Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Monday in the Park with Pippin, Annie and Dee: Photos of the Broadway in Chicago Summer Concert at Millennium Park

Monday night, the pavilion and lawn in front of Pritzker Pavilion were packed, far more so than at free concerts by notable rock acts Bob Mould, Richard Thompson and The Both that I attended earlier this summer at Millennium Park.

Without comment on its full, supposedly less than robust, financial picture, the City of Chicago is to be commended for all the superlative live music it provides for free--across many genres--especially as the glorious Millennium Park celebrates its 10th anniversary.

With the Chicago Jazz Festival coming up at the end of this month, on Monday the complimentary attraction was Broadway in Chicago's annual summer concert.

This can be a showcase for shows that are currently running in BIC theaters as well as upcoming ones, but the only "now playing in Chicago" musical represented in the 2014 iteration was Million Dollar Quartet, which has been running for years at the off-Loop Apollo Theater and not known to be under the BIC auspices. (It isn't listed on the Broadway in Chicago website.)

So it is to Broadway in Chicago's credit that their impressive pedigree--and the city's renown as a theater town--are able to bring in Broadway-caliber performers just to sing a song or two from shows that in some cases won't hit local venues for well over a year.

And that a capacity crowd of 11,000, plus supposedly a good bit of overflow, came out to hear them.

As a Broadway in Chicago subscriber, I was invited to avail myself of a prime pavilion seat without waiting in line, and took advantage of my proximity to take numerous photos (and some video) of each performance. As you'll see, the performers predominantly weren't in costume.

This isn't intended to be a review, in a critiquing sense, but merely a recap of what I saw and heard. (The performers listed in the captions are based on pre-show text upon the video screen, and may not be complete or precise.)

A pre-show dance-along performance to "On Your Feet" representing the forthcoming
pre-Broadway musical of the same name about Gloria & Emilio Estefan

A well-sung National Anthem by two award-winning high school students, Julia Lindsay Whitcomb and Jonah Rawitz

Million Dollar Quartet did a medley of songs by Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. Performers included Marc Ededstein, Robby Kipferl, Kelly Lamont, Adam Lee, Lance Lipinski, Vance Okraszewski & Shaun Whitley

ABC-7 television personality Janet Davies was the concert's emcee and participated in a performance by
Kevin James (no, not that one) of The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible

From Evil Dead the Musical, coming soon to the Broadway Playhouse, Andrew di Rosa, Callie Johnson and David Sajewich
sang a fun song seemingly called "Candarian Demons"

Representing Pippin, which won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival, were Ariana DeBose and Kyle Selig

Both with solid Broadway credits, Josh Young and Erin Mackey sounded strong on songs from the upcoming world premiere
of Amazing Grace, including the famous title tune. Young's was the most impressive voice of the night.

A new musical of Hansel and Gretel, coming to the Broadway Playhouse, seems to be aimed at kids, but
I was impressed by the song performed by Navi Afshar and Jack Ball, perhaps titled "Always Me and You"

The sun was shining on Monday night, but Adia Dant and her dog Macy--from Annie--assured that it would come out "Tomorrow"

Who crashed the musical theater party but none other than the leader of Twisted Sister, who has concocted
Dee Snider's Rock & Roll Christmas Tale. Dee himself previewed a mash-up of "We're Not Gonna Take It"
and famous Christmas Carols, as shown in the video below:

Apart from the above, Newsies is probably the most anticipated musical of my upcoming BIC subscription series.
Adam Kaplan did a nice job on a song from it, but a bit more representation might have been nice.

Before the show started, I happened to notice the woman above on the edge of the crowd and thought, "Wow, she's a beauty."
Turns out I was right in more than just leering opinion, as Hilary Maiberger, with Derick Pead, represented yet another touring production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

Following its Fall 2012 pre-Broadway tryout in Chicago en route to Broadway and a Best Musical Tony, Kinky Boots
will stop in Chicago next summer on its first national tour. Ellyn Marie Marsh was on-hand Monday night to sing a song.

A performance from Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella by Paige Faure and Andy Jones ended in charming fashion.

Seems Chicago will never get enough of Jersey Boys, which will be back yet again. As Frankie Valli, John Michael Dias
belted out "My Eyes Adored You" and "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You"

Next spring, Chicago will get a pre-Broadway run of First Wives Club: the Musical, based on the movie and seemingly
featuring a score combining Motown classics and original songs. Becca Kaufman, Megan Murphy and Bethany Thomas
sounded good backed by the Monet Motifs Choir.

A surprise ending to Monday's concert came with two songs from Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, which will hit
Chicago in late 2015. Rebecca LaChance performed fine versions of "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" and "Beautiful."
I sat up close in the pavilion but took this from the lawn--which had already largely emptied--afterward,
as I never fail to marvel at Frank Gehry's Pritzker Pavilion, especially when bathed in light.

No comments: