Category Archives: Wicked

Interview with WICKED’s Jesse JP Johnson

WICKED’s Jesse JP Johnson told us what it’s like to have your dream come true after answering your questions on Twitter last week. If it happens, you might be so happy you could melt!

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Filed under Broadway In Chicago, Wicked

WICKED Actor Jesse JP Johnson Can’t Stay Away From Chicago For Long

Jesse JP Johnson as Boq

Jesse JP Johnson as Boq
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Chicago has always had a special place in my heart. Not only did I spend summers here as a kid but Chicago was also where my Mother grew up. I am also lucky to call Chicago my first workplace as it was where I debuted my first leading role in a national tour (Doody in Grease) about 9 years ago. We opened at the Chicago Theater and my entire family was able to attend. It was such a magical and special evening! Since then I have worked here five times and it has only gotten better.  The audiences, for one thing, continue to blow me away. They have such an amazing energy along with a great appreciation for the arts.  They remind me of audiences in New York but with a warm mid-western charm!

The city itself is so energetic and there are almost too many areas and things I love to do here that it is hard to pick a favorite.  Whenever I’m here I find myself going to the museums, the Shedd Aquarium, shopping on Michigan Avenue and taking in the incredible architecture. Unfortunately, I usually find myself here during the winter so those are the main things I am able to enjoy without freezing my pants off. I will say, though, that the weather is the perfect excuse to explore all of the amazing restaurants and eat EVERYTHING! All the food is great but nothing has compared to the chocolate cake I have destroyed at Gilt Bar, an incredible restaurant I discovered within walking distance of our theater. As far as going out, I love to explore the Wicker Park area. So far it has the most interesting places to go out in, from The Violate Hour speakeasy to the Emporium arcade bar! It reminds me a lot of the Village in NYC or Williamsburg, Brooklyn. A home away from home, I will always look forward to an excuse to visit Chicago… and being able to perform in one of the most beautiful and intricately designed theaters I’ve ever seen is just the topper on the cake!

We’ll be doing a Twitter Q&A with Jesse on Thursday, November 21 at 1 p.m. Be sure to tweet your questions here using #WickedBIC and he’ll respond with his answers! 

You can see Jesse perform as Boq in WICKED at the Oriental Theatre now through December 21st. Click here to buy your tickets now.

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Filed under Broadway In Chicago, Wicked

Short & Sweet: Wicked

Diana Martinez and guest critic Sarah Pouls give you the Short & Sweet review on Wicked:

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Filed under Broadway In Chicago, Short and Sweet, Wicked

Governor Pat Quinn and Illinois State Legislature honored with Touring Broadway Award

On Wednesday The Broadway League honored Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and the Illinois State Legislature with the distinguished 2013 STAR OF TOURING BROADWAY AWARD at the annual Broadway League Awards. Their leadership brought passage of the “Live Theatre Production Tax Credit Act” to support live theatre. Enacted in 2012, the legislation has already supported the musical tryouts of Kinky Boots and Big Fish.

“I’m pleased that The Broadway League chose to honor our Governor and State Legislature. Even in these tough economic times, or rather because of them, Governor Quinn and the State of Illinois Legislators have embraced the fact that theater is uniquely positioned not only to support the residents of our great state but also to serve as a major tourism attraction and economic engine,” said Broadway In Chicago President Lou Raisin.

Several notable figures in the Broadway community endorsed Governor Quinn and the Illinois State Legislature, including:

“I have always thought of Chicago as a long-run town and the Broadway business as we all know in New York is an economic generator. As such, I am happy to see that Chicago realized the smart investment it would be for both Chicago and all of Illinois to support pre-Broadway and long-run Musicals.”  – James Nederlander Sr., Nederlander

“Chicago has a wonderful theatre community with people who appreciate new work and these elected officials found a way to entice producers like myself to think of Chicago first. In this day and age when musicals are becoming harder and harder to try out, it is leaders like this who deserve our admiration and accolades.” – Daryl Roth, Producer of Kinky Boots, Daryl Roth Productions

“Governor Quinn and the State of Illinois Legislators have made Chicago a more attractive place for us to bring new productions or those productions that we believe can run longer because of their leadership.” – David Stone, Producer, Wicked 

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May 17, 2013 · 5:00 pm

WORKING 9 TO 5

We’ve got a great week in store for Chicago theater fans!

Sunday

Governor Quinn came to see WICKED! He and his guests took a backstage tour and met with Gene Weygandt (The Wizard) and Barbara Robertson (Madame Morrible). We love when our elected officials go to theatre!

Chicagoan Jane Lynch (Sue Sylvester on Glee) gave two shout outs to Chicago in her Golden Globes acceptance speech!

