Click Here for More Articles on LES MISERABLES

'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for December 26th, 2012

'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for December 26th, 2012




by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:

Last Thursday, December 20, 2012, was the most exciting day of the year around the Showtune Mosh Pit (virtual version)--it was the day the winners of the BroadwayWorld Chicago Awards were announced! The Circle Theatre production of "Reefer Madness" was the big winner, taking the award in four categories, including Best Revival of a Musical (Resident Non-Equity), Best Ensemble (Resident), Best Costume Design (Non-Equity) to John Nasca (now a two-time winner), and Best Scenic Design (Non-Equity) to Peter O'Neill. Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre's long-running production of "The Light in the Piazza," took home three awards, going to Kelli Harrington for Best Actress in a Musical or Revue (Resident Non-Equity), to Jeremy Ramey for Best Musical Direction (Non-Equity) and to Michael M. Nardulli for Best Lighting Design (Resident Non-Equity).

Theo was the big winner among all theater companies, however, with five wins overall. In addition to the three awards for "Piazza," Theo's fall production of "Smokey Joe's Café" was the winner in the Best Revue (Resident) category, and its director-choreographer, Brenda Didier, is now the only individual to have won in the same category for all three years of the BCA's existence. She gets to take home Best Choreography (Resident Non-Equity) for "Smokey Joe's Cafe" this year, as she did for "Cats" in 2011 and for "Chess" in 2010--all for Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre.

The only other production to win in three categories in the awards this year is the Goodman Theatre's production of "The Iceman Cometh," representing the Goodman's first win in the category of Best Revival of a Play (Resident Equity). Brian Dennehy has won the award for Best Actor in a Play (Resident Equity) for the second time now, and for the second time it's for a Goodman production. The third winner for "Iceman" this year is Kevin Depinet, for Best Scenic Design (Resident Equity). He is also now a repeat winner, having been honored in 2010 for "Ragtime" at the Drury Lane Theatre.

In all, the Goodman Theatre was responsible for four winning categories, as Diane Lane was the winner as Best Actress in a Play (Resident Equity) for her starring turn in Tennessee Williams' "Sweet Bird of Youth." And the only remaining theater to win in four categories this year was the Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier, with Gary Griffin directing the winning production of Best Revival of a Musical (Resident Equity) there for the second year in a row. "Sunday in the Park with George" was this year's winner, following the triumph of "Follies" last year. And Jason Danieley is the winner in the category of Best Actor in a Musical or Revue (Resident Equity) for the title role in the Stephen Sondheim tuner. Chicago Shakes also won two categories for its theater for young audiences production of "Beauty and the Beast," taking home the prize for Best Theater Production for Young Audiences as well as the award for Best Costume Design (Resident Equity), going to Theresa Ham.

Besides Dennehy, Lane and Danieley, other winners with a prominent national profile this year include the internet-based theater company Team StarKid, the Best Special Theatrical Event winner this year for its LeakyCon presentation of "A Very Potter 3D," and the pre-Broadway tryout of "Kinky Boots," the Harvey Fierstein-Cyndi Lauper tuner which was our winner in the Best Touring Production category. One of the "Kinky Boots" stars, Billy Porter, was the winner for Best Actor in a Touring Production. Note that the winner of the award for Best Actress in a Touring Production is Sirena Irwin, embodying Lucille Ball as Lucy Ricardo in "I Love Lucy Live On Stage" at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place.

In addition to "Sunday in the Park with George," "Beauty and the Beast," "Smokey Joe's Café" and "Kinky Boots," two other productions were responsible for winners in two categories this year. The Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co. production of Tracy Letts' "Superior Donuts" triumphed as the Best Revival of a Play (Resident Non-Equity) and Preston Tate, Jr. won as Best Actor in a Play (Resident Non-Equity) for his role as Franco Wicks. And the Drury Lane Theatre's production of "Hairspray" provided Lillian Castillo her award for Best Actress in a Musical or Revue (Resident Equity), and Tammy Mader her win for Best Choreography (Resident Equity).

Two other acting winners in the Non-Equity categories included Adam Fane (Best Actor in a Musical or Revue) as Princeton/Rod in the NightBlue Performing Arts Company production of "Avenue Q," and Michelle McKenzie-Voigt (Best Actress in a Play) for her role as Sissy in the brief summer run of Del Shores' "Sordid Lives," courtesy of the Ludicrous Theatre Company.

