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Theater

Comic invention of 'Couchical' among Marriott offerings

Stage stars Jenna Coker-Jones and Christopher Kale Jones, joined by their daughter, are the creative force behind their own web series "Couchical," a comic salute to musicals from the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire.
Stage stars Jenna Coker-Jones and Christopher Kale Jones, joined by their daughter, are the creative force behind their own web series "Couchical," a comic salute to musicals from the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire.

While COVID-19 puts us all on pause, we need levity; bless the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire for providing it. Two actors, Jenna Coker-Jones and Christopher Kale Jones (yes, they’re married), have come up with an ingeniously hysterical web series called "Couchical."

Based on the musicals Marriott has done since its 1975 beginnings, the Joneses sing and act their version of a musical they proudly claim to have either been in, or read a plot summary of in Wikipedia. They also issue a blanket apology to the composers, lyricists and book writers before warning us, the viewers, of what we’re about to experience. With clever tongue-in cheek comments, subtitles, props, costumes and the inclusion of their adorable 6-year-old daughter, Presley, (is there no end to what these talents won’t do?), the Joneses entrap you in laughter and their clever adaptation.

They’ve already skewered “The Sound of Music” from their couch in episodes 1 and 2, but my favorite, so far, is their treatment of that “tale as old as time,” “Beauty and the Beast.” In exactly two acts totaling just 18 minutes and 13 seconds, the tale enfolds with the Joneses’ exceptional versions of Belle, Gaston (truly in this case the “progenitor of the high-protein diet”), Le Fou, the wayward Maurice and the Prince/Beast (complete with stunt double). But just wait till you see the wolf attack; you’ll be thrilled with the special effects, particularly at the end. It seems no budget was spared, and I mean no budget.

I cannot wait for their next musical treatment; I anticipate another colorful and delicious shelter-in-place enjoyment. And at this point, I’m compelled to applaud Jenna and Chris for the pleasure found in their words and performances.

Despite a postponement of all Marriott performances (the long-awaited musicals “Kiss Me, Kate” and “The World Goes ‘Round,” as well as summer children’s theater), Executive Producer Terry James promises that the Marriott is working on a new performance schedule for the 2020-21 season. And there are other Marriott series in place besides the recurring "Couchical."

“In the Kitchen with Kate” stars “Kiss Me, Kate’s" Susan Moniz; “What’s the Buzz With Buffy Binkleman” has a craft, science and books focus for children; “Don’t Kiss Me Yet, Kate" brings updates from the “Kiss Me, Kate” cast complete with everything from songs to Zumba; and another of my favorites, “Remembering Past Productions,” brings the 11-hour songs and performances from their lauded past productions: "Man of La Mancha," "Mary Poppins," Singin' in the Rain," "Something Rotten!," "Oliver" and "Grease," to mention a few enticers.

So, thank you, Marriott, particularly for letting these adeptly talented casts and crews of your shows do these series and give us some much-needed, feel-better moments. And Jenna and Chris, hurry up with your next "Couchical," please.

• Thanks to the wisdom of Sister Mary Justia who cast her as a rather bossy Mother Goose in a first grade production, Regina Belt-Daniels of Crystal Lake has enjoyed a life in the theater. When not in her recliner watching theatrical productions, or attending Zoom meetings, Regina hopes soon to be able to continue what she loves to do best: act, direct, travel with her husband, teach, write theater reviews, and serve enthusiastically on theater boards throughout Illinois.

If you view

WHAT: "Couchical," an episodic comic salute to Marriott Theatre musicals

WHEN: Available anytime

COST: Free

INFO: bit.ly/2Vkx1Ln on YouTube.com; for other current offerings, go to www.marriottheatre.com, 847-634-0200

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