'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for March 2nd, 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:
As March dawns, and spring slowly awakens, there sure seems to be a heck of a lot going on at Broadway In Chicago! For one, the highly anticipated production of "Working" that has New York, Chicago and the nation talking opens tonight at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place. Word has it that this production will be the model for all future productions of the now-revised 1978 tuner. Does this mean there will be a commercial recording of the show (and its two new songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda) by the Chicago revisal cast? Who knows. But Studs Terkel's work is firmly rooted here, and this musical based on the late author and interviewer's best known book is now firmly rooted here as well, and hoping for a significant run. Let's hope the hype was worth it!
Last week, BIC announced a new Facebook-oriented ticket offer, whereby select seats for select performances of select shows will be available to Facebook fans of Broadway In Chicago for $25 each, only on the 25th day of each month. That's mildly creative, and Mosh Pit peeps approve. "Working" was the beneficiary of the first such offer.
Also going on as of this writing is the availability (as of last week) of single-ticket sales for the VERY highly anticipated national tour of the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical "next to normal," running April 26-May 8, 2011 at the Bank Of America Theatre. This Friday, March 4, tickets for the return engagement of the Tony Award-winning "Spring Awakening" will be on sale. And did we somehow miss the announcement that yet another return of "Beauty And The Beast" is happening, and this time for six weeks! This show business legend will park itself at the Ford Center For The Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre for six weeks, beginning June 29. Amazing.
Oh, the Oscars were last Sunday. Yay, Randy Newman. Moving on from that (lol).....
There is significant showtune news coming out of a somewhat unlikely local source--Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier. They actually have compiled an impressive track record of musical productions out there, but the name still throws people off in this regard. However, check it out! They are mounting two new musicals in the coming months, "Murder For Two" by Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair, directed by David H. Bell (May 12-June 19), and "The Adventures Of Pinocchio" by Neil Bartram and Brian Hill ("The Story Of My Life"), directed by Rachel Rockwell (July 13-August 28). "Murder For Two" is an intimate affair, wherein two actors play all the parts of a murder mystery, and play the piano as well. "Pinocchio" is designed to be a major draw for family audiences in summertime on the Pier. They both sound lovely to me.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater - Home
Even more excitingly, the man largely responsible for CST's musical successes, Gary Griffin, will be directing a major production of Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman's "Follies," announced to play just five weeks (October 4-November 6, 2011). Though it will not gain the press nor the cache of this summer's production of the show at Washington's Kennedy Center, is it the most significant production of the show in these parts in quite some time, if ever. If Griffin's CST "A Little Night Music" with Barbara Robertson and Kevin Gudahl seven years ago is any indication of what is in store for us, hold onto your chorus-girl hats! And it will be fascinating to see how a show about the destruction of a proscenium theater fits into the modified thrust configuration of the Courtyard. This will be a hot ticket, you guys!
For those who can't wait until fall to get their Sondheim on, the students in the University Theater at the University of Chicago are obliging you with a mounting of the Sondheim/James Lapine "Into The Woods" at the Reynolds Club on the Hyde Park campus, March 10, 11 and 12. Adam Rosenthal and Amanda Jacobs star, directed by William Glick.
Actually, next weekend will be a hot one in Hyde Park, as the Gilbert And Sullivan Opera Company will be performing "The Sorcerer" on March 11, 12 and 13 in Mandel Hall on the University of Chicago campus, accompanied by the University of Chicago Chamber Orchestra. Crazy scheduling, you guys!
There's another reason that Hyde Park is on ours minds lately. Have you seen the neat ads on CTA trains for the Court Theatre's upcoming production of the Gershwin/Gershwin/Heyward "Porgy And Bess?" They say, "The thoughtful retelling of a classic." And yes, the sound you hear is the pendulum swinging. For years, people wondered why opera companies weren't mounting this American masterwork. And now that they are, people are wondering why theater companies aren't. So, here you have it. Actually, a certain Audra McDonald is reported to be involved with such a venture on the east coast. But she doesn't have Charles Newell directing, Doug Peck musical directing, or a cast of 14 national and New York musical theater performers led by Alexis J. Rogers, Todd M. Kryger, Karla Beard, Sean Blake and James Earl Jones II. You probably don't want to miss this, I'm just saying.... It's "Porgy And Bess!"
George Gershwin's contemporary, Irving Berlin, will be represented on a local stage this month, though on a more modest scale. On Tuesday, March 15, Kevin Moore of WJJG Radio (1530 AM) will host a concert called "Score-by-Score: An Evening of Irving Berlin" at the Metropolis Performing Arts Center in northwest suburban Arlington Heights. Part of Moore's Great American Songbook Series, the evening will feature performances by some of the local cabaret world's biggest names, including Becky Menzie, Anne Burnell, Tom Michael and Heather Moran. Sounds classy!
And, in a fusion of the cabaret and theater worlds, Bailiwick Chicago is throwing themselves a fundraiser at Mary's Attic in the Andersonville neighborhood, on Saturday, March 5th. It's called "Bailiwick Chicago LIVE," and it's a low-key, fun and freewheeling affair for the younger adults among the Mosh Pit. You may remember that Bailiwick is mounting the adventurous small-scale musicals "Passing Strange" and "Violet" this year, and that may prompt you to include the company's modestly-priced benefit in your weekend plans. I'm just sayin.'
Thanks for checking us out this week! I knew I'd see you online at some point. And, hey, if we play our collective cards just right, I'll see you under the video screens. Take care....-PWT
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From This Author Paul W. Thompson