A boy can dream, can’t he? I’ve been mulling this thing in my high-foreheaded skull for years — though I’m sure I’m not the first person who’s thought of it, since any Sondheim freak dreams of seeing a perfect production of Follies, and the mysterious Uptown Theatre is one of those spaces that’s captured the imaginations of many Chicagoans. However, I feel the need to share it with the www. Maybe by doing so, it will send my dream out into the universe to eventually land on some Sondheim-loving, deep-pocketed producer’s lap. Are you listening, deep-pocked producers? My ideas are completely free, and I’ve many more where this came from. (I also make great baklava, if you need more incentive.)
If you’re from Chicago, you’re probably aware of the long-standing campaign to save the crumbling beast that is the Uptown Theatre. Located at the corner of Broadway and Lawrence, this building, which I see each morning on my way to work from the Red Line, has become more of a mural for spray paint vandals than a landmark movie house. And while the auditorium seems in need of some love and care (at least from pictures I’ve seen), the lobby looks in pretty fair shape. In fact: it’s stunning:
[Photo via Carey Primeau]
And so, here’s my idea: Follies, which is about a group of Ziegfeld-type chorus girls who reunite for one final celebration before the theatre they called home is demolished, would be perfect to stage in the lobby for all sorts of obvious reasons. And, because the musical takes place mainly in the lobby of this soon-to-be extinct space, it’s an amazing use of installation theatre (is that even a term?). Also: why not turn the event (it’s an event now) into a restoration campaign!
As for the creative team for such a challenge, we could turn to recently appointed genius David Cromer. Why not? And as music director, wunderkind Doug Peck hinted when I spoke with him that he’d love to do a full-scale production of Follies (he’s doing a one-night benefit concert of the show for the Humanities Festival Nov. 9). I can’t even begin to discuss casting at this point. It’s too much for my head to fathom at 6:30 a.m. on a Wednesday.
Now, I’ll sit back and wait for some savvy producer or theatre company to realize this boy’s dream.
UPDATE: The above blog post led to this jaw-dropping tour of the Uptown Theatre >