Andrew Lloyd Webber seduces on small stage

The last time you could see a significant production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Aspects of Love" in Chicago was more than 20 years ago, when a touring company played the old Civic Theatre, now used by the Lyric Opera as a rehearsal space. The No Exit Cafe in Rogers Park is a far cry from that, but, under the imaginative direction of Fred Anzevino, this throbbing, late-1980s tuner becomes quite the sexy vehicle for the luminous Kelli Harrington, the actress who won the Jeff Award last year for her work in "The Light in the Piazza" at this very theater.

"Aspects of Love," which can be amusing in moments its creators did not intend, is no "Piazza." Its plot — which reminds one partly of "La Ronde" and partly of the lazy sensual ambience of the movie "Stealing Beauty" — ultimately involves the potential seduction of a young girl, a theme that has not aged well. But the Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre continues its remarkably consistent run, turning out a beautifully sung non-Equity production that showcases, along with Harrington's, the formidable talents of two other women who revolve in and out of each other's love lives, the delightfully ironic Colette Todd and the remarkably intense Rochelle Therrien. Partly by necessity in such a small space, Anzevino wisely stays away from the florid qualities of a piece that can bog down in its own portentousness, focusing instead on the desperate nature of the sensualist lives it takes from the David Garnett novel of the same name.

Harrington, a huge talent, really is spectacularly suited to the role of Rose Vibert, the hungry actress who tours in Ibsen and gets addicted to the drama of all that, not to mention two different men: Alex (Matthew Keffer) and George (Sean Thomas). Alas, as she laments on more than one occasion, she has only one life to love. The weakness of this production involves how much you do (or don't) believe in the depth of the connection between Harrington and these men, who can be overly hesitant. And there are times when Thomas, whose George is the one with the money, could show more of the fangs of power. But even if some of the acting occasionally feels isolated, the characters are vivid, the ensemble is part of the emotional pull, and the stakes rise exactly as they should. And the singing really is something to hear, especially in such close quarters.

The vocals are matched by the cleverness of Anzevino's staging — what used to be the over-the-top production numbers now feel quite organic and earnest — and also by the undeniably immersive quality of the production, which is costumed with great elegance and sensuality by Bill Morey, who takes full advantage of this cast of beautiful people, all messing each other up.


When: Through April 21

Where: No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood Ave.

Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Tickets: $30-$64 (some price levels include dinner) at 800-595-4849 or

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Aldermen looking to stop stores from getting around plastic bag ban

    Aldermen looking to stop stores from getting around plastic bag ban

    Chicago's ban on plastic bags starts to take effect at many big stores Saturday, but an alderman who helped craft the law already is talking about changing it in order to thwart a few large retail chains that he says are trying to skirt the new rules.

  • State police: Man shot while riding in van on Eisenhower

    State police: Man shot while riding in van on Eisenhower

    A man was shot multiple times while traveling in a minivan on the inbound Eisenhower Expressway on Friday morning, authorities said.

  • Lollapalooza liquor gardening: fact or fiction?

    Lollapalooza liquor gardening: fact or fiction?

    It may sound like an urban legend: Music festival-goers bury bottles of booze in Chicago parks, plot a GPS location for the goods and uncover them days later when the festival comes alive.

  • Chicago plans to cut O'Hare noise by rotating runways at night

    Chicago plans to cut O'Hare noise by rotating runways at night

    The Emanuel administration on Friday will propose an experiment at O'Hare International Airport to rotate the runways used late at night, possibly on a weekly basis, to spread out jet noise, the city's aviation chief told the Chicago Tribune.

  • Almost 6 acres of land added near Fullerton Avenue Beach

    Almost 6 acres of land added near Fullerton Avenue Beach

    Along Chicago's lakefront at Fullerton Avenue Beach, cranes rolled along a causeway that only a few months ago was part of the lake itself. Every day this summer, roughly 40 construction workers are filling in Lake Michigan with dredged material and gravel, which will eventually add up to 5.8 acres...

  • Doughnut panic

    Doughnut panic

    I'm not ashamed to admit that for the past several years, I have mapped my walk to work around which doughnut shop I'd like an excuse to stop at on the way. There's nothing like the thought of a crunchy, craggy old fashioned doughnut or the sweet, yeasty chew of a classic glazed doughnut to help...