Tag Archives: musical

Tony Awards: Best Musical

Memorable songs, powerhouse vocals and spectacular song & dance numbers have these Best Musical nominees bursting at the seams with Broadway energy. We can’t wait to see some of them eventually make their way to Chicago!

BestMusical

Best Musical

After Midnight

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

Aladdin

A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder

BestMusicalRevivalBest Musical (Revival)

Les Miserables

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Violet

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Pippin!

Happy One Year Anniversary on Broadway, Pippin the Musical!

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March 23, 2014 · 10:07 am

Guest Blog Post: Jeff M. Smith from West Side Story

Growing up in West Texas I never thought I’d find myself performing such an amazing show in such an unbelievable venue. The Oriental Theatre here in Chicago is a perfect place to see West Side Story.
Our company couldn’t be more excited to be performing here either! Even though we are in our last two weeks of a nine month run, being in Chicago has given us the second wind of the century and we couldn’t be more pumped up to knock these performances out of the park.
I can’t wait to walk the streets of this wonderful city and see what it has to offer! We always love playing cities with such a rich history, in theater specifically, but also in general – the architecture, the landmarks, the restaurants, the baseball! We can’t wait to check it all out.

West Side Story Company © Carol Rosegg 2012

West Side Story Company
© Carol Rosegg 2012

I studied Music and Theatre at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. I can’t say my school is terribly well-represented in New York City, but Chicago is another story altogether. Opera singers, musical theatre performers, and straight theatre performers alike are all brought together in this great place!
Chicago brings our company of 33 cast members new challenges and adventures that we can’t wait to tackle. Come check us out!
-Jeff M. Smith (Snowboy, u/s Riff, u/s Tony, u/s Diesel)
www.jeffmsmith.net

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Buddy Holly : The Life and Music Behind The Glasses

credit: Getty Images

The inspiration to create theatrical work can come from many places. It can start as a spark of revelation or it can begin out of utter frustration.  British producer (and longtime Buddy Holly fan) Laurie Mansfield was so irritated by the inaccuracies of the 1978 film The Buddy Holly Story that he decided to take matters into his own hands. With the collaboration of Sir Paul McCartney (who owned the rights to Buddy Holly’s music,) writer Alan Janes, and producers Paul Elliot and Greg Smith, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story was born and took the West End by storm in 1989. Buddy the Musical had a brief stint on Broadway before commencing on several national tours on different continents. A new U.S. tour has launched this season and Broadway In Chicago is proud to present this show at the Cadillac Theatre. But who exactly was the icon that inspired the musical?

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Short and Sweet – An Audience View: Anything Goes

Rachel York and Company Roundabout Theatre Company’s ANYTHING GOES © Joan Marcus, 2012

Rachel York and Company
Roundabout Theatre Company’s ANYTHING GOES
© Joan Marcus, 2012

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.

Do anything to see Anything Goes

This Tony Award®-winning Broadway National Tour of Anything Goes is the real deal. Right off the bat these cats sweep you into the swanky, salty 1930’s with their fabulous double-talk and witty banter. This is solid cast with veterans all the way around and the sets are straight from the Broadway Stage.

Within the first few bars of leading lady Rachel York’s smoky and silky rendition of  “I Get a Kick Out of You,” I knew I was for a real treat. She has an unmatched smooth, mezzo voice that oozes with a style and control that is hypnotic, giving you  a hankering for a sloe gin fizz. But don’t let it fool you, as the show continues she lets it rip and can belt it out against the best.

emily anything goesMy guest for the evening was Emily Martinez, my 24- year-old niece, recent DePaul graduate, a Chicagoan and one of Kraft’s newest brand assistants.  As the lights came up at intermission she was still looking at the stage and said, “I love the ’30s and now I love them more. There isn’t anything I don’t like about this show. It’s perfect”.

