The pre-Broadway world premiere release of Big Fish hit the BIG stage, Friday, April 19th at Chicago’s one and only Oriental theater; and it was a BIG HIT! Just 10 years after its Hollywood release, this full length feature film has been reincarnated into a new fantastic and imaginative LIVE musical! Based on the novel by Daniel Wallace, the BIG FISH musical give us a peak at the life of Will Bloom (played by Bobby Steggert), as he tries to learn of the life that his dying father once lived. Edward Bloom (played by Norbert Leo Butz), though slowly coming to terms with death, comes to Bloom once more as he relives his life with his family through the tall tales that he is so notoriously known for. The character of Edward Bloom literally pulls us, the audience, to center stage as we relives his journeys. Through song, dance, and incredibly talented musicians, this musical really delivers from beginning to end!
One part of the show that was really unique was simply how the stage was utilized throughout the performance. Instead of the musicians traditionally being set in the orchestra’s pit, musicians were set in the background of the stage, and the Orchestra’s pit was transformed into a sort of live “river” brought to life through the use of visual effects and projectors. The stage set its self was a wonder to behold. Transitions from scene to scene were flawless, and it was blatantly obvious as to how much work and rehearsal was needed to perfect this magical performance. The use of visual effects was quietly tucked away throughout as we go from a hospital bed one moment, to a circus tent, to a town the next! Big Fish is a unique performance unlike I've ever seen before on stage. Once the show started going it was easy to forget that I was merely an audience member, watching from afar. The show really almost makes you feel that you are there on stage and in the stories of Edward Bloom. Actors Norbert Leo Butz, Bobby Steggert and Kate Baldwin really take to their roles and give you an unforgettable performance. Notably, actor Norbert Butz is a lively and passionate actor with a great voice, that I think was very deserving of his role. It would be a feat to top his natural talent and remarkable performance he gives the entire show.
Big Fish is a musical for the whole family, as audiences of all ages can relate to the lives of the performers. We all have or have had a father in our lives, and if you’re anything like me; can remember the stories and tall tales our own fathers once told us. This connection to the audience’s own memories of a father is clear to me toward the end of the performance; as all I could hear from the audience (including me), was sniffling and the wiping away of tears of sadness as our main character comes to pass. It was a tear jerker toward the end, as you don’t want the performance to end! Big Fish will be playing at Chicago’s Oriental Theater from April 19th-May 5th 2013. It’s only playing for a short time; however this is a PREBroadway release and I hope that after this short release to the public that it comes back in full swing for a longer showing! Big Fish was a beautiful performance, and I honestly really enjoyed it more so than the movie! Take advantage of this limited viewing of Big Fish, and see the story told unlike never before. For more information about the show, or to purchase tickets, please visit BroadwayinChicago.com; and act fast, as BIG FISH will only be playing until May 5th.
The Charles Tillman’s Celebrity Pro Bowler Tournament fundraiser kicked off Thursday, June 7th at the newly opened Kings Lanes Lounge & Sports (Rosemont, IL) in efforts to raise donations for the Charles’s Tillman Cornerstone Foundation. With what turned out to be a remarkably successful evening, the event boasted an evening of bowling with teams of bowlers who gladly donated to the event to have one celebrity NFL guest bowler on their team.
Some of the evening’s guests included Charles Tillman, Matt Toeaina, Nick Roach, Craig Steltz, Chris Conte, Alex Brown, to mention a few. However, aside from the bowling the event hosted a silent auction featuring plethora of autographed team jerseys, footballs, and also a beautiful acrylic painting that was painted that night; and all of this, to raise funds for charity. In all aspects, this was wonderful event hosted at great new venue and the atmosphere was thick with food, drinks, music, and most importantly giving the entire evening! It was easy to identify why an event like this would be so successful, as you can always rely on a loyal sport fans to support its home team; the Chicago Bears! Bowlers and other guests who donated to be a part of this event really showed their support for both the Cornerstone foundations and also the athletes they believe in so much.
For those unfamiliar with the Charles Tillman’s Cornerstone Foundation, their mission statement is “to provide opportunities and resources to children and their families who are in need.” Buzznews had the fortune of attending the red carpet and was able to meet the foundation’s founder himself, Charles Tillman and was asked, “For those who don’t know about the foundation or the work you are doing, why don’t you tell us a little about it?”
