By HEDY WEISS - Theater Critic - September 5, 2013
I ask you: What are the odds that two real-life brothers possessed of charm, talent and superb dancing skills happen to be available at precisely the right moment to costar in “Double Trouble,” a goofy, breakneck, two-man musical about a pair of songwriting brothers who, in 1941, leave Broadway and try to break into Hollywood films?
And there is this: What are the odds that such a show will not only make use of all their theatrical skills, but reveal their enviably shapely legs, too?
Well, the Aguilar brothers — Adrian and Alexander — clearly beat the odds on many counts. This winter, following his turn in “Double Trouble,” which is now receiving a rollicking Chicago debut by Porchlight Music Theatre, Adrian, a veteran of all of Chicago’s major musical stages, will be heading to Broadway as part of the cast of “Rocky,” the new musical based on the iconic film. His brother, Alexander, beat him to the punch, having appeared in the world premiere of “Lysistrata Jones” there in 2011. And at Porchlight you can watch the siblings as they not only play exceedingly well with each other, but also winningly redeem the term “nostalgic entertainment.” These two are as at ease with snappy comic banter and knockout top hat-and-cane tap dance routines as any of the great vaudevillians.
As it happens, “Double Trouble” is the creation of two brothers — composer-lyricists Bob Walton and Jim Walton — who clearly share a taste for malapropisms, and have spun a wacky tale of how a pair of competitive but loving brothers join forces for success, but are almost undone by Rebecca — one of those vampy types of the old studio days — who, at various moments, is portrayed by each of the Aguilars.
In addition to playing the brothers (Adrian is composer Jimmy, while Alexander is wordsmith Bobby), and Rebecca, they also turn on a dime to conjure a slew of additional characters. Adrian morphs into the prim but willing Millie, assistant to Merwin, the studio boss (played by Alexander). Adrian also is a hoot as Swifty, the madly manic agent, and as Bix, the studio’s fabled audio engineer, now a near-deaf, narcoleptic geezer, while Alexander is Seymour, the nerdy intern from hell.
Directed and choreographed by Matthew Crowle, the show is an exercise in manic energy, split-second timing and insane concentration.
Jeffrey D. Kmiec’s period-perfect office set, with lighting by William Kirkham, tricky sound design by Jack Hawkins, costumes (by Alexia Rutherford) and wigs (by Kevin Barthel) all add zest. And Chris Gekas’ black-and-white video is an inspired backdrop against which the Aguilar brothers tap up a storm. Pure, old-fashioned, utterly mindless fun.
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