Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Windy City Times 2023-12-13
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Jerry Mitchell bops into Boop!
by Jerry Nunn
2023-11-27

This article shared 3282 times since Mon Nov 27, 2023
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell is bringing black-and-white Boop! The Betty Boop Musical into a world of color at the CIBC Theatre this winter.

It's a pre-Broadway world premiere for the musical starring Jasmine Amy Rogers as Betty Boop, a cartoon character created by Max Fleischer—with help from various animators.

Mitchell has a long history in stage work that began with Jekyll & Hyde and most recently led him to Pretty Woman: The Musical. His stellar talents have earned him Tony Awards for Best Choreography for La Cage aux Folles and Kinky Boots.

The busy Boop creator gave Windy City Times readers a brief behind-the-scenes glimpse of the show while taking a break for lunch.

Windy City Times: This is our fourth interview together and I am excited to talk to you about this new project.

Jerry Mitchell: Boop!

WCT: I have not done many four-time interviews on the same subject. Kristin Chenoweth is another one that I interviewed four times in the past.

JM: Kristin and I did our first Broadway show together, when I choreographed You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown. She won a Tony Award for "My New Philosophy" and Roger Bart won a Tony Award for that show as well, with the song "Supper Club."

WCT: During The Betty Boop press conference you talked about your humble beginnings in Paw Paw, Michigan. Is there something you would still like to accomplish in your career?

JM: I would love to just keep working in musical theater. It has always been such a joy, and I am so grateful to be here in the CIBC Theatre. This is the fifth time I have been in this town creating a new musical.

Age teaches you a lot of lessons. One is that I can't control the outcome of the show. I make the best show I can possibly make, but the audience will decide if it is good or not. Audiences change with the wind because of what is happening in the world.

What do they want to see? What kind of entertainment are they interested in? Part of the reason I got excited about this show was to work with Bill Haber, the producer who originally asked me. We had worked together on a Nora Ephron play called Imaginary Friends, with Swoosie Kurtz and Cherry Jones. The songs were by Marvin Hamlisch and I, of course, did the dances. Jack O'Brien, my dear collaborator for over a decade, directed it.

Bill was doing Spamalot at the time and asked me to choreograph that. I was hired by Mike Nichols, but of course, I couldn't do it because I was doing Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and they were both heading to the same season of Broadway.

Casey Nicholaw was still a dancer and had presented some dances for the DanceBreak, which is a showcase for young dancers to strut their stuff. People will see it and hire them as choreographers. Bill asked me who to get, and I suggested that Mike meet with Casey Nicholaw because he would be a perfect choreographer for Spamalot. The rest is history!

That is the kind of producer that Bill is. When he asked me to get on board with this, I listened to the music and I met with David Foster and Susan Birkenhead at the time. I got immediately to work with Bob Martin, who wrote the book. That was just before the pandemic.

WCT: So you picked everything back up after the pandemic settled down?

JM: Bill had the rights to the Betty Boop musical for over 25 years. He eventually came to me, but I wanted a new book and story.

WCT: Is Betty chased around by men like in the cartoon?

JM: It is part of the story and is part of the script, but how she handles it is interesting. She decides by the end that things will be different in the future. She is not asking—she is telling them that.

WCT: The song "Where I Wanna Be" is a show-stopping number, isn't it?

JM: It is the "Everybody Say Yeah" from Kinky Boots moment, the "So Much Better" moment from Legally Blonde and the "Big, Blonde and Beautiful" moment from Hairspray.

The first time I heard that song I knew that is how I would close the first act and I hate first acts that end on a dud. It is a Jerry Mitchell first-act closing song if I have ever heard one. I like the audience going, "Wow, let's go get a drink and come back!" [laughs]

WCT: Jasmine is going to need an intermission rest after that powerful song.

JM: Jasmine I found right out of school and she was in a show with me called Becoming Nancy. We were out of town and we wrote a solo song for her character that the audience went nuts for. I watched the power of her come to life before my eyes.

