'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for November 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:
The Joseph Jefferson Awards are here once again! The Equity Jeffs will be handed out next Monday night, November 7, 2011, at the Drury Lane Theatre in west suburban Oakbrook Terrace. Awards will be given in 35 categories (wow, that's a lot!). Additionally, a special award will go to Hedy Weiss of the Chicago Sun-Times for her nearly three decades of work as a tireless advocate, reporter, critic and cheerleader of theater in the Chicago area. Favorite musical productions like the Goodman's "Candide," the Court's "Porgy And Bess" and the Marriott's "A Chorus Line" vie for the top awards in the large theater categories, and Drury Lane's "Hot Mikado," Porchlight's "The King And I" and Chicago Shakespeare's "Murder For Two" keep popping up in the nominations listings too. There was so much good theater this past year. It sounds like a great night!
Speaking of awards..... Altogether now: "Stephen Sondheim's Coming To Town!" Whether he be God or Santa Claus, or some mixture of both, the legendary composer-lyricist will be in Chicago this coming Sunday morning, November 6th, at Symphony Center, to receive the Chicago Tribune Literary Prize during this year's Chicago Humanities Festival. He's been here several times recently, so sightings are not rare. However, he is 81 years old, after all. The writer in our field against whom all others are compared, whether justified or not, Sondheim's work is acclaimed by audiences and critics alike, studied, savored, emulated, satirized and adored. And, unfortunately, I'm pretty sure we won't see his like again in this world. The prize is well deserved. Bravo, Mister Sondheim!
At least two local Catholic universities are offering Sondheim samples this month. The Department of Fine and Performing Arts at Loyola University Chicago is presenting "Into The Woods" for the next two weekends in the Kathleen Mullady Theater on the Chicago Lakeshore campus. Sondheim's score and James Lapine's book both won Tony Awards, defeating a little show called "The Phantom Of The Opera."
And Dominican University in River Forest is presenting "Gypsy," with lyrics by Sondheim, music by Jule Styne and book by Arthur Laurents, in the 1,170-seat Lund Auditorium in the school's Performing Arts Center, November 11, 12 and 13. Yours truly is the musical director, and the stage director is Krista Hansen, Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts. 22-year-old senior Jackie Travers is legendary stage mama Rose.
After New Year's, beginning January 19, 2012, there'll be another "Gypsy" in the western suburbs, this time at the aforementioned Drury Lane Theatre. The cast has not yet been announced. Until then, now through January 8th, Oakbrook audiences are making more than do with one of the shows that defeated "Gypsy" for the top prize at the 1959 Tony Awards, "The Sound Of Music," by Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. Reviews have been ecstastic. Director-choreographer Rachel Rockwell has apparently done it again. And Broadway star Patti Cohenour singing "Climb Every Mountain?" Priceless.