Breast in Show

Yeah, you read that title right – so already you’re off to a good start!  I’m going off my order of shows we’ve seen so far this year to skip ahead to this one since the run is almost over.   



GayCo Productions is a not for profit ensemble whose sketch comedy reviews have gay and lesbian themes.  I hadn’t heard of them until it seemed like every other member of pH Productions starting getting in.  This was our first show of GayCo’s to see and based on this one, we’ll definitely be back.


It’s $15 for an hour long show.  It’s held in what can only be described as the basement of the Apollo Theater (current home of Million Dollar Quartet).  I had no clue there was a downstairs!  And after a few lost looks and going back up to use the restroom we settled in our chairs.  


It’s an intimate feel, which I always adore.  A few rows of chairs, a small bar and just a simple stage, with a single curtain draping the back, and a guy on a keyboard.  Simplicity at it’s finest.  


The ladies in Breast in Show are hilarious to say the least.  There’s scenes that everyone will connect to gay/straight – I mean, *everyone* has dated before.  It’s the same for all!  A scene about a woman who’s no longer with her partner trying to get food stamps for her child, and the welfare office just can’t understand.  A scene with Dora and Diego that left me scratching my head a bit.  Lesbian computer nerds which always gets me hot!  


Before the show, the audience members were given papers to write sentences on that could or could not be used in part of the show.  They were cut into strips and then the improv magic began!  The ladies got the strips of paper to miraculously fit in with the tale of mother and daughter!  Improv never ceases to amaze me – I have no clue how they think that fast.


It made fun of stereotypes.  It was charming.  It was hilarious.  And in the very end scene, it was messy (I won’t give it away).  I highly, highly recommend this show to everyone if you get a chance.  It’s on through April 10th and plays only on Sundays at 7pm.  Take your girlfriends and laugh together.  It’s the best medicine there is.

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And with that, we’re no longer subscribers

There was an amazing feeling I had when this current season was announced for Broadway in Chicago.  It was “we HAVE to see all these shows!”  And the most affordable rate was through becoming a subscriber.  So we finally did what I had always dreamed of, we bought our own seats.  I look at those seats now, and on first Saturdays of a show for 3 hours those seats are ours.  There’s a wee bit of pride in helping out the arts when you think of that.  


But in the blink of reading an article, the decision was made to cancel those wonderful seats.  Seriously BIC, I’m starting to realize your ploy of grabbing money now.  


The line up for next season is as follows:
West Side Story
Love, Loss and What I Wore
Ann:  An Affectionate Portriat of Ann Richards
Memphis
Donny & Marie:  A Christmas in Chicago
La Cage Aux Folles
Come Fly Away
With off-season specials of:
Chicago
Mary Poppins
Rock of Ages 
Fiddler on the Roof
The Addams Family


In the season line up there are only two shows I want to see out of seven.  I think the Donny & Marie being forced in there is the kicker for me.  No thank you.  And Ann Richards?  That couldn’t have been traded out for something else?  I think that Broadway in Chicago is just catering to their older clientele with half of this listing.  Who I’m sure pays the most in tickets, so who can blame them in the end.  


Then there’s the weird off-season shows.  Four of the five have been here in the past two years already.  Addams Family bombed not in sales but in reviews, and now Bebe Newirth and Nathan Lane won’t be in there.  Rock of Ages I just saw in October.  Fiddler, just here.  Mary Poppins, just here and extended it’s stay.  And then there’s Chicago, which is here for the first time in a bit.  Oh, but wait….only for ONE week.


So after one email to my wife with this list she sent back the “should we even bother” message.  My answer and she agrees is “NO”.  We will spend our money buying better seats to West Side Story, La Cage Aux Folles and Chicago at least.  Maybe a Memphis or Mary Poppins if money and time allows.  


Also, this way we’ll be able to hold on to more money for smaller theater shows going on around the city that are different and new.  With so many show touring across the nation and the world, we bring back things that we just had in our great city.  


I’m disappointed to say the least.  I really did feel prideful in those first Saturday seats.  And maybe others looked at last season and said “snore” while I jumped up and down.  And now this season they’re happy.  


What do you guys think?  Do I have the wrong mind set?  Should we be able to trade out shows if there are some we absolutely do not want to see?




Chicago (the show not the city) For One Week

Figures right after my post about what Broadway in Chicago has announced so far and my thoughts on it, they go and add another one.  I see how it is.  This is what I get for hating on your precious ‘Merchant of Venice‘ on Twitter right?  *wink*

Anywho, announced today is that Chicago will be making a one week stop in Chicago.  It’s been here numerous times (for obvious reasons) and I have yet to see it live on stage.  I love the music and adored the movie, and cannot wait to see what ‘Cell Block Tango’ looks like live!

