A season of divas: LuPone, Skinner and Ebersole


Watch out Chicago! A flurry of diva activity is coming your way in the next few months, so bundle up accordingly!

Wow. How’s that for a cheesy opener? Anyway, as I was looking at what’s coming down the pike, I noticed some big-time female theatre talent is making its way to the windy city. Here’s an overview:

Rachel York
The 101 Dalmatians Musical
Feb. 16 – Feb. 28 at the Cadillac Palace

She’s coming for you, and your little dog, too! The lovely and talented Rachel York is starring in this national tour as Cruella de Vil — a role I’m sure she’ll rip into with delight. Ms. York is a complete pro and has paid her dues, so it’s nice to finally see her get title billing in this show. I also wrote a Diva Friday post on her, which you can read here (and she also responded in the comments!). This just in: According to a comment posted below, Rachel will be out of the show after this week! Her website confirms this.

Once The 101 Dalmatians Musical ends its engagement at the Wharton Center in East Lansing, Michigan on Sunday, January 31, Rachel will hang up her furs and climb down from her stilts, ending her triumphant run as the notorious puppy snatcher Cruella De Vil. With a trunk full of unanimous rave reviews in hand, Rachel is heading back to Hollywood where she will pursue promising film and television opportunities.

Patti LuPone
An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin
March 2 – March 7 at the Cadillac Palace

Anyone who knows me knows of my devotion to this red-hot diva. I’ve spent fortunes seeing her in concerts, shows and clubs, and will even suppress my strong distaste for Mandy Patinkin to see her onstage yet again. This time, let’s hope I don’t get LuPWNED.

Emily Skinner
Billy Elliot the Musical
Begins March 18 at the Ford Center/Oriental Theatre

I’ve already discussed my love for Ms. Skinner here. I can’t wait to see her star in this hit Elton John musical as Mrs. Wilkinson, Billy’s zesty dance instructor and mentor. And, unlike the rest of the divas mentioned here, this run is open-ended — so she’ll be around for a while (hopefully).

Christine Ebersole
An Evening with Christine Ebersole
March 25 at Harris Theatre

I was fortunate enough to see Ms. Ebersole in her Tony-winning role in Grey Gardens the week before it closed on Broadway, and it was a milestone theatrical moment. She’s magnetic, with a rapid-fire New Jersey swagger that seems entirely at odds with her crystal-pure voice. And if this concert is anything like her albums, it’ll be a class act, all the way. (Also, don’t forget to buy your tickets to see Stephen Sondheim, a diva in his own right, at Harris Theatre on March 4.)

(Am I missing anyone?)

8 thoughts on “A season of divas: LuPone, Skinner and Ebersole

  1. Sorry to be the one to break the bad news to you, but Rachel York is leaving the dog tour. Her website says this week (Michigan) is her last. Thank goodness I saw her in Boston! She was un.be.lievable. Truly. Words can’t describe her Cruella. I can’t imagine who could possibly come close to filling her shoes – er, stilts! It’s a real shame you’ll miss her. Her performance was one for the ages.

  2. How about Chicago’s own Shannon Cochran in the Amy Morton role in “August Osage County.” She’s not based in Chicago anymore but she was right up with the best of Chicago Diva’s. She played the lead in Heartbeats, Pam in Baby, Charity in Sweet Charity, Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady Anita in West Side Story and The Bakers Wife in Into the Woods all at the Marriott, Woman #2 in And the World Goes Round at Appletree and I remember she replaced Marin Mazzie in Riverview at the Goodman. She’s also been in a lot of big TV shows like N.Y.P.D. Blue, Star Trek, Seinfeld and played the spooky mother in The Ring. She also won a drama desk nomination for originating the lead in bug off Broadway. I can’t wait to see her and Estelle Parsons go at. The Diva Fur will fly.

    Also classical wise my great joy Susan Moniz is playing Katherine in “The Taming of the Shrew” at Provision Theater with Tim Gregory.

    Any interest?

  3. I save all the old programs and I alway worry that if I did something like that some of them would think I was off my head.

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