Nothing makes me want to run faster from a show than the promise that it will star someone made famous by this or that now-canceled TV series. In general, TV actors don’t have a clue how to act on the stage. In fact, many of them don’t have a clue how to act. Those who can act expect a camera to pick up every nuance in their expression, so they hold back–and only the people in the first two rows have even an inkling of what they’re trying to do. Daniel J. Travanti is an exception. Best known for his work as Captain Furillo on Hill Street Blues, he has a lifetime’s worth of stage credits to his name, including an extended run in Eugene O’Neill’s famously difficult A Touch of the Poet in Cambridge and in Washington, D.C. When he plays Professor Mashkan, the washed-up music teacher at the center of Jon Marans’s beautiful, finely written Old Wicked Songs, Travanti throws himself into the role. We don’t see Travanti. We don’t see Furillo. We see the tortured, twisted music teacher, who somehow, despite himself, manages to reach a brilliant but blocked student. Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 Campbell, Arlington Heights, 847-577-2121. Through November 12: Wednesdays-Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 5 and 8:30 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $32.

–Jack Helbig

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Larry Silverman.