'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for January 1st, 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:
A Very Happy New Year from the Showtune Mosh Pit! And it's time for our semi-annual round-up of what we've talking about, the "Top Ten Hot Topix" for the last half of 2013. What's been on your collective mind since July 1st? Well, these....
10. "Next To Normal." The regional premiere of the Pulitzer Prize winner (it took home some Tonys too) was big news in August, when Drury Lane Theatre Artistic Director William Osetek put Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey's devastating look at marital bliss and mental illness onto the Oakbrook Terrace stage. The conservative suburban audiences didn't know what hit them. Or did they? Great reviews for leading lady Susie McMonagle didn't hurt, either. And the rest of the small cast more than held their own.
9. "Hello, Dolly!" Osetek's follow-up at the Drury Lane, the classic musical comedy "Hello, Dolly!," also caught our imagination, if only slightly less positive reviews from critics. Running through this Sunday, director-choreographer Rachel Rockwell's production starred Broadway notable Karen Ziemba, and a whole host of Chicago's finest performers backed her every step and high kick of the way.
8. "The Color Purple." The first regional production of a show close to many Chicagoans (including ex-residents Oprah Winfrey and Gary Griffin, its Broadway director) was mounted by Mercury Theater Chicago in August, and was extended into November. The director and choreographer, L. Walter Stearns and Brenda Didier, led Trisha Jeffrey, JaSondra Johnson, Evan Tyrone Martin and company into an intimate telling of the story, moving audiences and crtics alike. "Where do it come from?...See what God has done!"
7. "The Story Of Curtis Mayfield: It's All-Right To Have A Good Time." A show even closer to Chicagoans is the story of one our own, soul legend Curtis Mayfield. And Black Ensemble Theater's production of "It's All-Right To Have A Good Time" has proven so popular, it has been extended multiple times, now running from September all the way to the end of March, 2014 (albeit with fewer performances per week). Mayfield, Jerry Butler and others of the 1960s and 70s are depicted by both younger and older performers, and musical director Robert Reddrick's smokin' onstage band delivers the goods when it counts, doing the multiple Grammy honoree proud.