Love can bring happiness and sadness, laughter and tears. From the setup of the theatre to the stories and names of the characters, these parallels were shown throughout Kokandy Productions’ musical “Tomorrow Morning” now playing at Theatre Wit (1229 W. Belmont Ave.). Although it’s a feel-good production featuring outstanding Chicago talent and some notable theatrical elements, the show’s unoriginal script driven by a series of songs left little room for emotional progression and character development throughout.
What first caught my attention was director John D. Glover’s clever staging in the intimate space. The stage was split into four quadrants, each a uniquely and intricately decorated room in the homes of the show’s four characters. On one half of the stage were Jack and Catherine, a husband and wife in their early 30s preparing to sign their divorce papers the next morning. On the other side was young couple John and Kat, planning to say their vows on the altar the next day. Near the end of the production, it becomes apparent that John and Kat are actually memories of young Jack and Catherine.
“Tomorrow Morning” premiered in London in 2006 before making its way to Victory Gardens Greenhouse Theater in Chicago in 2008, where it received a Jeff Award for Best Musical. Kokandy Productions’ cast features Teressa LaGamba as Catherine and Carl Herzog as Jack. Catherine is the distraught mother of one who resents her soon-to-be ex-husband, and Jack is the husband who sits next to a half-empty bottle of alcohol in his bare apartment, remorseful for his actions. Tina Naponelli plays the youthful bride-to-be Kat, and Neil Stratman plays Kat’s fiancé, John. Kat is giving up her dreams of becoming a painter for a place in the corporate world, and John is a sometimes insensitive and careless man who has yet to write his vows despite the wedding being just hours away.
The couple’s matrimonial story is presented at two very different stages, which paradoxically presents many similarities. Both couples look at the events of the next day with qualms and uncertainties, wondering if they’re making the right decision. Love is present, but Jack and Catherine face the looming pressures of becoming divorced and independent while Kat and John navigate worries about future parenthood and financial stability. When confronting these fears, the couples turn to their respective partners in an attempt to seek comfort and solace.
Laurence Mark Wrythe’s script is far from inventive. The show addresses a wide range of basic themes including marriage, divorce, an unplanned pregnancy, hardships and a happy ending; nothing that hasn’t been done before. The show traded moments of potential emotional buildup for a swiftly paced, 90-minute scene-to-song production with no intermission.
However, the lacking script did not take away from the talented cast who managed to find moments of emotional intensity, grit and honest relations with their counterparts throughout the show. The quartet’s voice blended together tightly during several musical numbers, giving me goose bumps on more than one occasion. Other highlights of the production included LaGamba’s powerhouse vocals during the emotive and resolute “Self-Portrait” and Herzog and Stratman’s tender “Look What We Made,” a duet about their son and future son, respectively.
Although maybe not one of the most captivating productions, Tomorrow Morning left me with a positive outlook on love and care for others, which was refreshing in today’s often egocentric and self-serving society.
Tomorrow Morning runs through August 28 at Theater Wit (1229 W. Belmont Ave.). Ticket prices range from $42 to $48 and are available at www.kokandyproductions.com, by calling (773) 975-8150 or in person at the Theater Wit Box Office.