She was originally cast in another role and I changed that role to a much younger kid, a fifteen-year-old, which is being played by Angelica Hale. Jasmine was out on tour with Mean Girls when we were searching for Betty Boop. We brought her in and she came back many times and then owned the role. She won it fair and square. She works hard and is focused.

I can't say enough about how phenomenal she is. I am so proud of her.

WCT: How did the puppetry part evolve?

JM: When I do a musical and read the script, I am always looking for who I might cast. People pop into my head. Part of Betty's story is Pudgy her dog. I thought I would go to Bill Berloni who did Bruiser Woods for me in Legally Blonde.. I would need to find a real dog who is white and black and then train the dog to do the tricks in the show.

I would have to plan that a year ahead. Bill would find a rescue dog and then he would begin working with him.

I thought about Phillip Huber who I had worked with here in this theater called That's Christmas and had created marionettes. The dog could be a marionette that comes to the real world. Phillip created a Pudgy for me.

WCT: I saw The Last Dragon in the movie theater in 1985, so I was happy to hear Faith Prince is in this show.

JM: Oh, she had crazy hair in that. Have you seen her onstage before?

WCT: No.

JM: She won a Tony Award for playing Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls. Faith and I worked together for Jerome Robbins' Broadway and that is where we first met. I had to teach a dance class every day for three hours before rehearsals and she was in it. We go way back!

WCT: Is your partner in Boop?

JM: Yes, Ricky Schroeder. He plays a small role as the assistant director in the Fleischer Studios black and white world.

WCT: So you are both staying in Chicago for the holidays?

JM: We will be here until Christmas Eve. One of the reasons I love coming to Chicago is the audience is my final scene partner. I watch how they respond to the show and I take cues from them about things that work and don't work. That is one of my favorite things about being here, so I stayed through the whole period. We will continue to work even after the show opens and I look at reviews to see what I can make better.

Kinky Boots was very different from the first show as opposed to the last show. Every time I come here, the ending shows get better than the earlier shows. I learned that craft from Jack O'Brien, when we did Hairspray out of town in Seattle. We worked every day on that show to make it better, even after a great opening night.

As they say, "There is a very short distance between good and great." You can't get to great unless you continue to work in my opinion.

WCT: What would you like people to take away from this particular project?

JM: Love. There is so much cynicism and contempt in the world. I wanted to do a musical about love. If you don't find that and make that the priority in my life then you are living in black and white.

WCT: Is there one artist you would like to work with but haven't yet?

JM: Not that I can think of. There are lots of people that I have worked with in the past and want to work with again. It would be about finding the right vehicle for them. Many of them have gone on to become movie and television stars, so it is all about timing.

WCT: What's up for you after Boop?

JM: After this, I go to London for a workshop on The Devil Wears Prada with Elton John, a whole new cast and a new team of designers. I saw the show here and came to lend support. A month and a half later I met with Elton and he asked me to do the show with him. I asked for some new songs and he agreed so I will be off to the UK soon to work on that!

Boop! The Betty Boop Musical dances the night away currently at the CIBC Theatre, 18 West Monroe Street, until December 24, 2023.

"Boop-oop-a-doop" over to BroadwayinChicago.com for tickets and more information.


This article shared 3282 times since Mon Nov 27, 2023
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

THEATER When growth is paramount: Jim Corti helps fuel Aurora theater expansion
2024-03-01
Out actor/director/choreographer Jim Corti made his Broadway debut in 1974, in the ensemble of Leonard Bernstein's musical Candide. Director Harold Prince's acclaimed Tony Award-winning revival is often cited as a ...


Gay News

Theater Review: Billy Elliot, The Musical
2024-02-19
Book and Lyrics: Lee Hall; Music: Elton John. At: Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora Tickets: 630-896-6666 or Paramountaurora.com; $28-$79. Runs through March 24 Billy Elliot: The Musical may nearly be two decades old, but ...


Gay News

'West Side Story' gets a sex-positive spin with new burlesque show
2024-02-19
In partial observance of National Condom Day, which was Feb. 14, Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) presented A West Side Story Burlesque at the Harris Theater for two hour-long performances on Feb. 17. The show, ...


