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:
Here we are again, with our twice yearly list of the Mosh Pit "Top Ten Hot Topics!" It's the biannual list of those subjects and shows that have kept our brains all occupied for the last six months (in this case, from July to December of 2010). As the holidays fade away, and the countdown begins to spring break, let's have our own little countdown, shall we?
With no further ado, here are the most commonly mentioned items, out of the 132 distinct topics the last 26 columns have included. Is your obsession on the list?
10. "Cats." Once so 1980s-bound that it usually sported the same spandex and hair-band aesthetic that brought us the Jane Fonda workout videos, this Andrew Lloyd Webber spectacle spawned a litter of recordings of "Memory," and brought environmental staging successfully to Broadway for the first time. It has now been reinvented as sort of an intimate children's story by emerging director-choreographer Brenda Didier and Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, at the No Exit Café in Rogers Park. It's been extended into February, too. The possibility of actually liking a show that most youngsters think is passé and most old folks have memorized has us all as fascinated as does catsup-flavored catnip!
Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
9. Theaters Announce Their 2011 Seasons. We love to plan ahead, I guess. And fall is, of course, the traditional time for theater companies to tell us what to plan to see for the coming year. For instance, we learned that Bailiwick Chicago will produce "Violet" and "Passing Strange" this coming spring, and that Broadway In Chicago will finally be bringing us "Next To Normal." The suburban Equity theaters will bring us two productions of "Guys And Dolls," among other hits, and Light Opera Works will have "Brigadoon" and "The Secret Garden." And don't forget Court Theatre's take on "Porgy And Bess" or the new version of "Working" at the Broadway Playhouse. Get your calendars out! Here's a website to help with your scheduling needs:
Shows Coming Soon - Theatre In Chicago
8. Theatrical Real Estate. Speaking of the Broadway Playhouse, the newly renamed and renovated Drury Lane Theater at Water Tower Place is only one of several new or changed theatrical spaces in town right now. Whether as a result of changing economic conditions or just coincidence, several of the places we hang out are changing. Actors' Equity Association completed its move to new digs in the West Loop, the former Theatre Building Chicago (now Stage 773) completed its new signage and announced a major renovation, Theater Wit opened up its renovations to the old Bailwick building, and Noble Fool Theatricals is now called Fox Valley Theatricals. Here's a list of performance venues:
Chicago Theatre Map
7. Fall Shows at the Marriott Theatre. Lincolnshire's enormous musical theater house, one of the country's most visible showtune venues outside of the biggest downtown areas, packed a one-two punch this fall with very well-received productions of "A Chorus Line" and "The Music Man." Not only are Terry James, Aaron Thielen and Andy Hite (and company) experts at putting proscenium musicals into the in-the-round format, they put classic musicals into your lap, and into the lap of about a thousand of your closest friends. And we like nothing more than a legendary show made fresh and exciting one more time.