Broadway in Chicago Summer Concert sizzles despite the drizzles

When Broadway in Chicago teams up with Millennium Park Presents (and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events) to put on a free, star-studded concert, Chicagoland shows up in hordes–regardless of Mother Nature’s plans.

Committed (and cute) theater-goer

KeelySuzy

A little rain couldn’t dampen the energy of the Broadway-loving throngs on Monday night; host (and Emmy winner) Janet Davies of ABC 7 encouraged the crowd to wave their jazz hands and flick away the storm. Even though that didn’t quite happen (the rain steadily increased right up to the drenched final number), the audience stayed firmly seated for a preview of 10 shows that are primed to rock Chicago.

Here’s what you need to know:

Stomp

The evening started with a bang–or, more accurately, a crash–as the cast of “Stomp” took to the aisles and stage with wielded trash cans and drumsticks. The skill the eight-person troupe possessed was matched only by the energy they inspired and, if my 4-year-old’s reaction was any indication, you’ll only be about one wooden thunk away from joining in on the action yourself.

Runs Nov. 16, 2016 – Jan. 1, 2017

Broadway Playhouse

175 E. Chestnut St., Chicago

Finding Neverland

The origins of Peter Pan’s story–and how his creator found his voice–is the crux of the moving “Finding Neverland.” How moving, you ask, can a musical about a movie (about another movie about a book) actually be? Plenty, if you go by the sheer emotion evoked by Christine Dwyer’s voice during the beautiful “All that matters.” (And the tearful reaction of one Chicago mama during some of those heart-tugging lyrics.)

Runs Nov. 22, 2016 – Dec. 4, 2016

Cadillac Palace Theatre

151 W. Randolph St., Chicago

Aladdin

You already know how much you’ll love “Aladdin.” But do you have any idea how much you’ll love the big band-esque version of “Never had a friend like me,” a la Major Attaway’s Genie (whom Janet Davies acknowledges as having a simply incredible stage name)? So much. So, so much.

Runs  April 11, 2017 – July 2, 2017

Cadillac Palace Theatre

151 W. Randolph St., Chicago

Fun Home

The groundbreaking “Fun Home” is based on Alison Bechdel’s poignant, hilarious and confessional graphic novel ode to her childhood, and the sweet song “Ring of Keys,” performed by Alessandra Baldacchino as Small Alison, captures loneliness and sexual identity in a pitch-perfect way. (“Do you feel my heart saying hi?” I mean, honestly.)

Runs Nov. 2, 2016 – Nov. 13, 2016

Oriental Theatre

24 W. Randolph St, Chicago

Phantom of the Opera

The largest tour of Phantom ever (52 performers in all!) swoops into town in December, and the preview hooked my 6-year-old from those powerful opening chords. Now, I could sing “Music of the Night” in my sleep (and probably have–apologies to my husband), but theatergoers are in for a treat with Chicagoan Travis Taylor’s soulful (and swoon-worthy) spin of a rendition.

Runs Dec. 14, 2016 – Jan. 8, 2017

Cadillac Palace Theatre

151 W. Randolph St., Chicago

The King and I

“Something Wonderful,” indeed! The relationship between the King of Siam and Anna, a British schoolteacher who teaches him a thing or two about love in 1860’s Bangkok, is a fan favorite, to say the very least. Daniella Dalli regaled us with this number from the massively popular (and critically acclaimed) Lincoln Center Theatre production, and reminded us that the classics are classic for a reason.

Runs June 13, 2017 – July 9, 2017

Oriental Theatre

24 W. Randolph St., Chicago

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

The crowd went wild when Broadway veteran Rebecca LaChance stepped into the role of the the famed singer/songwriter. And, going by her gorgeous rendition of “Will You Still Love Me,” the stunningly graceful LaChance had already won over the masses; it was her version of “I Feel the Earth Move” that got them singing along.

Runs Dec. 7, 2017 – Dec. 31, 2017

Cadillac Palace Theatre

151 W. Randolph St., Chicago

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Broadway aficionados were thrilled when Stephen Trask took the stage. The lyricist and composer of Hedwig grabbed an acoustic guitar and announced that he was going to play something from Hedwig. “Those are the only songs I know,” he quipped. “Midnight Radio” was powerful in its simplicity, and got fans excited for the coming tour of this electric, gender-bending musical.

Runs March 7, 2017 – March 19, 2017

Oriental Theatre

24 W. Randolph St., Chicago

Something Rotten

In 1595, two brothers set out to write the very first musical in the shadow of that guy Shakespeare. A mashup of 16th century culture and 21st century Broadway, all theater junkies (and disenchanted former theater students) will snicker over “I Hate Shakespeare.” The crowd also dug the silly “It’s Hard to Be the Bard,” proving that Chicago likes its humor historical, irreverent, and very, very funny.

Runs July 11, 2017 – July 23, 2017

Oriental Theatre

24 W. Randolph St., Chicago

The Bodyguard

It could’ve been hailing sideways by the time R&B star Deborah Cox glided onstage and not one person would’ve moved. Looking every inch the diva in a shimmering blue gown, she soared through Whitney Houston’s famed “I Will Always Love You.” And when she tore through “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” the audience collectively jumped to its feet and offered to be that willing partner.

Runs Jan. 31, 2017 – Feb.12, 2017

Oriental Theatre

24 W. Randolph St., Chicago

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