'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for June 27th, 2012
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:
Bravo to “Eastland!” 97 years after the ship of the same name listed and capsized in the Chicago River, taking 800 people to their deaths in an unmatched tragedy in American history, the new show of the same name has proven quite successful in its maiden outing at Lookingglass Theatre Company. I haven’t seen it, but it’s gotten some very favorable reviews, and just yesterday the Tony-winning company announced a three week extension! That puts its closing at August 19, in the Chicago Water Works on Michigan Avenue (and within walking distance of the site of the tragedy). The show was written by company artistic director Andrew White, with music by the accomplished team of Andre Pleuss and Ben Sussman. Amanda Dehnert has directed what seems to be a show which may have a few glitches to iron out, but is still striking the hearts and imaginations of its audiences. I’m excited by the extension! Aren’t you?
And up north in Lincolnshire, the Marriott Theatre is again entering the world of original musicals, this time with “Hero,” opening this week (also running through August 19). I’ll be there tonight to review the show, and my review will be posted on BroadwayWorld Chicago before the end of the week. The musical in this timeslot last year was “For The Boys,” and we are all eager to see what’s cooking in Lake County this year. The Marriott’s Aaron Thielen has joined with theatrical polymath Michael Mahler to craft a musical comedy about a young adult comic book fan who has to deal with life’s real challenges. Former “Jersey Boy” Erich Bergen stars, alongside Chicago stalwarts Heidi Kettenring, Don Forston, Dara Cameron, Jonah Rawitz (Zachary Keller at certain performances), Alex Goodrich, Summer Naomi Smart, Michael Aaron Lindner, Jameson Cooper, Alex Goldklang and Kelley Abbell. David H. Bell directs.
Another major opening of a non-New York title (though something tells me this particular production is dying to end up there) is “Crowns” at the Goodman Theatre, which begins performances this weekend (June 30) and runs there through August 5, 2012. Based on a coffee table book about church hats and the African-American women who wear them, this “gospel musical” by playwright ReGina Taylor (and directed by her) stars Felicia P. Fields (a Tony Award nominee for “The Color Purple”) and E. Faye Butler, Chicago stage stars of the highest rank and sure to be in top form here. Will a Big Apple transfer be in the offing? Stay tuned!