Dinner theatre conjures up certain images in anyone's head. Sitting in the No Exit Café, some of those stereotypes were actualized: old people and bad food. Even in our forties, we were the youngsters in the crowd. My eggplant parmesan was tasty but almost pureed (perhaps intentional for the audience). Dick's* meal looked like a TV dinner that wasn't completely reheated. Get past dinner with the geriatric set and everything else falls into place like a well choreographed musical.
The no frills and intimate size of the cafe space are the ideal backdrop for this show. This is especially apparent in the canteen scene where I felt an urge to join the tango lessons on stage. The fourth wall disappears with the cast in dual roles as servers. Ensemble member, Anthony Apodaca (pictured here with me) was fabulous as a server, actor, singer and dancer. This experience is even more profound because you get a glimpse into the life of many talented and underpaid actors who wait so they can act. The tip at the end is for the wine service and a little "follow your dream" pocket money. (You're right, Dick, we should have tipped more!)
I had never heard of the Theo Ubique Theatre Company until Evita swept at the 2009 Jeff Awards. Now, they are on my radar. Using all the right elements; intimate setting, talented cast, spectacular choreography, a live musical combo, Ubique produced an impressive theatre experience. Dick was enamored with Maggie "Evita" Portman who he thought was a look alike for Le Ann Rimes. (I said Natalie Maines from the Dixie Chicks.) My favorite part of the show was Chris Damiano playing Che. I fall hard for a man with a soulful voice combine it with a handsome face and put him in revolutionary fatigues and I'm a goner. I'm banking on "his beloved Rose" being a cocker spaniel. "..I love him and hope he loves me..."
Final note on the show from my evening's theatre companion: Dick liked the music and thought the production was low budget with big impact.
Waiting for the Show
Experiencing the unpredictable timing of the CTA red line, we arrived express at the Morse stop thirty minutes early. Having extra time is pivotal to actually finding the theatre café which from the outside looks like a vacated space. It also allowed us to mix with the local homeless folks and get a drink at The Glenwood. Pear martinis were the perfect pre-curtain cocktail at this neighborhood joint.
Post show, we headed to my favorite wine bar, Marty's. Marty's is the upscale "Cheers" in my life located in Andersonville. The host greets me with a big hug, a "where have you been" and snaps his finger to get us immediately escorted to the patio. Feeling every bit the celebrity, I strut through the crowded bar waving at my favorite friendly bartenders. Although it's the staff that keeps me coming back to Marty's, the "new guy" serving on the patio would be the exception. When I order a glass of shiraz, he bluntly informs me that it's awful and that I want the malbec (pronouncing it male beck). The "new guy" could certainly get some tips from Anthony on serving and acting like you enjoy it.
*This is his real name. He doesn't need to be protected and certainly isn't innocent.