'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for September 28th, 2011
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:
Well, I guess I was wrong! Just last week, I stated that the popular morning children's musical "Pinkalicious," in an extended weekend run at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, "may close this fall." Also last week, it was announced that the pink bundle of cupcakes and melody was extending again--through January 7, 2012! Well, I'm certainly glad about that. Emerald City Theatre's production triumphs again, achieving a six-month run of its transfer from the Apollo Theater on Lincoln Avenue to Broadway In Chicago and limitless visibility, and we and our tourists are the better for it. Now I better start checking the sources of my sources....
Opening next Monday, October 3, 2011, for an October quartet of Mondays at Davenport's on Milwaukee Avenue is "Un-Type Cast," a cabaret evening directed by Christopher Pazdernick. The conceit of this young visionary's latest club outing is "some of your favorite show tunes sung by performers of the opposite race and/or gender." Sounds cool! The cast of "Un-Type Cast" includes Charissa Armon, Lina Kernan and Ryan Lanning, who've been in previous Pazdernick cabarets, and Brian-Alwyn Newland, who (I believe) has not. Aaron Benham (currently playing "Putting It Together" for Porchlight Music Theatre after the departure of Austin Cook for million dollar pastures) is the musical director.
Mosh Pit peeps, most of the exciting news for this week's column seems to be coming from the suburbs! And there is no more exciting news than the rave reviews received by the Paramount Theatre in downtown Aurora for its "My Fair Lady," the first production of its new home-grown, large-cast, large-orchestra musical theater series. Jim Corti and company should be (and I think, are) thrilled. The bad news for audiences is that the show's scheduled run is over this Sunday, October 2nd! Say it ain't so, Eliza! This gem of the light Lyric Stage is playing on a gem of a historic stage, and if you blink, you'll miss it. But this certainly bodes well for the future of musicals in that neck of the woods (or any neck of any woods, frankly!). Check it out.
Just up the road a piece, in Oakbrook Terrace, the Drury Lane Theatre snuck in under the radar with a switch in their 2012-13 season. About a month ago, they announced that, after "Sweeney Todd," "The Sound Of Music" and "Gypsy" complete the current season, the intrepid behemoth will take up "Hairspray," the non-musical "The 39 Steps," "Promises, Promises," "Singin' In The Rain" and "Sunset Boulevard." Not so fast, bucko. Two weeks later, "Promises, Promises" was out, and "Xanadu" was in its place! I didn't catch an explanation. My guess is that either the rights to the one just became unavailable to the company, or that the rights to the other just became available. Frankly, "Promises" is a more interesting choice, if you ask me, in that it was slated to contain some of the script and score changes made for the recent Broadway revival starring Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth. We had a long-running "Xanadu" in town within recent memory. But, them's the breaks. That's showbiz. Some folks are thrilled with the news!
Speaking of great reviews, "Urinetown" from Oak Park's Circle Theatre got very good notices, too. This show, the first to open on Broadway after the 2001 terrorist attacks, has its roots in Chicago, and is showing them to good advantage once again. Kevin Bellie directs and choreographs, and the show runs through October 23. Creg Sclavi stars as Bobby Strong, with Kirk Swenk, Laura Savage, Clay Sanderson and Brooke Sherrod Jaeky among the rest of the cast. If you like political satire, snappy tunes and a post-modern take on musical theater genres, this show is for you. And next up from the popular troupe: Stephen Schwartz's "The Baker's Wife." "Meadowlark," anyone? It begins previews November 11.
New on the boards up in Des Plaines, Illinois, and still running on Broadway, is "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying." Scott J. Sumerak and Zachary Gray are staging Frank Loesser's Pulitzer Prize-winner for the Big Noise Theatre Company, with musical direction by Robert Deason and the voice of WTTW's Phil Ponce as "the Voice of the Book." It runs weekends through October 16, starring Greg Foster, David Whitlock and Kristine Burdi-Stickney. Sorry, no Daniel Radcliffe, Darren Criss or Nick Jonas....
A little further out in the northwest suburbs, Roger Bean's jukebox musical with a twist, "The Andrews Brothers," has just opened, with a run scheduled through November 5. It's all those great Andrews Sisters and World War II novelty songs, sung by three soldiers in drag. Timely, yes, and I like it, too! Robin M. Hughes and Christie Kerr have put Patrick Tierney, James Nedrud and Matt Edmonds through their paces, with Lauren Creel as Peggy Jones.
Way out west in St. Charles, Illinois, north of Aurora, the Steel Beam Theatre is running "The Fantasticks," now through October 9th. Greg Zawada and Amy Steele are Matt and Luisa. Opening on November 19 at the Kane County venue will be "Scrooge: The Musical."
Steel Beam Theatre of St. Charles, Illinois
Theater that went the furthest afield last week was probably the upcoming production of "Evita" that NightBlue Performing Arts Company is mounting at Stage 773 from October 21 through November 13. Last Saturday night, the company presented their show in front of the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra at the Mendel Center in St. Joseph, Michigan. Granted, it's only 90 minutes from the Loop in good traffic, but it's two state lines and a whole mentality away from Lakeview. As a business model, though, it's an intriguing idea. Theaters get to sing with a full orchestra, and orchestras get singers for their "pops" concerts. And collaboration is always a good thing. For the record, Kathleen Wrinn was Eva, Christian Ketter was Che and Edward MacLennan was Peron, with Pedro Willis-Barbosa as Magaldi and Irene Patino as Peron's Mistress.
And a little thing called "Glee" is back on television for its third season, debuting last Tuesday night and continuing with a second new episode this week. Now Emmy-less in the major categories, the show got quite a difference of opinion from supporters and detractors regarding its first episode. Is the bloom off the slushie? We do know that "The Glee Project" will be in Chicago in early November, casting once and future high schoolers for its second season of reality television on Oxygen. Get those audition songs prepared now!
So, are your allergies winning? Or are you sailing on through unfazed, planning your fall leaf excursions and sweater purchases with aplomb? There's a little of both going on, I reckon. Well, wherever you find yourself later this week, I'm sure I'll see you under the video screens.....won't I?-PWT
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