TV viewers saw Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shake hands with Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat in 1993. The momentous event took place on the White House lawn in Washington D.C. But what led to that famous meeting were the previous, mostly off-the record, mostly unofficial negotiations taking place earlier that year in Oslo, Norway.
What “Oslo,” the multi-award-winning play by J. T. Rogers does is take audiences into the apartment of husband-wife Mona Juul, a diplomat, and Terje Rod Larsen, a university institute’s social scientist, who together initiated the process, and into Juul’s phone conversations with Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorgen Holst and Deputy Foreign Minister Jan Egeland.
Through somewhat fictionalized conversations of actual meetings, Rogers builds suspense as the process moves from one level to the next with the action continuing in behind-the scenes discussions at an out-of-the public eye Norwegian manor.
The curtain at the Cadillac Palace Theatre reads “Turn off your cell phone” in English and in Arabic and in Hebrew.
And so begins “The Band’s Visit,” the multi-Tony Award winning musical that stunned Broadway and premiered off-Broadway in 2016.
Based on an Israeli film in 2007, the show quietly but beautifully depicts what happens when the eight-man Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra arrives in Israel from Egypt then takes a bus from the airport to a town whose name sounds similar to Petah Tikva, where they are supposed to be playing a concert, but turns out to be Beit Hatikva, small, fictional, somewhat desolate place in the Negev Desert.
Having recently seen “Come From Away” that showed how the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, took care of hundreds of passengers from different countries stranded by the closing of U.S. airspace on 9-11, I expected to see more cultural differences such as food, show up during the band’s overnight stay. (They were able to take another bus out to their destination the next day.)
But this show, a comedy-drama with music and lyrics by David Yazbek and book by Itamar Moses is more how music is an international language that speaks to many different situations from soothing a crying baby to bringing lonely people together.
The band is led by Tewfiq, interpreted with careful reserve that later dissolves by Sasson Gabay, a leading Israeli actor who starred in the movie. Opposite him is Dina, a lovely café owner who feels stranded in Beit Hatikva, played with superb emotional vibes by Chilina Kennedy who starred as Carol King in “Beautiful.,” on Broadway.
The rest of the cast is also terrific. It is easy to fall in love with the band members as they skillfully play their instruments. But a special shout-out has to go to Joe Joseph who as Haled, is the band member who brings people together often asking if they like the song, “My Funny Valentine.”
DETAILS: “The Band’s Visit” is presented by Broadway in Chicago at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago, through Sept. 15, 2019. Running time: 90 minutes. For tickets and other information visit Broadway in Chicago.
If you tried but couldn’t get tickets to “Six” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater before it recently closed, you will have another chance to see the show. However, it will be at a different Chicago venue as part of the Broadway in Chicago series.
Yes, that means it is on its way to Broadway.
How the six wives of Henry VIII, Aaragon, Boleyn, Seymour, Cleves, Howard and Parr, viewed him and themselves is the unlikely story behind a British concert-style musical by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss.
First opening in Edinburgh and England, it just left its North American premiere in Chicago to visit other towns before its debut on Broadway. “Six” will be at the American Repertory Theater, Cambridge, MA, Aug. 21 – Sept. 7, Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, AB Canada, Nov. 2-24 and the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in Saint Paul, MN, Nov. 29 – Dec. 22.
it will be in previews in February and open at New York City’s Brooks Atkinson Theatre, March 12, 2020.
As with other shows that have pre-Broadway Chicago premieres, the tour form of the show will return as part of the Broadway in Chicago series. But in the case of ‘Six,’ a sell-out at Chicago Shakespeare, the hit musical will be back within a year instead of the usual two or three years.
According to Broadway in Chicago folks, “Six” will open at the Broadway Playhouse next to Water Tower Place and the Ritz-Carlton July 8, 2020. Also unlike most other tour shows it is currently scheduled to stay through Oct. 25, 2020.
“We would like to thank Chicago Shakespeare Theater for their overwhelming support of our North American premiere over the past few months,” said producers Wendy and Andy Barnes. “It was such a thrill to watch American audiences lose their heads for SIX. We cannot wait to return to Chicago next summer, where our US journey began.”
Groups of 10 or more can get tickets now. Broadway in Chicago will be opening subscription and single ticket sales this fall. .
Instead of saying “oops” after “Miracle,” “Manet” and “Head Over Heels” have left Chicago, fit in the one you really hoped to see. Then, if good at planning ahead, look for tickets to “Six.”
Tickets are available just through Sept. 29, 2019 for this fun show that ties the life of a Wrigleyville bar-owning family to the Chicago Cubs. “Miracle,” whose full title adds on “A musical 108 years in the making,” is at the Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St. For Tickets and other information call (312) 988-9000 or visit MiracletheMusical. For the review visit Wrigleyville and Cubs story make great theater. For the backstory see Miracle Musical.
