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:
It’s a veritable parade of divas! The leading ladies of many showtune generations are parading through Chicago this summer, and a lot of them will be here this week! Let’s get to all the fun and loveliness, shall we?
This past Sunday afternoon, July 8, 2012, an outdoor concert of epic proportions took place at the Ravinia Festival in north suburban Highland Park. It was there that Idina Menzel sang a concert (with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra), and everyone I know was in attendance! I lost count of the number of online postings I saw from friends about the event, which featured a packed crowd in the pavilion and on the lawn, perfect summer weather, and an under-the-weather Tony-winning star who not only delighted the crowd with her talent and her charm, but who reportedly stayed around for more than two hours to sign autographs for fans. That is stardom, people, from one who has been a star (“Wicked”) for almost a decade and a Broadway legend (“Rent”) for even longer than that. And I’m proud to report that a few of my friends were in awe of the talent of conductor Marvin Hamlisch, too. Nice to know.
Next up on the Mosh Pit radar at Ravinia is the truly legendary Barbara Cook, making her Chicago Symphony Orchestra debut this coming Sunday, July 15. The original star of “Candide” (“Glitter And Be Gay”) and a Tony winner for “The Music Man” (“Till There Was You” and “My White Knight”), and always memorable in shows like “Flahooley” in 1951 and “The Grass Harp” in 1970 (you have heard “Chain Of Love,” haven’t you?), Cook is celebrating her 85th birthday this year with a tour that is bound to become as legendary as the woman herself. How many stars of the golden age of Broadway are still performing? She’s been amazing for over 60 years. She’s met everyone. For God’s sakes, go!
A diva of newer vintage will be performing in downtown Chicago this very evening, July 11, 2012, as part of the opening day of the Taste Of Chicago. The Oscar and Grammy winner Jennifer Hudson, all Chicago native and diet spokesperson of her, will be at the Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park at 5:30 pm. But you already knew that, didn’t you? And I am telling you, she is going to be there.
Jennifer Hudson at The Taste
This weekend, just a few blocks north and west of Petrillo, two divas and two divos will appear at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion of Millennium Park, part of “Perfectly Frank: From Broadway To Hollywood.” It’s a two-night concert (Friday and Saturday, July 13 and 14) of the Grant Park Music Festival, conducted by Chicago native Kevin Stites and directed by former Chicagoan Gary Griffin, New Yorkers now but always true to the town that gave them their start. Rebecca Luker (“The Secret Garden”) and Marin Mazzie (“Ragtime”) will be joined by Howard McGillin (“The Mystery Of Edwin Drood”) and Mazzie’s husband, Jason Danieley (“The Full Monty”), along with the Grant Park Orchestra and members of the Grant Park Chorus. Songs from all of Loesser’s significant Hollywood and Broadway scores will be sung, and his widow, Jo Sullivan Loesser (the original star of his “The Most Happy Fella”) will sing a special song as well. That makes TWO golden age stars performing here in the same weekend!