On the Boulevard | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

On the Boulevard 

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Among the words that could have been invented just to describe Liliane Montevecchi are gamine and glamorous. She's an elegant waif of a performer who looks and acts nothing like a woman of her 60-some years is supposed to act. In this cabaret revue, created for her by director Tommy Tune, she combines the ingenuous charm of a youngster with the confident composure that's achieved only by a lifetime in the theater. Reflecting on an international career that has taken her from Hollywood (where she played opposite Elvis Presley in King Creole), back to Paris (where she danced in Roland Petit's ballet company and in the Folies-Bergere), and then to Broadway (where she starred in the musicals Nine and Grand Hotel), Montevecchi guides the audience on a brief but memorable tour through the Paris of her birth and our dreams. Stoking the trip are songs by Charles Aznavour (a grippingly intense "Le temps"), Jacques Prevert (the sad, sighing "Les feuilles mortes," better known here as "Autumn Leaves"), and Edith Piaf (whom Montevecchi remarkably evokes without imitating in "La vie en rose"), as well as such Americans as Cole Porter (whose "I Love Paris" she delivers with a melancholy passion that's irresistible) and Stephen Sondheim (whose S and M serenade "I Never Do Anything Twice" she plays with comically skeptical understatement). With Montevecchi as the focus, director Tune creates a series of carefully constructed miniature tableaux, employing a few simple but indispensable lighting effects, a high-fashion accessory or two, a strolling violinist, and Montevecchi's throaty voice, elfin eyes, and fabulously expressive hands. Halsted Theatre Centre, 2700 N. Halsted, 348-0110. Through May 30: Tuesdays, 8 PM; Wednesdays-Fridays, 8:15 PM; Saturdays, 6 and 9:30 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $15-$27.50.

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