Category Archives: Northwestern University

it’s a small world

The world is so small….and it all happens right here in Chicago.

Over the weekend, I went to The Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project: A Celebration of Stephen Schwartz. What a poignant evening for me, listening to the songbook of Stephen Schwartz, who created the songbook of some of my most memorable milestones in theatre – from my first Broadway job, ushering for GODSPELL at the Studebaker Theatre in Chicago’s Fine Arts Building, to the first show I saw on Broadway, PIPPIN starring Chicagoan Ben Vereen, to Broadway In Chicago’s most successful show WICKED. Then to hear all of this music sung by Stephen Schwartz himself, Craig Carnelia (SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS and WORKING) and Shoshana Bean (Broadway star of WICKED), complimented by some of the most amazing young voices from Northwestern. What the Mercer Project at Northwestern University does is great! What an amazing University that now fosters new musicals through the American Musical Theatre Project and fosters new songwriters through The Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project.

The future of musical theatre could not have been more present than in that concert hall, with the spirit of mentorship that Stephen Schwartz has always given freely and the convergence of new and established composers – running into Andrew Lippa in the parking lot (composer of THE ADDAMS FAMILY) and seated next to Neil Bartram and Brian Hill (from the new musical NOT WANTED ON THE VOYAGE that just premiered at Northwestern).

Overwhelmed by the evening and the memories, what could top it? How about running into your 8th grade science teacher from Irving School in Berwyn, who singled me out in a crowd only to tell me that she has followed my career! Where would I be if Mrs. Bliss hadn’t hired me to catalogue her music or cast me as Buttercup in HMS Pinafore? The world keeps getting smaller and there is just no need to be anywhere else but in the most amazing city in the world – Chicago.

-Eileen

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Filed under American Musical Theatre Project, Northwestern University, Wicked

nothin’ but a good time

  

Eric Petersen as SHREK with the Stanley Cup

Broadway In Chicago rocked the Taste of Chicago on Monday during the annual Broadway In Chicago Concert at Taste. This year was bigger than ever with 10 shows (BILLY ELLIOT, SHREK THE MUSICAL, TRACES, MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET, DISNEY’S THE LION KING, WORKING, WICKED, NOT WANTED ON THE VOYAGE, HAIR and ROCK OF AGES), over 100 performers and 10,000 screaming fans – not to mention 1 green ogre, 2 American Idols and the  actual Stanley Cup. How is that for a free evening of entertainment?  

Hedy Weiss at the Chicago Sun-Times was thrilled by “the absolute brilliance of the Chicago performers who had a chance to shine.” We agree; it was a great day for Chicago! Read what else she had to say.  

We asked a couple of the performers to bring you backstage and share their experiences.  Hope you enjoy!  

 

Susie McMonagle as Mum with the cast of BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL during the 2010 Broadway In Chicago Concert at Taste

Susie McMonagle (BILLY ELLIOT):   

Had a blast at Taste of Chicago. We had our sound check early so we had some time to EAT before the show. Nothing beats the corn on the cob. Yes!   

It is always fun to perform in the Broadway In Chicago Concert at Taste. I saw some Chicago pals and mingled with New York gals as well. I also ran into David Holcenberg (he was my Music Director when I did MAMMA MIA) who was here with a new show that’s being worked on at Northwestern.   

The ballet girls were so excited!!! The big thrill was seeing SHREK as he walked out in full make-up! Wow. And let’s not forget that Constantine Maroulis from American Idol (who is coming to Chicago in ROCK OF AGES). Anyway he was in the green room eating dinner with all of us. Girls were thrilled! 
I was happy that BILLY ELLIOT was the first show to perform. That way the pressure was off, and I could kick back and watch everyone else!!! The band rocked it as well, and it was fun to interact with them during the performance. 
My boys, Jack and Elliot, came down and watched the concert, which was the best part of all. Performing in my hometown is the best gig ever!!!  

The cast of NOT WANTED ON THE VOYAGE at the 2010 Broadway In Chicago Concert at Taste

 Caitlin Collins (NOT WANTED ON THE VOYAGE):   

The other day I had this incredible dream. I was in a green room with cast members of some of my favorite Broadway shows. The stars of WICKED were there, and HAIR and DISNEY’S THE LION KING. Shrek was walking around in his full green regalia while a member of the new show TRACES warmed up with a handstand in the corner. The cast of MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET perfected their awesome 50s hair-dos, and Constantine Maroulis sat there, composed and looking like a total rock star.    