The only casting announcement so far has been the part of Billy Flynn, who will be played by John O’Hurley.  I would say mostly known for Mr. Peterman on Seinfeld.  I loved him in my favorite episode of The X-Files, ‘The Post-Modern Prometheus‘.  To me, he’s too old, but I’m sure he’ll pull it off!

Great addition BIC!  Hope we can get tickets to this extremely short run!

Looking Ahead: Broadway in Chicago’s next season

As I continue through the past few weeks of Broadway in Chicago’s current season on this blog, you’ll begin to realize we didn’t like as many shows as we’ve liked.  Or actually, that’s basing it on loving Next to Normal in April – because they can’t screw that up, right?  Eek!  


Considering the lack of thrill we’ve gotten from the offerings we’re in the consideration process for next season, which should be announced here pretty soon.  We’ve had gut reactions and then some that we’ve come around to eventually.  In the end I think it’s going to be the combination of the season package that will decide it for us.  


So here’s what they’re offering after this season, so far:


Beauty and the Beast



Now this has been announced forever, so I’m thinking it’s just for the holiday tourist season and probably won’t be part of our season tickets package.  I saw this back in…..wow….1996 I think, in London.  It was a birthday present from my grandmother.  I got all dressed up for the theater in London, took what at that time was one of my very few cab rides, and felt magical about to see my favorite Disney movie on stage in real life.  


Now this is one of my favorite shows to memory.  The song ‘Home’ is original to the show and one of the best songs.  The costumes were breathtaking and the songs sounded fantastic.  How many times have I seen this movie, and then this show makes me cry at the end!?  Crazy talk.  So in the end, this is one we might/might not pick up.  I would watch it again, but I’m not sure Val cares too much for it.  So check as “maybe” for now.


West Side Story

YES.  This is one that ever since we moved to Chicago that we’ve been saying “if that comes here, we’re going to it”, and then here it is.  I’m pleasantly surprised by the controversy of some of the lines being in Spanish.  Scandalousness!  Whatever.  People get over it, they were Puerto Ricans!  But whatever helps them sell tickets….anyways, this is a definite yes for our ticket holdings.








Love, Loss & What I Wore

First thought about title?  Straight chicks.  Then saw logo?  Straight chicks.  And then read the descriptions about women and their relationships etc….sounds a bit better, but I don’t think I’m the audience they’re trying to reach.  As a lesbian, who was always a tomboy anyways throughout life, I didn’t have too much love and loss, and I care less about fashion!  For me it’s tank tops and flip flops all the way!  So the verdict?  Pass.




Ann: An Affectionate Portrait of Ann Richards



As someone who grew up in Texas, I know who Ann Richards is.  Unlike the lady in the bathroom during Les Miserables when we were talking about next season (“WHO?!”  was the response I got upon telling her the show).  Now, don’t get me wrong, Ann Richards was a great woman and a great asset to Texas at the time.  An entire show dedicated to her.  I’m on the fence about that one.






Memphis

2010 Tony Winner for best show.  The plot and such doesn’t interest me much, but it’s supposedly good?  Though in my opinion it was slim pickings for this years Tony’s.  The song they play everywhere (I’m not sure the name) has that “Na na na na na na-na na” line in it that goes FOREVER.  If it’s part of the package, sure why not?  If not, I don’t know if I’ll make an effort to see it.










Come Fly Away



*snore*














Have you seen any of these shows?  Love em or hate em?  Feedback before we throw down money is appreciated! 🙂

Working the Musical

 When we were debating the package deals for becoming subscribers with Broadway in Chicago, one thing that was making us hold off was this show.  What was it?  It sounds old.  Out of date I bet.  But Stephen Schwartz did the music.  Crud.  Fine.  We’ll deal if we don’t like it.

Also, I had no idea about the Broadway Playhouse Theater.  I read up about it and it sounded like a nice little theater right off the Magnificent Mile.  I got the CD from the library since it looked like all copies of it in any form of media had been discontinued.  And then I proceeded to NEVER listen to it.  And I’m so glad I didn’t because this was a pleasant surprise from a show!

The tagline of Working is “The perfect musical for everyone who has ever worked a day in their lives”.  And this is so true.  There are countless characters that are portrayed by the six actors on stage, beginning with someone everyone recognizes, the McDonald’s clerk.

The premise of Working comes from the Pulitzer Prize winning author and Chicago radio broadcaster, Studs Terkel.  Back in the 1970’s he asked many people one simple question:  “What kind of work do you do?”  The variety of answers make you feel happy for some, sad and shameful for others, but most importantly it makes you think about your own life, and your own job.  Does “work” mean just your job to you?  Or is there more to it than that?  I love how this show really touched me in numerous different ways.