Tillman: “Since 2008 we’ve been helping a lot of people, mainly chronically and critically ill children just throughout the greater Chicago area mainly helping a lot of the children’s hospitals. We do luncheons, we do Christmas parties, we do this event (Celebrity Pro bowlers Tournament), and we do other football events for our fundraiser. Just you know, just trying to give back.”
Though they are not a specific type of foundation such as a cancer or leukemia foundation (however still in their mission), the Cornerstone’s mission statement is clear, they just want to help and that’s what is important. From what I saw, the Cornerstone foundation is clearly doing good work and I hope they continue to strive here in Chicago and anywhere else they may choose to go. It’s always great to see any sports celebrity give back to the community and its even better when a community can come together and give to a cause such as this.
CATS made a short lived return to the stage with its only North American production that played from from May 1st-6th at Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theater. For what became the longest running musical in theater history, CATS return was not a very long one. For those of you that can remember, CATS was huge in the ‘90s and it spread quicker than Cabbage Patch Kids. Everyone wanted to see it from children to elderly couples in retirement homes. CATS was in the news, the papers and was even featured TV shows. Who hadn't heard of CATS in the ‘80s? For its remarkable popularity, I would of thought that the show would have ran for a lot longer than it's 6 day return!
I do remember the buzz and all the hype, and for the most part I remember loving CATS as a kid - a kid. Maybe it was the high expectations previously instilled in me from its past success, but unfortunately, I did not enjoy this show as much as I thought I would have. This was very disappointing to me since I was nothing but excited ever since I heard CATS would be coming back for a short time to Chicago. Though there were certainly some enjoyable highlights over all; I liked CATS a lot more before I actually saw CATS. After seeing it as an adult, I've come to a conclusion that this is definitely a show more for kids than for adults. Good thing there was a bar with cold beer and a television that showed all the action when I needed a break from the show.
Try as I might; the problem I had with this show, was the storyline. I just could not follow it for the life of me. Though I am familiar with the story, as I've seen the performance on TV as a child, what I saw seemed to lack substance. I had expected more of a story than a song and dance show. That's not to say that CATS was at all boring. The performers gave life to the show as they really fell into their roles as cats and the musical numbers were simply wonderful. Still, this was a musical that is (to me) for children...and possibly cat crazy people. With a group of cats called the “Jellicle Cats” and characters named “The Rum Tum Tugger,” “Bustopher Jones,” “Mungojerrie,” and “Rumpelteazer,” it was hard for me to follow what the hell was going on. I'm more used to characters named John, Michael, Jessica, etc.
Over all, the show was great and I was entertained most of the time. The scenery, costumes and enthusiasm of the performers were fantastic. It takes talent to stay in the character of a cat and I have a lot of respect for anyone that was involved with this particular production. CATS is a significant musical that literally changed the scene of theater and it has continued to dazzle audiences and fans since its opening day. Though I may not have enjoyed the musical personally, I couldn’t help but be entertained. They are obviously doing something right, or it never would have gained such popularity.
If I were, say a kid again, I think I would have been smiling, giggling and loving every second of the performance. Just scanning the crowd you could see all the little ones on the edge of their seats chuckling and kicking their feet through every song and dance. That part, I enjoyed the most. As I sat there watching the performance, I thought about how awesome the parents were that brought their kids. In the end isn't all for the kids anyways? It’s all about creating an exciting, wonderful memory for their children. That was a beautiful thought to me. So though people like me may not have loved the show wholeheartedly, it was obvious the entire time how a show like CATS came to be such a momentous production in theater.
Jersey Boys! This Broadway spectacular has made a roaring return to the stage, since its original debut in 2005, and it’s better than ever! This show has dazzled audiences in Chicago, Sydney, Philadelphia, Melbourne, Toronto, Las Vegas and even London. After Wednesday night’s performance, it’s clearly obvious why Jersey Boys has made such a fantastic return to the stage. But, catch it while you can however, because Jersey Boys is only playing for 9 short weeks, from April 5th – June 3rd at the beautiful Bank of America Theatre in Chicago.
