Category Archives: A Chorus Line

let’s get physical

Did you all know that Crunch Fitness has a Broadway Series on Mondays  at 6:45 pm (Grand & Wabash location). NudeHippo.com did a great piece on the class for A CHORUS LINE. A five, six, seven, eight… Next up: Legally Blonde the Musical. See you there!

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my kind of town

Chicago's Famed El Tracks

Chicago's Famed El Tracks

As a young girl I remember sitting around the television late at night with my pop and brother, watching Harrison Ford’s hiding place given away because he made a call using a pay phone that was under the El Train.And here it is. Like I said, Chicago.
I walked right under it today as I was looking for some food before sound check at the Oriental Theatre and got all excited, like I was meeting a star or something. You can’t really ask a train for an autograph, though, can you?

I have long looked forward to this leg of the tour, I have to say. As I was cabbing into the city I saw this large cylindrical building housing so many cars lined up in a row that it instantly brought to mind my older brother’s extensive matchbox car collection, and I was at once intrigued and nostalgic. I also liked the mix of the old and the new; the Renaissance Hotel newly refurbished, proving that it can keep up with the fast cars that now drive by even though it was there for the slower, horse-and-buggy pace, too; the grand old theaters and their proud marquees boasting the latest story that is being told right inside their doors, the amount of them in a row easily portraying what every actor really likes to see:

This is a theater town.
And if I had doubted that at all, tonight’s audience put it to rest. From laughing uproariously at poor Wrong-Arms Roy’s misguided dancing in the opening combinations, to peppering their applause with some hearty hoots and hollers at our final charge while singing in one accord, I’ve got to get this show, they were with us.

And there’s nothing like an expectant, present audience.
It’s funny, during my particular number (Sing!) the words are so fast and the rhythm so imperative that I try desperately to focus and push all thoughts other than Sing out of my head. You’d be surprised what tries to sneak inside my mind mid-number, but that’s a different post. So I was you know, doing my thing, trying my best to chronicle poor Kristine’s tone-deaf existence, when all of the sudden an overwhelming thought popped into my head:

I. Love. This.
Which was quickly followed with, Focus, Jess…!
But it’s moments like these that weigh a whole lot more than the aching feet, repetitively singing the word one enough times in a show to make it lose all meaning, the Sunday one o’clock matinees when seemingly every other person in the world is kicking it back at brunch, mimosa in one hand, the paper in the other…Because to be honest, I wouldn’t trade it. I love my job. I go to work and tell a story about individuality, authenticity, and being true to your calling. I get to make people laugh. I get to make myself laugh.

And hey, I don’t have to trade it, necessarily. At least not the brunches. I have figured out how to do my job and have brunch every once in a while.

Which is something I am planning on doing while here in Chicago. Brunch, that is. And my job, I guess, it being the very reason I am here and all.

Jessica Latshaw, (Kristine, A CHORUS LINE)

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one singular sensation

National Tour Cast. Photo: Paul Kolnik

National Tour Cast. Photo: Paul Kolnik

I saw the first performance of A CHORUS LINE last night and it brought back such great memories of when it first hit the Broadway stage. It was the show of our lives – it showed the world what the drama behind the drama was all about. What we dreamed about; what we feared.So many of my friends were lucky enough to be in one of the companies of A CHORUS LINE but the one that I most remember is Carol Marik. She was a local Chicagoan and I worked with her in OLIVER at Candlelight Playhouse – she was one of the principles, while I was just a walk-on and prop girl, but we shared many stories together and she told me about this musical that they were putting together in N.Y. It was to be a compilation of the life stories of a Broadway chorus and that she just had to be in it! Sure enough, a short time later, she became the second Val in the Broadway company of A CHORUS LINE and it became the mega-hit on Broadway and across the country.

Not too long ago when the revival opened on Broadway two of my children saw it and told me how moved they were and that I had to see A CHORUS LINE. They spoke of it as we did when it first opened and I realized that it was time for a new generation to see it. Just as relevant as it was in the 70’s, it is a musical that brings compassion and understanding for the wonderful people that perform on Broadway In Chicago stages each and every night.

