'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for February 12th, 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:
Two shows by Stephen Sondheim have every Mosh Pit peep's attention this week, as they officially open after short preview periods. And the buzz is deafening! First of all, I'm talking of course about "Gypsy" at Chicago Shakespeare Theater (music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Sondheim), directed by Gary Griffin and starring Louise Pitre as the famous (infamous?) "Momma" Rose Hovick. Running through March 23, with choreography by Mitzi ("Val") Hamilton and music direction by Rick Fox, the show features Keith Kupferer as Herbie and Rhett Guter as Tulsa, with Jessica Rush and Erin Burniston as Louise and June, and Caroline Heffernan and Emily Leahy as their younger counterparts. With old Chicago hands like John Reeger and Barbara E. Robertson on board, and young adult Chicago-area talents like Adam Fane and Landree Fleming strutting their stuff, how can the show that gave us "Some People," "Everything's Coming Up Roses" and "Sing out, Louise" go wrong?
And second of all, I'm talking of course about "Into The Woods" from The Hypcrites, playing at the Mercury Theater Chicago through March 30, directed by Geoff Button in the company's whimsical, playful and ensemble style of theater. Folks are being blown away by the photographs that have been released. Not looking like any other production of this Tony-winner for Best Score (music and lyrics both by Sondheim), it certainly looks as if the aesthetic of The Hypocrites (think of their recent forays into Gilbert and Sullivan and their award-winning 2010 production of "Cabaret") has been fully realized once again. Wonder if the reviews will show forth the promise that word of mouth has been stirring up? (Musical direction by Matt Deitchman and choreography by Katie Spelman)
Running through March 16 in Oakbrook Terrace's Drury Lane Theatre is "Young Frankenstein," which opened three weeks ago to reviews that, more than once, called it "better than the Broadway original." Now, nobody thinks that this show is as good as its Mel Brooks predecessor, "The Producers." But it has not one but two legendary films to try and evoke on stage (the 1931 James Whale masterpiece, "Frankenstein," and Brooks' 1974 satire of it). William Osetek's production here reported does well enough, and Jeff Dumas' Igor apparently stands out ("What hump?). Roberta Duchak and Tammy Mader handled the music direction and choreography assignments. I have a feeling that if you think you will like it, you better go now. It may not get any better than this, folks!