'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for March 21st, 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:
Oh, my goodness there’s a lot to talk about! What an amazing time for musical theater in Chicagoland. Well, let’s get to it!
First up this week in the Mosh Pit is the word out of the western collar-county city of Aurora, where director Rachel Rockwell has whipped up what’s reported to be an rock-solid production of “Hair,” cast entirely with Chicago area talent and garnering very upbeat reviews. The pictures of the Paramount Theatre production look awesome, and the cast, led by Adrian Aguilar (“The Original Grease”) and Skylar Adams (“The Adventures Of Pinocchio” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater), seems perfect. Many observers are happy to see non-Equity storefront stars Maggie Portman (“Chess” and “Evita”) and Dana Tretta (“Cabaret” and “Pippin”) getting their due here. And yes, that’s Bethany Thomas (“Porgy And Bess”) doing the honors on “Aquarius.” You better get your sunshine in gear if you want to see this, though, as the run lasts only until April 1, 2012. The next mainstage production there, “Grease” (the familiar version, not the “original” one) doesn’t open until the fall, but auditions are being held this week.
The Paramount in Aurora is just the first of the four big suburban musical houses that I want to survey this week. A little closer to the Loop, but still in the western suburbs, is Oakbrook Terrace, where that well-received production of “Gypsy” starring KLea Blackhurst is also wrapping up on April 1st. Next up for the Drury Lane Theatre will be “Hairspray,” staged by Tammy Mader and running April 12 through June 17, with the press opening set for April 17. And the cast was just announced! Lillian Castillo will be Tracy Turnblad, with local and national favorite Michael Lindner as Edna and “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Tim Kazurinsky as Wilbur. Tony nominee Felicia P. Fields will be Motormouth Maybelle, with Erik Altemus as Link Larkin, Jon Michael Reese as Seaweed and Holly Lyn Laurent as Amber. Local favorites George Andrew Wolff, Rod Thomas, Holly Stauder, Jackson Evans, Dina DiCostanzo and Alex McCrary help round out the large cast. Also to be found will be Donica Lynn, who will rush over straight from Paramount’s “Hair.” How many actors can say that they went from “Hair” to “Hairspray?” I mean really! Awesome.