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BWW Blogs: 'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for December 22nd, 2010




by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:

The votes are being audited now by BroadwayWorld's staff in New York, and soon we will know the winners of the first ever BroadwayWorld Chicago Theatre Fan's Choice Awards! Thanks to everyone who voted in the 25 categories. There have been some very close races, and some intense competition from some of the 33 different theaters involved. I hope that everyone got involved in the awards process, and that this is a good thing (and an annual thing) for theater in the Chicago area. I also hope that all my Mosh Pit peeps are planning to come to the awards celebration next Wednesday, December 29, 2010, at The Call! Will Panek and I will be there from 9:00 to 2:00, introducing any nominees and winners who would like to say a few words--in between the showtune videos the bar plays every Wednesday. Everyone is invited! It's a year-end theater gathering, for artists, fans and friends. Come one, come all! 

Announcement of the Awards Celebration 

As Christmas fast approaches, and theaters everywhere are putting on a wide variety of holiday and non-holiday fare (designed to lure theatergoers out of their comfy abodes and into the chilly but festive world beyond), the biggest show in town right now just might be "Welcome Yule!," the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's 16th annual holiday show at Orchestra Hall, inside Symphony Center on Michigan Avenue. It has been estimated that there may be 250 actors, singers, dancers and instrumentalists involved in the performances (including yours truly, by the way [full disclosure]). There are members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the full Chicago Symphony Chorus, a children's chorus (Voices Rising, from Midwest Young Artists up in Lake County), 8 dancers (many drawn from the River North Dance Company) and 6 actors.  Though not a traditional musical theater production, many of the performers and creative personnel are no strangers to the Mosh Pit. Stage director Tim Gregory is artistic director of Chicago's Provision Theater Company, and lighting designer Robert Christen is the resident lighting designer at the Goodman Theatre, where actors Laura Coover and Demetrios Troy have both performed. Troy will be going from "Welcome Yule!" into this spring's revised version of "Working" at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Town Place, alongside E. Faye Butler, Gene Weygandt and Barbara Robertson. For now, though (through Thursday, December 23rd, only), Troy and Coover are acting out O. Henry's "The Gift Of The Magi" in "Welcome Yule!" at Orchestra Hall. Not a bad gig! 

Welcome Yule! - CSO 

Looking into the New Year, the Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace is readying the first regional production of "Spamalot" for its January 6, 2011 opening (performances actually begin December 30th). Artistic director William Osetek directs Sean Allan Krill (Broadway's "Mamma Mia"), Gina Milo, David Kortemeier, Adam Pelty, John Sanders, Richard Strimer, Matt Crowle and others in this Tony-winning Monty Python musical, through March 6. 

Drury Lane Theatre Presents  SPAMALOT 

And up at Lake County's Marriott Theatre, Matt Raftery is directing and choreographing Frank Loesser's "Guys And Dolls," previewing January 26, 2011 and running through March 27. Real-life sisters Abby Mueller and Jessie Mueller will star as Sarah Brown and Miss Adelaide, respectively, with Brian Hissong and Rod Thomas as the men in their lives. Their father Roger Mueller will be on hand  as Arvide Abernathy, and George Andrew Wolff will essay the role of Nicely-Nicely Johnson. Sounds nice! 

Marriott Theatre Presents GUYS AND DOLLS 

That conconction known as "Alien Queen" (half movie send-up and half band tribute) has been extended into January at the Circuit Nightclub in Lakeview. Originally slated to run only through December 18, the show has been given a post-holiday reprieve by producers Scott Bradley and Jonny Stax (aka The Scooty and JoJo Show). The show will reappear for three Saturday nights only, on January 8, 15 and 22. Ryan Lanning stars as Ridley. 

Alien Queen 

Also playing in January (the 14th through the 29th) will be "Grey Gardens," the 2006 Tony Award-winning show about the sad decline of two of Jacqueline Kenndy Onassis' relatives. It comes courtesy of the Jedlicka Performing Arts Center in near-west suburban Cicero. Michael A. Kott will direct, with music direction by Adam Gustafson. Mary Nigohosian and Mary Hobein will star. 

Jedlicka Performing Arts Center 

In March, "Evita" will raise her arms once more, this time at the Harper Ensemble Theater Company on March 18-27, 2011, on the campus of Harper College in Palatine. Kevin Long directs, with music direction by Jeremy Ramey. Stephanie Herman will star as the eponymous media darling, with Christian Ketter as Che. 

Harper College, Palatine, IL 

Also in the northern suburbs in the new year will be a Chicago appearance by a woman whose career was made in large part by her successful concerts at the Park West over 15 years ago. This time, Linda Eder will sing at the North Shore Center For The Performing Arts in Skokie for one performance only, on February 12, 2011. Who's got a car? 

North Shore Center for the Performing Arts 

Speaking of divas with musical comedy backgrounds, Honey West (with pianist James Cebastian) is currently performing on Monday nights at Rehab Nightclub, adjacent to the aforementioned Circuit, from 7-10 pm. Michael Scott McBride follows, from 10 pm to 12 midnight. On Wednesday, Amy Armstrong and Freddy Allen are there from 9 pm to midnight. These are all great local artists, right? Who's got a bus pass? 

Rehab Cabaret 

And so, we're looking forward to looking backward at the Awards Celebration at The Call on the 29th. It's a great year-end event, and one that will kick the New Year off just right. I'm offering this simple phrase to kids from one to ninety-two, too: I'll see you next week (certainly next Wednesday!), under the video screens.....--PWT

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From This Author Paul W. Thompson

Paul W. Thompson, a contributor to since 2007, is a Chicago-based singer, actor, musical director, pianist, vocal coach, composer and commentator. His career as (read more...)