Then I pinched myself and realized I wasn’t dreaming. I was actually going to perform on the same stage as these artists as a part of the Broadway In Chicago Concert at Taste of Chicago. What an amazing opportunity! Singing Neil Bartram’s phenomenal music alongside my friends and cast-mates of NOT WANTED ON THE VOYAGE, with an awesome orchestra backing us up and 10,000 audience members applauding in front was an indescribably thrilling experience. When we walked off the stage, beaming and giddy, the most common response among our cast was, “I want to do that for the rest of my life.”   

Constantine Maroulis from ROCK OF AGES in the 2010 Broadway In Chicago Concert at Taste

The chocolate banana I bought at the Taste in between sound check and the performance was delicious, but it’s the exuberance from being surrounded by such talent, passion, and supportive energy that I can still feel resonating in my body. Thank you so much to Broadway In Chicago for making this fantastic and free event possible and for inviting NOT WATNED ON THE VOYAGE, the American Music Theatre Project’s newest musical be a part of it.   

The whole day was better than a dream.   

Hope you’ll join us next year!

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Filed under American Musical Theatre Project, Billy Elliot the Musical, Broadway In Chicago, Disney's The Lion King, Hair, Million Dollar Quartet, Northwestern University, Rock of Ages, Shrek The Musical, Traces, Wicked, Working

don’t rain on our parade

Broadway In Chicago has enjoyed participating in the Chicago Annual Pride Parade for a number of years.  This popular event, attended by more than 450,000 people, is always one of the highlights of our year, but it can come as quite a shock to unsuspecting “Pride Virgins.”  The crowd, couture and calidity can come as a surprise to anyone who has not experienced Pride in all of its glory.  It’s a test of endurance – nearly 3 ½ miles – but one that Broadway In Chicago is thrilled to undertake each year.

This year’s float featured BILLY ELLIOT, SHREK THE MUSICAL, FUERZA BRUTA: LOOK UP, DISNEY’S THE LION KING, TRACES,WICKED, HAIR and NOT WANTED ON THE VOYAGE.  Here are a few observational notes from this year’s Pride Virgins.

NICCI (Marketing Department, Broadway In Chicago): I approached the float Sunday morning when I realized:  I had never been to Pride.  I’ve been near it.  I lived in the heart of Boystown for two years, right off the parade route.  I’ve celebrated with a group of boys who were drunk with pride (or just drunk) and had managed to find their way into my apartment.  (I also found out that my front door lock was busted that day.)  I love my gay friends and encourage them to celebrate their pride every day.  So it was a shock to me when I realized that in five years of living in Chicago, I still had never seen the parade or witnessed what Boystown had to offer during its biggest holiday.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was pretty sure it involved lots of glitter.  And it did.  Not just on the floats, but also on the revelers.  I applauded the drag queens, who were dressed to the nines, as if they didn’t even realize that it was 150 degrees outside.  I sweated through my BILLY ELLIOT rainbow-colored sticker and, ready to turn my leggings into cutoffs, saw someone in full Elizabethan costume!

At first, I felt a little silly handing out dog tags and whoopee cushions while dancing to Broadway tunes (not my usual music choice), but two blocks later, I was belting “Defying Gravity” and shaking it to “Hair” like I knew the words.  I knew that I’d have the chance to sit down, but there was too much fun to be had in the crowd.  I wasn’t even aware that my arms were being slow-roasted to a nice medium-well until the parade was over.

Overall, I wasn’t surprised by the noise or the grandeur of the parade.  I was overwhelmed by the camaraderie.  In a city where everyone keeps to themselves normally, we were talking to everybody.  I literally dropped my purse to help another float hang banners.  The float across the street lent us a staple gun.  I never once felt shy or awkward; I felt welcomed.  The Pride Parade was the best party I have ever been to, and I didn’t even know anybody there!  I’ll always look back at my first Pride fondly (unless this sticker-shaped tan line on my arm never goes away).

STEVE (Marketing Director, NOT WANTED ON THE VOYAGE): Goodness.  After a morning of torrential downpours, my hopes were low for the day of this parade.  With raincoat in hand and sunscreen nowhere to be seen, I left the house expecting that even this long-running Chicago tradition might not make it through the rain.  I was about as wrong as could be.  What followed was a day of endless sunshine, dog tag crazy fans, cut-off t-shirts and tan lines that we will be visible for weeks.  Thank you Chicago for letting your “Freak Flag Fly” and embracing us so warmly.

