Marc Shaiman...This Is Your Life! | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Marc Shaiman...This Is Your Life! 

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Marc Shaiman, who made headlines when he gave his lover and collaborator Scott Wittman a passionate smooch on the 2003 Tony Awards broadcast, is a first-rate tunesmith with a gift for pitch-perfect parody. Here he'll play piano for the cast of their musical Hairspray--running through mid-February at the Oriental--as they fete him with Marc Shaiman...This Is Your Life!, a showcase of hits and misses from his impressive career. The program includes material cut from Hairspray before it opened on Broadway; tunes Shaiman wrote for The Addams Family, Sister Act, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, and other films; and songs from an early show he and Wittman wrote about Ken and Barbie. ("Word to the wise," Shaiman advises: "Do not fuck with Mattel!") Chicago journalist-turned-Hollywood gag writer Bruce Vilanch, who teamed with Shaiman to write Bette Midler's famous farewell salute to Johnny Carson and plays Edna Turnblad in Hairspray, will emcee. In his days as a feature writer for Chicago Today in the early 70s, the rotund and raunchy Vilanch was a popular "sit-down comic" at the legendary Rush Street piano bar Punchinello's, and his quick, barbed wit is well suited to the intimate environs of a nightclub. The steep ticket prices for this show (seats are $25-$150, though for a two-drink minimum you can watch on closed-circuit TV from the bar) don't seem to have slowed advance sales: a second, late-night show has been added to accommodate demand. Proceeds benefit the Alexian Brothers AIDS residences Bonaventure House and the Harbor. Monday, February 9, 8 and 10:30 PM, Gentry, 440 N. State; 312-836-0933 or 312-902-1400.

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