Aurora's Paramount Theatre was the site of the revival of "Hair," for which Jesse Klug and Greg Hoffman are the winners of Best Lighting Design (Resident Equity). The Black Ensemble Theater is the artistic home of Robert Reddrick, winner of Best Musical Direction (Resident Equity) for "The Marvin Gaye Story." And the Lookingglass Theatre was the home of the winner for Best New Work/New Adaptation (Resident), the musical "Eastland," by Andrew White, Andre Pleuss and Ben Sussman.

And now that the winners have been announced, the celebrating can begin! BroadwayWorld Chicago invites all winners, nominees, past winners and nominees, theater folk, superfans, board members and everyone else (21 and older) to the third annual BroadwayWorld Awards Celebration, being held on Wednesday evening, January 9, 2013 at The Call nightclub in Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood (1547 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue, between Ashland and Clark). We'll be presenting award certificates to the winners between 9 pm and midnight, in between showtune videos presented by VJ Michael Hogan. I'll be co-hosting the event along with The Call's Ashley Morgan, and there will be themed drink specials, yellow ribbons for all 2012 BroadwayWorld Chicago Award nominees and more. Grab your current theater friends and come join the fun, celebrating another great year of theater in Chicagoland. Meet and greet old friends, colleagues and fellow theater aficionados. It's a once-a-year event, and you don't want to miss it! And thanks for voting!

CLICK HERE for the list of all the winners of the 2012 BroadwayWorld Chicago Award.

And HERE is The Call's new website!

One week ago today, December 19th, was the official press opening night of the second national tour of "The Book Of Mormon" at the Bank Of America Theatre, where only the fourth international incarnation of the nine-time Tony Award winner will be ensconced until at least June, if not long after. And everyone (apparently) LOVES it. I haven't heard from one single person who has seen this production and did not enjoy it. Bravo to Ben Platt (a new kind of Elder Cunningham) and Nic Rouleau (the Elder Price you expect to see). Chicagoan Rob Colletti is Platt's standby. And the production announced that its first week in Chicago, its "preview week," set a house record of nearly $1.5 million in ticket sales! Also that first week, Stephanie Umoh was replaced by former "American Idol" contestant Syesha Mercardo in the role of Nabalungi. At some point, Chicago's Jackson Evans was replaced as Elder McKinley by Pierce Cassedy. Those are pricey exchanges in my book, but somebody apparently made some decisions. Surprising, but it's done. Anyway, Chicago, enjoy and enjoy! This show will be part of our musical theater landscape for a long time. And yes, they've already discovered Sidetrack. Don't forget The Call!


Yesterday, December 25, was the official opening day of the film version of a little show called "Les Miserables." As if you didn't know. Though many Chicago showtune folk and Mosh Pit peeps saw the film in preliminary screenings, A LOT of you went to theaters on Christmas Day to see what for us is being described by nearly everyone as a must see film. Unfortunately, musical theater insiders have some mixed reactions to the Tom Hooper film, some about stars Hugh Jackman and (especially) Russell Crowe, and some about Hooper's photographic style and/or the overall look and tone of the film. The quality of the musical performances and the film's differences from the stage show are also being carefully scrutinized. However, there is universal praise for Anne Hathaway's performance as Fantine (however brief), and no matter how negative some reactions are, the film is still being considered a "must see." It seems that we will all be left out of cocktail conversations for months to come if we don't rush and see this! I note that I have not seen it yet, but am reporting on my read of the reactions I've seen and heard. What have YOU heard? And, more importantly, what did you think when you saw it?

BroadwayWorld's Message Board Thread about "Les Miserables"

A musical based on a novel by Charles Dickens has provided Chicago area audiences with one final big musical opening for the calendar year, and I'm not talking about anyone's "A Christmas Carol." No, it's "Oliver!," Lionel Bart's popular musical from the early 1960s British Invasion that was written with the voice of Judy Garland in mind for every song. It's now at Cahn Auditorium in Evanston until December 31, produced with full orchestra by Light Opera Works. Starring the leads in LOW's summer production of "Man Of La Mancha," James Harms as Fagin, Colette Todd as Nancy and Cary Lovett as Mr. Bumble, it also stars Michael Semanic as Oliver Twist, Darren Barrere as The Artful Dodger (the role that made a star out of future Monkee Davy Jones), Edward J. MacLennan as Bill Sykes as Sarah Jane Blevins as the Widow Corney. Rudy Hogenmiller directs, and Roger L. Bingaman music directs and conducts.

OLIVER! at Light Opera Works

There's news about two of the BroadwayWorld Chicago Award winners mentioned above. Sirena Irwin won as Best Actress in a Touring Production for "I Love Lucy Live On Stage" at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, which closed there on November 11. However, the show is slated to reopen there on December 29, running now until March 3, 2013! And Irwin (as Lucy Ricardo) and her Original Los Angeles Cast co-star Bill Mendieta (Ricky Ricardo), as well as their Chicago based Fred and Ethel Mertz (Curtis Pettyjohn and JoAnna Daniels) will return as well. That's very cool.


