Music ReviewsREVIEWSTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

I’ve Got The World On A String

Harold Arlen’s songs of Love and Lossarlen2016

Devised by Sheldon Patinkin

Directed by Terry McCabe

Music Direction by Kingsley Day

Choreographed by Brigitte Ditmars

At City Lit Theater, Chicago

Love and loss  songs by Harold Arlen work well

Harold Arlen (1905-81) write more than 500 songs, including “Over The Rainbow,” “That Old Black Magic” and “Stormy Weather,” and was the subject of  the last production from Sheldon Patinkin (1935 – 2014) before he died, for City Lit Theater. Set in the mid 1940’s in a Manhattan bar late at night (set design by Ray Toler),  I’ve Got The World On A String is a 25 song revue of Arlen’s songbook on the theme of love and loss.

I've Got the World On a String press photo #1-1

Joe (Varris Holmes) and Joan (Jenniger T. Grubb) run a dive bar where two couples struggle with love, loss, and melancholy. Accompanied by an upright piano played by Kingsley Day, we see and hear from Chris (Chris Logan) and Ann (Rachel Klippel), and Nancy (Harmony France) and Frank (Jameson Wentworth), as they sing the Arlen songbook while struggling with the foibles of love and relations.

This nicely sung revue features tunes such as: “Over the Rainbow,” “Stormy Weather,” “One for My Baby (And One More for the Road),” “The Man That Got Away,” “That Old Black Magic,” “It’s Only A Paper Moon.”

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We also hear a medley from The Wizard of Oz. The voices are pure and the songs reflect the mood of couples struggling to make love and relationships work. The songs propel the atmosphere. this show is a themed revue with each singer acting out the meaning of each song. It works well to showcase Arlen’s music and his many terrific lyricists, from Yip Harburg to Johnny Mercer to Ira Gershwin. This 80 minute revue is either a nostalgic memory trip or a fine introduction to the genius of the great Tin-Pan Alley composers of the 30’s – 60’s, with Harold Arlen being one of the finest of his era. City Lit Theater needs to be proud of I’ve Got The World On A String as it also pays tribute to Sheldon Patinkin.


Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: march 8, 2016

For more info checkout the I’ve Got The World On A String page at

At City Lit Theater, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr, Chicago, IL, call 773-293-3682,, tickets $28, Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 80 minutes with intermission, through April 10, 2016