Tag: Disney Theatricals

Review: Aladdin (Broadway in Chicago)

Adam Jacobs stars as Aladdin singing Proud of Your Boy, Broadway Chicago           
         

Aladdin

Written by Alan Menken, Tim Rice,
  Howard Ashman and Chad Beguelin
Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph (map)
thru Sept 10  |  tix: $44-$153  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

April 29, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: Newsies (Broadway in Chicago, 2016)

Carrying the Banner from Newsies, Broadway Chicago          
      
     
Newsies 

Alan Menken (music), Jack Feldman (lyrics)
   and Harvey Fierstein (book)
Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph (map)
thru Aug 7  |  tix: $35-$100  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

August 4, 2016 | 0 Comments More

REVIEW: The Lion King (Broadway in Chicago)

   
   

Lion King roars into Chicago

 

Brenda Mhlongo in Circle of Life - The Lion King - Broadway in Chicago

   
Broadway in Chicago and Disney Theatricals present
   
The Lion King
   
Music/Lyrics by Elton John and Tim Rice
Book by
Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi
Directed by
Julie Taymor
at
Cadillac Palace Theatre, Chicago (map)
through November 27|  tickets: $25-$148  |  more info

Reviewed by Barry Eitel

Not that my opinions would matter much to him, but way to go Elton John. After a storied career of penning pop music classics, he has had a major hand in crafting two of the most important musicals of the last 20 years. Lucky for us, at this moment both of the shows are currently playing in Chicago. I’ll admit, I’m still scrounging around for tickets to Billy Elliot (our review ★★★½) before the recently imposed final night (hint, hint). So I can’t really speak of its brilliance. However, due to the crates of Tonys it won, I’m going to assume it’s alright. I can speak to The Lion King, which combines John’s pop sensibilities, Disney, and the artistic madness of Julie Taymor. It is a transformative theatrical experience. As proven by the production shacking up at the Cadillac Palace, it’s a game-changing show even after the original production opened over ten years ago.

Dionne Randolph as Mufasa - Disney's Lion KingThe show has visited Chicago several times, just as it has toured pretty much everywhere in the world since the late ‘90s. If you’ve seen the show before, cut me some slack because this was my first time. I do know that if you already love the beloved musical, you’ll love this production. The cast fills the house with heart, and the puppetry, massive spectacle, and thundering music are gasp-inducing. Seeing the show as a Lion King virgin, all of my issues stem from the conceptual gears driving the production.

The dialogue is more or less completely lifted from the 1994 animated feature, so there isn’t much difference between stage and screen in terms of story. The variance, as well as the magic, comes out in the execution. The original work relied on brilliant animation, classical themes of family and power, John’s ability to carve out chart-topping songs, and our perceived regality of the natural world. Apparently, when Disney first brainstormed a stage version, they were thinking of full-body, mascot-style costumes. Then came Taymor (thank god). With a resume featuring opera, training with Jacques Lecoq, and loads of experience with non-Western theatrical stylings, Taymor figured that the feline-focused franchise needed an existential reboot for the stage. The final product was an intellectually-complex puppet show that was (and continues to be) wildly popular, still selling at nearly 100% on Broadway, even after all these years.

This Chicago cast is clearly having a lot of fun with the ensemble-based show. Dionne Randolph’s Mufasa is a memorable performance, capturing all the grandeur a king of the savannah should have. J. Anthony Crane is devilishly suave as the malevolent Scar, a great foil to Mufasa’s strict views of morality. Simba, as he grows from cub to adult, is played by two actors, as well as several puppets. The youngsters (either Jemone Stephens, Jr. or Kolton Stewart, depending on the night) playing the character in the first act do a fine job, and Adam Jacobs, who takes over for the final half, embodies the youthful honesty needed for the role. My favorite part of the show was Tony Freeman’s Zazu. Your eye switches quickly from the bird puppet to Freeman as actor; both are equally expressive.

 

J. Anthony Crane and Dionne Randolph in Disney's Lion King tour Syndee Winters as Nala and The Lionesses in Shadowland - The Lion King
J. Anthony Crane as Scar in The Lion King - Broadway in Chicago Brenda Mhlongo as Rafiki in opening number - Circle of Life - Lion King

Taymor’s epic vision seems a bit disconnected at times. The overall grandeur of the production at times doesn’t quite gel with certain aspects, like the lowbrow comedy courtesy of Timon (Nick Cordileone) and Pumbaa (Ben Lipitz). The huge puppetry for the three chief hyenas, another gaggle of comic relief, comes off as overblown. The show abounds with humor (Freeman, for example), but they could marry it to the concept better. There are also some jarring aspects in the score due to John’s pop sensibilities not blending well with the African drum breaks written in by Lebo M. The transitions fail to meld the two disparate parts.

