For our recent 39th anniversary, the wife and I grabbed our best buddies and headed to Chicago for a matinee play and dinner at Maestro's. Technically, I went mostly for dinner at Maestro's - if you've never been, it's highly recommended. (The butter cake is nothing short of decadent.) And if you've ever saw me, you should realize I'm pretty knowledgeable of good eateries.
Anyway, this review is about the musical we attended, not my gastronomical prowess.
We made our way to the Royal George Theater on Halstead to see "Miracle, A Musical 108 Years in the Making." If you haven't heard about it, it's a spoof on the Chicago Cubs and the anxiety of the 2016 season in which the Cubs won the World Series. I don't think I've spoiled anything with that last comment - it's a matter of historical record the Cubs won the world series in 2016. Plus, I just like writing the words, "the Cubs won the world series."
The day before, I was lucky enough to hear a radio interview of William A. Marovitz, the man who conceived and brought the musical to Chicago, along with Jam Productions co-founder, Arny Granat. Mr. Marovitz is a former Illinois State Senator and was married to Christie Hefner of Playboy fame for a time.
He must have been a long-time suffering Cubs fan like the rest of Cub's nation, as the concept was of generations of family members life-long passion of seeing the Cubs win a world series before they died. Ironically, Mr. Marovitz claimed he had a hunch the Cubs would win it all in 2016 and started the concept of the story-line in February that year...months before "the Cubs won the world series."
The music was written by Michael Mahler, whom Mr. Marovitz called a musical genius. Sorry, but I disagree. For a musical, the musical score was just alright, certainly not of Andrew Lloyd Webber fame (alas - no relation). Sorry Mr. Mahler, but it was too "show-tuney" for my tastes, so maybe it's me that's wrong. I will point out though that my buddy agreed with me - the music was just fair. The cast did a good job with what they had to work with for music, especially the enchanting stand-in, Jenny Sophia.
Note - when reading this critique to my wife before sending it in, she suggested I might be mistaken, and the music was fun and comical. You figure it out.
The first act dealt mostly with the travails of the family struggling to be a Cubs fan, just like the rest of us fans have been all our lives, before of course, "the Cubs won the world series." Charlie, the lead protagonist played by Brandon Dahlquist was so put out by the Cubs, and so afraid of the failure we had all become all too familiar with, that he was even considering a life-altering decision that naturally nobody else in the family agreed. And no, he was not considering anything as drastic as becoming a White Sox fan.
My favorite character was Charlie's dad, Pops, played splendidly by Gene Weygandt. His credits include being a part-time bank robber by the way. Anyway, the relationship between he and his Cub's-Schwarz-obsessed granddaughter, Dani, played wonderfully by Amaris Sanchez, was special. Ironically, Ms. Sanchez looks remarkably like my future daughter-in-law. Of that, my wife and I do agree.
The second act is when the play really kicks in and becomes special for long-time Cubs fans. Using some actual footage of the season, it gives the audience a chance to relive that exciting season, especially when Kris Bryant, giggling like a schoolgirl, fields that weak grounder to throw to Anthony Rizzo to beat out Michael Martinez of the Indians when" the Cub won the world series." Cubs catcher, Wilson Contreras was said to have cried when he saw it.
If you are a Cubs fan, you will enjoy this show...and get a chance to run over to Maestro's.