Hello Again | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Hello Again 

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Hello Again, Circle Theatre. A major miscalculation dogs Michael John LaChiusa's 1995 musical trivialization of Arthur Schnitzler's La ronde. In 1900 Schnitzler's bittersweet depiction of intersecting lovers indulging in a sexual round dance--the first and last lovers come full circle--was bold comedy. Its game of erotic tag created a democracy of desire. Wisely, LaChiusa (known for The Wild Party, also produced by Circle) updates the soldier, governess, writer, count, and other characters and adds some same-sex couplings.

LaChiusa goes wrong, however, by spreading their liaisons across the entire 20th century--presumably to show off a pastiche score that, sadly, remains generic and uninspired. Even worse is his choice to run the scenes in an odd order: plucked out of steerage by a randy tycoon, the pretty boy who does a stupid tango on the Titanic (as it goes down) becomes in the next scene a disco bunny ogled by an ego-ridden screenwriter. With each scene you can only ask, "Why?" and "So what?"

Happily, the physical attractiveness and inexhaustible energy of director Kevin Bellie's supple young cast make this 95-minute show far sexier than it deserves. But despite their lustful characters, they seem curiously innocent. And as a reward for all their high-spirited crooning and hoofing, these wonderful overachievers simply reinvent sexist or misogynist stereotypes in silly shenanigans. Bellie's time-capsule costumes chart the decades but stand out too starkly against a bland burgundy backdrop.


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