After the performance last night, a lovely woman came up to me having recognized me from previous articles on Broadway In Chicago and thanked me for all the wonderful shows that have come into Chicago and for what a difference it makes. What made this lady so special is that her name was Mitzi Hamilton, one of the original people in the workshop with Michael Bennett where the stories for the musical were created. The stories of A CHORUS LINE are compilations of many lives in the theatre, but hers is most striking as it was featured by Val (“Tits and Ass”) – and now Mitzi is a Chicagoan in the audience seeing her story told by a new generation.
What a perfect end to a perfect show.

-Eileen

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Filed under A Chorus Line, Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre

a five, six, seven, eight…

National Tour Cast. Photo by Paul Kolnik

National Tour Cast. Photo by Paul Kolnik

You know what I hate about kick-lines?! Absolutely nothing, fool! Kick-lines are amazing. And they have the ability to blast a mediocre musical moment into something worth blogging about! 

Seriously…kick-lines are the cherry on my musical theater sundae.

That being said, in honor of A CHORUS LINE, Broadway In Chicago is holding a kick-line contest.

Excited much?

All you have to do is upload a video onto BIC’s Facebook of yourself doing your best rendition of an actual kick-line. Get creative, incorporate your friends, family, pets, puppets, whatever!

The videos will be judged by the fashion-savvy worker bees in the BIC Marketing Department…and they are a picky bunch, so the more outrageous, original, and awesome your kick-line is, the better your chances of winning the opening night grand prize package! Sidebar: Funky costumes earn instant bonus points!

What do you get if you win? Well, besides the opportunity to rub your stardom in everybody’s face, you also get four opening night tickets to see A CHORUS LINE, a cast recording, and a show poster! It’s like Christmas in April, y’all. TWO runners-up will also receive tickets to the opening night performance on April 15. That’s 3 sets of winners!

The deadline is 11:59 pm on April 14th, so if you aren’t already friends with BIC on Facebook, you best get on that. We promise not to poke you and send out a bunch of ridiculous application invites.

So good luck, you fabulous kick-liners! We hope you get it! (Get it?) Get it.

-Tom McGunn, Host of the Broadway In Chicago podcast

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Theaters going dark? Not in this town!

Xanadu_2

Elizabeth Stanley and company from “Xanadu,” coming to the Drury Lane Theatre at Water Tower Place.

This is supposed to be a nervous new year. In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re in the grips of a serious recession.

Broadway is in the tank—a slew of New York shows are closing in the coming days, including “Spamalot,” “Spring Awakening,” “13,” “Boeing-Boeing,” “Young Frankenstein,” “Hairspray,” “Grease” and “Gypsy.” And there is a raft of economic troubles elsewhere in the nation. Touring shows are having a rough time all across the country: ticket sales are down in many cities, presenters are cutting back shows, and the American Musical Theatre in San Jose, Calif, declared bankruptcy just a few weeks ago.

But in downtown Chicago, we’re suddenly reaching for a higher gear. There are an amazing number of touring shows headed to Chicago between now and Memorial Day. Just amazing.

My memory goes back a pretty long way (and have been doing some digging around the archives). So I’m feeling pretty comfortable saying there are more touring shows headed to Chicago this winter than any year in decades.

Just look at them all.

Broadway in Chicago is bringing “Grease” (Auditorium Theatre Jan. 6-18), “Monty Python’s Spamalot” (Auditorium Theatre Jan. 20 to Feb. 1), the Beatles tribute known as “Rain” (Auditorium Theatre March 3-8), “A Bronx Tale” (Oriental Theatre March 10-22), “Rent” (Oriental Theatre March 31 to April 12), “A Chorus Line” (Oriental Theatre April 14 to May 3), “Chicago” (Oriental Theatre Feb. 25 to March 8), and “Legally Blonde” (Oriental Theatre May 12-31).

Those are the short runs. Then there are two post-Broadway shows, “Xanadu” (Drury Lane Water Tower Place from Jan. 16) and “Mary Poppins” (Cadillac Palace Theatre from March 11) planning more extended engagements. Heck, “Xanadu” wants to be here for six months or more.

