Dr. Jekyll Mr HydeJekyll & Hyde starring Constantine Maroulis and Deborah Cox

Even though we're now entering the early chills of fall, the Broadway in Chicago season is in full bloom. In addition to the full lineup of shows playing through the winter, including the world-premiere of Kinky Boots (the new musical penned by Cyndi Lauper) and the hotly anticipated Book of Mormon, BIC has announced a lively spring lineup.

In the ten years that I've lived in Chicago, this BIC season is among the most exciting, if not somewhat overrun by musicals based on movies. But (*deep sigh*) that's the state of big commercial musical theatre these days. (I'll save that for another post.) Well, without further ado, let's start the show!

Jekyll & Hyde

First we get a pre-Broadway tour of Jekyll & Hyde (March 12-24, Cadillac Palace Theatre), starring Constantine Maroulis in the title role(s). I'm a total sucker for this classic tale of good and evil, particularly Frank Wildhorn's over-the-top, poptastic score. And I know Maroulis, an "American Idol" finalist, will be able to deliver the big, rangy numbers, such as the constantly key-changing "This is the Moment." (And, yes, he can act, as seen in his Tony-nominated turn in Rock of Ages.) R&B superstar Deborah Cox serves as Maroulis' sensual love interest.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Next, the queens make a pit stop at the Auditorium Theatre from March 19-31. The first national tour of Priscilla Queen of the Desert promises disco favorites, a parade of 500 dazzling costumes and men in heels. A hit in the West End and Australia (not so much Broadway), this show about friends, fabulousness and feathers, sounds like pure joy.

Catch Me if You Can

Continuing the movie musical theme, Catch Me if You Can (April 2-14, Cadillac Palace Theatre) pairs songwriting sensations Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (creators behind Hairspray and NBC's "Smash," to name a few) together with a creative team featuring choreographer Jerry Mitchell (this season's Kinky Boots) and director Jack O'Brien (Hairspray and The Full Monty). While the show, which concerns a charming young con artist on the run from a relentless FBI agent, never really found its audience on Broadway, the cast recording is frothy, swinging fun, and those friends who did see it left the theater happy and humming. What more can you ask for in a musical comedy?

Big Fish

I'm also really looking forward to Big Fish (April 2-May 5, Oriental Theatre), the musical theatre re-imagination of the 2003 Columbia Pictures Film. This pre-Broadway tryout is directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman (The Producers) - a woman whose creativity and talent should prove a great asset to this epic adventure musical. And I've been a fan of composer Andrew Lippa's work, even if his efforts in The Addams Family musical (another show that tried out in Chicago prior to Broadway) weren't up to snuff.

Anything Goes

Finally, the first national tour of the 2011 Tony-winning revival of Anything Goes taps into town April 23-May 5 at the Cadillac Palace. I caught this revival on Broadway late last year starring Tony winner Sutton Foster, and could not stop smiling throughout. It's zany, vintage fun filled with sparkling Kathleen Marshall dance routines and a tuneful, classic Cole Porter score. In this tour, we get the effervescent Rachel York - one of my favorite musical theatre actresses who, if people had any sense of taste and talent, should be a household name.

 

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