In the first of the 1920s Lucia books, British humorist E.F. Benson pits his childish, snobbish heroine–Emmeline “Lucia” Lucas, undisputed queen of culture in the little village of Riseholme–against a far superior outsider. When opera singer Olga Bracely moves to town, she unwittingly steals the spotlight from Lucia, sparking an epic battle between the two. Lifeline Theatre wisely turns this playground turf war into a musical, a fundamentally frivolous form for a fundamentally frivolous story. Indeed, the production stumbles only when it gets serious–as when a couple of incongruously sincere love songs pop up in George Howe’s otherwise jaunty score, or when matters of sex and sexuality weigh down Christina Calvit’s otherwise snappy script. But for the most part, director Frances Limoncelli’s production is just as it should be: bright, fizzy, and lighter than air. Elise Kauzlaric plays Lucia with gusto while Jamie Axtell is charming in the crucial role of her devoted best friend, the foppish Georgie. Through 7/24: Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 4 and 8 PM, Sun 5:30 PM. The show Sun 7/10 is followed by a discussion led by Reader critic Albert Williams and Theatre Building Chicago artistic director John Sparks. Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood, 773-761-4477. $18-$24.

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