Billy the Mountain & Other Wartime Stories | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Billy the Mountain & Other Wartime Stories 

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This rambunctious rock operetta using Frank Zappa's lyrics contends with a handful of awkward impediments. There's the infamous middle finger of a post that sits dead center before the Elbo Room's stage. Then there's the Striding Lion InterArts Workshop's ingenious seating process, contrived to guarantee a musical-chairs free-for-all. Finally, the tale itself--the adventures of Billy, a southern California mountain that picks up and starts lumbering across the continent--presents staging challenges that might stymie Mary Zimmerman. But with the loosey-goosey mixture of Annie Arnoult Beserra's balletic movement and the cartoon prop that director Amanda Berg Wilson employs to conjure up Billy, this sparkling troupe gives the brush-off to all these difficulties and more. Both the music and the musicians are spot-on, conveying the cheese no less than the chops of Saint Frank's cheerfully jaundiced idiom, and though the singing and dancing are utterly unaffected, they're damn fine too--all in all, a smart, fun, funny romp. Through 3/26: Thu 7:30 PM, Sat 7:30 PM. Then 3/31-4/1: Thu-Fri 7:30 PM. Elbo Room, 2871 N. Lincoln, 773-561-0494. $10.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Taneal Sanders.

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