This little jewel of a musical comedy sparkles brilliantly at the Bailiwick Repertory. It may not be a show to everyone's taste, but for the open-minded, the socially conscious, the LGBT community and all fans of musical theater, this delightful production is a must-see. "Zanna, Don't" is fast-paced, creatively directed and choreographed and features a topnotch cast of relatively new, young performers.
Set at fictional Heartsville High School, the show drops the audience into an upside-down world in which social mores are all topsy-turvy. Membership in the chess and drama clubs offers a student higher status than being the star quarterback on the football team. Being gay is the norm and heterosexual couples are the outcasts, forced to sneak around behind their friends' backs. To this premise add a sort of magical gay fairy godfather character and a clever musical score that is so infectious that the audience finds it difficult to stay seated and you have a highly entertaining piece of theater offering a timely message of tolerance.
Elisa Woodruff has directed an energetic production that both moves and is moving. She is ably supported by Allison Hendrix's highly charged musical direction and D. Eric Woolweber's wonderfully spirited choreography. Courtney O'Neill's colorful, almost day-glo set constantly amazes in its cleverness and versatility. The tight, eight-member cast, all of whom are truly brilliant, play a multitude of gender-bending characters, much to the audience's delight. Individually and collectively, they demonstrate strong singing voices and tireless dancing talent, as well as the ability to move the audience to both laughter and tears. It would be difficult and unfair to single out any one of these actors because they all work together so beautifully as an ensemble. Many of these youngsters are newcomers to the Chicago professional theater scene, and you can say you saw them here first. Each brings a special gift to this show.
This exciting vest-pocket musical, produced Off-Broadway in 2003, adds yet another much-deserved laurel to David Zack's theatrical crown. Examining such large issues as prejudice, sexual identity, friendship and love, and presenting them in a lighthearted manner, this show, much like the works of Gilbert and Sullivan, presents the truth as a frothy, sugarcoated concoction offering a positive message that lingers on well after the final curtain call.