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Friday, July 1, 2016

10 Groovy Things to Do in July starring Steve Grand and SpongeBob (Ethan Slater)

Since there are so many groovy plays, musicals, concerts and events, this is my monthly list to help promote a few of them (click on a title for more information or to purchase tickets):

1) The SpongeBob Musical
Now through July 10 at Chicago’s Oriental Theatre
Acclaimed Steppenwolf director Tina Landau and the groundbreaking designers behind Fun Home, Hedwig and Spring Awakening have brilliantly reimagined Bikini Bottom for the Broadway stage, bringing the spirit of SpongeBob to life with humanity, heart and pure theatricality. With an original score from some of the biggest names in pop and rock, The SpongeBob Musical explodes with energy!

Here's my review: Having never seen an episode of Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants (which began in 1999), I assumed the show might be something cute for the kids. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a thoroughly delightful musical for both kids AND adults. David Zinn's set and costume design is creative, colorful and a lot of fun, and the music is terrific (I especially enjoyed Cyndi Lauper's "Hero Is My Middle Name" and They Might Be Giants' "I'm Not a Loser"). But my highest praise must go to the amazing cast, which includes a feisty Lilli Cooper as Sandy Cheeks, a scene-stealing Gavin Lee as Squidward Tentacles, a sweet Danny Skinner as Patrick Star, and a charming Ethan Slater as SpongeBob (all of whom will hopefully receive Tony Award nominations when SpongeBob debuts on Broadway next season). So no matter what age you are, I urge everyone in the Chicagoland area to pay a visit to the wonderful world of Bikini Bottom - you'll have a great time!

2) The Unauthorized Musical Parody of Troop Beverly Hills
July 2 - September 10 at Rockwell Table & Stage in Los Angeles
It's "Cookie Time" again in this all-new live interpretation of the hilarious 1989 Shelley Long comedy. The cast includes Marla Mindelle as Phyllis Nefler, Drew Droege/Christopher Youngsman as Velda, Kat Tokarz as Annie Herman, and Constantine Rousouli/Sebastian LaCause as Freddy Nefler.

3) Steve Grand in An All American Boy
July 6 - 8 at The Art House in Provincetown
With over 10 million views on YouTube and a #3 Album on the Billboard Independent Albums Chart, singer/songwriter Steve Grand makes his Provincetown debut.

4) Grey Gardens
July 6 - August 14 at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles
Broadway's daring musical sensation makes its Los Angeles debut starring the fabulous Rachel York and the legendary Betty Buckley. Based on the cult classic documentary and directed by Michael Wilson, this haunting and often hilarious musical recounts Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' most eccentric relatives' fall from society darlings to notorious recluses in their crumbling East Hampton estate.

5) Shelley Duvall's Women Under the Influence Theatre
July 8 - 9 at Steppenwolf's 1700 Theatre in Chicago
This action-packed hour of Shelley's favorite scene-stealing actresses serves up a brand new genre of movie-moments turned theatrical spectacle. It's a night of virtuosic performances by Chicago's hottest talent, led by Shelley Duvall herself (played by creator Alex Grelle) and featuring guest appearances by Jack Nicholson, Julianne Moore, Jane Fonda and more! (Photo credit: Jonathan Mathias)

6) Alice Ripley & Emily Skinner: Unattached!
July 12, 13, 19, 20, 22, 23 & 25 at NYC's Feinstein's/54 Below
Back by popular demand after a sold-out winter engagement, these two leading ladies are ready to tear the paint off the walls of Feinstein’s/54 Below with both new material and some of their old favorites. It will be a concert to remember (click here to purchase their new album).

7) Groundhog Day
July 15 - September 17 at London's Old Vic Theatre
Director Matthew Warchus, composer and lyricist Tim Minchin, choreographer Peter Darling and designer Rob Howell - four of the creators of Matilda The Musical - have joined forces with writer Danny Rubin to collaborate on this new musical based on his 1993 film starring Bill Murray. Andy Karl (On the Twentieth Century, Rocky) plays cynical Pittsburgh TV weatherman Phil Connors who finds himself caught in a time loop, forced to repeat the same day over and over again.

8) Poster Boy
July 27 - August 7 at Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown, MA
Inspired by actual events surrounding the 2010 suicide of Tyler Clementi, a college student who brought national attention to cyber-bullying, Poster Boy is a new American musical by Tony Award-nominated composer Craig Carnelia and playwright Joe Tracz. A community of gay men in an online chat room come together to discover what drove one of their own to take his life. The cast includes Jerry Dixon, Katie Lee Hill, Rohan Kymal, Jose Llana, Ned Riseley, Taylor Trensch, Stephen Wallem and Noah Zachary.

9) A Chorus Line
July 29 - 31 at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles
The three performances will be directed and choreographed by Baayork Lee, who appeared as Connie Wong in the original Broadway production and choreographed the Broadway revival in 2006. The cast includes Sabrina Bryan as Valerie Clark, Robert Fairchild as Mike Costa, Spencer Liff as Larry, Ross Lynch as Mark Anthony, Mara Davi as Maggie Winslow, Denis Lambert as Gregory Gardner, J. Elaine Marcos as Connie Wong, Jason Tam as Paul San Marco, and Leigh Zimmerman as Sheila Bryant.

10) Broadway Barks
July 30 at NYC's Shubert Alley
Founded by Mary Tyler Moore and Bernadette Peters, this star-studded dog and cat adoption event benefiting New York City animal shelters and adoption agencies returns for an 18th year with co-hosts Peters and Gloria Estefan. Celebrities scheduled to appear at this free event include Michael Cerveris, Judy Kaye, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Bebe Neuwirth, Peter Scolari, Max von Essen and many others.

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