However, there are a number of moments where the amazing spectacle on-stage washes over the audience. You leave the theatre with a renewed sense of wonder. Simba’s story is relatable, but unique, and the music is terrific. All those long hours the cast and crew spent cranking out puppets and learning how to walk like a cheetah bore a creation that will be known as one of the landmark shows of our generation.

   
   
Rating: ★★★½
   
   

Lionesses Dance - Disney's Lion King

     
     
November 6, 2010 | 0 Comments More

$18.5 million later, “Mary Poppins” flies out of Chicago

Step In Time 1

MARY POPPINS

Flies high in Chicago

with 300,000 Audience members

and 18-weeks of performances

 

Well, this is quite an accomplishment – Chicago’s “favorite nanny” has opened her umbrella and followed the winds eastward after an extremely successful 18 week engagement at the Cadillac Palace Theatre.  Ending its Chicago stay on Sunday, July 12, 2009, MARY POPPINS performed for an amazing 300,000 theater patrons and grossed over $18.5 million at the box office. Mary Poppins opened on March 11th to rave reviews from both fans and critics.

From Lou Raizin, President of Broadway in Chicago:

“We are thrilled to have had MARY POPPINS choose to launch their national tour in Chicago with nothing less than an extraordinary production.  The popularity of this show further established Chicago’s reputation as a national tourist destination for theatre this summer. Clearly theater continues to be a welcome stimulus in these economic times as evidenced by this successful 18 week run and the consistent activity in the Theatre District that it created.” 

Mary Poppins A co-production by Disney and Cameron Mackintosh, this stage production is based on P.L. Traverscherished stories and the classic 1964 Walt Disney film. The show includes the Academy Award®-winning music and lyrics of Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. The stage production has been created, in collaboration with Cameron Mackintosh, by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes, who has written the book, and the Olivier Award-winning team of George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, who have composed new songs and additional music and lyrics.

July 15, 2009 | 0 Comments More

“Mary Poppins” reviews: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!!

 Step In Time 2

Daily Herald’s Barbara VitelloHighly Recommended

Excited doesn’t begin to describe the audience for the opening of the long-awaited “Mary Poppins” national tour Wednesday at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. Exhilarated is more like it.

Young children bounced in their seats, adults gasped with surprise and the applause that accompanied the overture’s opening notes didn’t stop until after the enigmatic Mary Poppins (the delightful Ashley Brown reprising the role she created on Broadway) flew away for the last time.  (Read entire review here.)

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«««  Chris Jones, of the Chicago Tribune’s blog The Theater Loop, gives the musical extravaganza 3-stars.    Says Jones in his theater review:

Smart children know parents have to be trained to behave. Savvy, pint-sized domestic reformers will be thrilled with “Mary Poppins,” a rare family musical that spends most of its ample running time exhorting parents to stop working, take care of their long-suffering spouses, discover their inner supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and go fly a kite with the kids.

And parents? Speaking as someone who can always use help in that department, the ministrations of a magical nanny—emotionally inaccessible but practically perfect in every other way—sound good to me.    (rest of the review here)

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Chicago Sun Times’ Hedy Weiss – Highly Recommended

Mary Poppins” audience as lucky as lucky can be in nanny’s magical hands.

The magic in “Mary Poppins” — the darkly whimsical, continually ingenious musical that opened Wednesday at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in its post-London, post-Broadway and initial national touring company engagement — is doled out in generous but carefully calibrated spoonfuls. And because that magic (some of it quite black, most of it airborne and exhilarating) is interspersed with a healthy dose of realism, it takes on a special Technicolor glow when unleashed.  (Entire review here.)  

Step In Time 1

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

Buy tickets at TicketMaster.

Related Blog Posts

Mary Poppins Extends Stay In Chicago – Theatre In Chicago

April 15, 2009 | 0 Comments More

“Mary Poppins” comes here first!

Mary Poppins - West EndEven with tepid reviews, “Mary Poppins” becamse one of the few Broadway hits during the past year.  And now the producers of “Mary Poppins” (Cameron Mackintosh and Walt Disney Theatricals) have announced that the first stop on their national tour will be in Chicago, specifically March 2009.  What’s interesting is that the producers have not yet posted any city/dates beyond the opening, which possibly implies that they are expecting the British nanny to enjoy an extended stay in the Windy City.  So don’t be surprised if you see a middle-aged English woman, umbrella in hand, flying around the Cadillac Palace Theatre!!  Supercalifragilisticespialidocious!  (sp?)

March 25, 2009 | 0 Comments More