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Sting's New Musical and "Motown" Top Broadway in Chicago's Spring 2014 Season

The two most high-profile productions of Broadway in Chicago’s Spring 2014 season — the debut of the national tour of “Motown The Musical,” and the pre-Broadway engagement of Sting’s “The Last Ship” — have already been announced. But here is the complete lineup of shows, which also includes the North American premiere of “Heartbeat of Home,” a show by the creators of “Riverdance”:

± “GHOST THE MUSICAL” (Jan. 7–19, 2014 at the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph): This new musical features an original pop score from multiple Grammy Award-winners Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard, and has been adapted from the hit film by its Academy Award-winning screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin. The story follows Sam and Molly, a young couple whose connection takes a shocking turn after Sam’s untimely death. Trapped between two worlds, Sam refuses to leave Molly when he learns she is in grave danger. Desperate to communicate with her, he turns to a storefront psychic.

± “HEARTBEAT OF HOME” (March 4–16, 2014 at the Oriental Theatre): Created by the producers and director of “Riverdance,” this new spectacle will feature dynamic components of traditional Irish, Latin and Afro-Cuban music and dance. The cast of 39 includes a 10-piece band playing a score by award-winning composer Brian Byrne. The show also employs high-definition, cutting-edge projection technology. Produced by Moya Doherty, and devised and directed by John McColgan, the show’s narrative and lyrics are the work of Irish writer Joseph O’Connor.

± “JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT” (March 18–30, 2014 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 West Randolph): This enduring first collaboration between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice blends pop, country and rock into a technicolored story “of biblical proportions.” A family musical, it playfully chronicles the trials and triumphs of Joseph, Israel’s favorite son. Broadway and television star Diana DeGarmo and Broadway star Ace Young will head up the cast of this new touring production.

± “PETER AND THE STARCATCHER” (April 2–13, 2014 at the Bank of America Theatre, 18 West Monroe): The winner of five Tony Awards, this “grown-up’s prequel” to Peter Pan, is an innovative, imaginative musical play based on the bestselling novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. Written by Rick Elice and directed by Roger Rees and Alex Timbers, it features a company of a dozen actors playing more than a hundred characters, all on a journey to answer the century?old question: How did Peter Pan become The Boy Who Never Grew Up? (Show is suitable for younger audiences but most enjoyable for those 10 and up.)

± “MOTOWN THE MUSICAL” (April 22–July 13, 2014at the Oriental Theatre): Spinning the true story of Motown founder Berry Gordy, who morphed from a featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music mogul who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and many others, this show features such classic songs as “My Girl” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” and chronicles the Motown family’s fight-against-the odds to create the soundtrack that changed America. The musical features a book by Gordy and direction by Charles Randolph-Wright.

± “THE WIZARD OF OZ” (April 30–May 11, 2014 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre): (No, not “Wicked.”) Here is the classic tale of the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, Dorothy and her little dog Toto, as they journey through the magical land of Oz to meet the Wizard and obtain their hearts’ desires. Danielle Wade, chosen by the Canadian public through CBC-TV’s reality show “Over The Rainbow,” will star as Dorothy in this new production that contains all the beloved Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg songs from the movie score, as well as new songs by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

± “THE LAST SHIP” (June 10–July 13, 2014 at the Bank of America Theatre): With an original score by pop icon Sting, this show will have its five-week pre-Broadway engagement in Chicago before opening on Broadway in the fall of 2014. With a story inspired by Sting’s own childhood experiences in a shipbuilding town in England, it features a book by John Logan (“Red”) and Brian Yorkey (“Next to Normal”), direction by Joe Mantello, and choreography by Steven Hoggett (“Once”).

Off-season specials include:

± “ONCE UPON A DREAM STARRING THE RASCALS” (Nov. 5–10, 2013 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre): A hybrid of a rock ‘n’ roll concert and a Broadway show, this production marks the first time The Rascals, America’s classic “blue-eyed soul band,” have played together since 1970. Original band members Eddie Brigati (vocals), Felix Cavaliere (keyboard & vocals), Gene Cornish (guitar) and Dino Danelli (drums) will present a complete concert performance including songs that captured the spirit of America in the 1960’s, such as their smash hits “Good Lovin’,” “Lonely Too Long,” “It’s a Beautiful Morning,” “How Can I Be Sure” and “Groovin’.” The production features the history of the iconic group told through archival footage, narration, and dramatic film segments viewed on the latest LED screen technology.

± “THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA” (Jan. 9–March 2, 2014 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre): Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s mega-success will visit Chicago as part of a new North American tour. The show features new scenic design by Paul Brown, as well as the Tony Award-winning original costume design of Maria Björnson, lighting design by Paule Constable, new choreography by Scott Ambler, and new staging by director Laurence Connor.

± “ALTON BROWN LIVE! THE EDIBLE INEVITABLE TOUR” (Feb. 8, 2014 at the Oriental Theatre): The “Iron Chef” host and renowned television personality takes his quirky humor and culinary science on the road. In Chicago for one day only, the 8 p.m. performance is sold out, but tickets for the added 3 p.m. show are on-sale now for this mix of stand-up comedy, talk show antics, multimedia lectures, live music and food experimentation.

± “CHICAGO” (Feb. 25–March 2, 2014 at the Bank of America Theatre): The Broadway classic with sensational dancing and the irresistibly jazzy Kander and Ebb score returns.

± “ROCK OF AGES” (March 11–16, 2014 at the Bank of America Theatre): Also returning is this raunchy rock club romance, set on the Sunset Strip in 1987, that features 28 hits from the 1980’s including “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Wanted Dead or Alive,” “Can’t Fight This Feeling” and “I Want to Know What Love Is.”

± “Erth’s DINOSAUR ZOO Live” (March 26–30, 2014 at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 East Chestnut): This interactive theater production takes audiences on a tour through pre-historic Australia, bringing an eye-popping array of ancient creatures to life on stage, including a menagerie of insects, mammals and dinosaurs in their ancient environment. Erth’s large-scale puppets were developed in consultation with paleontologists, based on current science and interpretations of fossil evidence. The show employs sophisticated design and electronics as well as skilled live performers and puppeteers.

± “BUYER & CELLAR” (beginning April 29, 2014 at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place): This U.S. tour premiere, which stars Michael Urie in a story written by Jonathan Tolins and directed by Stephen Brackett, spins the story of Alex More, a struggling actor in L.A. who takes a job working in “the mall” in Barbra Streisand’s Malibu basement. One day, the Lady Herself comes downstairs to play in this comedy about “the price of fame, the cost of things, and the oddest of odd jobs.”

± “MAMMA MIA!” (May 13–18, 2014 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre): Spinning around the ABBA songbook, this hit musical is the story of an independent, single mother who owns a small hotel on an idyllic Greek island. Her daughter, who is about to get married, has invited three of her mom’s former boyfriends to the weddings in an effort to discover if one of them might be her father.

The Broadway In Chicago Season is available now to current subscribers and will go on sale to all others on Oct. 11. Tickets are now available for groups of 15 or more by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710. Individual tickets for the 2014 Spring Season will go on sale at a later date.

EMAIL: hweiss@suntimes.com

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