'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for April 2nd, 2014
THE LATEST IN UNAUTHORIZED GOSSIP AND BUZZ
FROM THE HEART OF CHICAGO'S SHOWTUNE VIDEO BARS,
AND MUSICAL THEATER NEWS FROM CHICAGO TO BROADWAY
Overheard last weekend under the showtune
video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:
If you're a fan of Chicago actors John Sanders, Joey deBettencourt, Nathan Hosner and Harter Clingman, then you'd better hurry, as they'll only be performing here through the end of next week! The national tour of "Peter And The Starcatcher" opens tonight at the Bank Of America Theatre and runs through April 13, and these performers are among the cast. The show, which won five Tony Awards in 2012, is not really a musical, though there are songs, and the opening of the second act feels just like the second act opener of very nearly every satirical mid-century musical comedy you could name. But it's of interest to Mosh Pit peeps, not just for the unique way in which music serves the story in most of the evening, but of the fact that it's a prequel, in its own unique way, to the very much a musical "Peter Pan" by Charlap and Leigh, Styne, Comden and Green ("I Gotta Crow," "I'm Flying," "I Won't Grow Up," etc.). How did Peter get to be Peter? You know you want to know.
And Chicago continues as an incubator of new musical theater works, not the least because of a new initiative, the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival, sponsored by the Underscore Theatre Company. There will be eight new works featured in the Festival, running from June 5-15, 2014. Performances will take place at The Den Theatre in Wicker Park. You guys, I'm excited! This is a brilliant idea.
A new musical will bow from April 17-25 at Gorilla Tango in Bucktown. It's "Eyes And Ears: The Musical," from Mondisa Monde Productions. It combines deaf and hearing performers, and was written by Austin McKenzie. How intriguing!
Local productions like "Dessa Rose," Rent" and "Into The Woods" are leaving us, but "Evita" has just opened, running through only through April 12 at the Jedlicka Performing Arts Center in Cicero. Emily Maxwell, John Gurdian and Maxwell DeTogne are rocking the looks and singing the hooks. Don't cry for her, Argentina. Check out the pix!
The version of W. S. Gilbert and Arthur S. Sullivan's "The Mikado" that David H. Bell created with composer Rob Bowman, called "Hot Mikado," has been seen at both the Marriott Theatre and the Drury Lane Theatre, but I can't say that it's been done elsewhere in town. Inspired by the two Broadway jazz and swing Mikados of the 1930s, this contemporary take on the 1930s viewing the Victorian view of Japan is now being done at Loyola University Chicago, running April 4-13 at the Newhart Family Theatre on the Rogers Park campus. Sarah Gabel directs, with music direction by Michael McBride.
The Hypocrites (responsible for the current "Into The Woods" at Mercury Theater Chicago) have their own adaptation of "The Mikado," and it will be returning again next winter (2014-15, that is), in repertory with their "The Pirates Of Penzance." And yes, for those of you with inquiring brains, the intrepid troupe will be unveiling a new production at the same time, their version of "H.M.S. Pinafore," thus completing a trilogy of Gilbert and Sullivan's most popular and enduring works. Sean Graney will again adapt and direct, and Matt Kahler and Andra Velis Simon are handling the new arrangements (the actors play instruments). Venue to be announced. This is pretty neat, peeps!
It was the "first day of school' this Monday for the full casts of three shows opening later this month. Mercury Theater Chicago began to rehearse its Chicago Equity stage premiere of the Tony-winning "Avenue Q" on Monday. (You know "Avenue Q." One of its composers went on to co-write a little thing called "Frozen," which has now grossed one BILLION dollars worldwide in just four months.) "Avenue Q" will run April 23-June 29 at the theater on Southport Avenue. What we don't know is who is in the cast! Can we have a drumroll, please?
Porchlight Music Theatre's "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying" will begin peformances April 26 (through June 1) at Stage 773 on Belmont Avenue. And director Rob Lindley, fresh from his successful off-Broadway staging of "50 Shades! The Musical" (roots in the Chicago singprov troupe Baby Wants Candy), convened his troupes for a read-through of the Frank Loesser Pulitzer-winner (music direction by Kory Danielson, choreography by Brenda Didier). In the Mosh Pit on Monday night, he told me he was thrilled....
And the biggee of this bunch is "The Sound Of Music," now in rehearsal at Lyric Opera Of Chicago in a production headlined by Broadway and film star Billy Zane as Captain Von Trapp. The production is apparently selling so well that four additional performances have been announced, on top of the extra week that was tacked on earlier this spring. Jenn Gambatese will be Maria, with Edward Hibbert as Max, Elizabeth Futral as Elsa and Christine Brewer as the Mother Abbess. A slew of local actors, singers and acting/singing/dancing kids round out the production, running April 25-May 25 at the Civic Opera House. This one is getting BIG. It's getting international attention. And it should.
And that giant sucking sound you just heard was some of Chicago's brightest musical theater performers being whisked away from us (hopefully, not forever). We know that Chicagoans perform on Broadway with some regularity, and, less well publicized, in the casts of national tours. But several Chicagoans (and former Chicagoans) are now headed to Las Vegas as part of the cast of "Mamma Mia!," a new version of the long-running London and New York hit to play at the New Tropicana hotel there. Jeff Award-winner Christine Sherrill (for last season's "Sunset Boulevard" at the Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook) will star as Donna Sheridan, and Sean Allan Krill (last seen in the DLO "Spamalot") will be Sam Carmichael. Devin Archer, Karl Hamilton, Matt Rivera and James Lee are among the ensemble. The show opens May 8, and may never close. Right? That's how things go out there. But we hope these talented performers come back, at least to visit....
That's it for this week, kids! I hope you've been out and about, enjoying the warmer weather. It's not summer yet, but it's not winter, either. I'll take it! And I'll see you under those video screens.....-PWT
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