Two weeks have been added to Kokandy Productions’ hit musical comedy but after Sept. 8, 2019 it will be gone. The show is at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. For tickets call (773) 975-8150) or visit KokandyProductions or stop by Theater Wit. For the review please see Head over Heels has got the beat.
The sold-out concert-style show about Henry VIII’s wives just closed at Chicago Shakespeare but even though it is headed to Broadway it will return to Chicago in 2020. The touring production will open July 8 at the Broadway Playhouse next to Water Tower Place and the Ritz-Carlton through the Broadway in Chicago series. Groups of 10 or more can get tickets now. Watch for the Broadway in Chicago single tickets this fall. For group tickets visit GroupSales@BroadwayInChicago.com. For more information and single tickets visit BroadwayInChicago.
Pretty much everyone recalls where they were when they heard that planes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center on 9/11.
Radio announcers guessed it was an accident when American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston’s Logan International Airport bound for Los Angeles went into the North Tower at 8:46 a.m. Then United Airlines Flight 175 from Logan, also bound for LA flew into the South Tower at 9:03 a.m.
(Two other planes were also hijacked, AA Flight 77 which flew into the Pentagon and United flight 93 was brought down by its passengers before it could hit its target in Washington D.C.)
At 9:25 a.m. the Air Traffic Control System Command Center at Washington Dulles, directed about 4,300 planes to land, ordering 120 inbound overseas flights to Canada and the rest to return to countries of origin.
The United flight that our daughter was flying from London to Los Angeles was diverted to Edmonton, Canada. All she heard before landing was that the US airspace was closed. (We didn’t know it was a direct flight. She could have gone through Boston.)
Of the planes in the air, 38 were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland where they stayed for five days.
“Come From Away” is the amazing story, told in a musical with a rock beat by Irene Sankoff and David Hein, of how the small town of Gander (9,000 residents) managed to feed, clothe, find facilities and befriend approximately 7,000 passengers and crew members while working through the visitors’ foreign customs, language difficulties and personal distress.
The musical tell a mash-up of their stories in just 100 minutes.
Except for a passenger who keeps trying to find out about her son, an NYC fire fighter, and the American Airlines pilot of a plane landing in Gander who learns her friend Charles (Burlingame) was the pilot on the ill-fated Flight 77, the tragedies of Sept. 11, 2001, were not the story.
Instead, though some moments lead to tears, others result in laughter and smiles. Audiences will be reminded that kindness brings out kindred spirits and understanding can change antagonism to gratitude.
Moving from an Ontario theater workshop in 2012 and through other stops on the way to Broadway in 2017, “Come From Away” garnered seven Tony nominations and won the “Best Director of a Musical” award for Christopher Ashley.
Now, the touring company is in Chicago at the Cadillac Palace Theatre through Aug. 18, 2019.
Gander characters double as passengers and crew, a difficult feat that may occasionally confuse some audience members.
But the show’s talented cast of experienced Broadway and TV actors really are able to convey how Gander’s warmhearted hospitality eventually permeates the awful stress of people who at first are not allowed off a plane even though they’ve landed, can’t communicate easily with family back home and are leery of how their views, fears and needs may be regarded by strangers.
The band is excellent and on stage, sometimes as part of the action.
Award-winning conductor/keyboardist Cynthia Kortman Westphal also does the accordion and harmonium. Isaac Alderson plays the Irish flute and Uilleann pipes. Kiana June Weber is a skillful fiddler. Adam Stoler is on the electric and acoustic guitars. In addtion, Matt Wong is on acoustic guitar and mandolins, Max Calkin plays the electric and acoustic bass, Steve Holloway and Ben Morrow handle percussion.
My only problem with the current, touring show is that it was hard to catch all the spoken and sung words. When asked, others there said they liked the show but also had the same problem.
However, the show’s mood and message comes across well. “Come From Away” is a feel-good musical that is worth seeing for its story about how Gander not only coped but altered their visitors’ views of themselves and others.
DETAILS: “Come From Away” is at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago, through Aug. 18, 2019. Running time: 100 minutes, no intermission. For tickets and other information call ( 800) 775-2000) or visit Broadway In Chicago.
Think “The Music Man.” Then add such shows as “Come From Away,” “Frozen” and “Hamilton.” But as the guy on TV says, “Wait, there’s more.” Add in opera star Maria Callas to make three spectacular evenings – one in July, another in August and the third one in early September.
“The Music Man”
Goodman Theatre and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) has a double bill of a short performance by “The Music Man” cast members followed by a screening of the movie featuring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones.
When: July 23, 6:30 p.m. remarks, 6:34 p.m. performance and 6:45 p.m. film.
Where: The Jay Pritzker Pavilion and The Great Lawn at Millennium Park at Randolph Street and Michigan Avenue.
