i’m just a broadway baby

Broadway In Chicago and Taste of Chicago…Oh, What A Night! 

Janet and Craig get the concert underway

Janet and Craig get things underway.

This was my second Broadway In Chicago Concert in the Park experience.  I love this concert!  It is such a great preview of the shows going on now and the ones that are coming.

Last year, I performed with my company of JERSEY BOYS, but this year I had the extreme pleasure of co-hosting with ABC7’s Janet Davies!  I had such a blast!  Janet was so fun to work with.  We hit it off right away and had so much fun together.  I have to admit I was a little nervous when I got a glimpse of the 10,000+ crowd, but when Janet introduced me and the crowd greeted me with such an enthusiastic and supportive response, the nerves went away and the fun began.

I can’t talk enough about the performances. The concert kicked off with my buddy John Michael Dias (Frankie Valli in JERSEY BOYS) singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” so beautifully. 

MARY POPPINS was the first show to perform.  Ashley Brown, Gavin Lee, Aida Neitenbach, and Justin Hall performed a beautiful medley of songs from the show and the crowd loved it.  I need to talk about Ashley Brown’s voice.  WOW! Forget “Practically Perfect.”  It is just “Perfect.”  From the sound of the crowd, they thought so too.

Olga Merediz with members of the Niles North High School Choral Department at the Broadway In Chicago Concert in the Park

Olga Merediz with members of the Niles North High School Choral Department at the Broadway In Chicago Concert in the Park

Another performance that truly blew me away was the number from IN THE HEIGHTS.  I think that Chicago will completely fall in love with this show.  I saw it in NYC and LOVED it.  Olga Merediz, who was Tony nominated for her IN THE HEIGHTS performance, sang “Paciencia Y Fe.”  I don’t even know where to begin with this one.  Inspiring is the word that comes to mind.  Olga was absolutely outstanding and everyone at Jersey Boys is still talking about her performance.  There was also a special treat with this number.  BIC and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of In The Heights, arranged to have the Niles North High School chorus back up Olga.  It made for a truly spectacular number.

I also thought that Dennis DeYoung’s 101 DALMATIANS was a lot of fun with very catchy music. I am still singing it!  I am really excited to see how this brand new show develops by the time it comes to Chicago in February.

Roger Bart, whose talents I have always admired, and Justin Patterson flew in from NYC to give Chicago audiences a taste of YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN.  They were hysterical.  I saw this HILARIOUS show in New York and I thought it was great how strongly the crowd reacted to “Puttin on the Ritz.”  From that reaction alone I can imagine it will be a hard ticket to get.

The Chicago Company of JERSEY BOYS at the Broadway In Chicago Concert in the Park

The Chicago Company of JERSEY BOYS at the Broadway In Chicago Concert in the Park

 The finale of the concert was…you guessed it…JERSEY BOYS!  My company did a medley of the hit songs from the show.  From the first notes that were played, it was mind boggling how nuts the crowd went!  People were screaming, singing, and dancing in the aisles.  It was absolutely awesome.  I know I speak for my entire company when I say how much that meant to us and how much we loved it!!!

JERSEY BOYS finished off the concert with a Four Seasons-style rendition of “My Kind of Town.”  It was a thank you to Chicago for embracing us for nearly two years now.

It was a fantastic night with phenomenal performances.  Thanks to all who attended.  Go see a show!

-Craig Laurie (Bob Crewe/JERSEY BOYS)

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Filed under 101 Dalmatians, Broadway In Chicago, In the Heights, Jersey Boys, Mary Poppins, Young Frankenstein

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