2011 Awards Season
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'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for November 9th, 2011





by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:

The cream of Chicago's yearly crop of Equity Theater Productions sent their producers, actors, directors, designers and more to the Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace Monday night for the Joseph Jefferson Awards ceremony. It was the 43rd such gathering, and a glittery one it was. The Goodman Theatre's production of "Candide," re-written and staged by Mary Zimmerman, won five awards in the Large Tier categories, including Production - Musical, New Adaptation for Zimmerman, Principal Actor Geoff Packard and Supporting Actress and Actor, Hollis Resnik and Larry Yando. On the play side (Large Tier), Chicago Shakespeare Theater's "The Madness Of George III" also took five statues, including Production - Play, Director Penny Metropulos and Principal Actor Harry Groener. Court Theatre's version of the Gershwins' "Porgy And Bess" was responsible for awards for its director and musical director (Charles Newell and Doug Peck, respectively), and Broadway-bound Jessie Mueller took home Principal Actress honors (Large Tier, musical) for "She Loves Me" at Writers' Theatre (she was also nominated in the same category for "Guys And Dolls" at the Marriott Theatre).

Goodman Theatre's "Chinglish" by David Henry Hwang (now on Broadway) and Northlight Theatre's "The Outgoing Tide" by Bruce Graham received New Work - Play awards. "Sky's the Limit (Weather Permitting)" by The Second City e.t.c. received the awards for Production - Revue and New Work - Revue, and the show's Tim Baltz took the Actor or Actress in a Revue trophy. The New Work - Musical honor went to Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair's "Murder for Two," still running at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. In Midsize categories, Edward Albee's "The Goat Or, Who Is Sylvia?" from Remy Bumppo Theatre Company captured the awards for Production - Play and Principal Actress (Annabel Armour). The midsize Production - Musical honor went to "The Original Grease" from American Theater Company, and their "The Big Meal" cast took home the coveted Ensemble Award.  Tammy Mader took the choreography honors for the Marriott's "42nd Street," Jason Lyons took Lighting Design - Large for the new musical "White Noise" (Royal George Theatre) and Bill Morey was honored for his costumes for "The King And I" at Porchlight Music Theatre (Midsize Tier). For a complete list of nominees and winners, click the link below.

Equity Jeff Awards 2011 Nominees and Winners

Next year's Jeffs may be foreshadowed by the photo above, of Northwestern University senior and newly minted musical theater star Brian Bohr in the visually stunning production of "Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" that just opened at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora. Staged by Stacey Flaster and with an eye-popping Kevin Depinet set, the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice megamix former kids's show runs only through November 20th. Shawn Stengel conducts a full orchestra. Go, go, go!

The Paramount Theatre - Aurora, IL - Joseph

Speaking of Northwestern, its Theater And Interpretation Center's fall production, a little number called "Rent," is running now (also through November 20 only), directed by the legendary Dominic Missimi. The Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner by Jonathan Larson is in the Ethel Barber Theater on the Evanston campus. I understand that two additional performances were added to meet the demand for tickets. 

Rent, Theatre and Interpretation Center

On Saturday night, December 3, 2011, Northwestern will present Tony Award winner Faith Prince ("Guys And Dolls") in concert in Cahn Auditorium on Sheridan Road. Called "Total Faith," it promises songs by Harold Arlen, Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, Stephen Sondheim, John Kander and Fred Ebb, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart and Jerry Herman. She's singing everything, apparently, and all for $40. I bet it's astounding. Mosh Pit peeps should attend and pay homage.

Faith Prince at Cahn Auditorium 

And Northwestern has announced the cast for its upcoming Dolphin Show production of "42nd Street" (the 70-year-old "Dolphin Show" being the nation's largest student-produced musical). Alex Goldklang will star as Julian Marsh, with Evelyn Jacoby as Peggy Sawyer, Kara Dunleavy as Dorothy Brock and Ben Estus as Billy Lawlor. The production, running January 20-28, 2012, will be directed and choreographed by Emily Maltby (who, if I'm not mistaken, is the daughter of Broadway director and lyricist Richard Maltby, Jr.). Might be worth checking out! 

Northwestern's 70th Annual Dolphin Show Announces Cast 

Just west of Evanston, the Skokie-based Northlight Theatre has announced some upcoming casts. A show called "Black Pearl Sings!" will run January 13-February 19, 2012, and will star E. Faye Butler and Susie McMonagle. I think it's a play, but the two musical theater stars will sing "a capella renditions of American folk songs" during the show (script by Frank Higgins). If you enjoy hearing these two sing the phone book (as I do), the show should perk your ears up. And the Chicago-area premiere of the Tony-nominated and much-loved "[title of show]" by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell will take place at Northlight May 4-June 10, 2012, directed by Peter Amster and musical directed by Doug Peck. The cast will consist of McKinley Carter, Matt Crowle, Stephen Shellhardt and Christine Sherrill. Get your tickets now! 

Northlight's Upcoming Shows 

Moving further west, and maybe a hair south, and you wind up in Rosemont. That's where the enormous Rosemont Theatre will play host to the second national tour of "Shrek" over Thanksgiving weekend (November 25-27). You may remember that the Loop played host to the premiere of this show's first national tour not quite a year and a half ago. That's not this. I'm sure this bus-and-truck cast is talented and well-rehearsed and all, but they look so young! 

Shrek The Musical 

Heading back into town, we find Chicago's longest running Broadway musical, "Million Dollar Quartet," at the Apollo Theater in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. And that's where the show has announced yet another extension, now through the end of May, 2012. That's more than three and a half years, folks. This production pre-dates the New York and London productions of the show (opening first at the Goodman Theatre, btw), but it was tweaked to match the Broadway production long after it first opened. So, maybe it's our longest running Broadway musical, but with an asterisk attached. At any rate, you can put that in the bank! 

Million Dollar Quartet - Official Site 

And we're heading to the Loop, where this week only the Oriental Theatre is hosting the national tour of "Rock Of Ages," which began at the Bank Of America Theatre just over a year ago. I think it's the same tour, though it certainly isn't headed by Constantine Maroulis anymore. Anyway, the show that made "Don't Stop Believin'" a showtune before "Glee" did is in our civic living room again. And it operates on one of two levels, depending on your age. It's either nostalgia, or it's "What the hell were they thinking?" At any rate, you can put that in the bank! 

Rock of Ages 

Last but not least, head up the lakefront to the Rogers Park neighborhood, to the Mayne Stage on Morse Avenue. There, this Saturday night, November 12, you will find the eighth annual "Lipstick And Lyrics" fundraiser, performed for and to benefit the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus. It's a night of drag queens, yes, but with a twist. These girls are singing live. No lip-synching here. And, to boot, some of the city's top choreographers have been brought in to stage the numbers. If this is your cup of tea (and why not?), give it a look-see. Showtunes and pop tunes and who-knows-what tunes will be on the docket. And they will be wanting to put something in.........the bank!

Chicago Gay Men's Chorus 

And that's the Mosh Pit for this week, loyal peeps. Thanks as always for reading, and I'm sure I'll see you, quite soon, under those video screens.....-PWT 

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