WBEZ | Mueller http://www.wbez.org/tags/mueller Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Jessie Mueller scores in B'way debut; local troupes move north http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-12-13/jessie-mueller-scores-bway-debut-local-troupes-move-north-94858 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-December/2011-12-13/AP111211064956.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-13/AP111211064956.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 266px; height: 400px; " title="Mueller on opening night. (AP/Charles Sykes)">“It’s an ill wind that blows no one good,” goes the old proverb. While the breezes were rather chilly concerning the Broadway revival of <em>On A Clear Day You Can See Forever</em>, they shifted to southerly and warm for Jessie Mueller, the Chicagoan making her Broadway debut in the show. That’s another way of saying the critics generally panned the show, but had only praise for Mueller, in what appears to be a star-making role for her.</p><p>The odd 1965 musical by Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane—about past-life regression, hypnosis and reincarnation—opened Sunday (December 11) at the St. James Theatre on the Great White Way to mixed-to-negative reviews for the total show and definitely negative notices for star Harry Connick, Jr. (stiff, wooden and uncomfortable, they said). However, Mueller was singled out as a ray of sunshine in the leading female role, a 1940’s singer named Melinda.</p><p>“Mueller combines period vocal technique with natural, uninflected charisma and an on-stage relaxation not often seen outside of Chi-town,” <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2011/12/theater-review-on-a-clear-day.html">said <em>New York Magazine</em>&nbsp;reviwer Scott Brown</a>. “Her voice contains notes of Garland, but she’s no diva—this is a star of supreme self-possession, one who doesn’t need to blind us to impress us.”</p><p>In <a href="http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117946735?refcatid=33&amp;printerfriendly=true"><em>Variety</em>, Steve Suskin wrote</a>, “The main items of interest in this misguided affair are the performances of the split-in-two heroine. Jessie Mueller, as the glamorous Melinda, is a find; the character has been transformed into a 1943 jazz singer, and Mueller handles this extremely well when given a chance . . . .”</p><p>In the influential <a href="http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/theater/on-a-clear-day-reincarnated-nicely-1.3382599"><em>Newsday</em>, Linda Winer said</a>, “It helps credibility that Jessie Mueller . . . happens to be pretty irresistible, too. Mueller, a Chicago talent in her Broadway debut, has a forthright, confident rhythm that suggests a young Liza Minelli but a delicate, deliciously precise sound all her own.”</p><p>Even Ben Brantley, in the all-powerful<em> <a href="http://theater.nytimes.com/2011/12/12/theater/reviews/on-a-clear-day-you-can-see-forever-at-st-james-review.html?hpw">New York Times</a></em><a href="http://theater.nytimes.com/2011/12/12/theater/reviews/on-a-clear-day-you-can-see-forever-at-st-james-review.html?hpw">, said that</a> “Ms. Mueller, who has a fetching affinity for swing-era song stylings, comes off better. (Her version of ‘Ev’ry Night at Seven’ . . . is the show’s high point.)”</p><p>If the show runs for even a few months, perhaps limping into the spring on the strength of Harry Connick, Jr.’s drawing power and a few mixed-to-positive reviews, Jessie Mueller might find herself with a Tony Award nomination in her Broadway debut; but the shorter the run the less likely that will be. Whatever the fate of the show, however, Mueller comes out smelling like a rose in what the industry likes to call “a break-out performance.” The big and bright future for Ms. Mueller, predicted long-ago here in Chicago, certainly is upon her.</p><p><strong>I can’t name names just yet</strong>, but look for an announcement early in the new year about a major move by a stalwart Off-Loop theater company. The North Side troupe has had landlord problems for a long time, despite nearly 20 years of residency in its current location. Fortunately, the company has identified a larger, better venue in the same extended neighborhood and will be making the move official shortly after January 1. The troupe expects to open a show in the new space in mid-winter.</p><p>Teatro Luna, the 10-year old collective of Latina writers and performers, also is making a North Side move. The company has been without a permanent home since giving up its Pilsen storefront at least five years ago. As an itinerant company, they’ve played venues in Little Village and The Loop as well as several on the North Side. Now the company has signed a five-year lease for the Live Bait space at 3912 N. Clark Street, previously occupied by The Artistic Home (and, of course, Live Bait before that). The double storefront space has two theaters, which will give Teatro Luna opportunities to sublet one or both theaters when they aren’t producing themselves. The current Teatro Luna show, <em>Crossed</em>, is playing at The Viaduct through Dec. 18. The</p></p> Tue, 13 Dec 2011 16:10:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-12-13/jessie-mueller-scores-bway-debut-local-troupes-move-north-94858 Jonathan's round-up of the latest on Broadway and beyond http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-25/jonathans-round-latest-broadway-and-beyond-93440 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-25/broadway in chicago.