'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for January 23rd, 2013
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:
And so it begins! Whether it's coincidence or not, the week which marks the 25th anniversary of the opening of "The Phantom Of The Opera" on Broadway is also the week in which Chicago's unofficial Andrew Lloyd Webber festival swings into high gear. Two of our most important suburban Equity houses are opening ALW shows virtually simultaneously, and I can't imagine the last time that happened. Perhaps the more significant of the two is the Marriott Theatre's world premiere revue, "Now And Forever: The Music Of Andrew Lloyd Webber," which began previewing last week and officially opens tonight, January 23, 2013, for a run through March 17th. The Marriott was given permission to create a show based on Lloyd Webber's musicals, and promptly enlisted one of its most popular and successful director-choreographers, Mark Robin, to helm it all, alongside the Marriott's Lead Artistic Director, Aaron Thielen. Fascinatingly, Robin brought in two additional co-choreographers from the Chicago area, young hoofer Matt Raftery and veteran modern dancer Harrison McEldowney, to help flesh out the different musical and dance styles revealed in Lloyd Webber's extensive output of musicals. And so, despite the presence of the superb and well-credentialed singers Linda Balgord, Erin Stewart, Susan Moniz, Stephanie Binetti, Max Quinlan, Ben Jacoby, Brian Bohr, Travis Taylor, Jameson Cooper and Raftery, this show just might be shaping up into something of a dance show, what with eight dancers with legit credits a mile long doing the duties. Northwestern University's Ryan T. Nelson is the musical director, and the show will be the first one in the United States to use songs from the sequel to "The Phantom Of The Opera," "Love Never Dies." Stay tuned, Mosh Pit peeps! We will know all about this show in the next few days!
Lord Lloyd-Webber's last Tony-winning musical was 1995's "Sunset Boulevard," the show that's been referred to as "Andrew Lloyd Webber's gift to show queens everywhere," due presumably to the opportunity it provides star ladies of a certain age to cavort with a younger male co-star while delivering high-powered ballads--or something like that. The Drury Lane Theatre is mounting the first Chicago revival of this show, perhaps the last in the string of British megamusicals which stretches back to Lloyd Webber's "Evita," if not to "Jesus Christ Superstar," in who knows how long, and it begins performances on Thursday, January 24 (running through March 24th). William Osetek and Tammy Mader are directing and choreographing, respectively, and Roberta Duchak, the Chicago musical director who was the vocal coach for Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe on the "Les Miserables" film, is doing those duties here (loyal Mosh Pit readers may remember that I interviewed Duchak about "Les Miz" one year ago, in January of 2012, in what may have been the first journalistic mention of her involvement in the film). Christine Sherrill, who just played Miss Hannigan in "Annie" at Aurora's Paramount Theatre, is fading silent screen diva Norma Desmond here, with Will Ray as Joe Gillis, Don Richard as Max, and Adrian Aguilar and Dara Cameron as Artie and Betty, leading an impressive ensemble cast.
Speaking of Northwestern, the student-led musical organization known as the "Dolphin Show" is mounting its yearly production, its 71st, this weekend and next (January 25-February 2). And it is "My Fair Lady," one of the most highly regarded musicals of the 1950s and the jewel in the work of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. Tristan Powell will be directing Nick Day and Lillie Cummings as Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle, with support from Jake Perlman, Judd Korman, Gaby Hornig and Justin Schuman. It's a large cast, as befitting the production's location, Cahn Auditorium.
Another show from the 50s, and only slightly less beloved, is "Peter Pan," which is the next touring offering from Broadway In Chicago. The show, and the title role which former Olympic gymnast and ageless wonder Cathy Rigby has made her own for more than twenty years now, comes to the Cadillac Palace Theatre in a new production, opening next week (January 30) and running for two weeks (till February 10). Our old friend and Broadway star Brent Barrett, winner of a 2011 BroadwayWorld Chicago Award for his role in Chicago Shakespeare Theater's "Follies," is Mr. Darling and Captain Hook, and Broadway's Kim Crosby ("Into The Woods") is Mrs. Darling. Have you seen it? Have the young at heart in your family (which might be YOU) seen it? You'll be flying!
