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'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for September 19th, 2012

'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for September 19th, 2012




by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:

The dueling “Assassins” are at it again! Chicago’s two upcoming productions of Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s 1990 musical about the folks who’ve tried to kill sitting U.S. presidents both made PR strides earlier this week. The full Viaduct Theater production that runs October 12-November 10 brought its talented and mostly young cast to Show Tunes at Sidetrack on Monday night, performing “The Gun Song” and “Everybody’s Got The Right” for the assembled crowd in the Showtune Mosh Pit. That’s a lot of people on the tiny temporary stage in the Main Bar! And the production announced it has worked out a reduced-price ticket deal in conjunction with Bailiwick Chicago’s Chicago premiere production of “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” opening October 4th. Billy Pacholski is producing and directing “Assassins,” with musical direction by Robert Ollis. Sam Button-Harrison is The Balladeer, with Kevin Webb as John Wilkes Booth and Ed Rutherford as John Hinckley (“Unworthy Of Your Love”).

And the one-night only (November 5, 2012, at 7:30 pm) concert presentation of the show, at the Francis W. Parker School (as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival), has confirmed its high-profile cast for me this week. And here it is! Nick Bowling directs, and Doug Peck music directs, a cast including Rob Lindley as The Balladeer, Rebecca Finnegan as Sara Jane Moore, William Travis Taylor as Leon Czolgosz, Mitchell Fain as Samuel Byck, Robert Hunt as John Wilkes Booth, Dana Tretta as Squeaky Fromme, Matt Mueller as John Hinckley, Patrick Andrews as Lee Harvey Oswald, Sean Blake as Proprietor, Joseph Tokarz as Giuseppe Zangara, Alan Schmuckler as Charles Guiteau, Peggy Roeder as Emma Goldman, and an ensemble consisting of Andrew Robinson, John Finley, Anne Sheridan Smith and Lauren Villegas. E Faye Butler will sing, “Something Just Broke.” That’s quite a cast!

And it’s time to talk about Broadway In Chicago again, as the powerful presenting organization has announced its full 2013 spring subscription series. (Some of these shows had been previously announced, but now we know the whole picture.) There will be two pre-Broadway productions and three post-Broadway tours on the series, with two returning tours and the sit-down of off-Broadway’s “Potted Potter” as subscription add-ons (it actually begins November 13, 2012 at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place). The pre-Broadway shows will be the revival of “Jekyll And Hyde,” starring Constantine Maroulis and Deborah Cox in Frank Wildhorn’s poperetta that helped usher in the current age of Broadway belt singing (March 12-24, 2013 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre), and the new musical “Big Fish,” trying out here for five weeks, starring two-time Tony Award-winner Norbert Leo Butz, directed by Susan Stroman and with a score by Andrew Lippa (April 2-May 5, 2013 at the Oriental Theatre). Tours seen here for the first time post-Broadway will be “Priscilla Queen Of The Desert” (March 19-31 at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University), “Catch Me If You Can” (April 2-14 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre) and “Anything Goes” (April 23-May 5 at the Cadillac Palace). Tours we will see for the second time will be “American Idiot” (April 16-April 21 at the Cadillac Palace) and “West Side Story” (June 11-16 at the Oriental). Subscriptions go on sale on Friday, September 21st!!! Get your dialing fingers ready….


But before we can even get to these shows, we have the BIC fall offerings upon us! And “I Love Lucy Live On Stage” officially opens tonight at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, after a week of well-received previews. This award-winning Los Angeles production has come here with original LA stars Sirena Irwin and Bill Mendieta, as Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in their television roles of Lucy and Ricky. Curtis Pettyjohn is William Frawley, aka Fred, and JoAnna Daniels is Vivian Vance, aka Ethel. Also in the cast are Ashley Braxton, Lauren Creel, Gregory Franklin, Kristen Freilich, Karl Hamilton, George Keating, Peter Kevoian, Ed Kross, Debbie Laumand-Blanc, Rebecca Prescott, Sara Sevigny and Richard Strimer. The show was written by Rick Sparks and Kim Flagg, with music by Peitor Angell and arrangements by Wayne Moore. Sparks directs, with musical direction by Alan Buckowiecki. The show runs through November 11.

And, of course, the pre-Broadway, world premiere production of “Kinky Boots,” with book by Harvey Fierstein, music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper and direction and choreography by Jerry Mitchell, hits Chicago any day now, beginning performances October 2 and running through November 4 at the Bank Of America Theatre. Are you aware that Lauper’s cover of the show’s song “Sex Is In The Heel,” which she performed last month in Millennium Park as part of the Broadway In Chicago fall preview show, has made the Billboard dance charts? Billy Porter sings it in the show, and, according to publicity photographs, co-star Stark Sands wears red, high-heeled knee boots in what one assumes is the show’s final sequence. Broadway previews begin March 5, 2013, but by next month, all ogling eyes will be on Chicago.

