Aug. 7th: Stephen Schwartz to perform at Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project



Coming for one night only – this Saturday at 8pm

at Northwestern University’s Pick-Staiger Concert Hall (map)


A Celebration of Stephen Schwartz

Exclusive Star-Studded Event!

Steven Schwartz, lyricist/composer of "Wicked" and "Godspell"A perfect end to a perfect summer, this star-studded evening honors the legacy of Johnny Mercer by celebrating Tony Award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippen, Godspell) for his mentorship of young songwriters. The evening will feature performances from Mr. Schwartz’s landmark shows by Broadway star Shoshana Bean (Wicked), Tony-nominated composer/lyricist Craig Carnelia, Grammy Award-nominated composer/lyricist Andrew Lippa, Grammy Award-winning Nashville singer/songwriter Lari White and talented young songwriters from the Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project. Mr. Schwartz will be on hand to share a few songs himself, and to honor the legacy of Johnny Mercer and the Great American Songbook — past, present and future!  Buy tickets

Price: $10-$40

One Night Only at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall!

 Buy Tickets


REVIEW: Beast Women (Greenhouse Theater)

Feminine. Animal. Magnetism.



Beast Women Productions present
Beast Women: Summer Series 2010
Produced by Michelle Power and Jillian Erickson
Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln (map)
through August 28th  |  tickets:  $15   |  more info

reviewed by Paige Listerud

Something about Greenhouse Theater Center’s space brings out the animal in women. So I like to think, because I’ve now seen two different styles of comedy here based on women doing their animal thang. First, there was Cougars! The Musical (our review ★★★), a whacked-out review about women acting on animal urges well past menopause. Now on the mainstage, Beast Women: Summer Series 2010 promises even more beastie grrls—no sleep until the estrogen riot is over.

Not that the ladies don’t display their cojones . . . or juevos . . . ovarian fortitude—whatever you might call it; it’s just that the talented acts co-producers Michelle Power and Jillian Erickson have amassed for our delectation demonstrate considerable sophistication. The Beast Women are sexy and fun, but definitely not the usual sexed up, late-night monkey business. Expect the laughs to be full figured, the songs to dip into deep seriousness, and the belly dancing to round out the evening with more sensual joie de vivre than the usual bump and grind. Beast Women with a Touch of Class—that’s the real title of this production.

Out of 64 auditions of talented women, Power and Erickson selected around 30 to actually perform in this showcase. Hence, the acts change with each new night, and if opening night is any indication, then late-night crowds will find fun that gives both a subtle and sassy nod to women’s empowerment.

Singer-songwriters Jana St. Stjarna and Kristina Cottone display very different styles in music and performance, but both relay lyrics with surprisingly deep poetry, intelligence, and power. Just a touch of world-weariness suggests itself in both their opening songs—“A Love Song for Abraham Lincoln” and “Oh What a Dark Age,” respectively. Their CDs are on sale in the lobby.

beast-women-logoAmy Lynne Sumpter executes classic stand-up comedy, delivering balls-to-the-wall, good-time boisterousness. Her method of surviving back spasms during a game at Wrigley Field is simply to engage in more drinking. “Then I did yoga poses until security asked me to leave,” reports Sumpter, only to continue her quest to end the spasms with more drinking at Sluggers. Meanwhile, Claire Wedemeyer’s comedy is coyly reminiscent of the silent sketches of Carol Burnett. A gal dances and romances with her curling broom to classic recordings of Edith Piaf—and Wedemeyer’s classic clown training evokes something as silly and innocent as comedy right out of the 1950s.

The works of Angie-O (Angela Oliver), Shanna Shrum and Jillian Erickson slide into the performance art and actor’s monologue genres; all exhibit their artful ability to amuse, provoke, and bring one close to tears. Angie-O delivers spoken word and a song piece about an artist’s life that’s so accurate in its economic deprivation, I thought the girl could see right into my life. As Dr. Kim Dickinson, academic advisor for the daughters of over-privileged parents, Shrum delivers the only advice that will keep their teenager’s sagging grades up and her hymen intact: fatten her up to lonely, unfuckable unpopularity. “Now, I know what I am telling you may sound radical,” says Dr. Dickinson, Twinkie filling glistening in the corners of her mouth. But really, what’s a lifetime of eating disorders compared to academic and career advancement?