Cathy Rigby is Peter Pan
In the far northern reaches of our viewing area is the town of Crystal Lake, Illinois, the home of the Raue Center For The Arts. And from February 1-16, the Raue will be the home of the Williams Street Repertory's production of Stephen Sondheim's "Company," starring John Michael Coppola. The Raue is a 750-seat venue, though Coppola has been in larger--he was in the company of "Jersey Boys" at the Bank Of America Theatre and "For The Boys" at the Marriott. Richard Kuranda is directing a cast also including Mary K. Nigohosian as Joanne, Amanda Flahive as Amy, Kate Hein as Marta and J. Matthew Magian as Paul.
The week of Valentine's Day has become a time for special cabaret and concert performances of a showtune nature, and this year will be no different. Jeff Award and BroadwayWorld Chicago Award winner Cory Goodrich (for "Ragtime" at the Drury Lane Theatre in 2010) will take time out from appearing in that theater's impressive ensemble of "Sunset Boulevard" to present two evenings of her first-ever solo show, as "Cory Goodrich in Concert" comes to the Mayslake Peabody estate in west suburban Oakbrook Terrace, as a benefit for First Folio Theatre. On Tuesday and Wednesday, February 11 and 12, at 8:00, we are promised Goodrich's own (impressive) songs as well as some of her Broadway favorites. This could be truly exciting!
Cory Goodrich in Concert!
On Thursday, February 14th, 2006 Tony Award nominee (for "The Color Purple") Felicia P. Fields (that's her telling LaChanze, "Hell, no!") will present her all-new show, "Mess Around & Fall In Love" at the Theatre At The Center in southeast suburban Munster, Indiana. The press release says the concert will be "filled with sassy hits." Need I say more? It's Felicia P. Fields!
And on Saturday and Sunday evenings, February 16 and 17, we will be treated to something that sounds rather extraordinary at in the cabaret space at Davenport's Piano Bar in Wicker Park. Young polytalents Christopher Pazdernik and Aaron Benham are writing and starring in an imagined accidental booking of Carol Channing and Patti LuPone into the same nightclub, called "Carol & Patti: Together Again For The First Time," with CPaz as Patti and Benham as Carol, the former directing and the latter musical directing. These two friends of the Mosh Pit have amassed impressive resumes in just a few short years in town, and this wacky (dare I say, "inspired?") evening of stories and songs could just be the most interesting idea since, say, turning Andrew Lloyd Webber's songs into a dance musical. I certainly wouldn't count them out, and I just might count them IN. Do you want to risk missing what could be a legendary evening? Read this item over one more time, won't you? Consider the possibilities....
Dare I say, "Glee?" The Fox-TV series that we elevated to Hall Of Fame status around here a while ago has been on a slow simmer I guess, but yes, it's still on the air and still has its fans. Now in its fourth season, the show about McKinley High School, its Glee Club and all things mash-up has been without any new episodes since December 13th, but will return tomorrow, January 24, with a Sadie Hawkins Day episode, the 11th of the year. How the cast of this show keeps up its breakneck production schedule of recording, choreographing and filming is beyond me. And they still look young doing it!
And the show we've all been waiting for will return soon! "Smash" begins its second season on NBC-TV on Tuesday night, February 5, 2013, with a two-hour episode at 8:00 pm, Central Time. I think a lot of folks have already seen it, somehow, but the rest of us will just have to wait until something called the "Super Bowl" makes the television schedules calm down. Most of the excitement this year seems to be about the role that Chicago native and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson will play in this backstage soap opera about the world of Broadway musicals. But Hudson isn't listed as a series regular, unlike newcomers Jeremy Jordan ("Newsies" and "Bonnie And Clyde") and Krysta Rodriguez ("The Addams Family"). Other real-life Broadway stars like Megan Hilty and Christian Borle continue in their roles alongside stars from the worlds of film (Anjelica Huston), television (Debra Messing, Jack Davenport) and recording/television (Katharine McPhee). And did you hear that a "cast recording" of the show-within-a-show, "Bombshell," is available? I don't yet know what to really call it. (Any ideas?) However, I'm buying it!
So that's the Mosh Pit for this week! Are you in it? I think you are, peeps. I'm just trying to document what you are all up to and excited about and planning to see. Thanks for reading! I will see you next week, and perhaps sooner, under those video screens...-PWT
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