The Goodman Theatre’s production of Life After is a new musical with heart. With a strong ensemble and engaging story, this is a must-see!
On Alice Carter’s 16th birthday, her self-help author father, Frank, tragically dies in a car accident. This sounds like the beginning of a dire tale, but in Goodman’s production of Life After, a new musical written by Britta Johnson, that isn’t the case.
Life After is the story of Alice’s quest to investigate why her father was where he was during the car accident that ended his life. Surrounded by her mother, older sister, best friend, favorite teacher, and a Greek chorus-like trio who reflect Alice’s inner thoughts and feelings, Alice learns that the father whom she adored as a child was more human and multi-faceted than she ever knew.
Running for one hour and 35 minutes with no intermission, Life After is bursting with talent, great music, fun costumes, and a large number of incredible sets that keep the show fresh and engaging.
With an extraordinarily tight ensemble, every single actor was a standout. While many of us are used to watching a show and proclaiming things like, “The pirate was my favorite,” I can honestly say that throughout this show, I had that moment with every single actor and role.
Samantha Williams’ Alice is a passionately hurting 16-year-old with all of the loving, but self-focused normality of a teenager.
As Kate, Alice’s older sister, Skyler Volpe is a hilariously crunchy vegan with all of the righteousness of a 20-year-old who is discovering where she fits in this world.
Bryonha Marie Parham plays Alice’s mother, who is just trying to keep her world together in the wake of her husband’s sudden death. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the number “Wallpaper.” With an incredible feat of a song, Ms. Parham first led me to feel her pain so much that my full-body goosebumps overflowed into tears. It was magical.
Lucy Panush, as Alice’s best friend Hannah, is a joy in her hilariously innocent and sweet demeanor that is a slight callback to the character of Tai in Clueless.
Paul Alexander Nolan, Jen Sese, Ashley Perez Flanagan, Lauryn Hobbs, and Chelsea Williams each have delightful moments that drive the story and engage the audience. It’s truly a pleasure to watch whatever – and whoever – comes next.
With sets that range from a two-story home to a local restaurant to a high school and costume changes that happen in seconds, Life After allows you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the music – both literally and figuratively. I look forward to seeing where this show goes, but while it’s in Chicago, make the time to see it.
Goodman Theatre: Life After Chicago Review – Life After is playing at The Goodman Theatre through 7/17/22. Tickets can be purchased at a discount through Goldstar or by calling (312) 443-3800. Goodman Theatre is located at 170 North Dearborn in Chicago.