Jillian Erickson’s turn on stage is about our culture’s obsessive wedding disorder—and it’s reassuring to see her realistically trash the bride-mania that gets shoved into women’s faces, reality TV show after reality TV show. “I’ve never understood this whole big wedding production thing,” she says, squeezed into another unwearable bridesmaid’s dress, “telling someone you love them in public shouldn’t cost $10,000.” But Erickson is at her most poignant when she acknowledges that the death of her own fun and funky fiancé does make her jealous of her bride-bound sister, no matter how ridiculously she’s surrounded by wedding accoutrements.

Belly dancer Kamani Raqs rounds out the show with a sensual, elegant and flirtatious performance. Her interaction with the audience shows such flare, moxy and daring, she’ll be watched for again all over town. But Powers and Erickson have plenty of other burlesque and belly dancers in their line up, so check them out each weekend. Beast Women 2010 is sure, smart, and fun entertainment—both for gal pals and the men who love them.

Rating: ★★★

Running Saturdays @ 10:30pm, July 10 – August 28, in the Greenhouse Theater Center’s Upstairs Studio.  Show runs approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.


Megon McDonough and “The Mistress Cycles” at the Auditorium Theatre stage

This Saturday – On Stage with Megon McDonough


On stage with…Megon McDonough

Dates: Saturday, July 18, 2009
Times: 8:00 p.m.
Price: $50; $75

Step ONTO our stage, take a seat at a table, order a drink and enjoy the show. Our summer series treats the audience to an unforgettable performance while enjoying a rare vantage point typically reserved for the performer – the stage.

"Megon is truly one of the most gifted and authentic of performers." – Bill Campbell, ABC7

Best known for her work as one of the inaugural members of the Four Bitchin’ Babes, singer, songwriter and entertainer Megon McDonough will perform signature songs of platinum divas who sang from stage, screen, music halls and clubs right into the hearts of audiences around the country. Her debut Auditorium performance will include songs by the ladies of the British Invasion – Petula Clark, Lulu and Dusty Springfield, along with American counterparts Judy Collins, Janis Ian and Janis Joplin.

Phone: 312.922.2110 ext. 300
In person: Auditorium Box Office, 50 E. Congress Parkway (open Monday-Friday noon-6pm)


Coming up next on the Auditorium Theatre Stage:


mistress-cycleThe Mistress Cycle

Dates: July 22 – August 8
Times: various, see below
Price: $49


The Auditorium presents Apple Tree Theatre‘s production of Jenny Giering and Beth Blatt’s The Mistress Cycle

For this event, the Auditorium stage is transformed into an intimate black box theatre-in-a-theatre, seating 200. 

The Mistress Cycle breaks the mold of the traditional book musical, instead offering audiences a “song cycle” that illuminates stories of passion, sacrifice and strength of spirit. The Mistress Cycle explores the lives and loves of five notorious mistresses: Tess Walker, a contemporary Manhattan photographer; Anais Nin, the famed sexual adventurer of the early 20th century; Diane de Poitiers, the mistress of King Henri II of 16th century France; Lulu White, a turn-of-the-century New Orleans bordello Madame; and Ching, a 14-year-old concubine in 12th century China.

Directed by Kurt Johns
Musical Direction by Diana Lawrence

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Chicago theater tidbits: "Hairspray", Amy & Freddy, Dance Center Columbia, show closings…


hairspray1   hairspray2

  • The National Broadway Touring Production of “Hairspray”, Broadway’s big, fat musical-comedy hit, comes to The Center for Performing Arts at Governors State University Friday, March 13 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, March 14 at 2 and 8 p.m.  More information is available at

Amy Armstrong & Freddy Allen

  • The Lakeshore Theater, near the corner of Broadway and Clark, will be hosting a FREE Comedy Central taping of Prescott Tolk this Friday (the 13th) at 10:30pm.  Also at the Lakeshore, Amy and Freddy will be celebrating their 2nd year, with a free concert featuring Amy’s signature voice, edgy humor and quick wit (not to mention Freddy’s amazing musical arrangements).  This complimentary concert will take place next Thursday (the 19th) at 8pm.  Don’t miss out – Reserve tickets here.  Full schedule here.

davidrousseve_columbiacollege At The Dance Center of Columbia College, on March 12-14, David Rousséve/REALITY will perform Saudade, Portuguese for “bittersweet,” an ode to those universal moments when great joy and agony collide. Set to contemporary and traditional Fado music, Saudade is a compelling mix of theater, spoken dialogue and South Asian, Indonesian, West African and modern dance forms.  There will be a Post-Performance Discussion on Thursday, March 12.   More info here.


