'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for August 18th, 2009
THE LATEST IN UNAUTHORIZED GOSSIP AND BUZZ
FROM THE HEART OF CHICAGO'S SHOWTUNE VIDEO BARS
by Paul W. Thompson
Overheard last weekend under the
Sidetrack and Cattle Call showtune video screens:
So much is being talked about! Who said that August was dull for theater? Not in Chicago, certainly...... So, let's get to it!
Two classic mid-century musicals began proscenium performances in suburban Chicago venues this past week, and everyone wants to check them out. First to officially open was "My Fair Lady" at Light Opera Works in Evanston, starring local classical actor Nick Sandys as Henry Higgins. (Conflict of interest alert: I am on the Board of Directors there.)
The second show, opening August 19th after a week of previews, is "Cabaret" at Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace, starring Northwestern University graduate and Broadway actor Jim Weitzer ("Little Women," "The Phantom of the Opera") as Clifford Bradshaw. (Conflict of interest alert number two: He is a friend of mine. Hey, it happens.)
My friends at Lyric Opera of Chicago tell me that rehearsals for the 2009-2010 season have begun. The show of most interest to musical theater fans is Franz Lehar's "The Merry Widow," one of the first Viennese operettas to have an impact not only on the popular music of the day "The Merry Widow Waltz") but on women's fashion. The newly-mounted production, starring Elizabeth Futral and directed by Drury Lane Oakbrook golden boy Gary Griffin, plays December and January at the Civic Opera House.
One sign that Broadway buffs may really like this show: it's being done in English, though it was originally written in German ("Die Lustige Witwe"). Has Lyric ever done that before? Shocking! And appearing in smaller roles in the show are Chicago theater regulars Jeff Dumas, Susan Moniz, Larry Adams, Mary Ernster, James Rank, Ann McMann and Bernie Yvon. It's like a reunion of everyone we all know!
A Griffin production that readers and mosh pit denizens may already be familiar with, the national tour of the Oprah Winfrey-produced Broadway hit "The Color Purple," will return to Chicago for one week just before Labor Day, with Fantasia reprising the lead role of Celie. Those who saw it in New York's Broadway Theatre or at Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre are interested to know how it will play in the Arie Crown Theatre at McCormick Place. And it may not return again.....