'Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz Gospel Messiah' Set for Auditorium Theatre, 1/19-20

The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. with the 8th annual "Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah," January 19 and January 20. Chicago favorites Rodrick Dixon, Alfreda Burke and Karen Marie Richardson join 200 of Chicago's finest musicians and vocalists, under the direction of Bill Fraher and Suzanne Mallare Acton, for two public performances only-filling the historic landmark theater with the joyous sounds and exuberance of this All-American reinvention of Handel's "Messiah." Tickets ($30 – $74) are on sale now and available online at ticketmaster.com/auditorium, by calling (800) 982-2787 or at the Auditorium Theatre Box Office (50 E Congress Pkwy). A one-hour Student Matinee performance is offered on Friday, January 18, open to any student elementary through high school for $10 each. Tickets are available by calling (312) 341-2357.

Since its 2006 Chicago debut, "Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah" has continued to reinvigorate audiences while paying tribute to DR. Martin Luther King Jr.

"This show provides our community with a truly unique way to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, not only because of Dr. King's deep love of gospel and jazz music but the way in which it represents Chicago's diversity in both performers and audience members," said Executive Director Brett Batterson. "It's incredible to see an entire audience brought to their feet with such vigor and excitement. It is a true celebration of music, and of a man so important to United States history."

"Ingeniously re-imagined to embrace black musical tradition, the aptly named 'Too Hot to Handel' proved that even the most revered classical masterpieces can be taught to swing." (Chicago Tribune's Howard Reich). Mixing gospel and jazz stylings, "Too Hot" brings music lovers of all genres to their feet. Brought to life onstage by 200 Chicago musicians including 150 voices from the citywide "Too Hot" Choir under the direction of Old St. Patrick's Church music director Bill Fraher, and a 50-piece symphony orchestra and jazz ensemble under the baton of conductor Suzanne Mallare Acton. "Too Hot to Handel" then brings the powerhouse voices of Rodrick Dixon, Alfreda Burke and Karen Marie Richardson to lead the group through the incredible music that fills the Auditorium Theatre.

In tandem with "Too Hot to Handel," the Auditorium's Department of Creative Engagement utilizes innovative programming to involve the community by teaching Chicago students about Martin Luther King Jr. and the power of music and celebration. For the 4th consecutive year, the Auditorium invites Chicago Public School students, grades 3-12, to write an original poem celebrating Dr. King's vision of the beloved community. Finalist's poems will be published in "N'DIGO" Magazine. In addition, the grand prize-winner will receive 4 free tickets to the "Too Hot to Handel" opening night performance and will recite their poem on stage before the show. Poems must be sent via mail to Attn: THTH Poetry Contest, 50 E Congress Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60605, and received by Friday December 7, 2012.

Auditorium Theatre's Department of Creative Engagement is also reaching out to CPS High School Choirs and inviting them to apply to a "Too Hot to Handel" Master Class facilitated by the "Too Hot to Handel" stars. Students will have the opportunity to work with "Too Hot" conductor Suzanne Mallare Acton, perform a solo piece and receive coaching from "Too Hot" vocalists Alfreda Burke and Rodrick Dixon and are invited to attend the Student Matinee performance. Please contact atru-education@auditoriumtheatre.org for more information on the Master Class.

The Auditorium also offers the "Too Hot" Residency Program, bringing together the words of DR. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the music of "Too Hot to Handel." A free program for CPS Grades 3 – 8, students will examine DR. Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision of the beloved community while gaining a basic understanding of musical composition. Under the guidance of "Too Hot" Teaching Artists, students will create a final musical composition reflecting on and musically articulating their own vision of what Dr. King's beloved community means to them now. Residencies take place in December and early January. No musical training or instruments necessary. Also available free to CPS Grades 3 – 8, is a One-Day Workshop where students will study elements of "Too Hot" to understand how small personal choices have a big impact the community. Students will use this knowledge to create a quilt that will be displayed in the Auditorium lobby expressing how they individually can make a positive difference. Contact Christina Bourné, Director of Education and Creative Engagement at (312) 341-2353 or cbourne@auditoriumtheatre.org.

"Too Hot to Handel" is presented by Exelon. "Too Hot to Handel" educational outreach programs are made possible through the JPMorgan Chase Foundation with additional support from The PrivateBank and The Robert Thomas Bobins Foundation for the student matinee performances. Additional support provided by Friends of "Too Hot to Handel", "N'DIGO", and "Chicago Jazz Magazine".

Performance Schedule and Ticket Information

"Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah" performs at the Auditorium Theatre:
Friday, Jan. 18, 2013 at 11 a.m. (one hour Student Matinee Performance*)
Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 20, 213 at 3 p.m.**

Tickets to the Jan. 19 and 20 performances are $30 - $74, available online at ticketmaster.com/auditorium, by calling (800) 982-2787 or in-person at the Auditorium's Box Office (50 E Congress Pkwy).

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