KOKO (Marketing & Communications Manager, Northwestern University): Thanks to everyone at Broadway in Chicago for hosting us on the float.  It was such a fun day!  Of course, my neck is sore from flipping my hair to the music, I have a bruise the size of an orange on my arm and gravel in my knee from when I wiped out and I look like a tomato…but I wouldn’t trade any of those things!  🙂

JUSTIN (Marketing Team, NOT WANTED ON THE VOYAGE): This was the first time I’ve ever been to a Pride Parade so I had no idea what to expect.  What an amazing experience it was to interact with thousands of happy people sharing so much love (never have so many people wanted to hug and kiss me since I was a baby!).  My favorite moment was dancing along the street and seeing so many people singing along to the songs blasted by Broadway In Chicago (there are more theatre enthusiasts than you might think)!  Singing showtunes and dancing down Chicago streets is something you can’t do everyday…let’s change that!

Thanks for everything PRIDEChicago.  We’ll see you again next year!

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Filed under American Musical Theatre Project, Billy Elliot the Musical, Broadway In Chicago, Disney's The Lion King, Fuerza Bruta: Look up, Hair, Northwestern University, Rock of Ages, Shrek The Musical, Traces, Wicked

oh, those summer nights…

Yes…you probably heard.  This weekend was tough – we lost a performance due to technical difficulties at MARY POPPINS.  It was sad but we are doing everything we can to get those that missed the performance into another performance before MARY POPPINS closes on July 12.   There is the joy and heartbreak of live theatre and Saturday Night June 27 at 8:00 p.m. was heartbreaking.

 

However, today is a great day – there are so many things to do!

 

You can buy ½ price tickets through Hot Tix and attend either MARY POPPINS or JERSEY BOYS or both through the 4th of July Weekend – don’t wait the 1776 tickets were made available today through Hot Tix on-line and they are going fast.

 

And/Or, you can attend the Broadway In Chicago Concert in the park for FREE.   See Roger Bart from YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, the entire cast of JERSEY BOYS, the stars of MARY POPPINS, selections from 101 DALMATIONS with an introduction by Dennis DeYoung from STYX and more.

 

It is a perfect day to visit the TASTE and enjoy this great concert.

 

This is the one day of the year that I get to go out enjoy summer and the Taste and it is part of my job!  – The one performance of the year that is not in a dark room!

 

Don’t waste the day …. come and join us.  If you do all three things above you will be building quite the theatrical summer!

Eileen

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Filed under 101 Dalmatians, American Musical Theatre Project, Broadway In Chicago, In the Heights, Jersey Boys, League of Chicago Theaters, Mary Poppins, Northwestern University, Young Frankenstein

these are a few of my favorite things…

This is what the marketing office looks like today:

 

Marketing Office 001 Marketing Office 002 

You may be asking yourself if a bomb went off, or perhaps you think we are building a box fort… the answer is far more exciting than that. (at least for all of you!)

 

The reason for this mayhem is that we have an action-packed weekend planned! As you have probably heard, Monday is the Broadway In Chicago Concert in the Park, but we will also be participating in the annual Chicago Pride Parade on Sunday. Needless to say, we have been as busy as can be trying to make this an absolutely spectacular, albeit slightly hectic, pair of events.

 

On Sunday morning at the obscenely early hour of 9am, Andrew, Basia and myself will meet here at the Broadway In Chicago office to transport all of our materials to the parade route. I will have to work on my Tetris skills for the next couple days, because we somehow have to fit over 15,000 pieces of promo merchandise and three people into a Honda Accord. Seriously.

 

The parade itself will kick off around noon—keep an eye out for float #102 if you are at the parade because we will have tons of fun goodies to give away. There will be 14 BIC staffers and perhaps a cast member or two out supporting the GLBT community…and having a great time in the process! If you haven’t been to the Parade before, you should definitely try to join us—it is truly an unforgettable experience.