Show Closings – Don’t Miss Out!


AFFLICTIONS Gorilla Tango Theatre

AMADEUSVillage Players



EYE OF THE STORM – Open Door Repertory



IT’S GOOD FOR YOU Gorilla Tango Theatre

SLAPHAPPY – Beat the Jester Productions

STOP/KISSThe Gift Theatre

STUPID KIDSAbout Face Theatre

THE UNSEENA Red Orchid Theatre

Chicago Theater tidbits: Goodman’s partnership, Auditorium Theatre’s "America in the Age of Obama" concert



Chicago’s Goodman Theatre has announced a new partnership with the Austrian steel town of Linz.  Read Chris Jones‘ (from the Trib) article here.


The Auditorium Theatre, in partnership with City Lights Orchestra, will be holding a special one-time concert  on Wednesday, Feb. 11th at 7:30, entitled “America in the Age of Obama: A Concert Honoring Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” 

This special benefit concert will feature music by Grammy-winner Linda Clifford, jazz-trumpet legend Orbert Davis, The Soul Children of Chicago, and Walter Payton College Prep Concert Choir.  CBS Chicago anchor Jim Williams will emcee, and special guests include Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Boeing Company VP Anna Eleanor Roosevelt and Roosevelt University President Charles Middleton.  

For more info, visit For tickets, call 312.902.1500 or visit

  Soul Children of Chicago

Soul Children of Chicago

Chicago Theater tidbits: Batsheva Dance Company, Village Players, "Don’t Dress for Dinner"

batsheva batsheva2 batsheva3


A post-performance chat with Batsheva Dance Company Artistic Director Ohad Naharin will be held immediately following the Feb. 7 (opening night) performance at the Auditorium Theatre. Dance critic Lucia Mauro will moderate. Returning to Chicago for the first time in 15 years, Batsheva Dance Company of Israel will present Naharin’s signature work “Deca Dance”.  The renowned company will perform for 2 evenings only, Feb 7th and 8th.  Tickets: thru Ticketmaster or calling 312.902.1500.  (See pics above)


Don’t worry, although I have my YouTube series “Sunday Night Sondheim”, I won’t add “Monday Morning Pope“.


The world-premier musical “Far From Freud”, presented by Oak Park’s Village Players, has added one final performance – Friday, January 30th at 8pm.  “Far From Freud” is written by Phil Riegle and directed by Christopher Pazdernik.  [Listen to one of the show’s songs “How It’s Gonna Be” by clicking here.]


On this day in history (January 27th): In 1885 stage and screen composer Jerome Kern was born in New York.  And it just so happens that another composer was also born on the 27th: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, born in Salzburg in 1756.


Darren Pettie will join the cast of British Stage Company’s screwball comedy Don’t Dress for Dinner“, by Marc Camoletti and directed by John Tilling. Other members of the ensemble include Mark Harelik (Light In The Piazza) and Patricia Kalember of “thirtysomething” and “Sisters“. Running through February at The Royal George, more info can be found at the show’s website.

Video Clip from ‘Don’t Dress for Dinner’

"Defying Gravity" – A cabaret performance to promote equality and civil rights



322 W. Armitage


JANUARY 12, 2009

On Monday, January 12, cast members from the four North American companies of WICKED will host DEFYING INEQUALITY, a special evening of benefit cabaret performances promoting equality and civil rights.

In Chicago, the event will feature cast members of the Chicago companies of WICKED and Jersey Boys, cast members from the National Tour of Grease, members of Second City, and other special guests. The even will be held at Park West, starting at 8pm. A silent and live auction will consist of memorabilia from Broadway musicals and Broadway In Chicago shows, gift certificates to area bars and restaurants and other one-of-a-kind items. Held simultaneously in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Louisville and featuring cast members from WICKED as well as special guest performers, these special one-night only events will benefit Empire State Pride Agenda, Equality California, Garden State Equality and Vermont Freedom to Marry, four charitable organizations working to legislate equality and protect civil rights for the gay and lesbian community. All proceeds will be distributed evenly among the four organizations.

Each of the DEFYING INEQUALITY events will feature different musical performances that support WICKED’S theme of acceptance and illuminate the musical’s message that people should not be judged on first impressions. Performing on their night off from the musical hit, the WICKED cast members and musicians from New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Louisville will be joined by local theatre performers who also recognize that in these divisive times we must come together to support one another’s rights throughout the country and around the world.