Category: Theatre

John Davidson

John Davidson has had a Wicked career over his 71 years and now he brings it to Chicago on tour celebrating 10 years of the musical.

Wicked is one of the longest running shows in Broadway history playing over 4,000 performances. The story of the history of witches in Oz captivated a huge age range breaking box office records. The production has won a Grammy and three Tony Awards making it a huge hit.

Many know Davidson from his game show hosting with The $100,000 Pyramid and Hollywood Squares even reviving both franchises years later. He continued that hosting gig with That’s Incredible! and guest hosted on The Tonight Show 87 times then running his own self titled show.

He is no stranger to musicals over the years such as State Fair, Carousel, Camelot, Oklahoma! and The Music Man. Chicago audiences now get to see him play the Wizard in Wicked and Nunn on the Run gave him a call while on tour to talk about his lengthy career.

Jerry Nunn: Hi, John. How long have you been on tour with Wicked?

John Davison: My agent called the Wicked production office about a year ago and I auditioned. I got the part a year ago Christmas. I joined the company in April. It is a 40 week contract so I go until February. It has been an incredible ride!
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It’s that time of year again and even for those that hate holiday shows there are some strong offerings in Chicago at the end of 2013.  

First off we have the 10th anniversary of the David Sedaris inspired The Santaland Diaries. My friend Mitchell Fain has a jingle ball playing an elf with an attitude. He states during the show that Sedaris does not like any adaptation of his book so one has to wonder what David would think of this.

Fain ventures into Mario Cantone’s ranting and tone but keeps it to a minimum and the story evolves into a comfortable pattern.

Get to the Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont, before December 29 to see the straight people squirm to Fain’s gay holiday tune.

Theater goers have a little more time to see Christmas Dearest as the show has been extended to January 5 at Mary’s Attic above Hamburger Mary’s. David Cerda and the gang at Hell in a Handbag Productions keep the laughs as campy as ever. Changing things up from Rudolph the Red Hosed Reindeer to present Joan Crawford in a holiday musical no less. Taking a cue from past production The Birds this show goes behind the scenes on the set of a film this time its about the virgin Mary. Hilarity ensues and the show is big undertaking that has many laugh out loud moments thanks to great writing.

We Three Lizas returns with a complete revamp smartly keeping Danielle Plisz. She embodies the spirit of Liza Minelli that steals the show. The Steppenwolf Garage space is sorely missed with seating right on the stage but About Face Theatre makes it work at Stage 773. Get your ticket at until January 5.

Look for a gay old time this holiday season with talented theater companies like these. Let’s look forward to what they will offer next year!

Audra McDonald

The multitalented Audra McDonald has already become legendary in the Broadway world in a short time. By the time she was 28 years old she had won three Tony Awards for Carousel, Master Class, and Ragtime placing her among the very few to accomplish that feat. She won her fourth one for A Raisin in the Sun and her fifth with The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess tying her with Julie Harris and Angela Lansbury.

McDonald’s television roles have included being a regular cast member of Private Practice as well as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

She was nominated for an Emmy for the HBO film Wit with Emma Thompson and will star in The Sound of Music Live! for NBC as Mother Abbess.

She has recorded many albums with the most recent being Go Back Home and she brings a concert tour to Chicago where Nunn on the Run spoke with her about it.

Jerry Nunn: Hi, Audra. You are coming back to town again.

Audra McDonald: I am and very soon [laughs]!
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Andre De Shields

Andre De Shields is a natural born performer and a triple threat with acting, singing, and dancing. He is also accomplished in directing, writing, and teaching.

After college he choreographed Bette Midler’s concert and starred in The Wiz on Broadway. He continued on The Great White Way with Ain’t Misbehavin’ and The Fully Monty.

He performed in the Goodman Theatre’s production of Camino Real where not only did he simulate sex but was murdered onstage. He follows that up with a return as King Louie in The Jungle Book. Windy City Times went backstage at the iconic theatre’s gala dinner to chat a bit with the man that knows how to monkey around.

Jerry Nunn: Hey, Andre. How long have you been in the biz?

Andre De Shields: 45 years. I started here in Chicago. You need to know that fact.

JN: Are you from Chicago?
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Ben Rimalower

Ben Rimalower may be the biggest Patti LuPone fan ever. The Evita legend has changed his life in so many ways he put a show together about it. Patti Issues is now one of New York’s longest Off Broadway shows while winning awards and having big names drop in to see it like Alan Cumming, Michael Kors and Patti herself.

He has produced many successful shows over the years including Night of a Thousand Judys and Project Lohan, even a recording of Patti LuPone at Les Mouches.

With a national tour Rimalower is bringing his coming of age story to Chicago for the first time.

Pride talked to him before his arrival at Mary’s Attic.

JN: (Jerry Nunn) Hi, Ben. How long has your show been running?

BR: (Ben Rimalower) It will be a year this summer. Right now we are officially scheduled through June 29.
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Andrew Lippa

Big Fish is now a new musical based on the novel by Daniel Wallace and the film by Tim Burton. This version was directed by five time Tony Award winner Susan Stroman and written by John August who also wrote the big screen version.

Big Fish tells the visual story centering around Edward Bloom and his relationship with his son. As the tall tales grow big so does this heartwarming story.

Andrew Lippa known from The Addams Family and The Wild Party put together the music and lyrics. This Tony Award nominee takes us behind the scenes on the process of making a musical and what it takes to catch a Big Fish.

Jerry Nunn: Hello, Andrew. You are originally from England?

Andrew Lippa: Yes, from Leeds. I grew up in suburban Detroit. That is the sort of the Midwestern town that wishes it were Chicago [laughs]. Detroit has its charms and did when I was kid.
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Jeffrey Carlson

Actor Jeffrey Carlson is leading the cast of the Goodman Theatre’s Measure for Measure. This radical take on the Shakespeare classic by Robert Falls is sure to entertain audiences with its dark comedy. He portrays Lucio a link between the underworld and high society.

Jeffrey may be remembered for his important part in All My Children as the rock star Zarf then revealed to be a transgender woman Zoe who was a lesbian. The show won a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Daily Drama in the process.

Carlson is classically trained studied in Julliard. He debuted on Broadway in Albert Albee’s The Goat or Who is Sylvia? with Bill Pullman and Sally Field. He played Marilyn in Boy George’s Taboo where he was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical.

He is no stranger to Shakespeare with performances in Washington D.C. in Hamlet among many others. Carlson brings this experience to the current production where Nunn went backstage to explore his journey to this production.

Jerry Nunn: Hi, Jeffrey. Your story is interesting since birth. I read your mom was an All My Children fan.

Jeffrey Carlson: Yes, she named me after Dr. Jeff Martin then many years later I wound up on the show!
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