When FWD Theatre Project — the Chicago-based organization designed to “push forward the discovery, development and delivery of new musicals” — launched itself at an elaborate concert at City Winery this past September, “Love and Other Fables,” a zesty contemporary take on Aesop’s fables, was a standout among the five initial entries.
As I wrote then: “This musical, by John McMahon and Jay Jeffries, features a verbally brilliant score, and is a witty account of the early life of Aesop — the ancient Greek who devised all those enduring fables back in 600 B.C. And guess what? It shows every sign of becoming a surprise hot property. The three songs sampled certainly win my prize for the most astonishing, whip-smart lyrics, with one rapid-fire rhyming line after another perfectly attuned to its properly pronounced syllables. Steven Strafford was a droll, goofy Aesop. Landree Fleming all but stole the show when she teamed with him for ‘The Song of the Assyrian Sonambulist.’ And Heidi Kettenring (who possesses both the legs and the moxie to sing a song titled ‘Legs’) made the case for chorus girls as a show biz essential.”
If you missed that initial event there is now good news: On April 13 and 14, FWD will be staging a reading of this witty new musical comedy at the Windy City Playhouse, the lively new theater space at 3014 W. Irving Park Rd.
Happily, the show will again feature Steven Strafford as Aesop and Landree Fleming as Lycaena. Joining them will for this madcap romp that reimagines the life of Aesop as he creates his eternal fables, and ultimately becomes the unlikeliest of heroes, is an all-Chicago cast that will include Dale Benson, Barbara Robertson, Harter Clingman, Hillary Marren, Charlotte Ostrow, Rus Rainer, Ryan McBride, James Nedrud, Matthew Huston, Haley Jane Schaffer, and Allie Jae.
The reading is being directed by New York casting director, Jay Binder.
Tickets ($15) are available at https://www.artful.ly/store/events/5452.
Note: In addition to the two-night concert reading, Binder is offering an Audition Master Class for Chicago actors on April 11 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Uptown Underground. All participant slots have been filled, but audit spots are still available. Tickets are available for this at https://www.artful.ly/store/events/5535.