Music is Love’s Food: A Review of The Notebook at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater

By | October 7, 2022

Center Allie (Pleasure Woods) and Center Noah (Ryan Vasquez) on the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s World Premiere of ‘The Pocket book’/Photograph: Liz Lauren


A best-selling 1996 novel by Nicholas Sparks and a well-liked 2004 movie with a cult following, “The Pocket book” has lastly been unveiled as a long-awaited Broadway-bound musical after a number of years in improvement.

On paper, such an endeavor appeared precarious. How may a musical adaptation carry the gravity and nuance of an ailing aged couple’s journey attempting to relive and rediscover the thrill and turbulence of a lifetime of love via the fog of Alzheimer’s illness?

The brainchild of former Deerfield resident and Broadway impresario Kevin McCollum – who additionally initially developed the award-winning “Six” on the Chicago Shakespeare Theater the place “The Pocket book” had its world premiere Thursday evening – the hit Masterful was recruiting folk-pop singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson to write down the songs and lyrics.

That is Michaelson’s first musical, however it fully nailed his first effort out of the park. A lot of what makes a musical work is not simply nice songs, though “The Pocket book” has loads of them. Equally necessary is how the music organically enhances the narrative, what it could actually talk that phrases alone can not. Right here the reply is all the pieces.

Youthful Noah (John Cardoza) and Youthful Allie (Jordan Tyson) on the world premiere of The Pocket book on the Chicago Shakespeare Theater

There are three incarnations of Allie and Noah: Youthful Allie and Noah, Center Allie and Noah, and Older Allie and Noah. Michaelson’s songwriting voice stays so constant via every one that we neither discover nor care concerning the change forwards and backwards (and sure, thanks additionally to the unbelievable vocal and dramatic virtuosity of a stellar solid) . The fantastic thing about that is that the three Noahs, for instance, can sing in unison or in concord on the identical time. Youthful Allie and Noah can be a part of the ranks of us, the viewers, watching what occurs when Center Allie and Noah reunite after years of separation. The music is brilliantly allowed to convey timelessness. At one level, Center Allie and Noah sing a duet of their innermost ideas which might be by no means straight spoken. It is a stellar second as a result of it lets us get excessive with their hearts whereas their heads are nonetheless sorting issues out.

In reality, this present continually upends our regular expectations of time. From the opening, when Older Noah watches Youthful Allie and Noah, we go away on a regular basis time behind and enter a dreamlike world way more “actual” than clock time.

Older Allie (Maryann Plunkett), Center Allie (Pleasure Woods) and Youthful Allie (Jordan Tyson) within the Chicago Shakespeare Theater world premiere manufacturing of

A lot in order that in the long run it is all Older Allie is left with, no less than when the phrases she wrote in her pocket book about their life’s love journey are learn to her again and again and might quickly mild an ember in rekindled ardour. This music is used to do this – which is meant to be the very last thing to do when the reminiscence of the on a regular basis evaporates – is extraordinarily highly effective and thought-provoking.

“The Pocket book” in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare on Navy Pier, 800 East Grand Avenue,, (312) 595-5600. Till October 30.

Youthful Noah (John Cardoza), Older Noah (John Beasley) and Center Noah (Ryan Vasquez) within the Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s world premiere manufacturing of ‘The Pocket book’ / Photograph: Liz Lauren

Youthful Noah (John Cardoza) and Youthful Allie (Jordan Tyson), Older Noah (John Beasley) and Older Allie (Maryann Plunkett), and Center Noah (Ryan Vasquez) and Center Allie (Pleasure Woods) on this planet premiere manufacturing of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater of “Le Carnet”/Photograph: Liz Lauren

Older Noah (John Beasley) and Older Allie (Maryann Plunkett) within the Chicago Shakespeare Theater world premiere manufacturing of