'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for February 19th, 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:
Last week's Mosh Pit mentioned the upcoming world premiere pre-Broadway tryout of "Amazing Grace," starring Josh Young, that will play at the Bank Of America Theatre this fall. But you do remember, don't you, that we have another one sailing in here in late spring? Tickets went on sale last Friday for "The Last Ship," the semi-autobiographical musical by Sting that will premiere at that same theatre (the BOAT, btw) from June 10-July 13. We now know that the show will star Michael Esper, Rachel Tucker and Aaron Lazar, with Jimmy Nail and Sally Ann Triplett, and that it will open on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre on October 26, after a preview period beginning September 30. This Friday, PBS television will begin broadcasting a special about the show, featuring Sting's performances of many of the songs in New York last fall. And note that he will perform some of the songs in Chicago next Monday night, along with Jimmy Nail and Rob Mathes, at a pricy benefit for the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Can you say, "Publicity?"
As the new production of "The Phantom Of The Opera" begins to wind down is long stand at the Cadillac Palace Theatre (through March 2nd), things begin to heat up for other productions brought to us by Broadway In Chicago. The last week of the run of POTO will be overlapped by the umpteenth visit of a tour of our namesake musical, "Chicago," to play at the BOAT from February 25-March 2. TV star John O'Hurley will once again play Billy Flynn here.
And what I believe is the U.S. premiere of the touring dance musical "Heartbeat Of Home" (from the producer and the director of the very popular "Riverdance" show, of late memory) will play at the Oriental Theatre for two weeks, March 4-16. It features Irish, Latin and Afro-Cuban dance and music, with projections and "an engaging narrative structure." Well, ok then. It's been playing in Toronto, and has a cool website.
I'm not sure that theaters actively promote February offerings as being inspired by Black History Month celebrations, but if you want to go looking for such productions in our rich and diverse city, you can find them. A show that's reportedly packing a big wallop is the revival of a Black Ensemble Theater original revue, "Chicago's Golden Soul," celebrating the city's largely unheralded history as a recording center of music in the sixties and seventies that rivaled the much better-known scene in Detroit. Now announced through March 30, in rep with the company's smash-hit fall offering, "It's Alright To Have A Good Time: The Story Of Curtis Mayfield," it only plays Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday nights. But from the accounts I've read, this production is really something, musically, dramatically, any which way you look at it. Just read these review excerpts if you don't believe me. Brava once again to Jackie Taylor!