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:
“The Book Of Mormon” is coming! Oh, it’s coming in a big way. Performances of the national tour production of last season’s megahit from the writers of “South Park” and “Avenue Q” and the director of “Spamalot” will begin December 11, 2012 at the Bank Of America Theatre. I’m not even sure there’s an ending date in the announcements anymore, though of course we all knew that wasn’t going to last. Oh, and there are three days of Equity auditions happening here next week. Oh, and American Express pre-sale tickets are available now, as well as group sales. Regular single tickets go on sale next Monday, March 19th. Oh, it’s going to be big.
In the meantime, Broadway In Chicago is bringing us the farewell tour of “Riverdance,” performing at the Oriental Theatre this week only. I don’t know whether this show has been touring constantly for the last fifteen years or so, or not, but I do know that it whipped up quite a multi-cultural dance frenzy through many PBS airings over the years, lots of tour appearances, and a Broadway stand that yielded a second “cast album” (one that won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album when many voters were probably intent on honoring the original studio album). At any rate, if you’ve heard of it but haven’t seen it, you should probably go. It was quite a performing arts sensation, and should be celebrated as such. We should all be so lucky….
And “Bring It On: The Musical” is about halfway through its three-week introductory tour stand at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, with quite a lot of positive reaction, actually. I don’t know of anyone who downright hated it. Several folks have said they wished some of the songs were stronger, but everyone has loved the cheerleading and the dancing. Nobody has really had any strong objections to the book. Maybe the powers that be are getting it done the right way! Maybe? Have you seen it yet?
BRING IT ON
But enough about Loop tours. We’ve got our own theater community here, with many different “scenes,” too. And a big event on the storefront, non-Equity musical theater scene was this week’s opening of “The Light In The Piazza” at Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, performing at the No Exit Café in Rogers Park (through April 29). Kelli Harrington and Rachel Klippel star in Adam Guettel’s lyrical Tony-winning musical (book by Craig Lucas) about growing up and letting go and moving on, set in romantic post-war Italy. Directed by Fred Anzevino and Brenda Didier, it’s getting some great reviews. Harrington, who teaches musical theater voice at the Chicago Academy Of The Arts on Chicago Avenue, seems young for the role of Margaret, but I guess any actress would like a compliment that like!
A combination tour and local production (identical productions sent out from a central brain trust, cast with local performers, I think) is “Motherhood the Musical” (though it doesn’t seem to have a colon or a comma before the word “the” in the title). And it begins performances March 30, opens April 12 and runs through May 20, on the mainstage at the Royal George Theatre. It’s a four-woman show by Sue Fabisch, and includes 20 songs. They’ll be sung in Chicago by a cast that is already hard at work in rehearsals: Madeline Duffy-Feins as Amy, Jennifer Chada as Barb, Kimberly Vanbiesbrouck as Brooke and Melody Betts as Tasha. The musical director is Johnny Rodgers, who was one of the guys in “Liza’s At The Palace,” in New York and on tour. The website lists productions in Philadelphia, Huntsville, Atlanta, Chicago, Mesa and Providence in the first six months of this year. Interesting!