'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for October 16th, 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
Overheard last weekend under the showtune
video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:
Last Friday afternoon, the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place was filled near to capacity, as Broadway In Chicago hosted a joint media and group sales event in promotion of the show everyone will be talking about next summer, "The Last Ship," conceived by and with a score by Sting. Co-producer Jeffrey Seller ("Rent," "Avenue Q," "In The Heights") was introduced by BIC President Lou Raizin, who in turn introduced Sting, the former frontman of the band The Police, a 16-time Grammy Award winner and star of the 1989 Broadway revival of Kurt Weill's best-known work, "3 Penny Opera." Also appearing onstage with Seller and Sting were Jimmy Nail (the British television star best known in the United States as Agustin Magaldi in the film version of "Evita") and pianist and musical director Rob Mathes. And then the fun began.
Sting, Nail and Mathes sang five songs from the show, which is set to make its pre-Broadway world premiere at our Bank Of America Theatre from June 10-July 13, 2014. Sting won't be in the show, but Nail will be, in the supporting role of Jackie (Sting described him as his "male muse" during the writing of the show). The three men have just finished a run of performances of songs from "The Last Ship" at New York's Public Theater last month, so everything was relaxed, polished and compelling in this concert context. And, as Sting released an album called "The Last Ship" on September 24, 2013, of songs written for the project (whether or not they make the final script and score), one must assume that the arrangements, etc. will end up somewhat different than their current form. The men sang "What Have We Got?," "Dead Man's Boots," "What Say You, Meg?" (which replaces the album's "Practical Arrangement" in the show), "August Winds" and "The Last Ship." And the assembled crowd ate it up, I must say.
I can tell you that we all will be talking about this show a lot, and, apparently, scrambling for tickets among all those group sales groups. Once the new staging of "The Phantom Of The Opera" ends its run of January 9-March 2, 2014 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, it will be full speed ahead to the premiere of "The Last Ship." Historians may put it in the same boat as Cyndi Lauper's "Kinky Boots" and Elton John's "Billy Elliot," but those Tony-winning shows with pop-star scores, and with similar settings and themes (northern England, fathers and sons) aren't bad company at all. The script of "The Last Ship" is by John Logan ("Red") and Brian Yorkey ("Next To Normal"), with direction by Rockford, Illinois, native Joe Mantello ("Wicked") and choreography by Steven Hoggett ("Once").
Speaking of "Once" and Broadway In Chicago, everybody is talking about "Once," the 2012 Tony winner for Best Musical that is now visiting us through October 27, 2013 at the Ford Oriental Theatre. Nearly every critic has loved it, and many audience members are chatting it up in person and online. Some folks say that this tour is "better than Broadway." And cast members and Chicagoans Tiffany Topol and Claire Wellin are glad to be home for three weeks. Always a good thing. Especially when the tour may be on the road for two or three years. Let's hope it is, and that it comes back!
Well, the Halloween season is almost upon us, and the Chicago theater community comes alive (or is it undead?) every year with shows to please those looking for a little something in the spirit of the unholyday. After three years at the Charnel House restaurant, "Musical Of The Living Dead" is playing at Stage 773 this year, from October 10-November 9. It's a satire of horror films and musical theater, cannibalized from a number of sources and presented by Cowardly Scarecrow Theatre Company. And there are two casts! In case somebody really dies, I suppose....
The off-Broadway musical "Zombie Prom" is taking over five evenings at the Mayne Stage in Rogers Park, and it has three more left (on October 19, 25 and 31). It's directed and choreographed by Corey L. Mills and features a cast of 16. The book by Dana P. Rowe and score by John Dempsey is concerned with the 1950s, a high school, a nuclear waste dump, prom night, a scandal-mongering reporter and more. What's not to love?
Team StarKid, the creative young Chicago-based company behind the internet sensation "A Very Potter Musical," is presenting two special Halloween performances of its sketch show "1Night 2Last 3Ever," running at the UP Comedy Club in the Piper's Alley complex at North and Wells. On October 31 and November 2 at 8:00 pm, you can catch the comedy about the classic boy-band 3Ever, directed by Brian Holden and musical directed by Nick Gage. The cast includes Jeff Blim, Denise Donovan, Lauren Lopez, Pat Rourke, Meredith Stepien, Daniel Strauss and Joseph Walker.
That holiday superstar, Frank N. Furter, and his vehicle, "The Rocky Horror Show," are alive and well in Andersonville, courtesy of pH Productions. Richard O'Brien's original script and score are on display on Friday and Saturday nights, from October 4-November 16, at 1515 W. Berwyn Avenue.
Underscore Theatre Company is presenting "The Rocky Horror Picture Show Live," which isn't exactly the same thing as "The Rocky Horror Show." (These days, it's sometimes hard to be able to tell what you're getting when Frank N. Furter is involved.) Underscore's production, in its third year, only runs next weekend, October 24, 25, 26 and 27, and it's at the Chopin Theatre at Division and Milwaukee. It's a combination of the cult-classic film "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and some live elements, with a steampunk sensibility and dueling guitars. Lauren Lundy directs, and the music supervision by David Kornfeld includes a four-piece band and a cast of fourteen. And there are props!
Note also the Chicago Cabaret Project and its "The Rocky Horror Cabaret Show," playing five performances at Mary's Attic in Andersonville, October 18, 19, 25, 26 and 31. Knowing this group, I bet there's a lot of costumes, makeup and singing!
And speaking of Chicago Cabaret, the Chicago Cabaret Professionals host their (its?) 15th annual gala this coming Sunday night, October 20, 2013, at the Park West, where "Singing Our Own Song" will involve all of the biggest names in traditional cabaret room performance in Chicago. Longtime piano bar host Daryl Nitz and Davenport's Piano Bar And Cabaret are being honored with special awards. Performers like Anne and Mark Burnell, Joan Curto, John Eskola, Foiled Again, Scott Gryder, Beckie Menzie, Tom Michael, Audrey Morris, Suzanne Petri, Denise Tomasello and many more will perform, and you know that some showtunes will be sung! I'll bet it is a very special night.
And be sure to nominate your favorite productions, performers and behind-the-scenes creative artists for the 2013 BroadwayWorld Chicago Awards! We're just about halfway through the nominations phase right now, which ends on October 31 (while you're at some Halloween-themed musical show, no doubt). There are 36 categories, covering Equity and non-Equity theater in Chicagoland, whether musicals, plays or revues. And we need to hear from you! Productions opening between November of 2012 and October of 2013 are eligible. And YOU get to decide the winners! I hope to see you at the Awards Celebration on January 8, 2014, but until then, you've got some nominating and some final ballot voting to do! Yes, you!
OK, peeps. Cool weather is here. You've got no excuse to not attend some theater! I'll see you there, and later that same night, I'll see you under the video screens.....-PWT
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