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-25/jessie mueller.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 234px; height: 350px;" title="Jessie Mueller with Ed Kross in 'Animal Crackers' at the Goodman in 2009.">We hear that Chicago’s-own Jessie Mueller, soon to make her Broadway debut as the romantic lead in a major revision/revival of <strong><em>On A Clear Day You Can See Forever</em></strong>, has been moonlighting from rehearsals in spectacular fashion. To wit: she’s been doing a nightclub act with Harry Connick, Jr. at the swank Rainbow Room atop 30 Rockefeller Center. Actually, it’s more like an extension of rehearsals, as Jessie plays a 1940’s nightclub chanteuse in the show, and her leading man is, in fact, Connick. So it’s just another case of life imitating art. The show goes into previews Nov. 12 and opens Dec. 11 at the St. James Theatre. Proud Mama and Papa, the highly-regarded acting couple Roger Mueller and Jill Shellabarger, already have booked their tickets to NYC for the opening. Roger and Jill are friends of many years, and Jessie’s grandmother, the stylish and handsome Ruth Mueller, has become a more recent friend.</p><p><a href="http://www.chicagocabaret.org"><strong>Chicago Cabaret Professionals</strong></a>, having just completed a spectacular gala at Park West, now is planning its annual <em>Merry Melodies</em> holiday shows at Davenport’s, Dec. 5 &amp; 6, which will feature a different line-up of Chicago’s diverse cabaret talent each evening. Each solo or duel spot is limited to two songs, so Merry Melodies will offer an ever-changing vista of holiday-themed musical entertainment.&nbsp;</p><p>If you’re reading this late, you may be too late. Little-known fact: on the 25<sup>th</sup> of each month, <strong>Broadway In Chicago</strong> offers a limited supply of $25 tickets for several of its touring Broadway shows. The shows offered today are <em>Mary Poppins</em> (at the Cadillac Palace through Nov. 6) and <em>Ann</em> (Holland Taylor’s tribute to late Texas governor Ann Richards), at the Bank of American Theatre Nov. 13-Dec. 4. The only catch: you can only access the tix through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/BroadwayInChicago">Broadway In Chicago’s Facebook page</a>. They call the promo “$25 on the 25<sup>th</sup>.”</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-25/broadway in chicago.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 239px; height: 350px;" title="">We missed it by a few days, but <a href="http://www.athenaeumtheatre.com%20"><strong>The Athenaeum Theatre</strong></a> (2936 N. Southport) celebrated its 100<sup>th</sup> birthday with a public party on Oct. 11. This gem, lovingly restored over a period of years by the late Fred Solari, opened in 1911 as a recreational center for St. Alphonsus Church (of which it remains a part), serving the mostly German immigrant community of the day. The building featured a 1000 seat theater for German opera, a gymnasium, bowling alleys, and music and meeting rooms. Over the years, meeting rooms gave way to classrooms and the theater became a temporary church in the early 1950's after a devastating fire damaged the St. Alphonsus sanctuary. Today the Athenaeum is once again fulfilling its original purpose as a theater as the classrooms have been renovated as three studio theaters and offices for various non-profit cultural organizations. Check out&nbsp;website for the current productions.</p><p>And next Wednesday is the 90<sup>th</sup> anniversary of the <strong>opening of the Chicago Theatre</strong>, designed in 1921 in florid French baroque style by the architect brothers George and Cornelius Rapp. The 3400-seat house, originally home to the greatest vaudeville headliners, was a crown jewel of the Balaban and Katz theater chain, and continued to offer a live stage show and a hit movie into the 1960’s before shuttering and falling into decay. It’s the place where, as a boy, I first saw Louis Armstrong live during one of the stage shows. The house was lavishly restored in the 1980’s.</p><p>For <strong>Light Opera Works</strong>, the bricks-and-mortar story is neither an old theatre nor a new one. In the first major change to its physical set-up in years, Light Opera Works (LOW) has acquired new administrative and rehearsal headquarters that take its offices from Evanston to Wilmette and give the company its first proper rehearsal space that isn’t begged or rented on-the-cheap. The new HQ for the 31 year-old company will be the former Duxler Tire Center at 516 4<sup>th</sup> Street, a half-block from the Linden CTA Purple Line stop. An advantageous five-year lease will allow LOW to hold rehearsals for the first time in a suitably spacious facility, with a sprung dance floor, that replicates the company’s performance space, Northwestern University’s Cahn Auditorium. The new rehearsal center will be rented to other theater companies, dance instructors and fitness classes when not in use by LOW. It also means there’s a new box office phone number for patrons: (847) 920-5360. Web address <a href="http://www.light-opera-works.org">remains the same</a>:&nbsp;The next Light Opera Works show is <em>The Secret Garden</em>, Dec. 26-Jan. 1.</p></p> Tue, 25 Oct 2011 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-25/jonathans-round-latest-broadway-and-beyond-93440