Circle Theatre at Chicago Actors Studio. Book, music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Directed by Daren Leonard. With Greg Foster, Molly Kral, Henry McGinniss, Jill Sesso. 1hr 10mins; no intermission.
Theater review by Kris Vire
The idea of something I wrote in college regularly being unearthed for public consumption practically gives me hives. But Edges, a musical revue penned by rising theatrical songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul when they were just sophomores at the University of Michigan, became a calling card for the duo who've gone on to make their Broaday debut with A Christmas Story, The Musical and earn admiring reviews for their adaptation of the 1991 film Dogfight at New York's Second Stage Theatre.
Edges, which makes its Chicago professional debut in this Circle Theatre production, has also become a popular title for college theater groups—no surprise, since it concerns itself with the kind of twentysomething, quarter-life-crisis quandaries that many undergrads would perceive as profound. Pasek and Paul's song cycle is written for two male and two female performers, who warble about young-adult problems in numbers that are for the most part catchier and more moving than they deserve to be. (It's unfortunate that the women seem to sing exclusively about romantic relationships, while the men get to have dreams about careers and families, but again, we'll chalk that up to youth.)
Director Daren Leonard makes smart, efficient use of the intimate space, a second-floor walkup at Elston and Ashland that's dwarfed by neighboring big-box stores. Leonard's four actors embrace the collegiate earnestness of the material, each finding a moment (or two or three) to dig in and make a strong impression in solo pieces. But the cast sounds so good in the fleeting moments in which they get to harmonize, you'll wish their characters didn't spend so much time moping alone.
Four twentysomething friends sing their way through their quarter-life crises in this early song cycle from the rising musical theater composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (A Christmas Story, Dogfight). Daren Leonard directs this Circle Theatre production.