Gay News

Second Glance Productions hosts LGBTQupid Soiree
2024-02-16
In celebration of Valentine's Day, Chicago based film and media production company Second Glance hosted The LBGTQupid Soiree. The event, which was focused on spinning attitudes on this particular day, was presented at The iO ...


Gay News

Carisa Hendrix mesmerizes as Lucy Darling in Teatro ZinZanni
2024-02-12
Since 2019, Teatro ZinZanni has gathered together amazing performers from all over the world to create an experience in Chicago under the Spiegeltent in the Cambria Hotel building, 32 W. Randolph St. Over the years, ticket ...


Gay News

THEATER Dot-Marie Jones talks Goodman production, 'Glee,' 'Bros'
2024-02-12
Running through Feb. 18 at the the Goodman Theatre, the production Highway Patrol works with a script conceived entirely from Emmy-winning actor Dana Delany's (TV's China Beach) digital archive of hundreds of tweets and direct messages ...


Gay News

Dr. Lady J explains how opera can be a drag
2024-02-10
On Feb. 8, Center on Halsted, in partnership with Lyric Opera of Chicago, presented a lecture by historian, drag activist, podcaster and curator Dr. Lady J. The event, titled "Castrated Superstars, Cross Dressed Divas, and Queer ...


Gay News

Asians and Friends Chicago to host LGBTQ Lunar New Year Dinner Feb. 24
2024-02-09
--From a press release - CHICAGO—Taking a cross-dressing twist for the Year of the Dragon, members of Asians and Friends Chicago (AFC) will host a dinner-and-drag musical revue, celebrating the Year of the "Drag-on" and bringing together members of the lesbian, ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Raven-Symone, women's sports, Wayne Brady, Jinkx Monsoon, British Vogue
2024-02-09
In celebration of Black History Month, the LA LGBT Center announced that lesbian entertainer Raven-Symone will be presented with the Center's Bayard Rustin Award at its new event, Highly Favored, per a press release. She joins ...


Gay News

Chicago-based production company to host all-inclusive, LGBTQ-focused Valentine's Day event
2024-02-07
--From a press release - CHICAGO — Second Glance Productions will host the LGBTQupid Soiree this Valentines Day, Wednesday, February 14, 2024. The event will be held at the iO Theater, 1501 N. Kingsbury St., from 6 pm to 11 pm ...


Gay News

THEATER Nostalgic 'Sunsets' still offers a timely reflection of LGBTQ+ community
2024-02-07
Nostalgia reigned on a variety of scales this past weekend in Chicago. During her Celebration tour, at a majestically packed United Center, Madonna acknowledged the last 40 years of her career, highlighting her '80s interactions with ...


Gay News

The Jeff Awards announces the 50th-anniversary non-Equity theater nominations
2024-02-06
--From a press release - (Feb. 6, 2024 - Chicago) — Celebrating its 50th anniversary awarding recognition for Non-Equity theater, the Joseph Jefferson Awards announces its nominations for theater excellence among Non-Equity theater during the ...


Gay News

DANCE Choreographer Dwight Rhoden talks David Bowie, Alvin Ailey, queerness
2024-01-31
In "STAR DUST: A Ballet Tribute to David Bowie," Complexions Contemporary Ballet co-founders Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson—backed by their Alvin Ailey lineage—and their dance troupe tackle many of the ...


Gay News

Broadway star Chita Rivera dies at 91
2024-01-30
Chita Rivera—a Broadway legend with more than seven decades of credits—has died at age 91 after a short illness, People Magazine reported. "It is with immense personal sorrow that I announce the death of the beloved ...


Gay News

Rue-ing the day: Vince Kelley drags out Blanche's charm in Golden Girls spoof
2024-01-26
Picture it. Broadway Playhouse. 2024. Four queer men dress in drag to portray iconic women. Murray & Peter present Golden Girls: The Laughs Continue, a parody written by Robert Leleux and directed by Eric Swanson. The ...


 


Copyright © 2024 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.

All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.