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'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for June 18th, 2014

'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for June 18th, 2014




by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:

Things are really hopping at Broadway In Chicago! Even as the summer run of the national tour of "Motown: The Musical" continues at the Oriental Theatre (through August 9, 2014), and as the pre-Broadway tryout of Sting's "The Last Ship" prepares for its official press opening on June 25th at the Bank Of America Theatre (running through July 13), there is still a lot to talk about! First of all, BIC has completely overhauled its website! Second of all, a pre-Broadway production of "The First Wives Club," based on the film comedy starring Diane Keaton, Bette Midler and Goldie Hawn, has been announced to open at the Oriental Theatre on February 16, 2015, but is not on the BIC website!


So, what is? Well, a dazzling array of new shows, that's what! We know that the pre-Broadway tryout of "Amazing Grace," starring Josh Young, will play the Bank Of America Theatre October 9-November 2, and "Dee Snider's Rock And Roll Christmas Tale," which I believe has completed casting, will play the Broadway Playhouse from November 4, 2014 through January 4, 2015. But did you know that this coming season will bring us something called "Ghost Brothers Of Darkland County," with music by John Mellencamp and book by Stephen King? It's scheduled for one night only (November 28, 2014) at the Oriental Theatre. Coming to one of their theaters sometime in 2015 will be "On Your Feet!," the musical based on the life and music of Gloria and Emilio Estefan. It was also just announced recently that a show called "N--The Queen Of Paris" will play the Bank Of America Theatre in November of 2015, in between its premiere in Toronto and its run on Broadway. It's based on the work of Emile Zola.

But before we can get to those production, my peeps, there will indeed be the BIC "Summer Concert At Millennium Park," one of the most popular if most boringly named theatrical events of the year! Who knows how these new shows will be represented there? But the more familiar shows on BIC's schedule, like "Annie," "Newsies" and "Cinderella," plus the Apollo Theater's continuing run of "Million Dollar Quartet" (now extended through January 4, 2015), will all be represented. Hosted by Janet Davies, Val Warner and Ryan Chiaverini of ABC 7, it will take place on Monday evening, August 18. Mark your calendars NOW!!


Extensions, extensions! The fabled Chicago theater extension has come to the new musical "Days Like Today," where the Writers Theatre in Glencoe has given Alan Schmuckler and Laura Eason's show two more weeks (now through July 27th).


And that elusive animal, the very long extension, has been granted to the very well-reviewed production of "Avenue Q" at the Mercury Theater Chicago. Originally slated for a run from April 23 through June 29, the production announced at the end of May that it would run through July 27. But last weekend, word spread that the show would run all the way until October 26, for a run of 27 weeks! This necessitates the postponement of the previously announced "The Addams Family" until spring 2015 at the earliest. This is the part that Chicago theaters struggle with--risking the wrath of subscribers in order to attract slow-on-the-uptake single ticket buyers. Will it pay off? Let's hope so! Very brave, L. Walter Stearns, very brave. And, Puppet Power!


Besides BIC, another place that's hopping these days is Kokandy Productions, whose reportedly dark production of "Assassins" is running to very good notices at Theater Wit through July 20. The attractive young cast is anchored by Cole Doman as the Balladeer, Eric Lindahl as John Wilkes Booth and Nathan Gardner as Lee Harvey Oswald. Michael Potsic (John Hinckley, Jr.) wrote the musical "Flight," the first of Kokandy's New Musical Staged Reading Series for this season. The second show up for reading is "Perpetual Possibility," by popular show drummer, musical director and music supervisor for "Million Dollar Quartet," Ethan Deppe. The readings will take place on June 30 and July 7, also at Theater Wit. It sounds a little bit autobiographical, too!

Also playing at Theater Wit right now (through July 13) is the revival of "Caged Dames," the original 2006 musical by David Cerda for his Hell In A Handbag Productions. Gender-bending camp satire is this company's forte, and this production is garnering very good word of mouth for its take on the film noir women-in-prison genre. Rest assured, Cerda and his muse, Ed Jones, are both among the cast.

A world premiere comedy with music bows courtesy of The New Colony from June 13-July 20. It's "Orville And Wilbur Did It!," by David Zellnik, songs by Zellnik and Eric Svejcar. Andrew Hobgood directs the show, playing at Signal Ensemble Theatre, 1802 W. Berenice Avenue. It's about the actors in a nationally touring children's theater ensemble, and features Alex Grelle, Evan Linder, Jessica London-Shields, Morgan McNaught, Josh Odor, Joey Romaine and Kevin Stangler.


For apparently great singing, though with a story less well-crafted, the BoHo Theatre production of the little-seen Adam Guettel song cycle "Myths And Hymns" has opened at the tiny Heartland Studio Theatre in Rogers Park. Sydney Charles, Matt McNabb, Stephanie Souza, Neil Stratman, Elizabeth Telford and Kevin Webb are the cast. Nick Sula on keyboard and Nicholas Davio on percussion and guitar are reportedly doing a swell job, too. Hear a lot of fine musical theater music through July 13. "Migratory V," anyone?

This very weekend, two of your favorite audience participation showtune movies will be on tap at RiverEdge Park, on the banks of the Fox River in downtown Aurora. On Friday, June 20, it's "Sing-A-Long-A Grease," and on Saturday, June 21, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." There are pre-show activities, and the movies themselves start at 8:30. Road trip!


Petterino's, the restaurant in the heart of downtown Chicago's Theatre District (at Randolph and Dearborn Streets) has held "Monday Night Live" for seven years now, as cabaret stars Denise McGowan Tracy and Beckie Menzie host a weekly smorgasbord of live performers, many of them from the casts of shows in town via Broadway In Chicago. But local shows get in on the action, too! Last week, it was TimeLine Theatre's production of "Juno." This past Monday, the cast of the aforementioned "Avenue Q" was featured. The aforementioned Kodandy "Assassins" cast will be there on June 30. You just never know what local cabaret artists will be there any old Monday, or which lost touring cast member might venture in. Every Monday night at 7:30, stop by and enjoy, or even sing!

And thanks for reading! I hope your late spring/early summer is going smashingly well. We've got so many amazing productions going on right now, I'm exhausted just writing about them! I hope you're exhausted trying to see them all. Even so, I look forward to seeing you out and about, wherever your nose leads you, like underneath the video screens.....-PWT

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