Review: SUGAR (Drury Lane Oakbrook)

This ‘sugar’ lacks spice


Drury Lane Oakbrook presents
Book by Peter Stone
Jule Styne, Lyrics: Bob Merrill
Based on movie “
Some Like It Hot
Directed by
Jim Corti
at 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook (map)
through August 1st  | 
tickets: $26-$40  |  more info

Reviewed by Katy Walsh

It’s a play about the filming of a play about a movie. Drury Lane Oakbrook presents SUGAR, a musical version of the film ‘Some Like It Hot.’ In Studio 24, they are filming a speakeasy prohibition era romp. The show starts with Sweet Sue Syncopation SUGAR (vertical)-Rod Thomas & Jennifer KnoxOrchestra in dire need of a new sax and cello player. The all-girl band is heading from Chicago to Miami. Over on Clark Street, two musicians witness a brutal killing by a  mob. To hide from the bad guys, they join Sweet Sue’s band to get out of town. They’ve got the right and wrong instruments. The ‘new girls’ are really dudes. Sugar is the singer. She has a history of falling for deadbeat sax players and wants a future with a non-musician millionaire. A sax player, Josie, is really Joe who is now also pretending to be millionaire. Daphne, aka Jerry, is also interested in Sugar but has millionaire issues of his… her own. SUGAR is a love triangle farce with extra sides of sweet amusement.

In a play about the filming of a play about a movie, there are true glimpses of Billy Wilder’s classic masterpiece. Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon haunt the stage. Jennifer Knox (Sugar) is the sexy blonde bombshell. Knox dances and sings with a sensual allure that would make Marilyn proud. Alan Schmuckler (Jerry/Daphne) is Jack Lemon incarnate. His facial expressions and manner provide pure Lemon comedy that blends perfectly with SUGAR. And he can sing too. Jack would be jealous! One of the best duets is ‘The Beauty that Drives Men Mad’ sung by Schmuckler and his buddy… gal pal, Rod Thomas (Joe/Josie/Junior). Not looking quite as pretty in a wig, Thomas’ height adds its own humor in his masculine drag performance. Tammy Mader (Sweet Sue) is the SUGAR--Jennifer Knox vibrant Charleston dancing conductor. Although her moxie presence gets limited stage time, it leaves a cue-the-band appeal. Joe D. Lauck (Osgood) is charming as a millionaire in love. The entire SUGAR cast, as musicians, gangsters, millionaires, add an extra layer of flavor with melt in your mouth goodness.

Director Jim Corti has remounted the musical SUGAR as a movie being filmed. The curtain is a makeshift studio warehouse door. A film crew is stagehands moving light fixtures. At the end of Act I, two characters meet up on break. As an ingredient, it doesn’t really add or take anything away. It’s like Splenda. I get the concept but I prefer the real thing. SUGAR tastes good. Sure, it’s not one of the major food groups and you couldn’t exist on a diet of just sugar. If life is like a box of chocolates, then SUGAR is a Whitman Sampler. You know what you’re biting into but that does not spoil the pleasure.

Rating: ★★½

SUGAR--men in hats

Running Time: Two hours includes a fifteen minute intermission


Jennifer Knox Sugar Cane
Rod Thomas*  Joe (Josephine)
 Alan Schmuckler Jerry (Daphne)
 Tammy Mader Sweet Sue
Norm Boucher Spats Palazzo
Joe D. Lauck* Osgood Fielding, Jr.
Stef Tovar Bienstock
Steve Calzaretta Knuckles Norton
Christopher Damiano Dude


Jason Bayle*, Brandon Dahlquist*, Trisha Hart Ditsworth, Lauren Fijol*, Michael Glazer, Tiffany Herlien*, Kelli Nichol Morgan*, Danielle Plisz, Andrea Prestinario*, Megan Simmons, Brandon Springman, Richard Strimer*, William Travis Taylor, Andrew Weir*


The Orchestra

Conductor, Piano
Ben Johnson

Alto Sax, Soprano Sax, Flute, Clarinet
John Kornegay

Tenor Sax, Clarinet, Flute
Ashley Hamer

Baritone Sax, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet
Linda Van Dyke

Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Carey Deadman

Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Marty Tilton

Trombone, Bass Trombone
Rachel Levin

Amalie Smith

Drums, Percussion
Sarah Allen

Production and Creative Team

Light Design:  Jesse Klug 
Sound Design: Cecil Averett
Set Design:  Brian Sidney Bembridge
Stage Manager: William Collins

Book: Peter Stone 
Music: Jule Styne 
Lyrics:  Bob Merrill
Director/Choreographer: Jim Corti 
Music Director: Ben Johnson


SUGAR--Michael Glazer, Norm Boucher, Christopher Damiano, Brandon Dahlquist

THREE WORDS: Overcoming the bitterness of the 290 commute crawl, Shawn says about the show, “wait for Act2.”


Leaving Chicago Lakeview neighborhood at noon, we get stuck in 12mph traffic on the Ike. With a plan to enjoy a ‘Brunch Theatre’ experience, we arrive at Drury Lane Theatre at 1:10. Fortunately for us, the meal is a buffet and we are able to indulge before the curtain. The buffet at $25 a person includes champagne. The ‘buffet’ is actually a large room of tables of food. Anything you would ever consider as a brunch option is available in gluttonous quantity. Omelets, carving, doughnut-making stations are just a few of the options. It’s impossible to visit all the opportunities, no matter how much time you have allocated for brunch. I go with a unique sample platter of my own making: Oyster Rockfeller, lox, mini quiche and cheese blintz. Not usually a fan of buffets, I do enjoy the variety. Although the food is tepid, it’s tasty enough for some who like it hot. Even without a second helping, I only have room for SUGAR.

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