Broadway In Chicago is happy to introduce “Short and Sweet,” a quick view of our shows courtesy of Diana Martinez, who will give you the lowdown on Broadway In Chicago productions from the perspective of an audience member. Diana has more than 25 years of experience as an entertainment executive, most recently as President of The Second City. She has directed and produced over 40 live Broadway musical theatre shows and has presented more than 350 world-class Broadway national tours, dance, headline comedians and concert. We hope you enjoy this quick insight into our shows, and since this is all about our audience, share your own thoughts with us in the comments below.
The Australian Bee Gees Show a Multi Media Concert
I may be one of the few people in the world who did not like “Mama Mia” but I felt they forced a weak story in an effort to string together a lot of fabulous hit songs and I think I would have been happier had they just sung the songs rather than give me a weak story line. What you get in the Australian Bee Gee’s show is a great tribute concert of Bee Gee’s hits. As one of my guest critic Eileen Shapiro said, “The show really highlights the amazing body of work these men produced and these actors channeled them.”
There is a fantastic video montage of the 60’s and 70’s and as the images of politics and pop culture flash across the screen you immediately go back to a distinct time period in music when disco ruled the charts. The video was the perfect vehicle to bring the audience back to those times.
When the actors entered the stage on opening night I heard a lot of whispering and talking, as the resemblance of these three actors to the original Bee Gee’s is truly impressive down to the exact same toothy smiles. The talent for this show is very unique and strong – they not only sing but are also solid musicians playing guitar, bass and piano, alongside a four-piece band.
Within the first 30 seconds my date started singing along to “Telephone” until I elbowed him and whispered, “Stop! It’s not a sing a long” … but by the next tune, “To Love Somebody” I found myself wanting to sing-a-long and then I noticed everyone else in the audience bopping and mouthing words and when the actor playing Barry conducted the audience into the act, I realized the show really is a concert and it’s okay to sing a little.
Bud and Eileen Shapiro were my guest critics at the Opening Night performance and at about the time I started singing along, I noticed Eileen dancing in her seat. When I watched the audience that night, I realized The Bee Gees had a brilliant ability to write a “musical hook” that sticks and “stays alive.” The rhythms are simple and infectious and transcend generations, and stereotypes in their musical appeal. What is ironic though is that the actual harmonies and keys’ the songs were written and sung in are very difficult to perform but theses performers match their protégés masterfully. Jack Laftly plays the role of Maurice and is really accomplished on the piano and bass. Matt Baldoni plays Barry Gibb and he has the mane and the smile that captivate you with how much he looks the part. Paul Lines performs Robin, his voice sails on the high notes effortlessly, the vocal power he has is impressive and unmatched. The set is really great and the video graphic boards add retrospective interest. The tech and lighting of the show reflects the technology and build with each of the four decades it visits as the show progresses. Although I think there could be more use of the great video board and lighting, it’s all about the performers on stage and it is a thrill to hear these record-breaking songs performed so well. By the end of the show the entire audience was up on their feet singing and “Dancing Yeah” to “ Stayin’ Alive,” “Grease” and “Lonely Days Lonely Nights.” If you love the music of the Bee Gee’s you are in for a good time.
The Australian Bee Gees runs through August 4 at the Broadway Playhouse, 175 E. Chestnut in Chicago. Tickets can be purchased here.