Underscore and Harborside’s Tonya & Nancy The Rock Opera! Review – Live Tabloid Television

Underscore TONYA AND NANCY; THE ROCK OPERA-4
(left to right) Genevieve Perrino, Vasily Deris, Amanda Horvath, Graham Hawley, Caleb Baze, Tyler Symonè and Mari Uchida Evan Hanover

Tabloid Journalism Focus

Underscore Theatre Company and Harborside Films have brought us back to the early 1990’s with their production of Tonya & Nancy The Rock Opera! now playing at Theater Wit.  The subject itself is, of course, real-life as most of us will remember.  While the show may seem like a fun and taunting look at the events themselves for most of the production, it seems to want to aim more at the nature of celebrity and how society feeds upon the media frenzy so often created by tabloid journalism.
The plot, as the title implies, revolves around ice-skating legends Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan.  We follow both girls from their beginnings as skaters, through the infamous “whack heard ‘round the world,” up until the Lillehammer Olympic Games.

The show definitely relies upon the fact that the audience is familiar with the story for a lot of the jokes to land, but does lay out the facts as they happened, just in case people have forgotten some of the “stranger than fiction” details.

Veronica Garza  - Both Hilarious and Disarming

Veronica Garza’s performance as mother to both Tonya and Nancy never fails to either get a laugh or make the audience thankful she is not part of their own bloodline.  While most of the cast works perfectly well within their roles, Garza is certainly the standout.  The choice to use the same actor for both girls’ mothers shines an interesting light on the different upbringing of these two girls while still highlighting the frighteningly similar amounts of pressure both endured throughout their entire childhood.

Underscore TONYA AND NANCY; THE ROCK OPERA-1
(center, l to r) Amanda Horvath and Courtney Mack with (l to r) Genevieve Perrino, Vasily Deris, Caleb Baze, Graham Hawley and Mari Uchida Evan Hanover
Underscore TONYA AND NANCY; THE ROCK OPERA-2
(left to right) Amanda Horvath and Courtney Mack Evan Hanover

A Rock Score to be Remembered

The score (lyrics by Elizabeth Searle and music by Michael Teoli) is both played and sung perfectly by the remarkable onstage band and the cast.  A cast album could easily stand alone as an interesting way to relive these real events and ponder whether this is, in fact, something to be laughed at or yet another example of the public enjoying others’ pain a little too much.

3 out of 5 Stars - Somewhat Recommended

Top Pick For: Tabloid/Reality TV Lovers

Not recommended for:  Those seeking a high-brow night of theater.

When:

Runs through December 30, 2016
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm
Sundays at 4 pm
Added performances on Wednesday, December 14, 21 & 28 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, December 17 at 3 pm.
No performances on Saturday, December 24 (Christmas Eve) and Sunday, December 25 (Christmas Day)

Where:

Theater Wit
1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago

Tickets:

$17-$30
773-975-8150 or Website

Photo:

Liz Lauren

 

 

Note:  An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago

 

 

 

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