 

Then it’s time to run home for a good night’s sleep before the Concert in the Park! This is probably my favorite event of the year. What could be better than sitting outside listening to some amazing performers sing songs from my favorite shows? This year’s concert will include performances from Mary Poppins, Jersey Boys, Young Frankenstein, In the Heights, 101 Dalmatians and Boys v. Girls. Not only that, but Roger Bart, Dennis DeYoung, Ashley Brown, Gavin Lee and the whole cast of Jersey Boys will be there along with an Olympic athlete!

 

 I have been attending these concerts for far longer than I have worked at Broadway In Chicago, so it is a lot of fun to be in on the planning process this time around. Sure, there is a lot of work involved—have you ever tried to transport dollies laden with fun merchandise through the packed streets of the Taste of Chicago – but there is nothing more rewarding than seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces as they leave the concert.

 

I truly hope that everyone joins us for at least one of these wonderful events this weekend. We put a lot of effort into making these experiences fantastic for all who attend, and love to share our passion for theatre with everyone that we can. See you this weekend!

 
-Mary Brennan (Marketing Coordinator)

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Filed under 101 Dalmatians, American Musical Theatre Project, Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, Bank of America Theatre, Broadway In Chicago, Cadillac Palace Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre Water Tower Place, Feature Story, Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre, In the Heights, Jersey Boys, League of Chicago Theaters, Mary Poppins, Northwestern University, Young Frankenstein

school’s out for summer

Northwestern University has an incredible program called the American Music Theatre Project (AMTP) in which they bring together the nation’s leading artists in the professional theatre to work in collaboration with Northwestern faculty and students to create new musicals. During the winter quarter, a group of Northwestern students, in collaboration with The House Theatre of Chicago, developed an original musical titled GIRLS VS. BOYS, the developmental production will premiere during Northwestern’s Summer Music Theatre Festival this July.

For the first time ever, the project went one step further by pairing another group of eight students with Broadway In Chicago professionals to develop an original marketing plan for this exciting new production. The course, led by Broadway In Chicago Vice President Eileen LaCario and Marketing Director Andrew Damer, covered all facets of presenting and marketing commercial theatre from creating a performance schedule and price structure to developing advertising, promotional and social networking plans. The students designed original artwork, descriptive copy, a website and will continue to work throughout the summer implementing their marketing plan.

First of all, these are some smart and talented students – both in creating a new musical and marketing it. Second, AMTP is one incredible organization. And third, go see GIRLS VS. BOYS. It is sure to be a highlight of the summer theatre season.

GVB color finalJuly 10 – August 2 at the Wallis Theatre, Evanston

Girls vs. Boys plunges you into an all-out war of the sexes. Brother and sister find themselves thrust into a perilous, modern day Lord of the Flies, playing a game with rules they don’t fully understand. But you can’t win this game. You gotta play not to lose. The acclaimed creative team of The Sparrow, along with Northwestern students, has created a story of high stakes relationships with even greater consequences, challenging the storybook ideal of love in an amped up, exhilarating new musical.

Developed in partnership between the American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University and The House Theatre of Chicago, the world premiere of Girls vs. Boys is directed by Nathan Allen with book and lyrics by Chris Mathews, Jake Minton and Nathan Allen, music by Kevin O’Donnell and choreography by Tommy Rapley.

ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK: Girls vs. Boys contains strong language, violent themes, partial nudity and really, REALLY loud music.

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Filed under American Musical Theatre Project, Broadway In Chicago, Northwestern University

a’marketing we go

Where did Monday go? We have MARY POPPINS in rehearsal and the theatre is abuzz with the load in of the set into the Cadillac Palace. And Broadway In Chicago was out at Northwestern University yesterday. We are working on an exciting new project with the students. We have created a class that will mirror Broadway In Chicago’s integrated marketing team and will become the marketing team that will promote the American Musical Theatre Project this summer. We will be working on the new musical that the House Theatre of Chicago is creating, also with the students. We completed interviews for this new marketing team and what an unbelievable group of talent. The buzz word of the day is that they are all Type A personalities – good match for all the Broadway In Chicago staff that will be mentoring them. It is going to be great fun to work on a world premiere and premiere this new dynamic marketing team all at the same time. We anticipate our team learning as much as we teach them.

FYI: for those that are interested in producing or knowing what producing is all about, you should check out the Commercial Theatre Institute. It is doing a program right here in Chicago you can find out more about it on www.chicagoplays.com

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Filed under American Musical Theatre Project, Broadway In Chicago, Mary Poppins, Northwestern University