Everyman | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Everyman 

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EVERYMAN, at Voltaire. First presented in 1984, Douglas Post's musical adaptation of the medieval morality play--part of his Christian song cycle, which also includes The Other Wise Man and Gethsemane--is being showcased in a revised concert version, featuring actors singing with scores in hand to recorded accompaniment. The classic story comes through even without staging: Everyman, facing death, seeks support from such allegorical figures as Fellowship, Kindred, and Worldly Goods but finds he must face the final judgment with only Good Deeds to vouch for him.

This bouncy, well-crafted, Godspell-like score might make a good family musical with the aid of choreography and costumes, but it simply isn't memorable enough to stand on its own in a spartan setting like this. And though Post's insistent use of rhymed couplets reflects the verse structure of his source, they give the libretto a singsong feel that trivializes the tale's moral weight.

Tenor Frank Farrell is a great benefit to the production: his thoughtful, impassioned interpretation of the title role gracefully combines humor and gravity. Even with its shortcomings, Post's one-act pop opera is more universal--and much less tedious--than Steppenwolf's 1995 Christmastime staging of the original work.

--Albert Williams

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