On the surface at least, “Tintypes” seems like a nostalgia piece that conveniently forgets that even in the “good ol’ days, ” people yearned for the good ol’ days. Its five cast members romp and dance through the songs made popular throughout the nation between 1890 and World War I. Taken on that level alone, it is an engaging musical revue full of tuneful melodies that we all know from the likes of John Philip Sousa, Victor Herbert, Scott Joplin and George M. Cohan, among others. Less obvious through the exuberance, period costumes, unabashed patriotism, vaudeville routines and live Dixieland band is the hopes and dreams of immigrants arriving in America during that time that is reflected in these songs. Each of the five characters imagines him or herself transcending endless factory work by using the music to escape a reality that is too much to be taken on its own. Whether the darker message gets through or whether audiences want to simply take a vacation in the past is part of the powerful ambiguity of director Ray Frewen’s approach. (Dennis Polkow)
“Tintypes” plays through July 27 at Drury Lane Oakbrook, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace; (630)530-4269.