Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: music, theater

Yes, I love “Les Miserables.”
There I said it. By now you’ve probably already figured it out.
And yes, Eponine is my favorite when she sings “On My Own.”

So to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the musical “Les Miserables”
I’ve decided to share a couple video clips of Frances Ruffelle as Eponine.
Back in 1985 when she originated the role of Eponine, two years later when she was
on “The Tonight Show” and now, thirty years later with her newly updated rendition.

It may have been thirty years… and Eponine is STILL “on her own.”
And we’re still loving it.

Click here for the original version of Eponine – the role she originated on the London stage. Unfortunately, the audio quality is pretty bad, so turn the volume all the way up.

Or click here for her first performance on American TV with Johnny Carson
on the “The Tonight Show.”

Click here for Frances Ruffelle’s new updated version 2015 of “On My Own.”.

Categories: special events, theater

My favorite musical is celebrating the big Three-Oh!!!

Hard to believe that “Les Miserables” has been entrancing theater audiences for thirty years now! That darn barricade continues to fall, Eponine is STILL on her own, people are dying every single night on stages all around the world. And yet I can’t get enough of it. I’ve already seen it “too many times” live on stage, the recent Hugh Jackman movie version more than a few times, as well as DVD versions of the 20th & 25th Anniversary Concert Events. So image how excited I am to see that there was a 20th Anniversary Concert Event… hopefully coming to DVD really soon!!!

Categories: food, holiday, theater

Last night I went to see “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder.” The kick-off for the Broadway touring company. Taking last year’s Tony Award winning BEST MUSICAL on the road. So pleased that they chose Chicago for their first stop. Gotta love some good Broadway fun in Chicago!!!

So the basic premise is that Monty is pining for his lady love who says he’ll never amount to anything. But then he finds out that he’s eighth in line to become the Earl of the Dysquith Family. And that the only way he can become Ealr is to kill off the seven people in front of him. So he sets out with a plan to clear the way to his own Earldom.

Each member of the Dysquith Family meets an untimely demise. All set up by Monty who doesn’t “quite” kill them, but sets up the opportunity. Like cutting a hole in the ice when one of the Dysquith heirs is ice skating with his lady. Not “directly” murdering him… but kind of “helping it along.”

One of the best parts of the show is the incredible actor who plays ALL of the roles of the Dysquith family. Quick costume & makeup changes, and he transforms from a formal aristocrat, to a priest, to a suffragette and many more.

Click here for the Tony Awards cast performance of “I’ve Decide To Marry You.”
The show-stopping musical number where our dear murdering Monty is trapped between the two women in his life vying for his affection. The video clip also shows how the actor who plays all of the Dysquith family members “transforms” right before your eyes. A little bit of Broadway magic!!!

It was a great night of theater fun. And a great way to kick-off my own special Birthday Week! Thanks to my friend Pam for dinner and for kicking it off with some great chocolate cake!!! A sweet start to “my” week!!!

Categories: theater

Tonight we went to a wonderful production of “Into The Woods” at the Ethel Barber Theater on the campus of Northwestern University. It’s one of my favorite musicals… so quick, so witty. The lyrics are brilliant thanks to the wordsmithing of Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim. Live theater is always more fun than the movie!

One of the most inventive parts of this production was the set & staging. The set design was based on books, bookcases, shelves and layers of boxes that served as platforms for the actors to work on. At first I was concerned… no trees? no forest? no woods??? But as the show went on, they completely won me over. As the story begins with “Once upon a time…” and is basically a fairy tale come to life… this production has a lot of book, pages & paper themes. The birds who help Cinderella with the lentils are books “flying” with the help of actors. The “leaves” on the tree are actually pages from books. When the Giant wreaks havoc on the village, pages come flying down from the rafters. Even the wigs of the characters are made completely of paper!!! So much fun… and the individual performances were spot-on as well. I LOVE Little Red Riding Hood!!!

Categories: holiday, theater

You know it’s my favorite musical of all time…
But historically on this day back in 1832 the “barricade” fell during The June Rebellion.
It was a pivotal moment during The Paris Uprising of 1832.
Memorialized by Victor Hugo for millions to see on stage every time the curtain raises.

“Do you hear the people sing? Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart echoes the beating of the drums.
There is a life about to start when tomorrow comes!”

Categories: Chicago, theater

Tonight we went to see “The Book of Mormon” downtown.
The 2011 Tony Award winning Best Musical is back in town for a limited time.
And since I somehow missed it the first time it came through Chicago, there was no way I would miss it this time around!

It was a great show. So funny. So witty. So offensive to many?!
When a show is written by the same guys who write “South Park”… you kinda know what you’re in for. It’s so funny… and always an “equal opportunity offender.” No topic, group or stereotype is off limits. And with the main focus on the Mormon religion, there’s a LOT of ground to cover!!!

Click here for a YouTube video of the show’s opening number (and my favorite)
as performed at the 2012 Tony Awards.

And if you want more…
Here’s another video - “I Believe” performed by Andrew Rannells at the 2011 Tonys.
“I believe… that plan involves me getting my own planet.”

Categories: theater

Tonight I went to see “Sweeney Todd” by Porchlight Music Theater at Stage 773. I was pretty excited to see a live production of the show… as I’ve seen the movie version “far too many” times. They did a wonderful job in the small, intimate theater space. The actress that plays Mrs. Lovett was incredible!!! We were in the front row just a foot or two from the action. I had to pull my feet in a couple times just not to get stepped on by an actor or rolling prop piece. It was bloody good fun – perfect to kick-off the fall Halloween season!!!

Categories: Chicago, music, theater

Last night I went to see “Motown: The Musical.”
It was like spending the night at the best concert ever with all of the musical groups we loved in our childhood. The Supremes. The Four Tops. The Temptations. Diana Ross. Gladys Knight. Jackson Five. Stevie Wonder. Smokey Robinson. Marvin Gaye. Martha Reeves. All of ‘em on one stage!!! Yes, I’m showing my age… and I don’t care.

I may not have known the whole Motown / Berry Gordy story…
but I did know EVERY word. And I was NOT afraid to sing along!!!

Click here for the trailer video for “Motown : The Musical.”

And here’s another fun video… showing Motown Opening Night when the actors were performing in front of the original stars themselves!!! Click here.

Oh yeah… and the theater itself was pretty darn impressive too!!!

Although it was a little bit over the top. In a weird way, it kinda made me feel like I was in Las Vegas?! Not that that’s a bad thing… I LOVE VEGAS!!!

Categories: music, theater

At the end of the day you’re another day older.
And that’s all you can say for the life of the poor. It’s a struggle. It’s a war.
And there’s nothing that anyone’s getting.
One more day standing about. What is it for? One day less to be living.

Okay, so maybe it’s not the most upbeat of shows… but it is my all-time favorite!!!
Tonight we enjoyed a wonderful performance of “Les Miserables” at the Drury Lane Theater in Oakbrook. This production was incredible, but then again, I’ve never seen a bad version of the show. Is it even possible?! The story is incredible, the songs are moving, the characters memorable. I’ve seen it live on stage FAR too many times… and fall in love with it again & again every single time. And let’s not even mention the DVD versions of the Anniversary Performances?… or the CD soundtracks!!!

Categories: theater

Looking forward to “date night” tomorrow night with Cosette…
and then rest of her overly dramatic friends & family!!!