In anticipation of “Kinky Boots” world premiering here, and with a nod toward the same thing happening with “Big Fish” next spring, we here at BroadwayWorld Chicago thought it would be fun to see what everyone’s favorite pre-Broadway tryout of the past has been. So, we put a little poll together, with ten choices for you to vote on! “The Producers,” “Spamalot,” “The Addams Family” and “Movin’ Out” are the top four vote-getters as of this writing. But what about “All Shook Up,” “Bring It On,” “Mamma Mia!,” “Million Dollar Quartet,” “The Pirate Queen” and the 2005 revival of “Sweet Charity?” We saw all of these before New York did. Weigh in with your choice now!

POLL: Your Favorite Recent Musical That Played Chicago Prior To Broadway

There’s one more bit of fun before we leave the Broadway In Chicago topic. The national tour of “Sister Act,” which will hit our own Auditorium Theater of Roosevelt University for three weeks this fall (November 13-December 2) will hold a home-town surprise. The tour will star Ta’Rea Campbell as Deloris Van Cartier, Kingsley Leggs as Curtis and E. Clayton Cornelious as Eddie. And it was announced earlier this month that Chicagoan Hollis Resnik, a two-time Sarah Siddons Award-winner, will be playing Mother Superior! Currently a Jeff Award nominee for her role as Carlotta Campion in last fall’s “Folliesat Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier, Resnik has previously toured in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” and “Les Miserables” (as Fantine in the first national tour) but she makes Chicago her home. Have a great time on the road, Hollis, and then come back to us!


There’s happenings at Skokie’s Northlight Theatre right now. Their new show “Woody Sez: The Life And Music Of Woody Guthrie,” continuing Northlight’s theatrical exploration of American roots music (“Black Pearl Sings,” “A Civil War Christmas,” “Low Down Dirty Blues,” “Fire On The Mountain”) opened this week, and runs through October 21. Marking the centennial of Guthrie’s birth, the show was devised by David M. Lutken and Nick Corley, stars Lutken and was directed by Corley. They are veterans of the previous, very successful Guthrie show, “Woody Guthrie’s American Song,” from more than two decades ago.

And on October 1st and 2nd, former Chicagoans and husband and wife team Michael Ingersoll and Angela Ingersoll will present a gala benefit concert, entitled “My Baby Just Cares For Me.” He’s a veteran of Chicago’s long-running production of “Jersey Boys” and a member of the pop nostalgia group “Under The Boardwalk,” and she worked on numerous local stages during their time living here. They promise a variety of pop styles, centered on love and great singing. And why not?

Northlight's Current Shows

And three legends of the showtune world are coming to our area for concerts in the upcoming months. On Saturday night, September 29, the cabaret legend and guru of the Great American Songbook, Michael Feinstein, will appear in concert with Jeff Lindberg’s Chicago Jazz Orchestra at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. I can’t remember the last time Feinstein played downtown Chicago, but it hasn’t been in a while. His recordings of the songs of the Gershwins and others from the first half of the 20th century are deservedly legendary, and this is sure to be an event talked about for some time to come.

The truly legendary Bernadette Peters is also making a rare appearance in our area, on Thursday, October 25 at the Wentz Concert Hall at North Central College in west-by-southwest suburban Naperville. (This concert was originally announced for November 10, but was moved up.) A two-time Tony-winner and lifelong musical theater performer, with a series of immortal performances of the works of Stephen Sondheim, and now a recurring role on NBC-TV’s “Smash,” Peters is memorably when she does just about anything. Tickets are pricey, but it’s Bernadette Peters!

And the legend of another generation, Audra McDonald, makes her first Chicago appearance since winning her astounding fifth Tony Award when she performs in the Annual Trustee Benefit Concert at the Dominican University Performing Arts Center in west suburban River Forest. It’s not until Saturday, March 9, 2013, but tickets start at just $25, so buy now! The stage, television and recording star, and champion of the Broadway songwriters of her peer group (Jason Robert Brown, Adam Guettel, et al.), McDonald will no doubt encourage and challenge us all. It’s Audra!

So, that’s the Mosh Pit for this week, Peeps! Glad you came on board, and I’m sure you’re finding plenty to do and see as this Super September starts to wind down. Don’t exhaust yourself with all the musical theater hereabouts! Because I want to see you soon, under the video screens.....—PWT

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