The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

2005-06 Theater Preview: The ‘Singing Off-Key’ Edition

By Justin Sondak in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 11, 2005 2:15PM

Note: This is Part 3 of an occasional series.

valjean.jpgAnd now a little something for the musical theater fans. You know who you are. You burst out into song at the drop of a hat, comparing your own personal tragedies to Jean Valjean’s or Evita Peron’s. You plan your vacations around the latest run of Rent or Wicked. You might have more original soundtracks than popular releases in your CD collection, and you might even refuse to see any show where the actors don’t sing.

Quite frankly, Chicagoist can’t relate to you people.

Lucky for you, plenty of theater producers can. Musical theater is alive and well in Chicagoland, with vibrant and successful houses emerging from Northern Indiana to north of O’Hare. And a long commute is a negligible price to pay for your glorious harmonies.

Marriott Theatre Lincolnshire structures their season around the calendar year, so we can only tell you about the last two shows of 2005. Footloose, the musical that urges small town folk to rebel against their prudish elders and makes some of us nostalgic for the ‘80s, is playing through Thanksgiving. Next up is Oliver, the musical that urges us to feel sorry for orphans and lets us forget about the movie adaptation.

Munsterweb.jpgBroadway in Chicago is doing lots of fine work, but we can never be sure what will be cancelled next. Broadway in Munster doesn’t quite have the same stature or baggage, with the award-winning Theatre at the Center offering dirt-cheap professional productions for those willing to make the trip. And it’s a balanced offering—a brand new show about college kids growing up, the Northern Indiana classic coming of age tale Christmas Story (yeah, it’s also hilarious), and three classics, one to be named later.

For those of you not inclined to leave the city, Porchlight Theater has kicked off their second decade at Theater Building Chicago. Company favorite Rebecca Finnegan is the eponymous Gypsy, currently stealing the show as she should. Stay for a double header and enjoy a cabaret of the macabre, Macabaret. The late-night Halloween show takes on what frightens us (this apparently includes celebrities). After a long hiatus, their season wraps with The Secret Garden, a beautiful and clever tale of lost innocence. The show’s so good, we hope they don’t screw it up. Drury Lane’s downtown branch is making sure Forever Plaid lives up to its name, adapting it for the holidays. In the meantime, they’ll help you flashback to 1920s Berlin or 1970s educational cartoons.

Now maybe the musical life ain’t so bad after all.