BWW Blogs: 'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for July 14th, 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:
Chicago's theater community came together in a most remarkable way this Monday evening, July 12, 2010, as a memorial "celebration of the life and love of Guy Adkins" called "No Regrets" took place on the mainstage at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. This three-time Jeff Award-winning actor, who passed away May 12th of cancer at the age of 41, was also a singer-songwriter, having taught himself to play the guitar in 2004 and subsequently writing 100 songs. He was a working actor, on stages here and on the east coast, nationwide on tour and in a few filmed projects. And he was a pretty remarkable human being, judging from the outpouring of support onstage and in the audience. For almost two and a half hours, the program continued with no intermission, and nobody moved.
Created by noted playwright and director ("Floyd Collins," "Bells Are Ringing" with Faith Prince) Tina Landau and by Guy's partner, Broadway actor ("Mamma Mia") and original cast member of Chicago's long-running "Forever Plaid," Sean Allan Krill, the evening was musical directed by busy Chicagoan Doug Peck. And that's only the beginning. Among the onstage talent were Hollis Resnik, Kate Fry, Timothy Edward Kane, Chicagoan turned New Yorker Jessica Bogart, Larry Yando and Ross Lehman, giving recollections of their time with Guy, introducing audio and video clips of his work, singing his original songs and having fun with each other. Heidi Kettenring, Kelli Cramer and Cristen Paige sang an a capella version of the Fairground Attraction song "Allelujah" which pretty much floored the crowd, accompanied by stage movements in "Viewpoint sequence" by the 2008 students of the School at Steppenwolf, which Guy taught. Guy's sisters and childhood playmates spoke. And Romain Fruge reprised the song "How Glory Goes" from the Goodman Theatre production of "Floyd Collins," in which he and Guy starred. Amazing.
And that's just the people who performed. In the audience I spotted Dominic Missimi, Stef Tovar, "Sugar" star Rod Thomas on his night off, Rob Lindley, Stacey Flaster, Marilynn Bogetich, Jessie Mueller, Roger Mueller, Matt Raftery, Bernie Yvon, David Girolmo and many, many more. Critics Chris Jones and Hedy Weiss were there. Tina Landau introduced herself to me and then a few minutes later returned, seating Steppenwolf founder Jeff Perry next to me. Landau worked with Guy Adkins in 11 productions, and publicly stated that he was her muse, her chief artistic collaborator. Wow.
I could go on. It was truly an amazing, stirring, inspiring and challenging evening. Guy's theater work, as everyone's, is fleeting and ethereal. Luckily we have video clips as well as memories, and some of his songs are available through his website or his Facebook page. We were treated to a sneak preview of Guy's performance in the upcoming independent film "The David Dance," which looks intriguing to say the least. Guy's writings on his illness and his life have been published in book form as "Notes from a Candyman," with proceeds going to charity. A life so well lived. So much insight. So much happiness and fearlessness. Bravo.
And the theater continues! Late night on Monday, the cast of the Bailiwick Chicago production of "Aida" (directed by Scott Ferguson) performed two songs from their steamy and well-received production at Sidetrack, for a large and appreciative Mosh Pit crowd. It seems like every show in town this year was written by either Elton John or Tim Rice, and they won a Tony Award for this show together. Such elaborate lives!
The national tour of "Shrek" opens in Chicago this week, after a week of previews at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. And by "opens," I mean that the tour is beginning here. The Tony-nominated show by David Lindsay-Abaire and Jeanine Tesori stars Chicago native Eric Petersen as the title ogre, along with Haven Burton as Princess Fiona and Alan Mingo, Jr. as Donkey. The production runs through September 5th, before departing for St. Louis, Dallas and environs beyond.
"Once On This Island" has received pretty good reviews up at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire (running through August 29). It's the first Broadway score from "Ragtime" and "Anastasia" creators Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. And the weather here would seem to make this a good summer choice for any theater! Nice programming, you guys......
Speaking of weather, "Sweet And Hot: The Songs of Harold Arlen" has been extended for two additionAl Weeks at Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre at the No Exit Café in Rogers Park. Now through August 15, the cast of six will have had two full months to live up to the adjectives in the show's title.
The 2010 Summer Music Theatre Festival is in full swing up at Evanston's Northwestern University. A production of the updated version of "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" is on the boards now through August 8, and the "provocative new musical" "Not Wanted On The Voyage" premieres this weekend, running July 16-August 8 in the Ethel M. Barber Theater on campus. It's by the writing team behind "The Story Of My Life," Neil Bartram and Brian Hill, and is based on the novel by Timothy Findley. Amanda Dehnert directs. Nothing like new work!
A production of "Hairspray" opens this weekend, running July 16-31 at the Jedlicka Performing Arts Center in near west suburban Cicero. Dante Orfei directs a cast of 36, and Adam Gustafson leads an orchestra of 10. Tickets are only $17!
Also opening this weekend at Theatre Building Chicago (Stage 773) and running July 17-August 1, is "Arizona Lady," a virtually unknown late-in-life operetta by one of the acknowledged masters of the genre, Emmerich Kalman. Chicago Folks Operetta is the first company in over fifty years to even mount this work, with a cast of two dozen directed by Bill Walters and choreographed by August Tye. Sam Duplessis conducts. Don't be afraid--it's in English. It's a Hungarian-Viennese operetta set in the Wild West. Talk about a unique opportunity!
Last but not least, Chicago is being treated this week to a visit by Andrea Marcovicci, one of the top cabaret artists of our time. She is holding court at Davenport's in The Cabaret, Wednesday through Sunday only, in "If I Were A Bell: The Songs Of Frank Loesser." "Get there by hook or crook" would be my advice. Seriously. It's Andrea Marcovicci singing Frank Loesser. Here's the website:
And so,....keep out of the heat! Summer is here (remember last year?) and we love it. Have a blast, because you know the sun will. And next weekend, I'll see you under our favorite video screens.....--PWT