Broadway In Chicago Summer Concert (Coming shows peek)
Co-sponsored by DCASE and ABC 7, several shows from Broadway In Chicago’s 2019-2020 season will be live in concert including “The Phantom of the Opera, The Band’s visit, Summer: the Donna summer Musical, “Once on this Island, “My Fair Lady”, “Mean Girls,” Hamilton” Fronzen, “Dear Evan Hansen and “Come from Away.”
When: Aug. 12 at 6:15 p.m
Where: Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park at 201 E. randolphg st.
Some of Callas’ greatest performances have been digitally re-mastered using state-of-the-art 3D hologram technology by Base Hologram Productions. They will be backed by the Lyric Opera Orchestra conducted by Elmear Noone.
When: Sept 7, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive.
Co-presented by Lyric Opera of Chicago and Live Nation.
Don’t worry If you missed “Les Miserables’” revival on the Oct. 2017, Chicago tour stop.
The Cameron Mackintosh production now in town at the Cadillac Palace Theatre through July 27, 2019, is still composer Claude Michel Schönberg and lyricists Alain Boubil and Herbert Kretzmer’s stirring musical. (Original French text by Alain Boubil and Jean-Marc Natel and additional material is by James Fenton and was adapted by Trevor Nunn and John Caird.)
Also don’t worry if some of the scenes in your mind’s eye from earlier productions have changed. What is important is that directors Laurence Connor and James Powell bring the conditions that spawned Victor Hugo’s famed 1862 novel, to life.
If taking in some of the shows in Chicago now, you know the theaters put on amazing productions. The problem is that with 250 theater companies it’s hard to keep track of who is doing what and when. So we’ll look at the 2019-2020 season according to location for you beginning with Broadway in Chicago because it has four main downtown venues. That will be followed by other theaters in what is loosely called downtown and includes the Mag Mile. Then, the series continues with theater companies in Chicago’s neighborhoods and suburbs.
New York’s Broadway shows appear as touring productions in Chicago at the Cadillac Palace, CIBC, Nederlander, Broadway Playhouse and sometimes the Auditorium Theatre, all presented by Broadway in Chicago. These are historic venues so are worth seeing no matter what is playing but here is the lineup known so far for the 2019-20 season starting this summer.
“Oslo” is coming to the Playhouse Sept. 10-Oct. 20, 2019. Then “An Evening With C S Lewis” is Oct. 22-Nov. 3, 2019 followed by “Potted Potter” Dec. 5, 2019-Feb. 2, 2020. The Playhouse is at 175 E. Chestnut St. next to Water Tower Place.
In 2017 when “Falsettos” returned to Broadway, it was nominated for five Tony Awards, including the Best Revival of a Musical. Now two years later, this fabulous musical is in Chicago, directed by playwright James Lapine with music and lyrics by William Finn.
Taking place in New York in the 1970s, we meet a charming, neurotic gay man, Marvin, played by Max Von Essen; along with his 10-year-old son, Jason, played by Thatcher Jacobs.
We also meet psychiatrist, Mendel (Nick Blaemire) and Marvin’s wife Trina (Eden Espinosa)whom he leaves for his lover, Whizzer (Nick Adams).
“Falsettos” second act introduces two lesbian neighbors of Marvin’s, Dr. Charlotte (Bryonha Marie Parham) and Cordelia (Audrey Cardwell).
Performed by phenomenal voices, “Falsettos’ ” wonderful songs tell the story throughout the show.
”Chicago,” the sardonic, jazzy, vaudeville-style musical written by lyricist Fred Ebb, composer John Kander with book by Ebb an Bob Fosse, is in its namesake town for just a week as it continues to make the rounds.
Fosse’s choreography in conjunction with Ann Reinking’s choreography in Fosse’s style for the 1997 New York production are skillfully performed by the company and the two female leads, Dylis Croman as Roxie Hart and Lana Gordon as Velma Kelly.
The Fosse style, Croman’s big number “Roxie” plus “When You’re Good to Mama,” sung by Jennifer Fouché and “Mister Cellophane” sung by Paul Vogt as Amos Hart make the current touring show worth seeing.
Just don’t expect quite the high level of razzle-dazzle of the original 1975 show or the 1996 revival or the 2002 film version that won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Eddie George who has moved from the NFL to acting in Nashville companies, is an OK Billy Flynn but not in the same personality category as Richard Gere in the movie or at the song and dance guy level of Jerry Orbach in the Broadway production.
This version needs to turn up the heat on its famed “Cell Block Tango” which seemed a bit going-through- the-motions tired.
However, the show is fun to watch. The orchestra, conducted by Andrew Bryan, is still on stage as the main set-design element and its vaudeville-style, bring-them-on performances across the front of the stage is still entertaining.
“Chicag0” is at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago through May 12, 2019. Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes with one intermission. For tickets and other information visit Broadway In Chicago.