This production is truly everything a national Broadway musical tour should be: huge production numbers, show-stopping tap breaks, opulent sets and costumes and a story filled with humor and romance.  This production is timeless and it is played and timed perfectly. Big kudos to director Kathleen Marshall for knowing just how to hit each beat and appeal to a modern-day audience. Instead of feeling dated, the show actually feels fresh and makes you realize just how smart, sexy, racy and edgy the ’30s were – the humor was sharp and filled with sophisticated wit. One interesting thing I noticed is that the show hits almost every classic comic style imaginable from mistaken identities, play on words and puns, to vaudeville “Who’s On First” style bits, slapstick and double-entendres. It was all here – and masterfully executed by this distinguished cast making the opening night audience LOL throughout the show.

The sets are opulent massive and impressive, and they keep coming scene after scene. The costumes designed by Martin Pakledinaz are stunning and the sleek and flowing designs and fabric choices always included a gorgeous visual payoff from the back of each dress.

The chemistry and spark between Josh Franklin and Rachel York in the duet  “You’re the Top” was one of the highlights of the show for me; by the sounds of a show-stopping ovation complete with hoots and hollering from the opening night audience I think the sentiment was shared. Other show stoppers were the act I finale “Anything Goes” with 22 hoofers bringing it home, “Blow, Gabriel, Blow,” and the finale which brought this Chicago audience to an immediate standing ovation. This is a show you can bring the entire family to, so get them together fast because the show is only sailing through until May 5. Honestly, this is an amazing cast and production not to be missed.

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Guest Blog: Illinois High School Musical Theater Award Recipient – Meadow Nguy

This has been an amazing ride. My Show Choir director saw a flyer about the IHSMTAs at a competition and handed it to my mom with the statement that I should try to do this. While we talked a bit about it, because I was knee-deep in rehearsals for our Spring Musical the Wizard of Oz, I was honestly only half listening. I was focused on memorizing, blocking, character building to make Dorothy as real as she could be. Mom took pictures, Dad worked video magic, we all talked some, and then sent my application off in the mail without thinking much more about it. I didn’t figure it would really amount to anything given that it was for the whole state.

I was floored when the call came that I was a finalist. All I could think of was “I was a what?” and “I have to be where?” Then the list came out of all the students who were participating and I thought “Wow, those are some big schools”. O’Fallon has a great music program, but I had seen a lot of other schools through show choir competitions that were up in those areas and it always seemed like they were incredibly talented. I spent a lot of time talking with my Choir director and my Show Choir director and finally came to terms with the fact that whatever was going to happen would happen and so long as I gave it my best shot, I could be proud and they would be proud of me. The day of the IHSMTA competition came and it was amazing getting to work with the crew from the Jersey Boys. I could hear a lot of the other students with their big “belty” songs and realized that “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” just wasn’t that kind, so I honestly didn’t figure that I’d stand out in anyway. So I went into my audition with the thought that I was there for the experience and to do the best I could. I honestly didn’t think I heard right when my name was called for the IHSMTA actress winner. When I realized I had to sing again, all I could think of was please don’t cry. My mom laughed when I was talking to her on the way home after, because I told her that “I didn’t cry, but thought I would start now”; and I did. I bawled.

Then came the preparation for New York. Talk about a nerve wracking experience in preparing. Working on four songs, not knowing what questions to ask, but knowing you should have a million of them. Trying to figure out how to connect to new characters for the songs that were to be competition possibilities. I was more nervous getting ready for New York than I was in New York. Our chaperone Jamie was fantastic. She was a girlfriend, chaperone, and mom all rolled into one. I know Nathan and I could never thank her enough for her support. Her enthusiasm totally helped put me at ease. It was my first airplane ride, first taxi, first trip to New York…lots of firsts. New York was…EXHAUSTING. Long days of rehearsals, real life working with Broadway professionals, and staff at NYU. There was definitely a “Reality” to the whole experience if you’re truly interested in going into Musical Theater. There were times that you feel really good about it, and times that you second guess what your doing with your performances. Some people you connect with and some that you realize you can respect, but just wont’ connect with. It’s a “total” learning experience. It was incredible being with other students that love the same thing you do and not have to deal with all the “high school pettiness” of jealousy and talent because your all there for the same reasons; your all talented or you wouldn’t be there. Everyone was very supportive of each other. I don’t know if it is that way every year but it was wonderful in that way this year for me. I made some amazing friends and worked with people that I’ve only ever dreamed of meeting. Yes, I jumped up and down when meeting some of them, even though I promised myself that I wouldn’t do that. Thankfully, they were all so very gracious about it. Auditioning was nerve wracking, but I came to the point during that week where I decided that no matter what happened, so long as I gave it my best shot, I could be proud of myself. Performing on a Broadway stage…well there is nothing like it, no comparison. It did reaffirm though that I want to be in Musical Theater more than ever.

