'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for December 5th, 2012
THE LATEST IN UNAUTHORIZED GOSSIP AND BUZZ
FROM THE HEART OF CHICAGO'S SHOWTUNE VIDEO BARS,
AND MUSICAL THEATER NEWS FROM CHICAGO TO BROADWAY
by Paul W. Thompson
Overheard last weekend under the showtune
video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:
It’s finally here! Or HE is. Who? Yes, many whos. Not “The Who,” but, “The Whos.” Anywho, him! It! I’m talking about “How The Grinch Stole Christmas!,” or, I suppose its exact title is probably, “Dr. Seuss’ ‘How The Grinch Stole Chistmas!’: The Musical.” It’s here! But I hate that sort of thing. Not the show! But when they name a person before the title, and put the words “The Musical,” afterwards--that sort of thing. Like with “Shogun.” I hate that….
Anyway, I digress. This 2006 Broadway musical, which originated in Minneapolis as a children’s show in 1994 and was first staged by Jack O’Brien in San Diego in 1998, is making its LONG-awaited Chicago debut this week, running through December 16 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. Based on the 1957 children’s book and the phenomenally popular 1966 animated television program, which featured songs with music by Albert Hague (“Plain And Fancy”) and lyrics by Dr. Seuss (along with his script), I hope it isn’t also based on the 2000 live action film. Anyway, with book and lyrics by Timothy Mason and music by Mel Marvin, and including those original television songs, the Broadway version was directed by Matt August, presumably based on O’Brien’s lead. It’s been seen somewhere every year since 2006. And now, with two New York-based national tours criss-crossing the northeastern quadrant of the country this holiday season, Chicago finally gets it. You’re going, aren’t you? Or are you a mean one, like the Grinch?
Not to be outdone, another perennially popular 1960s animated Christmas television special is also on the boards here, “Rudoph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Well, sort of. It’s not an authorized version of the original stop-action program from 1964, but a parody of the same, and we’ve had it every year for the last 15 holiday seasons, courtesy of Hell In A Handbag Productions. Now open through December 29 at Mary’s Attic in Andersonville, the satirical musical, “Rudolph The Red-Hosed Reindeer,” with gender-bending and pan-orientation orientation, has book and lyrics by David Cerda, and music by Cerda, Scott Lamberty and Taylor E. Ross. AJ Wright directs a gala cast, starring 2011 BroadwayWorld Chicago Award-winner Michael Hampton reprising his role as Santa, with Ed Jones as Ruth Claus, Alex Grelle as Rudolph, Chad Ingold as Herbie and Lori Lee as Yukon Cornelia. Chicago has had a long history with Rudolph, starting with the origin of the story in 1939 as a holiday offering by our Montgomery Ward company. Is it any wonder that we have embraced a contemporary retelling of the story so strongly?
Last week in the Mosh Pit, we talked about several local mountings of “A Christmas Carol,” the amazingly long-lived short novel by Charles Dickens. And there are more! Steel Beam Theatre in west suburban St. Charles is remounting their production of “Scrooge” (aka “Scrooge: The Musical”). Leslie Bricusse’s film version of the tale runs live on stage through December 23rd.