Jersey boys, is a “documentary” style musical about the 1960s super group, The Four Seasons. Each act is narrated by each member of the group and tells the story of how the group came to be, their careers and their eventual breakup as a group. It is nonstop fun from beginning to end and has a heavy dose musical numbers and nostalgia throughout. It’s no wonder why this show has attracted so many theatre goes (over 1 million) since its inception in 2005. It’s got style, class, live music, and anyone who enjoys a good show with lively performers and live music will be sure to add this show to their ‘favorites’ list. The entire production is an experience and completely sets its self apart from any other production around. In the words of Tommy DeVito, “it’s like being in a fucking time machine!” On stage, the chemistry between the performers is simply fantastic, and as an audience member, you really feel like your back in time, seeing their story unfold live and on stage.
My favorite part of the show was looking around the audience periodically and seeing all the smiles throughout the large crowd. Jersey Boys is a real crowd pleaser! It was amazing to see the clear enjoyment of each and every one of the “older” audience members in the theater, as well as all the youngsters. However, the eyes and smiles of the “older” crown seemed to say it all; eyes shining like a child on Christmas morning and grins that ran ear to ear. As I watched the show I thought to myself how amazing the show must really be to some of the audience, reliving past memories of their youth. As when they were young, THIS was the music of their generation. When they turned on the radio back then, this music, these songs were on the radio. You could really tell how much some of the audience enjoyed it, as some of the audience members loved singing along to their favorites.
Jersey Boys does an amazing job of bringing those “old” hits back to life, and for 2.5 hours they will rock you right out of your seat and leave you wanting more! It is an experience worth remembering for a long time to come. If you or anyone one you know loves music, you will love this show! Be cautious about bringing young children to this show however, as it does have its fair share of profanity here and there; and most importantly there are age requirements for many Broadway In Chicago shows. Visit the Broadway in Chicago website below for pricing, show/ticket information and be sure to check this performance out before it’s too late! Who knows when it will be back!
BAH HUMBUG! Ebenezer Scrooge's famous line from Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." It's a story all too familiar to most of us and (I hope) we all still remember it from our childhood; I know I do. It's one of the most memorable Christmas tales ever told and I was particularly pleased to hear it was playing at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. Now still being particularly new to theatre, I was unaware that this production is done nearly every year. However, had I known, I would have certainly seen it sooner.
After seeing this production I can certainly see what attracts so many people year after year to this play! Whether you're a child, an adult or even an elderly person, I want to make one thing clear; you WILL enjoy this play. You would have to be real Scrooge to not enjoy this show; seriously. Of all the plays I've had the honor of reviewing for Buzz Magazine, this was by far my favorite.
The play of course, tells the classic tale of a greedy old man (Ebenezer Scrooge) whose love for money and success eventually consumes him to the point that he is nearly void of all humanity. He is then haunted by three ghosts who take him on a journey in a last ditch effort to save him from himself, his greed and lack of love for others. It's a story about equality, love for one another, and change. Over all, I think that everyone has a lesson to learn from this classic and once you see it brought to life on stage, you may even find yourself humming a Christmas tune or two as you'll be gleaming with holiday cheer.
The most impressive aspect of the show was the productions visual appeal. The stage scenes were obviously made to look absolutely perfect, and as you sit there watching the show, you almost forget that you’re at the theater. Of all the Christmas Carol movies there have been throughout the times (and I've seen most of them), this play was certainly the most enjoyable one I have ever seen. It's lively, it's exciting, and it leaves you feeling that holiday cheer that many of us seem to have lost as we've grown older. I was so pleased with the production that I was smiling and talking about it for hours after it was over. I could only imagine how exciting this show would be for a child to see. It really brings something to the viewer that TV or movies cannot.
A Christmas Carol will be playing November 18 - December 31 at Goodman Theatre in Chicago. Prices vary depending on the seats and box seats are also available. Please visit www.goodmantheatre.org for ticket/venue information. If you've got kids, nieces or nephews, taking them to this play would be a perfect gift. Forget the gift cards, video games, and itchy wool sweaters. Everyone should be familiar with A Christmas Carol and seeing this production live is sure to make a memory that will last for many years to come. Don't be a Scrooge and see this play!
