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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-09-06



Something to sing about: Musicals and opera preview
by Scott C. Morgan

This article shared 3560 times since Wed Jan 12, 2011
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There's plenty of choices for any musical theater fan or opera buff to choose from this winter season in and around Chicago.

Harmonizing locally

Some of the biggest hits of the past decade are featured at Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace, while the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire produces classic musicals of a slightly older vintage. Also in the mix for locally produced musicals are new and revamped works in more intimate spaces.

—Spamalot, Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace, ongoing through March 6. This 2005 musical "lovingly ripped off from the motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail" makes a return to town in a splashy local staging (see review in this issue).

—Escape from the Haltsburg Boys Choir, The Ruckus Theater at The Side Project, ongoing through Jan. 30. Aaron Dean and Jason Rico write a world-premiere musical about choristers who make a break for it when they discover their choirmaster has castration designs on them to preserve their heavenly boy soprano voices. (See the review in this issue.)

—Guys and Dolls, Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, Jan. 26-March 27. Frank Loesser's classic 1950 Broadway musical returns to make the rounds in the Marriott Theatre's famed "in-the-round" space. Start placing your bets on the Manhattan gamblers, the religious missionaries or the nightclub showgirls who each have a stake in the game of love.

—Starship, Team StarKid at the Center on Halsted's Hoover-Leppen Theatre, Feb. 11-23. The creative team behind the viral hit A Very Potter Musical have picked Chicago to be the launching ground for their fourth musical, which features puppets by Russ Walko of Swazzle and original music and lyrics by Darren Criss of Glee fame.

—Working, Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, Feb. 15-May 8. Broadway in Chicago gets in the producing game with a revamped version of this regionally popular 1978 Broadway revue based upon the book by late Chicago chronicler Studs Terkel. This new Working features additional material by In the Heights Tony Award-winner Lin-Manuel Miranda in addition to many beloved older songs by songwriters like Mary Rodgers, Susan Birkenhead, Craig Carnelia and Stephen Schwartz (a certain someone famed for his work on shows like Godspell, Pippin and Wicked).

—Meet John Doe, Porchlight Music Theatre at Stage 773, March 3-April 17. Find out what happens when a desperate newspaper columnist fabricates a letter to the editor which strikes a nationwide chord. This musical about ideals and truth in the media comes from songwriters Andrew Gerle and Eddie Sugarman.

—Aida, Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace, March 1-May 29. The revitalized Bailiwick Chicago just staged a critically acclaimed production of Elton John and Tim Rice's 2000 pop-musical take on Verdi's classic grand opera in the summer of 2009. But expect Drury Lane to pull out the stops when it tackles this love triangle involving a haughty Egyptian princess, her enslaved Nubian servant girl and an Egyptian warrior. Broadway veteran Jim Corti directs.

—42nd Street, Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, March 30-May 29. Come and meet those dancin' feet on the avenue that the Marriott Theatre is taking you to. Expect plenty of heavenly tap dancing in this revival of the 1980 Broadway hit that took its inspiration from the classic 1930s dance sequences by choreographer Busby Berkeley.

On tour

Returning favorites seem to be the order of the day for Broadway in Chicago this winter, though there are a few new flourishes to be seen in the splashy touring companies wending their way through the Windy City. Visit for more information.

—Wicked, Cadillac Palace Theatre, ongoing through Jan. 23. Time is running out on the Dragon Clock to catch this return touring engagement of this ever-so "popular" revisionist take on the American classic fairytale of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Any musical theater fans who miss Wicked this time around (after somehow missing it during its previous three-and-a-half-year Chicago engagement), then there really is something wrong with you.

—9 to 5: The Musical, Bank of America Theatre, Jan. 18-31. True, this 2009 screen-to-stage adaptation of the hit 1980 film about secretaries plotting against their male chauvinist boss didn't last too long on Broadway. But composer/lyricist Dolly Parton has reportedly done some tweaks for this new touring version which features two-time Tony Award nominee Dee Hoty (in the Lily Tomlin role) and American Idol finalist Diana DeGarmo (in the Parton role).

