Bright neon lights, illuminate both the sky and the eyes of every onlooker’s gaze. Bold dark letters stretched across the marquee with elaborate images framing the sidewalks. Topped with the smell of Garrett’s popcorn flowing through an early autumn breeze, Broadway has returned to Chicago with an entire calendar catalog of new, exciting productions.
After a three-year hiatus, Broadway in Chicago hosted their Summer Concert just before we transition into the highly anticipated fall theater season. The showcase featured performances from nine productions with the lead actors from plays, such as TINA, 1776, MJ the Musical, and The Lion King. Hundreds gathered at the Pritzker Pavilion, under Chicago’s beautiful skyline for an evening of top-tier musical performances with a glimpse into what to expect with this season’s lineup. The Chicago Defender got to speak with the cast from a few productions, including TINA, 1776, and the milestone classic CHICAGO, just before the show began.
Chicago native, Kayla Davion, who was cast as an understudy portraying the iconic Tina Turner in Broadway’s TINA – The Tina Turner Musical, shared her experience and excitement to take on the role. “This was my chance to hone in on [her] fearlessness and hone in on that go-getter mentality,” said Davion. “Honestly, this [play] has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. With this being her first time performing as Ms. Turner in her hometown, Davion described the feeling as a “dream come true” to be able to perform for family and friends who couldn’t make it to see her in New York. TINA will run in Chicago next year from March 14 – April 2, 2023, at the James M. Nederlander Theatre.
The cast of Broadway’s 1776 reflects a new rendition of the classic play, as the cast is made up of Black women portraying historical white-male figures. For instance, Liz Mikel uses her powerhouse vocals to bring an unexpected twist to her role as the President of the Continental Congress, John Hancock. “We are making history,” stated Mikel. “Historically, you wouldn’t have heard these words coming out of people that look like us.” Mikel went on to share that audiences “should come to see 1776 because it’s nothing like you’ve ever experienced before, and you will leave with chills from the bottom to the top of your bodies.” Broadway’s 1776 but the production will run in Chicago next year February 28 – March 12, 2023, at the CIBC Theatre.
Indeed, one of the most anticipated productions, CHICAGO, will make its return to its home setting point in the celebration of its 25th anniversary this winter. The fabulous Christina Wells, who plays Bio Below sat down with us for a brief insight into the recreation of this iconic stage production. Wells’ stated that “the music and the fact that it’s always relatable” is what makes CHICAGO one of the greatest plays of all time. “I feel really honored to be mentioned amongst such an amazing cast,” said Wells. She then went on to encourage fans to see the show because if “you want to revisit that music you listened to but you need to see it embodied on the stage; you want to hear all that jazz but want to see those bodies slink across; you want to sit in the audience and remember Billy Flynn and Mama Morton being sassy and big, come and see the show – Get that taste in your mouth of Chicago!” Broadway’s CHICAGO will run in Chicago next year from January 17 -29 at the CIBC Theatre.
Additional Broadway productions coming to Chicago include classics such as The Lion King, Aladdin, Wicked, Cats, and many more! For more information on Broadway in Chicago’s full lineup of productions, featured cast, and tickets, please visit https://www.broadwayinchicago.com.