Whatever you may think of their artistic merit, mega-entertainments such as “Stomp, ” “Tap Dogs” and the “Cirque du Soleil” phenomena at least accomplish one important thing: they create a style and energy that they can call their own. The same cannot be said for “The All Night Strut, ” Marriott Theatre’s new revue, whose look and feel owes as much to the above-mentioned enterprises as it does to old-fashioned book revues and musicals like “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and “42nd Street.” Not surprisingly then, distinctiveness is absent from this spectacular failure that takes a 20-year-old song-and-dance revue (using hits and dance styles of the thirties and forties) and tries unsuccessfully to fashion it into a hip musical and movement juggernaut incorporating new circus, aerial ballet and street dance. The problem is, everything in this show has been done before and it has been done better. Number by number or cumulatively, “The All Night Strut” feels second-rate. And please don’t get me started on the Mephistolean-master of ceremonies that wanders the stage, links the numbers and clowns for cheap laughs. All that this poor-man’s Bill Irwin succeeds in doing is truncating what little rhythm exists and giving the audience unnecessary time to consider the meaning of the random proceedings. Instead of hitting its audience with a relentless entertainment experience, as do this show’s progenitors, “The All Night Strut” at best bludgeons them with boredom. I haven’t bothered to comment on the singers, and there is a reason for that. As for the dancing, the overeager ensemble—who would not be out of place in toothpaste commercials given their plastered ear-to-ear smiles—easily execute the old-fashioned routine routines, but they lack the sex appeal, spontaneity and aggressiveness to convincingly sell the rest. “The All Night Strut” is reportedly the costliest show that Marriott Theatre has produced. Yet the creative input seems to have cheaply followed the spaghetti theory of second-rate entertainment: throw everything and anything at the audience and hope that something sticks, or I guess in this case, struts. I’m afraid that little does. (Fabrizio O. Almeida)
Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire (847)634-0200. Wed 1pm & 8pm/Thu-Fri 8pm/Sat 5 & 8:30pm/Sun 1pm & 5pm. $37-$45. Through Feb 11.