BWW Reviews: Faustian Silliness in Arouet's DON JUAN IN CHICAGO
I must apologize, Dear Readers, for getting this one to you so late. But alas when the Mothership beckons I must go. Unfortunately it meant me coming late to the party that is Arouet's production of David Ives' "Don Juan in Chicago" which leaves you only two more chances to see this hilarious production, which I urge you to do. Some beautiful direction and a killer ensemble make this bit of Ives' deliciousness even more fun.
But then since we're starting off with the meaty dialogue that is Ives' trademark, we're off to an excellent start as we venture forth with legendary lothario Don Juan (Dylan Smith) as he makes a deal with the devil (Caitlin Frances) to live forever. But, as it always is with these deals, there's a catch. Don Juan must bed a different woman every night in order to remain alive and not be sent off to the fiery pit. And so he and his unfortunate manservant Leporello (Zach Sanders), who's been wrangled into this deal, traverse the years and the world in order for the Don to continually get lucky. From Spain of 1599 to present day Chicago they must find one willing woman each night all the while dodging the attention of Dona Elvira (Amanda Falcone), another immortal and Don Juan's first conquest who has vowed to bed him one more time, which is of course against the rules since the Don can have no woman twice.
True, the meatiness of Ives' work and his gift of language is a terrific foundation for any production but that by no means makes it bulletproof. But director Joshua Jon has such a firm grasp on the tone and pace needed for the show that you can't help but enjoy yourself. Plus he's gathered a top-notch cast. Smith bowls his way through the show with some wonderful timing and you can't help but like him no matter what horrible things he does. At times he could do with savoring some of that Ives dialogue a bit more but he's super fun nonetheless and an adorable reluctant cad. Falcone too lacks a bit of focus at times but matches Smith on the fun aspect. In some of the smaller roles, Randall Brammer and Amberlee Williams as the innocent couple next door and Kate Witt and Todd Hull as the not so innocent couple dragged into the Don's schemes completely shine in their own ways with some beautiful comic intent. But it's Frances and Sanders who steal the show. Frances with the way she practically slithers around the stage makes for a delectably sultry devil. And Sanders with some spot on perfect comedic timing makes this underdog of a servant the one to root for.
All told, a not often enough produced Ives put on by an incredible team with an obvious love for the material. Again, I'm sorry you only have two more chances to see it but if you have the time, you should make an effort as I give this show a solid YAY with my three letter rating system. Too much fun!
"Don Juan in Chicago" from Arouet performs at the Ballard Underground through May 31st. For tickets or information visit them online at www.arouet.us.