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Review: NOW AND THEN at The Belmont Theatre

Production runs through March 27th

Review: NOW AND THEN at The Belmont Theatre Theatergoers may be unfamiliar with this hidden gem, but it is worth the risk. The intimate atmosphere of The Belmont Theater's black box playhouse works beautifully with their production of Sean Grennan's Now and Then.

Premiering in 2018, Now and Then is popping up in theaters big and small. Set in Mulligan's Bar, Chicago, this love story (with a twist) begins as the bartender, Jamie (Mike McGuiness), is getting the bar ready for closing time. With only a few minutes remaining, a stranger (Curtis Nelson) walks in and strikes up a conversation. Joined by Jamie's girlfriend, Abby (Jessica Oakhem), the exchange takes an unusual turn when Jamie asks the stranger to leave. Desperate to continue their conversation, the strange man offers them each one thousand dollars to close the bar and chat for another hour. With little hesitation, they accept the generous offer and begin sharing stories. The mystery of this late night guest causes discomfort as the small talk turns personal. The couple's agitation grows with the surprise appearance of yet another stranger (Becky Wilcox).

A show that revolves around four characters and performed in the small personal space of a black box, leaves lots of room for error. To pull off a show such a this requires not only four talented individuals and creative direction, but the cast must also have a certain believable look about them (no spoilers) limiting the casting choices. Fortunately for this audience, The Belmont Theater got it right. Light and sound (Judi Miller and Brandon Miller), costumes (Paul Lajkowicz), props, casting and direction (Chris Koslosky), acting, singing, and set design (Joel Persing) all worked superbly to set the scene and create the necessary illusion.

With such a masterfully produced show, it is hard to choose standouts as each cast member had multiple shining moments. Curtis Nelson's Man was spot on with a likable yet mysterious quality. Mike McGuinness's Jamie was always in character using facial expressions to help tell the story. McGuinness's ability to play off others and always be "in" the scene was commented on by many observers. Jessica Oakhem's Abby was adorable and funny. Her timing was great and her rapport with other characters was memorable. The fiery and passionate female stranger brought to life by Becky Wilcox created new depth and emotion to the show. Congrats to The Belmont Theatre for finding such a remarkable team.

Forgiving a somewhat lengthy and possibly unnecessary scene change, Now and Then at The Belmont Theatre went off without a hitch. While I had never heard of this play before, I will certainly be looking for it in the future. For more information about this and other shows at The Belmont Theatre visit:

Review by Jason and Julia Davis

From This Author - Jason Davis

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