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BroadwayWorld Chicago Awards Celebration Details: 'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for December 23, 2015

BroadwayWorld Chicago Awards Celebration Details: 'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for December 23, 2015


by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:


Voting is underway now until New Year's Eve, December 31, 2015, for the sixth annual BroadwayWorld Chicago Awards. Several categories are very tight, too! And please join us on Sunday night, January 10, 2016 for the BroadwayWorld Chicago Awards Celebration, as all winners will be revealed and certificates presented to the winners in attendance!

The Celebration will be held at The Call nightclub, a 21 and over venue in Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood (1547 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue), beginning at 7:00 pm. Awards will be presented periodically until 10:00 pm, interspersed with showtune videos from VJ Michael Hogan. This event is a great time for cast reunions, networking and a good time celebrating the best in the year's Chicago theater--celebrating with like-minded theater professionals and fans. We always have a great time. Get your friends and family in on the fun! Come one, come all, to The Call!

The BroadwayWorld Chicago Awards is the oldest regional BroadwayWorld awards system in the United States, and the one which garnered the most national nomination submissions during the submissions process in October. The Awards continue to be the only theater awards in the Chicago area that are both comprehensive in scope and voted on by everyone--fans, theater professionals, students, casual and hard-core adherents alike. We are proud of these awards, proud of our list of 180 nominees, and we hope that you are proud too (and excited!!).

There are 128 individual theater artists nominated, and 86 productions, representing 55 theater companies from Woodstock, Illinois to Munster, Indiana, have at least one nomination. Leading off the list of nominees in the 36 categories are two non-Equity productions that are earning an impressive 9 nominations apiece--Brown Paper Box Co.'s Chicago storefront premiere of the musical "[title of show]," and the Raven Theatre's revival of a little known play by Mark Stein, "Direct From Death Row The Scottsboro Boys." The suburban Chicago premiere of the musical "American Idiot" is earning 8 nominations for the relatively new and non-Equity Up And Coming Theatre.

Nominees will wear yellow ribbons, casts will reunite, and all facets of the Chicagoland theater community will come together on January 10th for a relaxing night of fun with friends, fans and theater folk alike. BroadwayWorld Chicago Regional Editor Paul W. Thompson (that's me!) and The Call hostess Ashley Morgan will once again host the festivities. We'll be celebrating the winners, the nominees and the whole theater season with like-minded folks. It will be great to see you. You make the party a great one!


But what of the shows on the boards right now? What's the cream of the crop this Christmas week? As it turns out, all the best musicals in Chicago right now are either holiday-themed, or they are long-established local hits. There are ten of them that stand out (all of this is according to the Theatre In Chicago website). And eight of them will be going away soon, so you better get moving!


Four of the ten best shows in town right now are remounts of productions done at and by the same theaters in previous years. Now you know why these theaters produce these shows every year-they're good! "A Q Brothers' Christmas Carol" is Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier for the second year. You want to see "Hamilton" and you like Dickens too? This one's perfect. But it closes January 3rd, 2016.


A Chicago staple from Bailiwick Repertory Theater for more than a decade, "The Christmas Schooner" by Julie Shannon and John Reeger is now enjoying yearly engagements at the Mercury Theater Chicago. "Hello, Chicago!" (Closes December 27th, 2015.)


"It's A Wonderful Life," the radio play-with-music version of the classic Frank Capra film, is a perennial favorite in production by the American Blues Theater. Catch it at the Greenhouse Theater Center through December 27th.


And the granddaddy of perennial holiday hits, the Goodman Theatre's production of "A Christmas Carol," is excellent again this year, starring Larry Yando as the man I resemble when I sing Christmas carols this time of year. Maybe you do too. (Also closes December 27.)


Our two longest-running non-cabaret musical entertainments have achieved that status, I dare say, because they are good! And one of them continues in an open run, but the other looks like it will actually be closing. They aren't "holiday" per se, but if you like quality to go with your celebrating, look no further than these very successful commercial productions.

"Blue Man Group" has been at the Briar Street Theatre since the 90s, and shows no signs of stopping. And "Million Dollar Quartet," playing the Apollo Theater for seven years and counting, announced its closing date as January 17, 2016. Well, boo.



One of the biggest success stories in Chicagoland theater this decade has been the runaway success, both financially and artistically, of downtown Aurora's Paramount Theatre. And the biggest new holiday title to emerge from Broadway this decade has been "A Christmas Story," the musical version of humorist Jean Shepherd's reminiscences of his northwest Indiana childhood one particular December. Put 'em together and what have you got? A huge, audience-pleasing, holiday hit that Aurora audiences and observers have been enjoying. It runs through January 3rd.


Closing one day sooner than that will be "Christmas Dearest," a new, homegrown entertainment at Mary's Attic that emerges full-blown from actor-writer David Cerda and his drag impersonation of the legendary Joan Crawford. This year, Cerda and his Hell In A Handbag Productions have brought us the very funny mashup of Crawford's Hollywood image and Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," to hilarious effect.


The last two of this "holiday best" list are tours brought to us by Broadway In Chicago for our holiday (and post-holiday) amusement. The phenomenally successful "The Lion King" will be playing at the Cadillac Palace Theatre through January 17. It has been here before, of course. And the very first national tour of the story of another King, Carole, will play at the Ford Oriental Theatre all the way until February 21! That should be more than enough time for you and yours to see "Beautiful," starring Abby Mueller (pictured) in the role her younger sister played to Tony-winning acclaim. Do they give Tonys for performing in tours? No, but they do give BroadwayWorld Awards....See what I did there?



Next week in the Mosh Pit, I'll have the Top Ten Hot Topix for the last half of 2015, the shows and subjects that we've talked about most often in this column. It will be sweet, I assure you. Until then, maybe I'll see you under the video screens.....-PWT

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