A Chicago Story
Volume 3 Book 8 Part 10 of
Living in the Bonus Round

[ Book 3-7 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ]
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ]

March 25-27, 2004.
Lobby Pics.
I think it's safe to say that our run here is very successful. Not just because of the love letter reviews, but John Sparks said this production was drawing record audiences for their company. I can't say we're selling out the house yet, but the houses are full and rockingly enthusiastic. Imagine what it would be like if we actually were running ads!

Jimmy's old high school friend from 40 years ago comes to the show!

Betty, who threw us a party last Sunday, finally sees the show.

Madison doesn't want an icky Steve kiss.

Greeting more new friends.

A fellow musical writer.

Jimmy greets smiling new fans.

Jeff (our stage manager)'s mom.

We also met Jeff our stage manager's mother. She was so SWEET!

A Lucy fan wants his book signed!

The Chicago Theatre Building has a mandate. They exist solely to develop new musicals -- or as John puts it, they are an incubator. So most of their productions are bare bones productions gleaned from the local musical theatre writers in their workshop. While that's great in theory, most theatregoers don't pay attention to that kind of thing. The public will almost universally only attend shows they've heard of so they can know what to expect.

Also, workshop productions are, by definition, shows still in the process of being written. The reason you put up a workshop is to test it out, to see how it plays so that you can take it to the next level. They NEED audiences but the only way you get them is to find those adventurous serious theatregoers who WANT to be a part of that process. It can mean viewing things you don't necessarily like. But it can also mean finding a jewel in the rough, a future great artist.

That's one of the reasons Jimmy and I wanted to be a part of this. It's our way of supporting a vital program. And John Sparks is, for my money, the best dramaturg in the business. He could be working for the biggest theatres in the country if he really wanted to. But his passion is young writers. New writers. New works. It's what he does.

So Friday night, he was thrilled that The Big Voice was drawing in the kinds of crowds (and sophisticated audiences) he's been looking for. "What helps," he told me, "is to just get them here into the building. So they can know where we are." And he hopes to turn them into regular supporters of the program.

One of the new shows that Chicago Theatre Building is now going to help develop is "Africa Plumbridge," Sue Carey's show, written in collaboration with Karena Mendoza. Jimmy has been signed on as director and "play doctor." Sue and Karena's score is absolutely brilliant. The first time I heard it, I went absolutely nuts. The story, which is Sue's story of how she began helping abused and homeless kids in Chicago -- leading to her adopting several of them -- is original, inspiring and educational.

But because Sue is new to playwriting, Jimmy felt the book just needed focus and editing. Last week, John, Jim and Sue sat down to discuss it. They all agreed that it was something that could be wildly successful with its youthful cast, contemporary score mixing R&B, African and pop rhythms, and wonderful story -- but it needed specificity in its language and character among other things. In other words, the goal is to bring the book up to the level of the music, which is exactly what Jimmy is so good at.

However, we hadn't met Karena yet and we wondered if she would approve of bringing Jimmy on. After all, this would be a big step!

Well, I met her first in the lobby after the Thursay show. She was BEAMING and wiping tears from her eyes. First of all, she lavished praise on my score (thank you very much) but when she told me who she was, I got down on MY knees and told her I thought her music was absolutely incredible. I shouted, "You're a genius!!"

So we were having a lovefest just between the two of us. Then she met Jimmy and, totally as a joke for the camera (since she just saw him play the pope onstage), she kissed his ring. (I wanted to kiss HER ring!)

The Pope demands fealty!
All joking aside, the music in Africa Plumbridge totally knocked me out. This is going to be a fun and interesting project.
[ Book 3-7 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ]
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ]

© 1996-2004 by Steve Schalchlin.
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