'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for May 5, 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:
Awards season is officially in full swing! The Tony and Drama Desk Awards both named their nominees this week in New York, and our Chicago-born musicals are in contention! The Drama Desk Awards nominated "The Addams Family" for Outstanding Musical, with Nathan Lane in the running for Outstanding Actor and Carolee Carmello up for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical. Kevin Chamberlin was nominated as Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical, and he is also in the running for Best Featured Actor in a Musical at the Tony Awards. As for "Million Dollar Quartet," it is up for Outstanding Musical Revue at the Drama Desks, and up for Best Musical at the Tonys! Levi Kreis is up for Best Featured Actor there, too, opposite Chamberlin. It's an odd year on the Main Stem, to be sure, with a lot of surprises in the nominations lists! But just wait until this Thursday, when the nominations list for the non-Equity Jeff Awards is released at 12:01 am. We just can't wait!
Locally speaking, folks are excited about the return of the "Avenue Q" tour, which was here for an all too short time last year and wisely rebooked. It's here this week only, though, at the Bank of America Theatre. Don't be surprised if it has scaled down a bit--I mean, the New York production moved off-Broadway earlier this season, so there's no shame in that. But we hope it's every bit as funny, insightful and well-performed. We are lucky to have it back!
In September, we in the Mosh Pit remember that the very same Bank of America Theatre, or BOAT, for short, will play host to the premiere of the national tour of "Rock of Ages," the juke-box musical from the 2008-09 New York season that has been so popular with folks outside of the usual Mosh Pit regulars. It was announced this past week that original Broadway cast star and "American Idol" alumnus Constantine Maroulis will indeed reprise his role of Drew when the tour kicks off on September 21st, for two weeks only. If you are of a certain age, and have a certain relationship with hair gel and arena rock, you are already wanting to be there! Just remember: this show made "Don't Stop Believin'" a showtune before "Glee" did!
In locally produced mountings, the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire has "The Drowsy Chaperone " going up, opening May 5th (through June 27th) after a week of previews. It's directed and choreographed by Marc Robin, with musical direction by Doug Peck. James Harms stars as Man In Chair, with Tari Kelly in Sutton Foster's role of Janet ("I Don't Wanna Show Off"). If you didn't know this bit of trivia, that character, Janet Van De Graaf, is named after the sister of Chicago's classical radio DJ (on WFMT, 98.7 FM), operatic bass-baritone Peter Van De Graaf. Small world, indeed!
Marriott Theatre In Lincolnshire
Speaking of opera (we were, weren't we?), a unique experience is about to come our way, courtesy of Northwestern University's School of Music. The 1991 opera "The Ghosts of Versailles," in English by librettist William H Hoffman ("As Is") and composer John Corigliano ("On the Transmigration of Souls") will be performed on May 21 and 23, 2010, at Cahn Auditorium on the school's Evanston campus. This will be the first academic production to use a revised and condensed orchestration of the show (originally a Metropolitan Opera commission) that was first used last year at Opera Theatre Of St. Louis. Sounds awesome, doesn't it? I mean, have you seen the video of Teresa Stratas in this show? You really must seek it out online. Fierce!
Speaking of Northwestern University (we were, weren't we?), the school announced today a fantastic event to take place in Cahn Auditorium on Monday night, May 24. It's a benefit gala performance called "Starry Starry Night," honoring the retiring legend among us, Dominic Missimi, and to help establish the opening balance for the Dominic Missimi Fund for Music Theatre, a perpetual fund in the name of the School of Communications's theater teacher.. And check this out! His former students Gregg Edelman, Heather Headley, Brian D'Arcy James and Kate Shindle are slated to appear! Also Mary Ernster, Larry Grossman, Hollis Resnik, Alene Robertson, Marc Robin and others will join to honor the director of the last 17 years of the Waa-Mu show (performances through May 9), the Executive Director of the American Music Theatre Project and a mentor to many. Where's your Dominic book? You call yourself a showtune practitioner?
Dominic Missimi Fund Gala
Speaking of opera again (we were, weren't we?), our little Mosh Pit was the scene of an unusual sight this week--a promotion for an opera. But not just any old Eurocentric warhorse. The good people at Chicago Opera Theatre were promoting "Three Decembers," the Jake Heggie opera starring Fredericka von Stade with four performances this month at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance at Millennium Park. It looks like quite something, and they were reaching out to us so very nicely. Miss von Stade did make a lovely "complete" recording of "The Sound of Music" a while back, with Hakan Hagegard as the Captain and Erich Kunzel conducting (for Telarc). No, you can't borrow my copy of it. But that must be the connection....
And once again bringing up the rear is "Glee." After that Madonna episode, and hot on the heels of episodes showing quite a lot of depth of talent from series regulars, we get the announcement that the third installment of the recordings from the show, called "Glee: The Music: Volume 3: Showstoppers" will be released on May 18, 2010. That's two weeks! There are 14 tracks listed, from "Hello, Goodbye" through to "I Dreamed a Dream" and....well, I can't give it away, though you can easily guess that maybe there's a Lady Gaga song involved. Oh, and "Physical" from tonight's episode. I guess they'll be showing that video around town, huh? Baby, it's a showtune now!
So, from awards shows to touring shows to operas, galas and television, I guess that showtunes really do circle the globe. We better get together this coming weekend to explore that further. I'll see you under the video screens, OK?.....--PWT