5:28 PM CDT, September 4, 2013
"Double Trouble" is the name of a blues rock band from Austin, Tex., an Elvis Presley flick, a 1980s TV sitcom starring twins, a movie wherein other twins try to break up a crime ring, an unrelated Australian TV series, and a 2001 stage musical featuring a pair of brothers who are tasked with writing a hit song for a major motion picture during the golden years of Hollywood.
The commonality of the title is indicative of the lack of originality in the material. First penned for a production at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut in 2001, a production that starred the fraternal authors Bob and Jim Walton, "Double Trouble" is one of those B-list shows that are intended to impress the audience with the skills and ingenuity of the performers. Two actors play all the parts. If you saw "The 39 Steps" or, more recently, "Murder for Hire" at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, you perhaps are familiar with the usual architecture of this commercial little genre, popular in resort towns and smaller markets. In this particular manifestation, anachronisms shamelessly abound. But there's really not much to the score.
For the Porchlight Music Theatre season opener, the actors are real-life brothers, just like the Waltons. They also are very decent, Broadway-quality talents. In fact, Adrian Aguilar, who stars here with his bro Alexander, was recently cast as the standby "Rocky" in the upcoming Broadway musical based on the Sylvester Stallone vehicle, which means this production likely will be his last show in Chicago for a while. Both Aguilars are charming personas, decent singers, solid comedians, regular dudes and lively dancers. They're both a pleasure to watch. One only wishes they were appearing in a fresh, sharper show.
For sure, "Double Trouble," wherein the Aguilars transform themselves into the composing brothers, as well as the mogul hiring and/or firing them, an ancient sound guy, and an array of other agents, interns and floozies, has its pleasures. One line, wherein one Aguilar is about to kiss the other, only to sudden declare it "feels so wrong," had me chortling merrily. And there are other decent yuks. But Matthew Crowle's production falls into a trap common with this kind of fare: the individual scenes are allowed to overshadow the overall arc of the show. The Walton brothers built in some tension to the story — will the songwriters come up with a hit song before they get fired? — but even that level of artificial suspense seems to dissipate here. In other words, "Double Trouble" not only needs to move much more quickly than was the case on Tuesday night, when there were indulgences in the pausing, but it needs some actual, macro stakes if it's to hang together as a coherent evening — and not just a bunch of amusing single-scene tricks from fine actors whose best work is still ahead.
When: Through Oct. 6
Where: Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.
Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Tickets: $39 at 773-327-5252 or at porchlightmusictheatre.org
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