I hope that Illinois can be proud of Nathan and me. We worked hard, learned a lot, and sure gave it our all. I know that I’m going to be forever grateful for the opportunities that have come about because of winning the IHSMTA award. It has given me more opportunities and new experiences that I ever dreamed would happen at the age of 16. I certainly go into my Senior year with eyes wide open as to what I want to do with my life and how hard I’m going to have to work to make it happen. Who knows, maybe sometime in the next five to ten years, it’ll be Nathan and I there inspiring students just like us. Definitely worth adding to my list of goals. Thank you so very much for all your support of us. You have definitely become part of our extended Broadway family. I won’t ever truly be able to express the amount of emotions that go into this experience but know I have grown tremendously and I can totally contribute a lot of it to this amazing ride.

– Meadow Nguy, IHSMTA Award Recipient

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The Road to Jersey: A Nick Cosgrove Guest Blog

I originally saw Jersey Boys when it was the sit down production here in Chicago.  I was 17 and a junior in high school at the time.  I had been singing and acting throughout my adolescence, but it wasn’t until I saw Jersey Boys that I knew that this was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.  I remember being mesmerized by the story, the music, how quickly the set changed; the list goes on and on.  Of course I knew a career as an actor is extremely terrifying since there isn’t always certainty if you’ll work.  But I grew up having parents who taught be to have patience, be persistent, and have a quiet confidence.

I studied at Carnegie Mellon University where I received my BFA in Acting/Music Theatre.  It’s there where I trained and honed in my craft. CMU’s acting program is fantastic with alumni such as Ted Danson, Holly Hunter, Patrick Wilson, Zachary Quinto and Megan Hilty.  I graduated and got an agent from our senior showcase.  I spent one last summer performing at The Muny down in St. Louis and soon after moved to New York.  I spent my first year auditioning for a numerous amount of projects, doing a few readings and workshops, an Off-Broadway show and also a few regional productions.  But my eyes were set on.  I auditioned for the first time in September of 2010.  From then on I had about 6 more auditions throughout the year until I booked the job this past November of 2011.

It has been an absolute dream come true portraying the role of Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys.  I feel extremely honored and humbled to be given the opportunity to share this story with audiences who keep coming back to see this show.  You can’t help but fall in love with one song after the next.  And yet you also learn about a group of four guys, you see what they went through to become Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, and that it didn’t just happen overnight.  This show is so well constructed that it is far from a “juke-box musical.”  I would say that it a mixture of a play and a rock concert.  Rich in its context, and unforgettable in its music.  Certainly not one you want to miss if you haven’t seen it yet.

It’s been such a treat to be performing here in my hometown and getting to see so many family members and friends after the show.  I’ve been lucky enough to be asked to sing the National Anthem at a few of Chicago’s games.  Last week I sang at the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago Fire games.  I grew up seeing so many Bulls games so that one especially hit home for me.  What’s most incredible is to be in the Bank of America Theatre where I first saw the show 6 years ago, dreaming of one day being a part of it.  I have never felt more gratitude taking my bow every performance.  Thankful to be getting to do what I love, and hoping that our performances continue to touch and inspire others just as I was 6 years ago.

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Nick Cosgrove

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