Porchlight Theatre presents the Midwest Premiere of “Meet John Doe,” a musical based on the Frank Capra film.
During the Great Depression, a columnist saves her job by creating a news story. Her fake suicidal man garners the city’s attention and sells newspapers. To keep up the charade, Ann hires a John to play the role. Conflict arises when John inspires a cult following. John wants honesty. Ann wants fame. The newspaper wants the cult. “Meet John Doe” is a charming, lyrical tale about the media manipulating public sympathies.
Under the direction and choreography of James Beaudry, the first act glides to a satisfying climax. The plot is not unexpected but Beaudry masterfully captivates by keeping the large cast in fluid motion. The second act is not as tightly constructed and the pace is decidedly sluggish. The music engages with a surprising, big ol’ Broadway production sound.
Musical Director Eugene Dizon showcases the talented singing cast. Elizabeth Lanza (Ann) is a spunky powerhouse of sass and song. Lanza and Karl Hamilton’s (John) chemistry has such an old-fashion feel that their kiss elicits spontaneous ahhhs around the theatre. Hamilton sings the hero role with a robust and commanding style. His sidekick, Rus Rainear (The Colonel), steals scenes as a hilarious bum.
Despite a dawdling second half and some acoustic struggles from the venue, you should “Meet John Doe”! He and his friends are welcoming entertainment!
“Meet John Doe” plays March 8 to April 17 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont. Running time is 2 hours and 30 minutes, includes a 15-minute intermission. Tickets are $38, with discounts available for seniors, students and groups, and may be purchased by calling 773-327-5252 or visit stage773.com