And Team StarKid, the Best Special Theatrical Event winner this year at the BroadwayWorld Chicago Awards for its LeakyCon presentation of "A Very Potter 3D" (and the 2011 BCA winner for Best New Work/New Adaptation for "Starship") is putting itself out there in a new way with a sketch show (comedy and music) called "Airport For Birds [And Other Great Ideas]," presented by The Second City at the brand new UP Comedy Club in the Piper's Alley complex at North and Wells. Tickets went on sale December 19 for the run, announced from January 27-March 3, 2013, on Sunday nights at 7:00 pm. It may already be sold out! You know these guys and gals are crazy popular, and it's hard to catch them in the flesh. Darren Criss will not be in this, but you'd be surprised how well known some of his StarKid co-stars really are. And Chicago has them.

AIRPORT FOR BIRDS at the UP Comedy Club

Three of Chicago's big suburban musical theater houses are preparing their first offerings for 2013, and one of the most highly anticipated productions is a new work at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. Well, it's sort of new. It's "Now And Forever: The Music Of Andrew Lloyd Webber," running January 16-March 17. A new review of Lloyd Webber's most popular shows (almost all the major titles will be represented), Marc Robin will direct singers Linda Balgord, Brian Bohr, Ben Jacoby, Susan Moniz, Max Quinlan (back from that "Les Miserables" tour) and Erin Stewart, along with ensemble members Catherine Lord, Travis Taylor, Stephanie Binetti, Jameson Cooper and Matt Raftery (it seems like a mixture of Broadway talents and Marriott regulars), with dancers Lauren Blane, Michael Darnell, Ellen Green, Monique Haley, Raymond Interior, Luke Manley, Sam Rogers and Melissa Zaremba. If this show is successful, look for it to be licensed to other theaters. Just sayin....

Now And Forever

The one ALW show that doesn't seem to be a part of the set list for "Now And Forever" just happens to be on the spring roster at Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, from March 11-April 21, 2013 at the No Exit Café. It's "Aspects Of Love," and it will be directed by Fred Anzevino, with choreography by James Beaudry and musical direction by new BroadwayWorld Chicago Award winner Jeremy Ramey (Theo's "Light In The Piazza"). Unfortunately, we don't know who's in it yet! But it doesn't seem like this show has been done professionally in these here parts since 2006, when it was done by Big Noise Theatre Company at the Prairie Lakes Theatre. It's about time for a revival!


However, we do know that there will be an Andrew Lloyd Webber show running virtually concurrently with the new revue of his work at the Marriott Theatre. And that production will be "Sunset Boulevard" at the Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace, onstage from January 24-March 24, with an opening night of February 1st. Christine Sherrill will star as Norma Desmond, with Will Ray as Joe Gillis and Don Richard as Max, with Jonathan Weir, Dara Cameron, Adrian Aguilar and David Kortemeier. And it's a truly all-star Chicago ensemble, boasting such names as Larry Adams, Cory Goodrich, Rachel Klippel, Andrew Lupp and Paula Scrofano. William Osetek will direct, with musical direction by Roberta Duchak. Newly minted Broadie Award winners Tammy Mader and Theresa Ham will provide the choreography and costumes, respectively.


A little further west, in Aurora, literally on the road from here to Iowa, the Golden Age classic "The Music Man" will have a short but full production at the Paramount Theatre, directed by frequent Roberta Duchak collaborator Rachel Rockwell, with music direction by Mr. Dara Cameron, Michael Mahler. Stef Tovar will star as Harold Hill, with Emily Rohm as Marian Paroo. Better run, it's January 16-February 3 only! And these two will probably light the stage UP!


And so, I hope you've had a very merry Christmas! And a great 2012. The next time I see you, 2013 will be upon us, and I'll have our twice-yearly round-up of the Showtune Mosh Pit's Top Ten Hot Topix! We'll look at the most popular topics of conversation that have kept us occupied here during the second half of 2012. So, until next week, stay warm, and keep a seat warm for me at one of those video bars, won't you? I'll see you under the video screens.....-PWT

[Be sure to subscribe to the Mosh Pit! Click here to subscribe to our BroadwayWorld Message Board discussion thread. Receive your e-mail notice that the weekly "Showtune Mosh Pit" is available!]

[And click here to "Like" BroadwayWorld Chicago on Facebook!]

Related Articles

From This Author Paul W. Thompson

Before you go...