Theatre ReviewsTom Williams

The Cousins Grimm

Book by Ted Sodcousinsgrimelogo

Lyrics by Michael Biello

Music by Dan Martin

Directed & Choreographed by Scott Ferguson

Musical Direction by Robert Ollis

Produced by Bailiwick Repertory

At the Hoover-Leppen Theater in the Center on Halsted

Delightful, cute and smart new musical comedy a fine gay fairy tale

Bailiwick Repertory, now at the Center on Halsted, opens a cute, fun new musical comedy–The Cousins Grimm. This delightful new musical, despite a tad too much sing-speak or talk songs, unfolds as an ambitious rework of backstage Broadway musicals and a fresh–gay oriented take on the timeless Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm.


Leon (Chad–in a strongly charismatic performance) is an aspiring playwright in search of a muse to enhance his new musical. He is determined to write a gay version of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales.  Jackie (Danni Smith) is a lesbian playwright jilted by her girlfriend and in need of a place to live. Leon convinces her to live with him and help him with his gay Grimm’s fairy tale musical–after all she is the great great granddaughter of Jacob Grimm.

The two write scenes and songs from opposite points-of-view–allowing lyricist Michael Biello and composer  Dan Martin to create a variety of song styles ranging from haunting ballads to cute animal parodies. “Anything/Nothing” is a fine love song and “Queen Of The Sea/A Hundred Wishes” is about a gay fish.  Jackie’s songs are positive and quixotic while Leon’s are cynical and unhappy.

cousins grimm

The fairy tales are presented with these opposite views making for a lightly sophisticated poke at fairy tales and gay culture. This fun show has lovable characters–Leon–played with loads of empathy by Chad–and, Jackie–played with heart by Danni Smith, give us worthy folks to cheer for. The show has edgy humor with unique plot twists especially when cousin Jackie (speaking in German) arrives to comment on the family version of the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales.  Originality together with empathetic characters singing fun tunes makes for a light evening of musical comedy. I enjoyed this smart riff on fairy tales.


Tom Williams

At the Hoover-Leppen Theater at the Center on Halsted,3656 N Halsted, Chicago, IL, Thursdays & Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 2 pm, tickets $25 – $30, running time is 85 minutes without intermission, through August 23, 2009

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