*Make them laugh at the same time that their heart is breaking.* That was the goal of Jack Lemmon as learned by Jean-Louis Barrault, the French actor, director and mime. While Jack Lemmon found his place in the theatrical world by way of making people laugh, he feared being "pigeon-holed." He desired to transform himself into other characters for what appears to be the purpose of impacting his audience in the same profound way in which he was affected by his idol Jean-Louis Barrault.
"Jack Lemmon Returns" was as close to sitting down with the great Jack Lemmon himself. His DNA was alive with all the mannerisms, heart, passion and talent through his gifted son Chris Lemmon' portrayal of "good ole dad." Through the gifted story-telling of Hershey Felder, the audience was given a supreme duality in that we were exposed to the supremely talented Chris Lemmon all the while reminiscing with his father Jack Lemmon. When did Chris become Jack and Jack take a backstage seat to Chris?
I found myself realizing the importance of timing in all things. This play could not have been done earlier in Chris's life. The timing is now. As Chris has passed into the wisdom period that men enter into somewhere after the age of 50. When is that period? It is different for every man, but for this man, the timing was perfect. The maturity of Jack Lemmon was also evident, as the story revealed a man with regrets and no regrets. How could Jack's life have been any different? Jack's imperfections were made perfect in the careful weaving of memories shared by son through father and father through son. It was through this careful story telling and merging of two souls that Chris attained what his father sought; to make his audience laugh while their heart was breaking.
I smiled the entire time, realizing that I was in an intimate setting, the closest that I will ever be to Jack Lemmon, one of the greatest actors of all time. Jack Lemmon represents what is rapidly declining, my mother and father's generation. Jack Lemmon was like an Uncle to me. I cannot think of Jack Lemmon without fondly remembering my Uncles and my parents.
Chris Lemmon with perfect timing, delivery, musical mastery reacquainted us with an old friend and introduced us to "Hot-Shot" in a style that only a Lemmon could do! Bravo Chris, I feel like I should come back over and over again. I left the World Premiere performance, May 12th feeling much like I do when I leave a wedding reception of a family member. You know that feeling, you come back together with Aunts, Uncles, cousins, neighborhood friends that you haven't seen for a long while and the time spent with them brings you back to a simpler time. You do not want to let go of that wonderful feeling of familiarity.
Bravo, Brava, to the Director, Emma Marie Hay and crew for a simple, but elegant affair and fellow crew members. While the average age of the audience was north of 50, any aspiring actor or actress needs to acquaint themselves with the classics.
“Jack Lemmon Returns” will continue at The Royal George Theatre located at 1641 N. Halsted Street for an open run with performances as follows:
Wednesdays and Thursdays 7:30 p.m.
Fridays 8 p.m.
Saturdays 2 and 8 p.m.
Sundays at 3 p.m.
Tickets 55 and can be purchased at the box office, by phone at 312-988-9000 or online at www.theroyalgeorgetheatre.com
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Jack Lemmon Returns”
Special thanks to Noreen Heron and Associates.