The Cousin from Nowhere


An Operetta in 3 Acts

The Cousin from Nowhere by chicago folks operetta
The Cousin from Nowhere

Music by Eduard Kunneke

Libretto by Hermann Haller & Rideamus (Fritz Oliven)

Adapted from a comedy by Max Kempner-Hochstadt

Translated by Gerald Frantzen & Hersh Glagov

Conducted by Matt Cataldi

Stage Direction by Elizabeth Margolius

Choreographed by Jorge Niedas

Produced by Chicago  Folks Operetta

At Chopin Theatre, Chicago

Smart, whimsical modern German operetta is funny, well-sung and melodious

My first visit to see an operetta by the six year old Chicago Folks Operetta was a most pleasant one. Their fabulous modern German operetta, in a rhyming translation into English  by Gerald Frantzen and Hersh Glgov, is a fun time. The music by Eduard  Kunneke is part traditional opera, part vaudeville, and part early Broadway musical with Viennese operetta style influences. The score is light and melodious featuring the romantic Viennese counterpart. The score has some tango melodies as well as cute, playful  ditties with hints to Gilbert & Sullivan.

The Cousin from Nowhere by chicago folks operetta

The story of The Cousin from Nowhere is a folksy story with only nine players about a small town girl turning eighteen who is lovestruck since eleven years old by Roderich who has disappeared from Germany for seven years. Julia (the golden voiced Elizabeth Schleicher) is being controlled by her step parents Wimpel (Rose Guccione) and Jesse (the strong voiced Robert Morrissey) who want to get rich from Julia’s marriage. When August (the terrific charismatic Geoffrey Agpalo) arrives in the village, Julia and everyone believes  he is only a poor stranger. Julia and the stranger have sparks between them but Julia still pines for her Roderick. With smartly crafted hidden identities, the light comedy unfolds with many of the stock characters from Viennese operetta’s are present: the dreamy ingenue and her wise-cracking best friend; mooching relatives; the hapless, lovesick milquetoast; and, love interests for the girls–and, of course, all are happily united at the end.

chicago folks operetts

Our joy at this operetta is in the fabulous 15 member orchestra, conducted by Matt Cataldi, that features  mostly young musicians. The cast of classically trained singers projected and enunciate expertly despite no amplification. Many  in the cast sing in the chorus at the Lyric Opera as each are budding opera stars. Elizabeth Scheicher and Geoffrey Agpalo  are two to watch.

chicago folks operetta

The assortment of arias ranged from ballads, to marches, to patter songs, to cute plot specific tunes,  to powerful anthems. The operetta’s  whimsical style is as much a crowd pleaser as is the melodious music.  Nothing is lost from the English translation and the tight production values make the show zip along nicely.

Come discover both the excellent casting and production values of Chicago Folks Operetta and the joys of popular, but seldom produced, 20th Century German operetta – The Cousin from Nowhere. For a ticket price of $30 – $35 – $40, you’ll not find a better, more entertaining, musical treat. Operettas can be fun and cleverly well sung- and – The Cousin from Nowhere is one of those gems- don’t miss it!

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: June21, 2012

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