Of all things I could say about Lifehouse, "They put on an amazing concert!" is probably one of the last things I would even think to say about them. In fact, you wouldn't even hear them playing in my car sitting in 5 o'clock traffic. I would like to point out that I'm not trying to bash Lifehouse (I don't want any upset Lifehouse fans out there!), they are great musical artists, and Jason Wade is a very talented singer; they are simply not my cup of tea. But one thing certain about LIfehouse' live concert on Saturday at Ravinia - they really put on a spectacular concert.For someone who never really appreciated their music before, I have certainly found a new respect for Lifehouse. I had a great time and was blown away by their performance.
All I could see as I looked around while Lifehouse played, was that everyone was really rockin' out to their music - and not just the teenage rockers! I saw everyone from small children to adults on their feet, singing and head bobbing along to all of Lifehouse's hits. I never realized how popular this band really was. By the end of the show, I was even getting into the music and bobbing my head too! I was even singing along to a few of the songs that I actually did recognize! This live Lifehouse show really did change my opinion on the band. They still may not be my most favorite band in the world, but I would certainly not mind seeing them live again. Just seeing how much they can work up a crowd was exciting in itself, even the security guards themselves were getting in their show. They are a great band to see live for all ages, as I'm sure that it was the first concert for a lot of children there that night. I'd like to thank Lifehouse for coming to Chicago and changing how I see their band. As good as music sounds on a CD or an Ipod, there is no comparison for how great this band sounds live. Their talent really shines on stage.
One question by the way, WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL ME HOW GREAT THE RAVINIA IS BEFORE?!?! Seriously. After hearing so much about all of the great concerts, shows and events that happen there, I was pleased to finally able to feed my curiosity. Ravinia even has it's own Metra station stop, so it just had to be a great venue, right? OF COURSE! My first impression of this place just walking in is how remarkably clean this place is! Hats off to the Ravinia for keeping this place near to spotless. I'm used to trash on the floor and dirty smelly bathrooms, however, Ravinia certainly takes the cake for the cleanest outdoor venue in the Chicagoland area.
Unlike most venues, Ravinia offers its goers freedom from annoying security and pesky venue employees telling you what you can and cannot bring into the park. You are free to bring blankets, picnic tables, chairs, wine, cheese and any other goodies you can manage to bring in! If you don't want the hassle of lugging around any of this stuff however, fear not! Ravinia offers all of the above there at the venue! Ravinia has a beautiful little dining area offering all kinds of foods and snacks to munch on, as well as a dainty little seating area to enjoy it all! They also offer table/chair rental for those of you who don't want to be a pack mule! Not to mention a variety of beer/wine for those of you who like to enjoy some drinks as you enjoy a great concert and a cool summer breeze. I should mention again, that Ravinia is pretty lenient with what you can bring in to the venue, so if you plan on having a few drinks, I encourage you to bring your own from home! Like most places you can expect to pay 7 dollars for a beer or some wine. So save that cash and load up on goodies for you and your date. This place is the perfect place for a nice romantic evening with that special someone - take note of this guys!
With all these great amenities, why wouldn't you want to go to this place!? At this point I should mention that all this talk of chair rentals and table rentals, etc, is for anyone who plans on purchasing lawn seating. There are seated tickets available for purchase in the Ravinia's Pavilion (the stage is in the pavilion, so if you want to be as close as possible to the action, I highly recommend purchasing tickets in the Pavilion). However, no food or alcohol is allowed in the Pavilion's seating area, barring bottled water. Concert goers can only enjoy bottled water in this area. This must explain why I saw a sea of people all over the lawn! So keep that in mind when purchasing tickets to any of the Ravinia's wonderful events.
Getting to Ravinia is also a cinch. They are easily accessible via the Metra rail system; the train actually stops right at the front gates (this is the best way to get there is the train is convenient for you). However if the train is not convenient for you, consider driving. Parking is available right at the venue, but expect a lot of traffic there. I recommend using the many "Park and Ride" lots located in the Ravinia's general vicinity. They provide free parking and a free shuttle service to the venue and back in the "Park and Ride" lots. Personally, I think this is the best way to get to the Ravinia. I found it to be quick and easy, and you can't be FREE, not at all. Please visit http://www.ravinia.org/ for more venue information on where the "Park and Ride" lots are located. Events, ticket information, parking information, etc. can also be found on the website, so check it out before it's too late for this year. Although summer is nearing it's unfortunate end, fall is right around the corner. There is still some time left to enjoy some of the great events going on at the Ravinia, so be sure to check this place out while you still can this year! I certainly am looking forward to seeing more concerts and events there in the near future!
