To close out its 2016-17 season, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre will revive its highly acclaimed original musical revue, Jacques Brel’s Lonesome Losers of the Night. The revue conceived by Theo Ubique’s Artistic Director Fred Anzevino and Arnold Johnston was originally produced by the company in 2008 and was nominated for the 2008-2009 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Musical. It was remounted the summer of 2009 at Theatre on the Lake.
The revue of songs by Belgian singer/songwriter Jacques Brel follows two soldiers at port in a shabby waterfront bar in Amsterdam. Together with the bartender and a woman in the bar, they sing Brel songs of sex, death, bruised romance and hope. Brel has been described as writing with a mix of brutal honesty and absolute beauty,” as exemplified by his song “Rosa” (featured in the show), which concludes with the observation “roses also have thorns.” Reviewing the 2008 production, the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Jones said “Anzevino's subtly toned show still transports you to a rough, guttural ambience that feels something akin to Eugene O'Neill's sea plays and is positively bursting with the aura of European dislocation and humanistic emotional oomph.”
Appearing as the two soldiers will be Neil Stratman and David Moreland. Stratman’s recent credits include Tomorrow Morning and Loving Repeating for Kokandy Productions, Dogfight and Myths and Hymns for Bohemian Theatre Ensemble; and productions at Paramount Theatre, Circle Theatre and Light Opera Works. Moreland is currently appearing as Will in Big Noise Theatre's production of Big Fish. The female role will be played by Jill Sesso, remembered by Theo Ubique audiences for her work in A Kurt Weill Cabaret and coming off her recent acclaimed role as a “Diva” in Priscilla: Queen of the Desert for Pride Films and Plays. Randy Johnson will play the bartender.
The design team will include Adam Veness (set design) and James Kolditz (lighting design). Mina Slater will be stage manager and Courtney Crouse will be assistant director.
Brel was known for his literate, thoughtful, and theatrical songs. After beginning his cabaret career in 1953 at age 23 in Brussels, he soon moved to Paris and three years later began touring across Europe and North Africa. By 1960, he was an international sensation, touring in Asia, the Soviet Union and North America as well as Europe. He was widely considered a master of the modern “chanson,” (lyric-driven songs). Though he recorded most of his songs in French, he became a major influence on English-speaking songwriters and performers and English translations of his songs were recorded by many top performers in the United States. An off-Broadway revue entitled Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris ran for four and one-half years, from 1968-1972, was widely staged around the world, and recreated in a feature film version for the American Film Theatre series. The lyrics for “Lonesome Losers of the Night” have been translated into English by Arnold Johnston, a Kalamazoo, Michigan-based writer who whose many translations of Brel lyrics have been featured in revues and performances across the US and internationally. Brel’s widow has said Johnston’s translations are the most accurate versions of Brel’s lyrics.
All performances will be staged in the intimate No Exit Café., 6970 N. Glenwood Avenue in Rogers Park. Tickets are on sale now at www.theo-u.org.