Attending one of the musical shows at No Exit Café, that little treasure on Glenwood where Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre makes musicals exciting and affordable, is always a treat. Whether they take on a full-scale musical, bringing it down in size to a cabaret style, or a musical that is more song than story, one always walks away from this theater feeling “good!” Their current show is more of a musical treat than a play. It is called “Honky Tonk Angels” and is written by Ted Swindley, who wrote “Always Patsy Cline” which scored really big for this company back in 2014.
“Honky Tonk Angels” is two hours of great music, mostly country, and the title comes from a Kitty Wells song, “It Wasn’t God That Made Honky Tonk Angels.” The story, smoothly directed by Courtney Crouse, is about three different women, who have unhappy lives that need change. They leave their safe homes and lives for the adventure of heading to Nashville in order to become country singers. After they meet at the bus station and all hit it off, they decide to partner up and become a trio of Angels. The story is hokey, and for the most part this show could be done with these three talented ladies just performing one song after another. It would have been effective at that.
But since Theo Ubique is known for its storytelling along with the music, the script, as hokey as it is, still strings together these three ladies and their adventure. The songs are favorites and some I was unaware of as “country.” There are over 25 songs in this two-hour show (including a 15-minute intermission). Songs like: “Stand By Your Man,” “These Boots Were Made For Walkin’,” “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “Nine to Five,” and one that surprised me, but they did a wonderful job with, “I Will Always Love You” (Dolly Parton wrote this, but most of us know the Whitney Houston version), and a whole lot more.
Let me take a moment here to once again praise the people at this theater. They seem to find talent everywhere! Angela (who is the main lady) is played by Colette Todd, returning to TU where she was nominated for several Jeff Awards (and one best supporting actress as Clara in “Passion”). She is dynamic and her personality is powerful. Her stage sisters are Leryn Turlington as Darlene, and with her looks, her voice and her musical ability, this is a name you will see for years to come. The third part of the trio of Angels is Sue Ellen, played to perfection by Jacqueline Jones who has a great country sound.
These three ladies held the full house spellbound from start to finish leaving the audience wanting more (they did do a bit of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” after the curtain call). What an evening! Three beautiful and talented ladies making each and every audience member forget that it was VERY cold outside, and that we had just experience several inches of snow over the weekend. AH, the beauty of live entertainment!
Those of you who have been to this storefront know that this is one of the most intimate spaces for a musical. There are about 60 seats in total. Adam Veness has created a set that does make us feel as if we are in some little country bar and the tech people have done a great job of lighting (James Kolditz) the space. The props (Katie Beeks) and costumes (Bill Morey) make it all feel real, and the “orchestra,” if one can call it that, led by Jeremy Ramey at the keyboards, with Carlos Mendoza, Perry Cowdery and Alex Piazza, truly fill the space without ever overpowering these ladies. Ramey is also the musical director, and the choreography (Cameron Turner), although limited, is sharp as can be and very fitting.
By Alan Bresloff
If you like country music, this is one that will satisfy your appetite (and then some). This one shines and will continue at least thru January 29, 2017 with performances as follows:
Thursdays 7:30 p.m.
Fridays 8 p.m.
Saturdays 8 p.m.
Sundays 7 p.m.
Tickets range from $34-$39
seniors and student save $4.
There are also RUSH tickets for college students at $15, sold for cash only on day of performance, subject to availability.
Dinner special: for $25 you can add a three-course meal (must be pre-ordered and pre-paid) oven-baked chicken with biscuits and creamed corn, a salad, and for dessert, what else but sweet potato pie. Check out the website at www.theo-u.com where you can also order you seats, or call
The No Exit Café is located at 6970 N. Glenwood in Rogers Park. Very close to the Morse Avenue Red Line stop. Parking is available, but limited.
The website will explain the parking procedure they have – you park in a free designated lot and they shuttle you to and from the theater.