Like a shoddy campaign run on cigarette fumes and Rolaids, nothing quite comes together in Brett Neveu’s musical about Chicago politics at Strawdog Theatre. Set on election night, family and campaign workers assemble to sweat out the returns for Cook County president. The hotel-as-election-night-fort has always been a bizarro biosphere, and I like that Neveu stuck everyone in it for the duration. But don’t look for much insight into Windy City politicking. We never actually see the candidate, which is fine because his carefully shellacked wife (played ably by Anne Sheridan Smith) provides all we need to know about the aging man upstairs who can barely conceive of a life booted out of office. Nor does the piece make a solid case for itself as a musical. Occasionally Mikhail Fiksel’s score has a noir-ish feel to it, but overall there aren’t enough trained voices here to carry it off. Or at least sing on key. Either way, the music doesn’t capture a sense that Chicago’s political scene is a skeezy breed unto itself. Only one number, with a quartet of besuited men singing about “politics as usual,” makes it halfway out of the gate, a pleasantly jaded amalgam of clichés. What’s more Chicago than that? (Nina Metz)
At the Strawdog Theatre, 3829 N. Broadway, (773)525-6797. This production is now closed.