Broadway In Chicago is happy to introduce “Short and Sweet,” a quick view of our shows courtesy of Diana Martinez, who will give you the lowdown on Broadway In Chicago productions from the perspective of an audience member. Diana has more than 25 years of experience as an entertainment executive, most recently as President of The Second City. She has directed and produced over 40 live Broadway musical theatre shows and has presented more than 350 world-class Broadway national tours, dance, headline comedians and concert. We hope you enjoy this quick insight into our shows, and since this is all about our audience, share your own thoughts with us in the comments below.
To Master the Art – A love letter to “Foodies”
After a long day of work and fighting traffic to get downtown, I was not in the best place to watch a play. Within two minutes of Karen Janes Woditsch (Julia Child) stepping onto the stage, my mood was instantly transformed and I was laughing at out loud snuggled in my seat and ready to take it all in.
The warm rustic county French/ unit set works beautifully, and has great thoughtful resemblances of her TV show set with copper utensils hanging on the wall. The central set piece in the show is a beautifully worn wooden butcher-block top table that is multi-purposed perfectly to keep the pace of the show brisk with seamless transitions, clean and unfussy just like Childs.
I spent the first few minutes in awe of how perfectly cast Woditdch is for this role, she truly was born for the part and her and ability to get the audience to burst into laughter with one perfectly timed word or beat is sheer brilliance.
This great script is bursting with humor and could be almost described as a romantic comedy. The audience was treated to a lot of big laughs that kept coming throughout the night.
The show starts off with an awkward Child’s who was humbled and intimidated by the flair, style and confidence of the French women, and was looking to fit in while trying to establish her own identity and purpose as a wife accompanying her erudite husband on a government his mission. Interesting fact: Child’s met her husband while working for the Central Intelligence Agency.
We see how he introduced her to fine dining which evolved into an insatiable desire to learn the “Art of French cooking.” One of the funniest and best scenes in the show portrays Child’s first day at Le Cordon Bleu where an infamous chef teaches her (and the audience) how to make “the perfect scrambled eggs.” I can guarantee you that after watching this, everyone in the audience, will never make scrambled eggs again without thinking of this scene and having a new “respect for eggs.”(Full disclosure I the made eggs as taught in the show and they came out perfectly light and fluffy).
However, we learn more than how to make the perfect scrambled eggs; we learn about the deep respect the French have for food and the art of cooking. We also learn that “The Art of French cuisine “Cannot be bought like a souvenir”, but rather must be mastered and is only available to those who demonstrate a passion for it.
The show serves us small sides of social and political issues of the era, by injecting a bit of McCarthyism into the sub-plot with commentaries on the role of American women’s in the 50’s and the post war era. These moments add depth to the story and juxtapose a backdrop of uncertainty and fear. We also get perspective on the times through “letters” from home that are skillfully delivered through soliloquy-type monologues throughout the show.
The show masterfully takes an iconic figure and breaks her down into someone we can relate to, she is funny, witty, and likable, trying to find her purpose in life. It’s fascinating to watch her evolve as she finds her passion and calling to master the art of French cooking” and make it accessible for any American women. She felt it was her responsibility to teach and “Share what you know”. It’s a pretty awesome lesson and she did it best.
The show is really lovely and so well done. Don’t miss this one, (and don’t think it’s a show just for women, men will love it too. I warn you though…. Do NOT go to this show hungry! Make a night of it, have a great French dinner then go see the show! It runs about two and half hours with an intermission. The perfect date night show. It’s a love letter to any foodie!
Check out the Broadway In Chicago website to take advantage of food demonstrations and tastings prior to select shows.
To Master The Art plays at the Broadway Playhouse through October 6. Tickets are available here.