'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for January 19th, 2011
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 official--Dolly Parton is in town! The legendary singer-songwriter, movie star and TV talk show guest will make a red carpet appearance tonight at the Bank Of America Theatre, where her Broadway musical "9 To 5" makes its official Chicago debut after a Tuesday night preview performance. Buzz is high for the comedy tuner, which ran briefly in New York in 2009 and now features Dee Hoty, Diana DeGarmo and Mamie Parris. But as the show's composer and lyricist, Miss Dolly is doing her best to draw attention to the tour. The Windy City engagement is no exception. It's here for two weeks only, and those looking for a light-hearted good time with some soul searching ballads and snappy dancing are excited to see the show. As a bonus, look for Dolly's exclusive red carpet interview with BroadwayWorld Chicago's M. William Panek! What a way to make a living....
As we say a brief hello to "9 To 5," we have to say farewell (again) to "Wicked," which ends its winter return engagement this Sunday, January 23, 2011, at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. The Green and the Tween will have to give up performing "For Good," or at least they will until they get to Appleton, Wisconsin, the next city on their tour. The show set a holiday week box office record in Chicago this time around, but I have a hard time believing it will come back anytime soon. Catch Chicago's all-time favorite Broadway production while you can!
But there is no rest for two of the wicked, Barbara Robertson and Gene Weygandt. These two Chicago theater favorites have been playing Madame Morrible and the Wizard during this engagement, but they are set to go straight into another Broadway In Chicago presentation, one that I didn't mention last week in my review of coming Broadway tours. Why? Well, technically it's a local Chicago production, albeit a very special one. It's "Working," the 1978 one-act musical by a host of songwriters, based on the best-selling book by legendary Chicagoan, the late radio raconteur Studs Terkel. The show has been revised by its original driving force, none other than "Wicked" composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz, and includes material written in the last couple of years by "In The Heights" composer-lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda. There seem to be New York fingers all over this engagement, however, so don't be surprised if "Working" snaps up a New York theater for an opening in the next year. Wouldn't it be great if Robertson, Weygandt, E. Faye Butler or other Chicagoans in this cast make the trek east? As long as they don't stay there too long.... "Working" begins two weeks of previews at the Broadway Playhouse on February 15, opens on March 2, and runs through May 8--a good, long out-of-town tryout sort of length, if you ask me. I bet Julie Taymor wishes she had a run like this one for her current project....
A couple of extremely well-received local productions, directed by the guiding lights of two long-standing Chicago theater companies, are set to end their successful runs soon. Jackie Taylor's "The Other Cinderella" has only two performances left, this coming Saturday and Sunday, at Black Ensemble Theater. And Sean Graney's "The Pirates Of Penzance," as interpreted by The Hypocrites, has two more long weekends left at the Chopin Theatre. You did see them, didn't you?
The very first regional production of the Monty Python musical "Spamalot" anywhere in the world opened earlier this month at the Drury Lane Theatre (directed by artistic director William Osetek, with choreography by Tammy Mader). It received the most universally rapturous reviews any show in town has received in recent memory, even more superlative than the DLO show that played nearly one year ago, the multi-Jeff Award and multi-BroadwayWorld Award-winning "Ragtime." Lucky for us all, "Spamalot" will run through March 6. I realize that many students of the serious American musical don't think that this show is brilliant craftsmanship, repeating many gags from a movie now decades old. But get a load of these reviews--I mean, these are crazy positive! Most folks would give their eyeteeth to see a show like this, much less be involved in putting one on. Chicago's love affair with this show is six years old and counting.
Speaking of "Ragtime," it isn't far. Another show with close ties to Chicago, the Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty show (book by Terrence McNally) is this year's student-produced Dolphin Show at Northwestern University in Evanston. Opening January 21st, it plays for the next two weekends at Cahn Auditorium, as your stars of tomorrow show us a young person's take on this now classic Tony-winning show. Michael Holtzman directs.
Next Monday, January 24th, is a special one-night-only event in downtown Chicago, at 7:30 pm on the weather-protected stage of the Jay Pritzer Pavillion in Millennium Park, to be exact. It's a concert in the "Cabaret With A View" series by one of Chicago's true leading ladies, Sarah Siddons Award-winner, nine time Jeff Award-winner and "the first lady of Chicago theater," Hollis Resnik. Chuck Larkin will be at the keyboard for "Hollis Resnik Sings Her Favorite Things," and it costs all of $15. She's just back in town from Mary Zimmerman's "Candide" in Washington, DC. There is absolutely no way that this will not be fantastic, right?
Looking down the road a bit (in both time and distance), "A Chorus Line" will take the boards once again for two weekends (March 26--April 3) in northwest suburban Des Plaines, Illinois. The fairly new Real Clear Productions (founded in 2008) is mounting Michael Bennett's masterwork, directed by Joe Marabotti and choreographed by Alana Stephens. It will be at the Des Plaines Theatre, as the company's first full-scale musical production. Jill Matel will appear as Cassie, with Ean Kryska as Zach, Allison Fox as Maggie and David Dimas as Paul.
Really, REALLY far down the road, distance-wise, it was announced last week that "Tomorrow Morning," the 2009 Jeff Award-winning London musical by Laurence Mark Wythe that debuted at the Theatre Building Chicago in 2007 and opened at the Victory Gardens Greenhouse Theater in 2008, will make its New York debut Off-Broadway this spring, directed by none other than its former director, Chicagoan Tom Mullen. The York Theater Company will produce the work, set to open for a limited run on March 30, 2011 after a week of previews. Producer Hilary A. Williams is once again involved as well. But will any of the Chicago cast appear? Stay tuned! But how great for Mullen!
Last but not least, all residents of the Mosh Pit were thrilled on Sunday night when two of our favorite non-live ventures were rewarded with the round statues of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. "Glee" took home three Golden Globe Awards (for best TV comedy, and for Jane Lynch and Chris Colfer as best supporting TV comedy performers). And "Burlesque" was honored when songwriter Diane Warren won in the "Best Original Song--Motion Picture" category, for "You Haven't Seen The Last Of Me," sung in the movie by Cher. We learned from "Billboard" magazine this week that Cher has now had a number one song in each of the last six decades, the only performer to do so. (I'm not sure what it means that her music career has moved from the Hot 100 to Adult Contemporary to the Dance chart, but there it is.) Movie songs sung by Christina Aguilera, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mandy Moore and Carrie Underwood were denied a Golden Globe by the team of Diane Warren and Cher, and "Glee" is making student music and theater activities cool and in demand once again.... Just a little slice of life in little ol' 2011. I'll take it. And I bet you will, too.
Thanks for reading, once again. Remember, you can subscribe to "The Showtune Mosh Pit" by subscribing to the message thread that appears in the middle right side of the BroadwayWorld Chicago home page. Here's that link:
And I look forward to hearing about what interests you and what you want to know more about. To that end, I'll see you sometime this coming week, I'm sure, under the video screens.....--PWT