by William Brown and Doug Frew
directed by William Brown
"Indeed, Brown's romantic production ... is an excellent, intimate, foodie-friendly staging, resonant with atmosphere and the kind of classic, cozy, autumnal kitchen ambiance that makes one want to swear off takeout food from this moment forth.
"From a foodie perspective, 'To Master the Art,' deserves much applause. After all, any show about Julia Child that begins with the smell of shallots cooking in butter wafting about the theater can't really go wrong gastronomically."
"Of course Julia Child (Karen Janes Woditsch in a performance of such ease, humor and honesty that you wholly forget about Meryl Streep's marvelous recent portrayal) needs no introduction. But "To Master the Art" captures her before she became a unique television personality in the 1960s and helped trigger a food revolution in the United States. It homes in on the genesis of that funny, eccentric, forthright enthusiast and traces the often difficult process of self-invention she engaged in while in early middle age."
"Actress Karen Janes Woditsch nobly embodies the famed chef, author and television personality in an exceedingly likable and convincing performance ... [the play] combines the right ingredients to depict the story of a genuinely interesting but initially insecure middle-aged woman coming fully into her own."
"A total delight—funny, touching, charming and as enjoyable as an exquisite meal enjoyed together with good company. It need not be rationalized or analyzed—it can simply be savored. ... There is so much humanity and wise but never cynical humor that it's a pleasure just to be in the company of these people for two hours and twenty minutes."
"Karen Janes Woditsch is so absolutely perfect in the role ... capturing not only the singular vocal style, but also the peculiar mix of bookish intelligence and gee-whiz awkwardness that made up so much of Child's charm ... the use of smells as a staging device come to the fore in the very first scene, when the succulent odor of shallots cooking in butter punish the theater-goer who's failed to feast beforehand ..."
TIME OUT CHICAGO
"... it's a thorough study of a unique and inspiring career. TimeLine's production is anchored by a remarkable peformance by Woditsch ..."
"Brown's rock-solid supporting cast and an evocative kitchen set by Keith Pitts --enhanced by Charles Cooper's autumnal lighting -- add texture and spice to this unlikely but thoroughly engaging love story."
"So especially, rather than even, if you enjoyed "Julie and Julia," you owe
yourself the pleasure of seeing "To Master the Art," a two-act, four-course
banquet. Bon appétit!"
"A pure delight ... Brown and Frew have captures the essence of Julia and Paul as a love story; as a story self-discovery; and as a historically accurate slice of the times."
DOWNBEAT & CURTAIN UP
"An aura of authentic time and place pervades this lovely show ... You really can smell those shallots simmering in butter ... That aroma holds promise of something delicious, and "To Master the Art" delivers."
ON THE BLOGS
- Chicago Tribune's The Stew — "I was amazed at all the little details that the average theatergoer might miss but any foodie would catch in a minute."
- The Fourth Walsh - "An intimate look at a woman's bon appetite that led to a food revolution."
- Show Me Chicago - "It depicts the wonderful love story of Julia and Paul, even adding a sensory element as Chef Bugnard demonstrates how to properly crack and gently mix the eggs for 'oeufs brouilles' with the steam ascending above the pan and drifting into the audience--no pretense--it's the real thing."
- Chicago Theater Blog - "A masterful, multi-layered experience that excites all the senses. Its tasty imagery and food talk, the loads of fresh ingredients displayed and the onstage cookery that wafts the scent of sauteed onions out to the audience will leave you ravenous."
- Around the Town Chicago - "It doesn't feel that we are watching a performance at all — it seems as though we are peering through the fourth wall of a time past in France."