Fans of early Stephen Sondheim musicals will find this production of Anyone Can Whistle a rare treat, something not performed very often, while featuring some of Sondheim’s best songs.
Playing now through October 10 at Skokie Theatre’s MapKap Productions,this Tony Award-nominated musical includes “There Won’t Be Trumpets,” “Everyone Says Don’t” and the title song, “Anyone Can Whistle.”
With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Arthur Laurents, this play originally produced in 1964, follows the story of a greedy and corrupt Mayoress Cora Hoover Hooper, who will stop at nothing be liked by her constituents.
It is her intention to fake a small “miracle” to boost her popularity and build the town coffers with tourist money, helped by her equally corrupt treasurer, comptroller and chief of police. Filled with satire and humor, the play will keep you laughing with its hysterical, comedic antics.
But her plan goes haywire when Fay Apple, a skeptical nurse in charge of the “cookie jar” sets 40 inmates free from the local asylum. They must identify and capture the inmates, but determining who is crazy and who is not turns out to be more complicated that it appears, especially when two of them fall in love.
The two female leads, Sarah Sapperstein and Lindsey Jane Bullen as Cora and Fay are outstanding. Their strong powerful voices lead the cast throughout the zany play as both soloists and ensemble. Also adorable as miracle-child Baby Joan is Heidi Hansfield, in another great MadKap production role.
The show is directed by Jason Fleece with musical direction by Aaron Kaplan, choreography by Marianne Brown and produced by Wendy Kaplan, as a tribute to her mother Diana Krasny who served as the General Manager of the original production on Broadway. Kudos to costume designer Joseph Jefferson Award-winner Beth Laske-Miller for dressing the Mayoress as a true golden girl. Cora shimmered every time she was on stage.
Interesting to note, the musical is accompanied by a live orchestra that performs from the back of the theatre, on top and hidden from the audience.
The show also stars Andrew Buel, Jonah Cochin, Katherine Dalin, Jeri Hart, Ben Isabel, Christopher Johnson, Riley Lynn, Aaron Mann, Wendy Parman, Mary Rose, Dustin Rothbart, Dennis Schnell, Evan B. Smith, Amanda Vinson and Brian Warner.
For the safety and comfort of guests at the Skokie Theatre, audiences will be limited to 50 out of the 150 seats. A new state-of-the art air-filtration system has been installed, and MadKap productions requires all patrons to remain masked and show proof of vaccination on arrival. All Skokie Theatre staff, cast, musicians, ushers and crew are fully vaccinated.
Anyone Can Whistle is the first show in MadKap Productions 2021-22 Play series. Other shows in the series include The Wind Phone, by Chicago playwright Madelyn Sergel (Nov), John Patrick Shanley’s Tony Award-winning drama, Doubt (Feb), and the musical murder mystery Something’s Afoot (April). A series ticket costs only $125 and includes a fifth ticket that can be used to bring a guest to any one of the productions.
The play shows Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2:00 pm. with a Wednesday afternoon matinee on September 22 at 1:30 pm. Tickets are $45 general admission, $38 for seniors and students and can be purchased online at SkokieTheatre.org or by calling 847-677-7761.