Visit the War Years in Sentimental Journey

 

Ross Lehman with pianist Chuck Larkin n Sentimental Journey at Citadel Theatre. (Photo by North Shore Camera Club)
Ross Lehman with pianist Chuck Larkin n Sentimental Journey at Citadel Theatre. (Photo by North Shore Camera Club)

3.5 stars

If you see “Sentimental Journey: A Musical Tale of Love and War” at Citadel Theatre, you may want to ask you parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles about their lives during WWII or Vietnam.

The show is actor Ross “Robbie” Lehman’s ode to his parents, Katey and Ross Lehman.

By telling their story through such 1940’s songs as “I May Be Wrong (But I Think You’re Wonderful),” “I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now,” “Sentimental Journey” and “We’ll Meet Again” with some Irish roots thrown in with “Molly Malone” and “Danny ‘Boy,”  and by reading their letters in the voice of the writer, you learn about their meeting, dating and enduring the uncertainties and traumatic emotional and physical toll of war.

Lehman, whom theater goers know from seeing him at Chicago Shakespeare, Steppenwolf and Goodman, easily adopts the voices and mannerisms of Katey, a writer with a cigarette in one hand and a drink nearby, and Ross, a pipe (later cigar) smoker who loved to sing and was often chosen as an event’s emcee.

The first act, about 55 minutes, is filled with charming stories..The second act of about 35 minutes, turns emotional as you learn about his father’s horrific war experiences.

He takes his father’s bomber jacket out of its frame on the set to show the holes made by German flak and in a video close-up you see the medals, including the Purple Heart, that are also framed.

Ross Lehman in sentimental Journey at Citadel Theatre. (Photo by North Shore Camera Club)
Ross Lehman in Sentimental Journey at Citadel Theatre. (Photo by North Shore Camera Club)

The frames are on a wall that even with a video screen on one side showing parents, family members and bombers, gives the set created by Timoth Mann, an intimate feeling. To one side is the piano played for some shows by co-musical director Chuck Larkin and other times by co-musical director Mark Weston.

Lehman credits his granddaughter Carlyn Hudson with the choreography (also shown in a video) so you know that the love of music and performance is passing down to another generation. BTW, Lehman is a faculty member at Loyola University and has taught acting, musical theatre and  Shakespeare at DePaul and Northwestern Universities.

Directed by Mark Lococo who knows the Lehman family, the play is a way to better understand the War Years.

“Sentimental Journey: A Musical Tale of Love and War” is at Citadel Theatre, 300 S. Waukegan Rd., Lake Forest, through May 26. Run time: 100 minutes including one intermission. For tickets and other information call (847) 735-8554 and visit Citadel Theatre.

Jodie Jacobs

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

 

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