—Burn the Floor, Bank of America Theatre, Feb. 1-13. This overly athletic Australian touring ballroom dance show has previously played around Chicago's suburbs, typically in one-night stints. But now Burn the Floor gets a two-week foothold directly in the Loop after the show boosted its reputation by playing on Broadway in 2009. See if the show truly lives up to its tagline of "Ballroom Reinvented."

—Les Miserables, Cadillac Palace Theatre, Feb. 2-27. You may think you know this classic British and French epic musical dealing with a Paris student uprising in the late 1840s, thanks in part to its many stops in directors Trevor Nunn and John Caird's iconic 1986 turntable staging. Well now "Les Miz" is back again touring in a new 25th anniversary staging by London director Laurence Connor which uses digital projections instead of the show's trademark turntable. See if this approach works for you when Les Miserables marches into the Windy City during the month of February.

—RAIN: A Tribute to The Beatles, Ford Center for the Performing Arts Oriental Theatre, Feb. 8-13. This highly polished impersonation concert returns to Chicago again as a Broadway incarnation also plays in New York. No doubt that Beatles fans will want to sing along with all the songs as they watch The Beatles in two different guises as they were seen initially on the Ed Sullivan Show and in their psychedelic St. Pepper phase.

—Hair, Ford Center for the Performing Arts Oriental Theatre, March 8-20. This 1968 musical is the quintessential show that captured the anti-war hippie spirit of the late 1960s. Hair returns to Chicago via a tour of the 2009 Tony Award-winning musical revival directed by Diane Paulus (who has provided many memorable stagings for Chicago Opera Theater through the years). Get ready to "Let the Sunshine In" in this age of "Aquarius" and gawk at all the naked bodies at the end of Act I.

Operatic matters

Opera may have a snooty reputation compared to good ol' American musicals. But when everything fires on all cylinders dramatically and musically, opera can also stake a claim to being great musical theater.

—Girl of the Golden West, Lyric Opera of Chicago, nine performances between Jan. 22-Feb. 21. This is the centennial season for Puccini's 1910 opera set in California during the Gold Rush, so it's only natural that opera companies like the Lyric would use the anniversary timing to cash in. Officially known in Italian as La Fanciulla del West, the opera tells the fairly improbable tale of a virginal saloon owner who falls head over heels for a bandit who goes under the doubly phallic alias of Dick Johnson. The Lyric dusts off Tony Award winner Harold Prince's acclaimed production (not seen locally since 1990) with the Minnie of the moment, Chicago-area native Deborah Voigt, who recently triumphed in the role in San Francisco and at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. As Dick, we have Italian tenor Marcello Giordani. Sir Andrew Davis conducts.

—Lohengrin, Lyric Opera of Chicago, seven performances between Feb. 11-March 8. It's been more than 30 years since the Lyric last staged Wagner's Germanic fairytale involving a mythical knight who arrives via swan to rescue Elsa from wrongful accusations of murdering her brother. Too bad it all goes horribly wrong when a witch goads Elsa into asking the knight's forbidden name. Lohengrin is presented in a production owned by London's Royal Opera House Covent Garden. Sir Andrew Davis conducts.

—Hercules, Lyric Opera of Chicago, seven performances between March 4-21. Handel's opera in English is bound to make a very controversial Lyric debut since politically minded director Peter Sellars is probably going to update the mythological setting to modern-day America. This new production features Eric Owens as Hercules, Alice Coote as his jealous wife Dejanira and countertenor David Daniels as the servant Lichas. Baroque music specialist Harry Bicket conducts.

—Carmen, Lyric Opera of Chicago, five performances between March 12-27. The fiery gypsy returns, this time with Nadia Krasteva in the title role and tenor Brandon Jovanovich as her obsessive lover, Don Jose.

—Death and the Powers: A Robot Opera, Chicago Opera Theater at Millennium Park Harris Theatre for Music and Dance, four performances between April 2-10. A new opera by composer Tod Machover actually features a chorus of robots and a musical chandelier to tell the story of an eccentric patriarch who tries to cheat death via technology. Developed in part at the MIT Media Lab in creative partnership with Chicago Opera Theater and Harvard's American Repertory Theatre, Death and the Powers also marks the company return of director Diane Paulus.

This article shared 3560 times since Wed Jan 12, 2011
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