311 has and probably will always be one of my most favorite bands ever to exist! Having that said, they ROCKED Charter One Pavilion yet AGAIN past week on Thursday July 14th. I've seen 311 play live many many times, and this was by far the best show I've ever seen them play. Why some may ask? What was so special about this show?
THEY FREAKING BROUGHT SUBLIME WITH THEM THIS TIME AROUND!
Now, I know that there's a lot of people out there saying that Sublime will never be the same without Bradley Nowell on their side and to all the critics and fans out there; I'd actually have to agree. But I would like to say one thing about Sublime's performance with Rome last week, and that is WOW, seriously. I was impressed by Rome's ability to sing and virtually live up to what Sublime should sound like. I'd like to really thank 311 for allowing them to come to Chicago to show us what they are made of! Sublime with Rome was fantastic and I really think it's the closest to the original Sublime as it's going to get. I have always wished that I could of seen Sublime play live back when, but this was a real treat. I really would recommend any fan of Sublime to check these guys play live with Rome if the opportunity ever comes up. This is as close as it gets!
Now as great as Sublime with Rome was, I was there to see 311!!! After Sublime played their set, my anticipation nearly exploded, literally. For the first time ever seeing 311 live, I was blessed with a photo pass to be able to photograph them for the first 3 songs of their set. I felt like a KING!
Now for most concert reviewers or photographers this may not be a very big deal. But not for me, NO WAY. Please excuse my French, but I nearly shit myself with excitement. Never in a million years would I have imagined that I would be lucky enough to be in front of EVERYONE there taking photographs of 311 as they played a live show in front of thousands of fans. I'd like to thank BUZZNEWS for really making a dream come true for a LONG TIME 311 fan; never had I felt so lucky. I was so close to 311 as they played that the band could literally drip sweat on me. I mean, I was up there, in front of the gate, in the security pit as they opened with "Down", "Jackpot", and "Sunset in July." As I looked behind me, all I could see was thousands of fans screaming lyrics that I know too well, passed out/smashed fans being pulled out by security and photographers running around me like hamsters on a wheel snapping photo's with their all TOO expensive camera's. I really felt like I was dreaming. I couldn't help but stand, frozen in this moment for a while, soaking in what was happening. It was honestly one of the best moments of my life.
Once I finally snapped out of my haze of where and what I was doing, I was finally able to join the rest of the hamsters in the pit; and I just started snapping away photo after photo. Mind you, I was the ONLY person there taking pictures with a 5 mega pixel camera... on my phone. Though, I felt a little inadequate taking pictures with a phone, this feeling only lasted a short moment. Hearing and seeing 311 play closer and louder than ever before made me not care the slightest bit that I wasn't using a big fancy camera. After all, I came to see a show and snap some pics, not obsess over the PERFECT SHOT!
Unfortunately I was only allowed in the photo pit for 3 songs. After that, it was back to the assigned seat I was given...or so I thought. Luckily I quickly noticed that I was not really being escorted out of the general admission area, so once I was done shooting I quickly disappeared into the crowd to continue enjoying 311 play some more tunes. For me, 311 shows are never just a concert. 311 is an experience. For the rest of the night, I bumped into friends, had a few beers, shared a few laughs and just kept enjoying the night. What a better way to enjoy summer in Chicago than by seeing your favorite band in the BEST outdoor venue in the city has to offer.
If you've never been to Charter One Pavilion for a concert, you are really missing out. It's a beautiful venue that over looks Lake Michigan and Chicago. It's a great place to catch your favorite band and enjoy a night out in the city. However, BEWARE! Beer is ALWAYS expensive and ATM's are scarce. Be prepared to wait in long lines if you don't bring cash!! Other than that, Charter One Pavilion is a GREAT venue and I love going there any chance I get!!!
Set list for that night was as follows:
(Sorry if I mixed any up or failed to mention any!)
Sunset in July
Do You Right
You Wouldn't Believe
What Was I Thinking
PNUT BASS SOLO
Beyond the Gray Sky
Who's Got the Herb?
