'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for October 6th, 2010
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:
It was a great week for musicals in Chicago last week, with four Broadway productions in town! "Million Dollar Quartet," "Billy Elliot" and "The Lion King" are still here, but on Sunday afternoon we said goodbye to "Rock Of Ages" after the national tour left us after a two-week stint. And, let me tell you, the crowd at the stage door of the Bank Of America Theatre to meet and greet Constantine Maroulis at 5:00 Sunday was pretty impressive! Which got me to wondering...as he was Tony-nominated for his leading role, and then came to Chicago in that role, when is the last time that happened? Who is the last Tony-nominated musical star to come to Chicago in that same leading role? Checking the Broadway In Chicago website and my memory, I think it was March of 2009, when Adam Pascal appeared in the tour of "Rent" here, and Ashley Brown opened the tour of "Mary Poppins" here. I think. Am I right? Anyway, we wish ROA well after its successful tour premiere here, and hope they'll be back soon!
Speaking of MDQ, it was announced last week that the show at the Apollo Theater is extending again, this time until May of 2011! That will make a run of two years and eight months for the historical rockabilly revue. So far. Not too shabby!
On the other end of the long-run spectrum, an original one-act show called "Never Have I Ever," based on "the infamous drinking game," is playing on Saturday nights in October, at 10:30 pm, in the de Maat Studio Theater at The Second City on Wells Street. The book and lyrics are by Adrienne Dawes, with music by Amanda Murphy and direction by of the cast of five by Tiffani Swalley. Secrets are revealed!
Evanston is a hot spot for show openings right now. The Savoyaires are presenting the Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera "The Gondoliers" this weekend and next, directed by Jim Schneider. Performances are at Chute Auditorium on Oakton Street, where Kevin Siembor will star as part of a cast of 40 and an orchestra of 30. My word!
And Light Opera Works has its fall "Second Stage" production going up, at the McGaw YMCA Child Care Center on Maple Avenue. It is "I Do! I Do!," the Jones and Schmidt two-hander about fifty years in the life of Michael and Agnes, a married couple who learn that "My Cup Runneth Over." The ever-employed Larry Adams and his co-star from LOW's 2009 "A Little Night Music," Catherine Lord, star. The show runs October 6--November 14, 2010.
This coming Sunday, October 11, Porchlight Music Theatre will present its benefit performance, "By Popular Demand," at the lovely Mayne Stage in Rogers Park. Tickets are $40, but it's a clever concept! Some of Chicago's most popular musical theater performers will offer audition pieces during the first half of the evening, and attendees will get to vote for who gets a "call back" to sing again in the second half! Bethany Thomas, Rebecca Finnegan, Jess Godwin, Sean Effinger-Dean, Joseph Tokarz, Jeremy Rill and Ryan Lanning are only some of the names slated to appear. Most of these performers are in shows at other theater companies as we speak! Sounds like a fun night.
Finnegan and Godwin are also among the performers scheduled to appear in a concert production of music written for and appearing in Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman's landmark musical "Follies," to take place on Tuesday, November 9th as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival. E. Faye Butler, Kevin Gudahl, Rob Lindley, Jessie Mueller, Hollis Resnik, Barbara Robertson, Alan Schmuckler and Jonathan Weir are also on the list, and I believe Doug Peck is the musical director. Peck and Lindley are "presenting" the event. This really should not be missed! Hey, Mosh Pit, I said, "This really should not be missed!" LOL. The one-night-only performance of our very own "Follies In Concert" will be at the Francis Parker School in Lincoln Park.
Also in November, that acclaimed new musical based on the early years of the Rolling Stones, "Aftermath," is being remounted by Signal Ensemble Theatre. They knew that they had an enormous hit on their hands when the 90-minute show (they're calling it a play with music, I believe) first premiered there last season, but the company was unable to transfer or extend the production at that time. Written and directed by Signal's co-artistic director Ronan Marra, and starring Nick Vidal as Mick Jagger and Aaron Snook as the doomed Brian Jones, Signal is hoping the jukebox genre and this property specifically will be lucky for them. And it did get some great reviews. Performances take place November 6--December 12.
I have only recently become aware of three performance troupes in town who routinely present improvised musical theater. That's right, they are doing Chicago-style improv, but are making up music, lyrics, dance, rhymes, you name it, singly and in groups, and must be seen to be believed! How is it done? Well, don't try this at home, but come out and watch these miracle workers do their thing! I'm talking about "Baby Wants Candy," the troupe with some very impressive alumni which performs on Friday nights at 10:30 at the Apollo Theater (home of the afore-mentioned MDQ), "The Deltones," one of iO Chicago's premiere ensembles, performing Saturday nights at 8:00 at 3541 N. Clark Street, and "Infinite Sundaes," the musical improv house ensemble of The Second City, on Sunday nights at 8:00. I believe the term they use for what they do is "singprov." If you are reading this column, you really do owe it to yourself to catch one of these amazing troupes in action. They make up songs!!! And they are all hilarious.
And, last but not least, nominations are still open for the very first Theater Fans' Choice Awards for the Chicagoland area, to be awarded in mid-December by BroadwayWorld.com! Nominations in the 25 categories are open through October 15, 2010 (only), and the final slate of nominees will be available for online voting during the month of November. Shows which opened here between September of 2009 and August of 2010 are eligible. Nominate your favorites now!
So, with fall nipping in the air (some days), and thoughts of holiday shows and Halloween haunts in the back of our minds, we look forward to more fantastic musical theater in Chicago and around the world. For local theater, just follow your nose to your favorite performance venue. For showtune performances from everywhere else, I'll see you under the video screens.....--PWT
From This Author Paul W. Thompson