Before the actual show though you have to take in the Broadway Playhouse Theater.  It’s amazing.  I love smaller venues – sometimes the larger ones aren’t so good for shows with spoken parts in them.  And sometimes the acoustics are even bad for music.  But here it was crystal clear.  The seats were comfy and the spacing was just right that there was no bobbing of heads this way and that to be able to see the scene taking place.  The set was fascinating to watch.  Yes, I said *watch*.  It was divided up into 6 cubes that showed the behind the scenes of the actors and actresses getting ready for the show.  Also, the person that does the audio for the beginning of the show was in plain sight and we got to hear her announcements to lights, sound and cast which was neat to me because I love seeing and hearing the stuff you don’t normally get to.



The show was approximately 90 minutes long and no intermission.  Which was perfect.  It moved very quickly between the characters.  We saw a trucker.  We heard a hooker sing about how her life is.  A fireman in distress about what he sees day in and day out.  A housewife (which I cringed every time I heard this term, but it was done in the 80’s) sang about how she has no friends and her life is dull and never for herself.  An older teacher that couldn’t connect with her kids anymore – so she use to love teaching and now loathes it and it scared of her children.  A 19 year old graduate that has a fresh new business degree and thinks he’s going to conquer the world – but we all know how that turns out for most of them!  One I really loved was the older waitress.  Picture that older lady that’s in the diner you love – her attitude is always chipper, she’s always prompt, she’s seen it all in there, and nothing will get her down!  This was someone I think about when I enter a place like IHOP such as the Bagel or Melrose Diner here in Chicago.  How does she maintain that attitude?  I would HATE doing this and she looks content.  Oh, and this “older” lady, does the splits at the end.  She’s that good of a waitress!

The cast was phenomenal to say the least.  Barbara Robertson, would played the parts such as the teacher and waitress, was a hoot and can play any age young or old!  E. Faye Butler can move and be sexy and belt out those numbers.  One of the most moving numbers was by Gene Weygandt, who Chicago remembers are the Wizard in Chicago’s run of Wicked.  He played a retiree who most definitely was regretting the decision of quitting work, something we all supposedly long for one day.  Basically he lost his wife, his friends, and frankly his reason for living.  And then we all wanted to go visit our grandparents after that!  Amazing job.

To sum up, this is the show I could have cared less about and it’s the one I’ve enjoyed from this season’s run the most.  From the theater itself, the premise of it, the cast, and the way it still makes me think about it at least 3-4 times a week while I’m in my own job or observing the workings of others.  I hope this goes somewhere because with our economy and job losses lately, it is as relevant today as it was 24 years ago when it first hit Broadway.

Les Miserable (for the second and last time)

When Val and I first started dating, she treated me to Les Miserables at the Hobby Center for Performing Arts in Houston, Texas.  I was ecstatic.  This was a show I dreamed of seeing for ever and now I finally get to see it and how this moving circle thing with people walking on it works….


I also didn’t know and/or realize this would be the beginning of a long, long list of shows that Val and I would end up seeing in our lives together.  


Now back in Houston I left feeling, in a word, “meh” about the whole experience.  But then again, I’ve hated the acoustics in that theater (don’t get me started about the 2nd time I saw Rent and couldn’t even hear the first act) so I wasn’t surprised.  


So when we heard that Les Mis was coming to Chicago, we bought the season ticket package and were off!  It was the first show of the new season!

this was taken leaving Wicked 2 months before



So we were off with some high hopes of seeing this epic show in a new light.  I read about how it’s been redone for the 25th Anniversary.  The turning center of the stage is gone.  There’s new stage scenery and some new technology?  I’m interested!


Unfortunately though, we left with the same “meh” feeling once more.  I think that was the last chance I’m giving Les Miserables on stage.  Though the music continues to move me.  I think we just haven’t seen any strong individuals in this show.  No one’s voice is carrying the way that they use to in the Les Mis shows of old (and on CDs) so our expectations are high.  As an ensemble though the weight that the songs have is amazing.  



Luckily we knew the lyrics because some of them ended up getting lost for whatever reason.  Muffled sounds.  So weird in such a great theater!  Valjean was just a loud singer.  Nothing to write home about.  Fantine made me cringe at times.  Éponine was actually one of my favorites. And then later on the train ride home we had a laugh about how the auditions must be for Young Cossette.  The child’s voice almost sounds recorded because no matter what production you’re seeing ‘Castle on a Cloud’ sounds *exactly* the same!  


The changes I happened to like while Val did not.  The lack of the moving stage didn’t bother me too much.  Now there’s a screen behind them showing a road (or sewer etc) and the perception of it makes it seem like they’re actually moving.  The sewer scene made me slightly nauseous even with how it made my sense feel like I was watching a movie!  Also, *SPOILER ALERT* for the death of Javier, that was much better than the actor jumping off the “bridge” and down the stage hole below.  He is now hoisted and hovers flailing his arms and legs while the scene moves behind him quickly giving the illusion of falling down.  It was beautiful (I guess as suicide can be?) and that image has still stuck with me.  


