The Chicago Shakespeare Theater's production of Stephen Sondheim's musical look at the opening of Japan to the West, Pacific Overtures, is what the original Broadway mounting never was: a hit. The rare revival has been entended a full month to Jan. 6, 2002. The musical began performances at CST's Navy Pier home on Oct. 10 and was to close on Dec. 2. The Windy City's tireless stager of musicals, Gary Griffin, is in the director's chair.
The cast includes Kevin Gudahl as Kayama, Joseph Anthony Foronda as Reciter, Blake Hammond as Shogun's Mother, Christopher Mark Peterson as Manjiro, Niel Friedman as Madam, Richard Manera as Lion Dancer, Nathaniel Stamplet as Warrior, Anthony Hite as Tamate and Jeff Dumas as Dutch Admiral.
The original production of Pacific Overtures opened at the Winter Garden Theatre Jan. 11, 1976. Harold Prince directed, using Kabuki-styled techniques. John Weidman wrote the book. It ran only 138 performances.
It will be Simon Callow in the fall and Peter Brook in the spring at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. The two artists will be featured in the company's CST Festivals, one of which occurs when the leaves are falling, the other when new leaves are blossoming. Simon Callow will bring his one-man show The Mystery of Charles Dickens to CST Dec. 4-23. Callow, who has worn nearly every chapeau on the theatrical hatrack, performed Mystery in the West End. In the piece, he plays the celebrated Victorian novelist, as well as more than 40 of his creations, from Mr. Micawber (David Copperfield) to Mrs. Gamp (Martin Chuzzlewit) to Bill Sikes (Oliver Twist) to Miss Havisham (Great Expectations). (Dickens, who worshipped the stage and often toyed with acting, would no doubt approve.) Peter Ackroyd wrote the piece, which will be directed by Patrick Garland.
In the spring, Brook will pay a return visit. CST scored a coup when Peter Brook presented his Hamlet at the Windy City theatre last season. Now, the theatrical auteur returns with Le Costume (The Suit), a play based on a work by South African writer Can Themba about an unorthodox love triangle between a man, a woman, and...a suit.
Le Costume's dates are yet to be announced.
For more information, call (312) 565-5600.
—By Robert Simonson