Monday

Martin Luther King’s Birthday is a day off for most, but we are loading in for 9 TO 5 and preparing for the start of WORKING rehearsals on Tuesday. In the office, it’s a good time to get caught up and ready for all the shows and events coming up this week.

Tuesday

First performance of 9 To 5!

One of the stars, Diana DeGarmo, appears on ABC.

Only 8 performances left of WICKED!

WORKING begins rehearsals!

Wednesday

Good sources tell me there will be a very special guest joining us: DOLLY PARTON! If you’re a fan, there are still tickets left. And even better, there’s a special $25 ticket offer* for performances Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday if you use the code DOLLY and purchase your tickets by the end of day Tuesday!

FUN FACT: It’s Dolly’s Birthday – AND WE ARE GOING TO CELEBRATE!

Thursday

Time to clean up the cake from Dolly’s birthday and prepare for the press conference and sneak peek of WORKING planned for Friday.

Friday

Stephen Schwartz (composer of WICKED and WORKING) visits Chicago and gives a sneak peek of the show from his unique perspective to group leaders and the media. Make sure to check your favorite station for coverage.

Do you want to be my guest at either the Opening Night of 9 TO 5 this Wednesday or the sneak peek with Stephen Schwartz this Friday? Leave a comment telling me what you are doing this week in theatre! What shows are you seeing? What show are you performing? What dance class are you taking? What role are you auditioning for? Let us know!

Eileen

*Offer valid only on January 18 – 20 performances. Not valid on premium seating, on previously purchased tickets or with any other offer. Subject to availability. Normal ticketing fees apply. Offer ends Tuesday, January 18 at the close of business. Other restrictions may apply.

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Filed under 9 To 5, Wicked, Working

home sweet home

Carla Stickler

These days I feel like the luckiest girl in the world! It isn’t very often that I get to be home for the holidays and for Wicked to be the reason that brings me to Chicago, I’m not sure if I could ask for anything more. Growing up here and having the opportunity to perform for all my friends and family has been a truly wonderful experience. My parents couldn’t be prouder!

As Elphaba’s understudy I’ve been fortunate enough to have performed Elphaba twice since I’ve been in town and my parents were able to make it to both shows. My mom was so excited that she told everyone around her that she was Elphaba’s mom and she probably would have signed autographs if anyone had asked! Working with Broadway In Chicago has really added to my experience of playing my home town. I’ve sung at a treelighting ceremony out in South Barrington, beat Chandra at a good vs wicked cookoff competition for the wonderful people at Kenmore’s live studio broadcast for their website, and done something I never thought I’d get to do – sing the National Anthem at a Bulls game with a few of my cast mates!!

I’m pretty sure Wicked is the official reason as to why they are doing so well this season. Okay, maybe Derrick Rose has a little something to do with it… Having grown up a Bulls fan, watching Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippin win all those championships, it was truly magical to have the opportunity to sing at the United Center and watch the players work their magic from great seats a few rows behind the bench… Man are they tall!!!

What an amazing time I’m having being home. I’m so glad I can share my city with all my amazing company members and share Wicked with all the Chicago Wicked fans for this holiday season! Happy holidays everyone! Thanks for making this a special one!

-Carla Stickler (Ensemble, u/s Elphaba, Nessarose)

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Filed under Cadillac Palace Theatre, Wicked

WICKED’s Behind The Emerald Curtain

I am trying to catch up before leaving the office and I finally had the chance to watch the new video that is now part of WICKED’s Behind the Emerald Curtain. If you are not familiar with this insiders look at WICKED you should definitely check it out when WICKED returns for, sadly, only a limited engagement from December 1 – January 23. Every Tuesday at 5:00 we will once again present Behind The Emerald Curtain in the lobby of the theatre. Two of the cast members will explain the backstory of how WICKED came to be and show attendees costumes, set designs and some of really strange paraphernalia like Flying Monkey wings and masks. Great deep background for both rabid fans and regular audience members. What is new this time is the in depth look at the craft of costume design. I was stunned watching the new video how long it takes to make one of Madame Morribles dresses. I can’t imagine Channel could take longer to create a ball gown! But what I found fascinating is what one of the costumers said.  She thinks no one really understands their role until the first time they try on their costume and then try to move and speak as the character. I guess clothes do make the man, or the woman. I think the $25 Behind the Emerald Curtain ticket is a wonderful way to enrich the experience of this magical musical.

The WICKED public on sale is September 15 but if you were one of the lucky ones who got an email about a pre-sale don’t miss your opportunity to buy the best tickets!

-Gemma

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Filed under Broadway In Chicago, Wicked

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