I’m still not done. Madison Square Garden is bringing two touring shows to the Chicago Theatre: “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (Feb 11-15) and “The Wizard of Oz” (April 30 to May 3).

More striking yet, the Arie Crown Theatre, which has been out of the Broadway game for several years, is hosting a major new musical about the Scottish hero Rob Roy. This big-scale show, which comes from Canada and is titled “Rob Roy The Musical,” will make its world premiere at the huge venue inside McCormick Place Feb. 3 to March 15. A major, new historical musical would be a risky endeavor in the best of economic settings. To bow such a project in the current climate takes real McChutzpah in my view. It’s a remarkable slate, all in all.

So what’s the story? Is Chicago somehow recession-proof?

No. Look around at the shops and restaurants.

The surfeit of shows is mostly a consequence of an unusual convergence of factors. “Wicked” is closing Jan. 25, freeing up the Oriental Theatre. For the last couple of years, touring shows have struggled to find venues in Chicago, because the theaters have been full (“Jersey Boys” still croons eight times a week at the Bank of America Theatre). There was a backlog.

There was also a presidential election this fall, so some shows that would have been on the fall slate delayed their tours, so as not to compete for attention. And you always see more shows at the Auditorium in the winter, because that venerable venue gets locked up with dance in the fall and spring.

Other matters are in play. Madison Square Garden Entertainment, the relatively new owner of the Chicago Theatre, is just now getting the hang of local programming and stepping up the competition a little (it’s also able to strike better deals for itself by booking “The Wizard of Oz” in Chicago and in its theater inside the MSG complex in New York). And Arie Crown also wanted a piece of the action—this is a venue that has been aggressively courting new business.

And then there’s a truth that seems mostly recession-proof: Everyone wants to play Chicago. How all of these shows will do remains to be seen, of course.

It seems likely that the weaker brethren will crash and burn, given all the competition. But we’ll just have to see. For Chicago residents, the long-running shows have meant a log-jam. Perhaps there is some pent-up demand.

All in all, I see at least two benefits for the theatergoer. The first one is obvious—there are shows coming for all tastes. And the second? There’s no way all these shows will be able to sell all those tickets at full price. Not in this climate. So watch out, theater-lovers, for a whole lot of special deals.

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Filed under A Bronx Tale, A Chorus Line, Grease, Legally Blonde The Musical, Mary Poppins, Rain: The Beatles Experience, Spamalot: The Third Coming, Xanadu

Taste Concert in the Park

BROADWAY IN CHICAGO’S CONCERT IN THE PARK SHOWCASES THE BEST OF BROADWAY FOR FREE
AT THE TASTE OF CHICAGO; MONDAY, JUNE 30, 2008

 

Concert Will Feature Performances from Chicago’s Own WICKED and JERSEY BOYS along with Cast Members from SPRING AWAKENING, DIRTY DANCING – The Classic Story On Stage, LEGALLY BLONDE – The Musical and More

 

Broadway In Chicago, in partnership with the City of Chicago, is pleased to present the BROADWAY IN CHICAGO CONCERT IN THE PARK, a fantastic, free event featuring Broadway’s hottest shows during the city’s legendary Taste of Chicago festival. 

 

Performers will include the Chicago casts of Jersey Boys, and Wicked.  Other performers include cast members from the recently announced Spring Awakening, Legally Blonde The Musical and Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage, which kicks off its pre-Broadway engagement in Chicago this September.  Audiences will also be able to preview Broadway In Chicago’s upcoming 2009 season with performances by A Chorus Line and Grease.

 

The BROADWAY IN CHICAGO CONCERT IN THE PARK will be held at the Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park Monday, June 30, 2008 at 6:00 p.m.  The concert is produced in partnership with the City of Chicago and hosted by ABC-7’s Janet Davies and Wicked‘s Gene Weygandt.  Admission is free.

 

For more information about the BROADWAY IN CHICAGO CONCERT IN THE PARK visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com.

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Filed under A Chorus Line, Broadway In Chicago, Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage, Grease, Jersey Boys, Legally Blonde The Musical, Spring Awakening, Uncategorized, Wicked