful but Chris wanted to take this performance further and recognized that he needed the help of Hershey Felder to take it to the point where it could be performed as a theatre piece, an entire show.  Fortunately for the audience, all the parts came together resulting in a wonderful show, complex and compelling.

 

During the interview, Chris spoke about the Father/son relationship depicted in the play. This relationship is, at once unique and universal.  Chris also said that his favorite movie is “The Apartment” which is a vehicle for the mixing of comedy and tragedy.  This was, in a way, a tribute to the person Jack Lemmon revered and modeled himself after - Jean-Louis Barrault, actor, director, theatre manager and theoretician developer of a “total” school of acting.  Jack Leomon was struck by Barrault’s brilliance, his skill in combining comedy and tragedy, to deeply affect the viewer’s emotions.

 

When I think of Jack Lemmon, I remember someone I loved to watch, charming and convincing.  Thinking of dramatic actors, his was not the first name that came to mind.  However, after seeing this performance, I will think of him very differently. “Jack Lemmon’s lifelong dream was to be an actor, head to New York from his hometown of Newton, Mass. and “Save Broadway.” At the urging of a show-biz minded mother, but a serious business-minded father, Jack pursued his dream and, due to a remarkable set of events, became one of the world’s all-time great movie stars”.

 

I loved the show. The demonstrated father/son relationship was difficult, and beautiful, the story poignant.  Chris is multitalented, a great story teller, comedian, actor, singer and pianist.  I don’t usually think about Jack Lemon being an outstanding serious actor.  It was really surprising to look over a list of his movies and see how long it is, that he was nominated for countless award and is the only actor to receive an academy award for both best supporting actor and best actor.  The use of projected photos was effective and helpful in relating to the person referred to in the play, helping the audience get to know that person.  The appreciative audience rose, to a show their appreciation. This play is very worthwhile and highly recommended.

 

The artistic team for Chris Lemmon in JACK LEMMON RETURNS is led by Director Hershey Felder with Associate Direction by Trevor Hay. Scenic Design is by Hershey Felder and Emma Hay, Sound Design is by Erik Carstensen, Lighting Design is by Jason Bieber, Projection Design is by Andrew Wilder, and Scenic Decoration is by Meghan Maiya and Emma HayErik Carstensen serves as Production Manager and the Production Stage Manager is Rebecca Peters. Artistic Direction Consultant is Joel Zwick.

 

Performances of Chris Lemmon in JACK LEMMON RETURNS begin Friday, May 2 at 8 p.m. and continue as follows: Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m., Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m. All tickets are $55. Tickets are now on sale at The Royal George Theatre and may be purchased by calling 312.988.9000. Box office hours are 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Tickets may also be purchased online at the Royal George website

 

The Royal George Theatre

1641 N Halsted St,

Chicago, IL 60614

312.988.9000

 

Photos by Charles Osgood

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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