A Wrigleyville and Cubs story make great theater

Cast of Miracle The Musical 108 years in the Making at Royal George Theatre. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)
Cast of Miracle The Musical 108 years in the Making at Royal George Theatre. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

4 stars

Audiences at “Miracle: A musical 108 years in the making” know the outcome of the 2016 World Series but they don’t know what will happen to the Delaney’s who own “Maggies,” a longtime, neighborhood friendly, Wrigleyville bar. Maggie is Pops deceased wife who is represented by a lit picture on the wall and the gravestone Pops  visits.

Directed by Damon Kiely, the entire cast is so good that everyone gasps when it looks like Charlie (Brandon Dalquist) will sell the bar to Weslowski (Michael Kingston) because Pops (Gene Weygandt) missed a few property tax payments and because he worries that daughter Dani will grow up stuck in the family bar like he did.

A note about Dani. The role is shared by Elise Wolf and Amaris Sanchez. I saw Wolf who was amazing. Good as everyone is, she still stole the show with her impressive dance moves and expressive 11-year-old-style reactions.

The Cubs 2016 year continues to play out on the screens above the stage as separately and together, Charlie and his wife, Sofia (Allison Sills), a teacher about to be laid off because of budget cuts, go through a difficult time financially, and the Cubs look like everyone will still be saying “wait until next year.”

The screens represent the TVs in the bar that supposedly are located on the fourth wall (where the audience sits) so expect the actors to be looking at you. Mike Tutaj’s projection design also shows the Wrigleyville neighborhood and the cemetery.

Added to the mix are Maggie’s Bar supporters, Larry (Jonathan Butler-Duplessis) a lawyer during the day, friend and bar tender when needed, and Babs (Veronica Garza) a friend who has trouble making her nearby store succeed.

The show moves easily from one really good song by Michael Mahler and fun dance movement choreographed by Dina DiCostanzo to the next. Led by conductor/pianist Kory Danielson the orchestra, hidden just below the stage, are terrific.

The only song not written by Mahler was “The Voice Above the Crowd” about the announcers who have been heard at Wrigley Field over the years, written by Larry Novak with lyrics by Julian and Rhona Frazin.

Jason Brett’s dialogue was spot on ranging from hope to disappointment and from gloom to sunshine across three generations of Delaneys. Colette Pollard’s set design presents both an old fashioned bar and the bedrooms above.

The funny, unexpected to me, thing that happened was that even though everyone in the audience knew the series results, they proudly clapped when the the final out that won the pennant appeared on the screens. They also clapped in time to the final number.

It is so much fun seeing a production where the audience is as enthusiastic as the players on stage. This is a show where only a minority in the audience did not wear a Cub hat or shirt or some symbol of their team loyalty.

DETAILS: Originally conceived by William A. Marowitz and Juilian Frazin, “Miracle: a musical 108 years in the making,” is at Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St., Chicago, as an open run. Running time: 2 hrs, 16 minutes with one intermission. For Tickets and other information call (312.988.9000) or visit MiracletheMusical.

Jodie Jacobs

Relate: Miracle Musical

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

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