Also of course, the epic battle scene (or as I like to call it “EVERYONE DIES!!!”).  They really make you feel like you’re behind the barricade with them.  Feel every loud gun shot and feel for every fallen solider.  



All-in-all I’m very happy we tried again.  Oddly enough though the new Les Miserables in Concert was on WTTW when we got home off the train and we ended up watching most of that for the rest of the evening.  Now THAT is what the singing in our show should have sounded like!!  Besides Nick Jonas that is.  Talk about one of these things is not like the other.  His voice does NOT carry with the power in everyone else’s.  Kinda feel for the guy…..


What are your experiences with Les Miserables?  Have you seen the updated version?  Like it or loathe it? 

Wicked for Christmas Eve 2010

Back in 2006 when we first moved to Chicago, Wicked was in the middle of it’s three year run at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts or as I call it shortly, the Oriental Theatre.  It was amazing having that downtown on State and Randolph.  The green lights all under the marquee were a sight that could not be missed while walking down State.  

And we splurged once in our ‘days of poor’ after first moving from small town Texas to a large city.  We got the cheapest tickets waaay in the back of the theater.  And it was worth eating cruddier food for the week!  The show was amazing and magical just as I had hoped.  After promising ourselves we had to go back again, with better seats, it kept falling behind other shows that appeared and then *poof* Wicked had left Chicago.  


But one magical Christmas season, it decided to come back for a limited holiday engagement!  And here’s where we really dorked out….we already need Rock of Ages tickets as it was, and now these, so Val went the morning the tickets went on sale!  They gave away promo t-shirts to the first 50 purchasers and we scored one – which is a neat shirt since it’s specifically says “Chicago” on it and it’s not just the generic Wicked shirt.  Plus it’s bright green and awesome.


So Christmas Eve we were finally off to see the show – and like it usually does for Christmas in Chicago, the snow started falling and it was gorgeous.  

Outside the Cadillac Palace Theater

This time Wicked was in the Cadillac Palace Theater, which we had only been in once to see Jesus Christ Superstar with Ted Neeley. It’s yet another great venue in the Chicago Theater District.

As we do every show, we partook in our usually pre-show cocktails.  Although it is odd that you can bring food and drink inside theaters now. The set was about the same as it was in the Oriental Theatre, but a tad smaller.
Inside the Cadillac Palace 

With it being Christmas Eve there were loads of children and tourists in the theater.  But for this show I didn’t mind.  Throughout the show there were two dressed up little girls who kept sitting up out of their chairs, but you know…we’ve seen this show before.  And it’s Christmas.  Let them bob up and down out of excitement!


Wicked is a show I can listen to over and over again on my iPod and never get tired of it.  I have emotional attachment to a lot of the songs and it gets me either choked up or giddy listening to them.  Either way they’re quite powerful.

Me outside Wicked with my free shirt!

‘Defying Gravity’ of course is the first act’s ending song.  And it’s amazing.  The first time we saw it Val said she wanted to play Elphaba just for that song (and still does).  ‘As Long As Your Mine’ is one that makes me think of the love for my wife.  ‘I’m Not That Girl’ takes me back to my lonely days in high school and college where I couldn’t ever seem to get a date (not that I’m complaining now!  Looking back that saved me a lot of heart ache I’m sure!).  And then there’s ‘For Good’ which was the first song I heard from Wicked and it was unfortunately sung at a friend’s funeral.  She’s the one I give credit too for introducing me to Broadway musicals and it was a perfect song for her at her funeral.  Now though, I don’t see it quite as somber but in fact uplifting and a mature song as two friends discover they must part their separate ways.

Val with the witch hat drawing box

One thing that definitely made me smile was listening to a mother tell her son and daughter what the play was showing.  She proceeded during the intermission to talk to them about how Elphaba really isn’t Wicked but that’s just how people perceive her.  And then went into how we shouldn’t treat someone differently just based on the way that they look.  And that most people have a huge heart and are kind.  Awwww……this was a great thing to hear at a show and during the holiday season!


All-in-all, the show wasn’t *as* amazing as I recall from 2007(ish) but it was still pretty darn awesome.  I cried.  I admit it.  The songs that Stephen Schwartz did are just fantastic.  And I was a fan of the book before this came out so we’ve been connected for a long time!  


And now there’s going to be a TV show about the book.  A series of Wicked!?  Yes please and thank you (if done well that is!)


The only way I think Wicked could possibly be better for me is if Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth reprised their roles in it.  I would buy those tickets in a heartbeat.  


But this probably won’t happen….or it could.  I thought the same thing about Rent once and then this happened:



See kids?  Dreams do come true if you wait long enough!