Sweet Smell of Success | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Sweet Smell of Success 

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In 2002 the Hamlisch/Carnelia/Guare musical version of Ernest Lehman's 1950 novelette (and the 1957 film) was given a pre-Broadway run at the Shubert. Four years later, under Kevin Bellie's direction, it feels swifter, tighter, and much hungrier, the story's cruelties all the more concentrated on an intimate stage. With a plot as seamy as the tabloid column written by antihero J.J. Hunsecker, this musical chokes on its own ambition, its heavy-handed chorus driving home the crises like the wrath of God. But those playing the two protagonists carry it to near glory: Jon Steinhagen, whose J.J. is a dynamo of smooth evil, and, even more electric, Michael Mahler as his corrupt protege, Sidney Falco. The streets don't get any meaner than this. Through 6/25: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM, no show Thu 6/1, Circle Theatre, 7300 W. Madison, Forest Park, 708-771-0700, $22-$24.

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