All Mixed Up
Feels So Good
Thanks again to 311 for bringing a great show yet again to Chicago, I patiently await your next show!!! And thanks again to BUZZNEWS for giving me yet another opportunity to write for them!!!!
Peace, love, unity, respect.
Since it’s opening in 1994, the Porchlight Music Theatre has been entertaining thousands of excited theatregoers. They’ve staged forty-nine productions, including five world premieres. And in a now modern day, where most people rarely see or have maybe never seen a musical/play, I was thrilled to see this musical.
Based off of the 1944 novel, Anna and the King of Siam, by Margaret Landon the story portrays the experiences of a British schoolteacher (Anna), who is hired by the King of Siam as part of his drive to modernize the country of Siam. The relationship between the King and Anna is grossly conflicting; as well as by a love that neither of them are able to express. Anna and he king is a wonderful story about cultural differences and of forbidden love. The story of the King and I has been so popular that it was turned into a full motion picture in 1956 starring the great Yul Brynner and again in 1999.
After seeing the show, my first thought was that the show came off to a slow start. However, this musical production was a real treat and I did enjoy myself. It was humorous, fun and once the story picked up; my attention was completely diverted on stage. Actress Brianna Borger, who plays Anna, really stood out in this musical. She was lively, excited, has a beautiful voice and she plays her role incredibly well. Although all the actors and actresses have a wonderful singing voice, I enjoyed when she sang ”Hello, Young Lovers” the most. Actor Wayne Hu, who plays the King of Siam however, was my favorite character of the show. Hu plays The King with plenty of enthusiasm and is also quite funny in parts of the play. His tone of voice and facial expressions throughout the play made his character quite enjoyable. Over all, I think that all of the performers did a magnificent job; notably Kate Garassino who played Lady Thiang, and especially the young actors/actresses throughout the production.
It takes more than a few good actors/actresses to put on a great show and I think Porchlight threatre hit the nail on the head with this musical. I would very much recommend seeing this wonder musical playing how through June 4th at Stage 773 in Chicago, Il. Visit www.stage773.com or www.porchlighttheatre.com for show and ticket information.
If there's one thing that I can say about J M Barrie's Peter Pan at the Chicago Tribune Freedom Center North, is WOW! Having grown up with this all too familiar story, I was quite pleased to see that the threesixty theater company was able to bring this timeless classic out of the movies/books and onto a stage in way that both adults and children can enjoy. Having been my first assignment with buzznews.net I was slightly nervous to be writing about what is virtually considered a children's story. Never the less, I was excited as a child myself; to head downtown to see Peter Pan live, in a way I have never seen. The show takes place in an unassuming looking tent just next to the Chicago Tribune Freedom Center North building, however the tent itself is actually custom built and must travel where ever the production may go. The reason for this? The inside of the tent houses the biggest spectacular of the show; a 360-degree, thirty-three foot convex video screen that virtually makes up the ceiling of the tent. This incredible screen projects beautiful animated backgrounds and scenery that are integrated into the show. It's like living in an animated film! This, along with the actors being able to "fly" above our heads throughout the play, made this play a truly unique experience. This was not just a play, but an “awfully big adventure,” as Peter Pan would say. In my complete amazement of this show, I could only imaging how special this was in the eyes of all the children there that night.
Actor Ciaran Joyce, who plays Peter Pan, was to me the most memorable character of the night. Ciaran Joyce does a fantastic job portraying what has been a traditionally female role in theater and it is clear to see why he was chosen for this role. Joyce plays Peter Pan with such enthusiasm and he really knows how to make Peter Pan come alive. All the wonderful actors and actresses in this show however, are what really made this play a great experience. Joshua Holden, who is the lead puppeteer in this show, brings an unexpected twist to the show by bringing to life the animal roles of the story. Like all the actors and actresses of this show, he is a very talented man! If you’re looking for a great night out, in a beautiful city to see a play unlike you’ve ever seen before, I highly recommend seeing this show. I enjoyed it more than I had even expected! Visit http://www.peterpantheshow.com/venues/chicago for ticket prices and information. The show runs approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes including a 20 minute intermission and ticket prices range from $35-$125 depending on if you are purchasing children or adult tickets. Catch this show before it moves on to another city!