Message In A Bottle In Chicago 2024Unlike many musical theatrical productions, the story of "Message in a Bottle" is told entirely through dance. It begins with a celebration in an unknown country that could be in eastern Europe or the Middle East or South Asia. The celebration leads to a courtship and a wedding, but a war interrupts the festivities, driving the people from their homeland. After several tragic deaths, a trio of sibling survivors flee their homeland, suffering exposure to the elements, life in an internment camp with abusive guards, and separation from one another - all while dealing with the PTSD of their loss.

Music and dance drive forward the story of the refugees' quest for freedom.

The music of Sting - who followed his stint as lead singer of The Police with a successful solo career - helps to drive the story. His songs provide the mood, even if the lyrics do not always exactly match the scene. In "King of Pain," he sings "There's a little black spot on the sun today!" as the dancers stare at the sky which flashes lights that clearly represent bombs dropping from attacking aircraft. "Every Breath You Take" told the story of an obsessed lover but serves in this play to underscore the unceasing oversight of the camp guards.

Message In A Bottle In Chicago 2024It is the dancers who advance the story, and it is surprising how much they can communicate silently with only their bodies and a few props. Their movements convey joy, despair, and anger without speaking a word.

I grew up with Sting's music. His songs are familiar, like a visit from an old friend. But new recordings with updated arrangements make them sound fresher.

During its brief Chicago run, the show pleased those who came to the Cadillac Palace Theatre. The Sunday evening performance I saw was far from sold out. It is a shame more people did not get to experience this emotional, beautiful tale.