Little Fish | Theater Wit | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
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click to enlarge Carl Herzog, Jeff Meyer, and Nicole Laurenzi

Carl Herzog, Jeff Meyer, and Nicole Laurenzi

Michael Brosilow

When: Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Aug. 20 2017
Email: kokandyproductions.com
Price: $38, $33 students and seniors
This 2003 off-Broadway musical by composer-librettist Michael John LaChiusa (Hello Again, The Wild Party) is a complex work on a simple theme: learning to trust your imperfect self and to appreciate your friends in a stressful, competitive world. The 90-minute one-act concerns Charlotte, a New York writer in her early 30s, whose decision to quit smoking prompts her to confront—and share with the audience—the anxieties and insecurities she realizes she's been suppressing with nicotine. In lesser hands this premise could result in a whiny Facebook-style rant. But LaChiusa's inventive, bebop-flavored score and an expertly performed, imaginatively staged production keep the show from turning into a preachy pity party. As Charlotte, Chicago newcomer Nicole Laurenzi captures her character's vulnerability, intelligence, humor, and grit, charting Charlotte's emotional arc empathetically and authentically with the support of a superb eight-person ensemble playing multiple roles. The skillfulness of every aspect of this Kokandy Productions Chicago premiere—directed by Allison Hendrix, with choreography by Kasey Alfonso and musical direction by Kory Danielson—make this show a standout. —Albert Williams

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