By Jonathan Abarbanel
Foghorn-voiced Harvey Fierstein will return to Broadway next season in a new musical, of which he also is co-author. The new show, A Catered Affair, is set in a Jewish household in The Bronx in 1953, and is based on the 1950s movie ( scripted by Gore Vidal ) taken from an original TV drama by Paddy Chayevsky. Gay icon Fierstein is writing the book for the musical, with a score by John Bucchino. A Catered Affair tries out next fall at the Old Globe Theatre ( San Diego ) prior to a spring 2008 Broadway opening.
Fierstein's Broadway career has taken him to the heights, and in an increasingly straight arc. The way-out-of-the-closet actor and writer first appeared on Broadway in his own very gay Torch Song Trilogy, and followed that by co-authoring the musical version of La Cage aux Folles ( with gay composer Jerry Herman ) . Next, Fierstein moved from gay to drag, playing Mama Edna Turnblad in the Broadway show Hairspray. Most recently, he played the quite heterosexual Tevye in the Broadway revival of A Fiddler on the Roof. The new show is A Catered Affair and a hetero affair, concerning a married couple of modest means who must decide whether to spend their life savings on a family business or on a lavish wedding for their only daughter.
Jonny wouldn't imagine that Fierstein's works would be the theatrical fare of choice in Chicago's southwest suburbs, but Jonny could be wrong. Night Blue Theater is staging La Cage aux Folles at the Chicago Marriott Southwest ( Burr Ridge ) on April 20-21, and at Georgios Banquet Comfort Inn ( Orland Park ) on April 27-29. Hey, a good musical comedy is a good musical comedy. Tickets are $20 in Burr Ridge and $26—including two drinks—in Orland Park; 630-257-3077. The Night Blue production will sport a cast of 25, among them 11 south suburban men in drag.
Jonny recalls that when Candlelight Dinner Playhouse ( southwest Summit ) did La Cage some years ago, publicity described it as an 'unconventional love story,' never using the word 'gay' or saying that Albin and Georges lived together. The Night Blue press materials at least describe them as a couple. Jonny remembers, too, that when the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire did La Cage, producer Kary M. Walker received complaints from several subscribers. He promptly refunded their subscriptions and told them, in effect, 'We have 30,000 other subscribers; we don't need you.'
Perhaps Harvey Fierstein in Burr Ridge isn't gay enough for you, so how about Freddie Mercury in Cicero? The Jedlicka Performing Arts Center will stage the regional premiere of We Will Rock You, the London musical based on the Queen songbook and that features 32 of the group's hits.
This isn't a Queen tribute show, but a story woven around the songs a la Mamma Mia and Abba. The futuristic story features Galileo and Scaramouche as characters. We Will Rock You runs April 20-May 5; call 708-656-3948 for ticket info.
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee did not close March 25, as announced several weeks ago. It's now been extended at the Drury Lane Water Tower Place Theatre through Labor Day. Well, the company is taking a brief hiatus first, playing some out-of-town weeks in Florida and Texas before reopening April 18. Ticket prices have inched up to a top of $69.50, but that's still a good deal for a very funny Downtown show.
FYI, Spelling Bee will be doing blue ( i.e., dirty ) performances the first Friday of each month, beginning June 1. At these adults-only ( really ) shows, the words and definitions are very mature and downright filthy. Previous special 'blue night' performances have sold out. Are you prepared to spell prophylactic, concupiscible and satyriasis?
Comedian and writer Sarah King is presenting a parody of an open mic night show at the Playground Theater in the form of—hey—an open mic night show. Mama Truth's Open Mic for Open Souls features Chicago alternative stand-up, improvisational and experimental comedians who are allowed total freedom in their material. There are no restrictions or rules about mocking themselves or others, although Jonny is certain none of them would mock Jonny. Performances are Mondays at 8 p.m. through May 7; 773-871-3793; $8. You can bring drinks.
In conjunction with its April 11-22 spring season at the Harris Theater, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is offering special events for women and for the gay community. The Women's Networking Reception is April 11 and the gay celebrity cast party ( with the dancers ) is April 22. Both events involve seeing a Hubbard Street performance coupled with a lavish food-and-drink reception at the Moulin Rouge room of the Hotel Fairmont. Details: 866-535-4732; $100-$175.