'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for April 28th, 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:
May flowers are just around the corner, so let's get to it!
This coming Sunday night is the big night for the benefit concert on behalf of producer and theater developer/owner Michael Cullen. Monday, May 3rd at 7:30 pm, at the Royal George Theater, a host of performers, under the direction of Michael Weber, will entertain you and pay tribute to this visionary and hard-working man who helped build many of Chicago's current theatrical venues and cultivated many theatrical careers. Ron Hawking, Gretchen Cryer (mother of TV's Jon Cryer, btw), Malachy McCourt, John Foley, Tammy Mader, Shawn Stengel, David Girolmo and Nancy Baird, among many others, plus members of the current cast of "Million Dollar Quartet" (running at the Apollo Theatre) will be on hand. Cullen has medical bills he cannot afford, and his many friends have put together this benefit performance for him.
Opening Thursday, April 30th for the next two weekends is another local legend, the Waa-Mu Show at Northwestern University's Cahn Auditorium in Evanston. Arguably the best-known college show in America entirely written and performed by students, this is the final year the show will be directed by retiring faculty member and educational legend Dominic Missimi. Officially called "Waa-Mu 2010: Keeping Time," the show has got to be good, right? Northwestern alums are excited, and rightfully so. The list of Broadway entertainers and Mosh Pit regulars who emerged from Northwestern is long, indeed. So, hie thee hence to the north shore! Tell Dominic I said hi.....
Already open (through May 8) in the western suburb of Cicero is "A Tale of Two Cities" by Jill Santoriello, the Broadway musical of last season making its Chicago area debut at the Jedlicka Performing Arts Center, on the campus of Morton College. They were doing some publicity at Sidetrack on Monday night. Who's planning on seeing it? Got to be some good audition songs in there, at least.......
In the south suburbs (just over the border into Indiana, to be exact), lies Munster, Indiana, where Nessarose is marrying Joseph eight times a week at present. Well, to be exact, Heidi Kettenring and Bernie Yvon are starring in "I Do! I Do!," the Jones and Schimdt Broadway musical that was the writing team's second biggest hit, behind "The Fanstasticks." Kettenring played Nessarose in "Wicked" at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre this past decade, and Yvon was understudy to Donny Osmond in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" at the Chicago Theatre, back in the 90s. Their current show will be on the boards till May 23, 2010.
A slate of shows has garnered mostly good reviews lately, including "Cabaret" by The Hypocrites (performed at the DCA Storefront Theatre on East Randolph Street, with a female Emcee!), "The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas" at the Circle Theatre in Forest Park (with a passle of football boys doing their best Aggie dance in some pretty small spaces!), "Into the Woods" by Porchlight Music Theatre at the Theatre Building Chicago and "My Brothers' Keeper: The Story of the Nicholas Brothers" at Black Ensemble Theater in western Uptown. All of these have been Jeff-Recommended, which, as you know, is a very good thing. We must be doing something right, off-Loop musical theater scene! (Must be the crucible of talent known as the Showtune Mosh Pit, bubbling and simmering and throwing off talented, hard working people.....)
Oh, and speaking of good current shows, there's "Million Dollar Quartet" in Lincoln Park, "Oh Coward!" in Glencoe, "Ragtime" out in Oakbrook Terrace, and, oh yeah, a little show called "Billy Elliot" that you might have heard of downtown! (This Elton John fellow might have quite a career going, hunh?)
Legendary comedienne and musical comedy star Carol Burnett has written the second volume of her autobiography. Has anyone read it yet? It's called, "This Time Together," and we're hoping it contains material about her star-making turn in "Once Upon A Mattress." And wouldn't it be fantastic if she talked about her time with John Barrowman, George Hearn and others in "Putting It Together," her remarkable rendition of "I'm Still Here" in "Follies In Concert," and maybe even some dirt on Tina Louise from "Fade Out, Fade In?" Yes, I'm one of THOSE people. But you knew that, didn't you?
Speaking of websites, there is a great new one about the classic cast albums that form such an important part of our legacy, our education and our cultural patrimony as Americans. It's MasterworksBroadway.com, and it's been recently launched (this month, I think) by the record company that owns the rights to the great cast albums of Broadway's golden age from both Columbia Records and RCA Victor. That's half of everything........... They're still making new albums, too. It's worth checking out! There's a five-part podcast series about the making of cast albums that seems highly valuable. Come one, you know you like it......
And, finally, it seems like it's Kristin Chenoweth week! She guested on "Glee" this week, for the second time, and on Sunday her Broadway revival of "Promises, Promises" opened, also starring our old friend Sean Hayes. Among other songs, she debuted new versions of "One Less Bell To Answer," "Home" from "The Wiz," and "I Say a Little Prayer," in three different mediums (stage, television and recordings), all in the same week. Well played, Ms. Chenoweth! But why weren't she and Idina Menzel in the same episode, even for a minute? It doesn't seem right, does it? Wonder who had that put into her guest star contract? This is how rumors get started!
And so, as awards season gets underway, both here and in New York, let's get those office pools going and the chat rooms burning! And in the midst of all the mayhem, I'm sure I'll see you under the video screens.....--PWT