If you were anywhere in or near Chicago, or grew up here and now live somewhere else, the out-of-this-world excitement of the 2016 Chicago Cubs World Series run is a bright and brilliant memory. It was, in a few words, a dream come true for generations of Cubs fans. For one of those fans—former State Senator William A. ‘Billy’ Marovitz–the only word necessary is “MIRACLE,” which happens to be the name of his new musical premiering at the Royal George Theatre later this month.
Not everyone became a Cubs fan during that glorious season for the Boys in Blue, but as the team continued to play with heart, dominate their division and the National League with a seemingly different hero every night, the Cubs began to win over a nation of sports fans. They came from near and far. Fans turned out, tuned in and as the fever pitch rose for the post-season, the Chicago Cubs seemed destined to rid themselves of the hollow promises of the past 108 years. Down 3 games to 1 to the Cleveland Indians, just about everyone counted them out. But then something truly magical happened. Some even call it Divine intervention.
The idea to transform one of the greatest sports stories of all time into a musical started for Marovitz, with co-creator Julian Frazin, in February 2016. Marovitz was convinced that the Cubs had a legitimate shot to win it all and conceptualized a story around the relationships of a Wrigleyville family whose love of the game transcends generations.
Marovitz first enlisted long-time friend and co-producer Arny Granat to partner in the project. He approached the Chicago Cubs organization for production support and then assembled an All-Star creative team of his own including book writer Jason Brett, lyricist and composer Michael Mahler and director Damon Kiely. Rehearsals for the Royal George world premiere on May 17th are underway with Brandon Dahlquest, Gene Weygandt, and Allison Sill in leading roles. Dina DiCostanzo is the choreographer, muscial direction by Kory Davidson, set design by Collette Pollard and costumes by Izumi Inaba.
There is more ahead—and more details about the show and the creative process—in our conversation with the producer of one of this summer’s most anticipated new theatrical productions, Billy Marovitz. PODCAST
The Story… “The grandmother has passed. The bar is named after her. It's called ‘Maggie's.’ It was there when she was alive and she worked in the bar with her husband, Pops. They have a son, Charlie, who was a minor league ballplayer in Florida. … Charlie came home. Left baseball. Married Sofia, the woman that he met in Florida, and now runs the bar. They have a little girl named Dani who is a Cub nut. Loves it. Knows statistics. Wears a Kyle Schwarber uniform every day until he comes back after his injury. It's a story about them. It's a story about love and family and overcoming adversity. Losing faith and regaining faith … (a story) a lot of families in Chicago, whether you are a Cub fan or not, will be able to identify with.”
Co-Creator Julian Frazin… “Julian Frazin and I have worked on this from the very beginning when I came up with the idea in February 2016 to do a play about the 2016 Chicago Cubs and see it through the eyes of a typical blue collar working class family in Chicago who are generational Cub fans and own a bar in Wrigleyville. Julian has been with me all along working on this and wrote two fabulous songs for the show: ‘Sometimes Miracles Do Happen’ and ‘The Voice Above The Crowd’ … (The Voice) was an homage to Jack (broadcaster Jack Brickhouse, written by Frazin for the Brickhouse statue dedication on Michigan Avenue, performed by the late Jimmy Damon, and later performed at the 2003 All-Star game)…(STYX) Dennis DeYoung came on the field and sang ‘The Voice Above The Crowd” as they did a tribute to the great announcers. In our show, this song will be sung by Pops and there will be a tribute to the great Cubs announcers of the past; announcers that not only were the voice above the crowd, but today are the voice above the clouds.”
Book by Jason Brett…“I told him I had this idea, We talked about it a lot and he would throw this nugget out and that nugget out, this suggestion, that creative thing. Jason has a very creative mind. … And I said, Jason, why don't you write this? I like your ideas. You know what my vision is, you know what I want. And he resisted… Finally, I guess, I twisted his arm long enough, as did our director Damon Kiely, and he agreed to do it. I think he's done a great job.”
Music and Lyrics by Michael Mahler…“Michael's a genius. One of the greatest composers and lyricists that exist in the country. The arrow of his career is only going up. We'll see him on Broadway very soon. I'm glad that we got him here in Chicago. He's a Chicago Cub fan. When I sat down with Michael the first time, I said, ‘I see a lot of musicals, but I'm very tough on musicals. If I can't sing or hum a song or two when I'm walking out of the theater, to me, the musical hasn't been successful. So, I want to walk out of that theater singing or humming some songs. I would like them to be melodic songs. I want melodies that people will remember. And God love him. He's given me 16, 18 beautiful melodic songs that the audiences in Chicago will really like.”
The Cast… “Brandon Dahlquist plays Charlie who runs the bar. … His wife (Sofia) is played by a beautiful, young woman named Alison Sill. Pops is a well-known Chicago actor named Gene Weygandt. He's the grandfather in the show. We have two 11-year old girls that will switch off to play Dani. Elise Wolf, the cutest thing you ever saw … and Amaris Sanchez, who is wonderfully talented and has been on Broadway… A fantastic actor who plays two parts, Jonathan Butler-DuPlessis. Veronica Garza, who is just hysterical, plays Babs who owns a fix-it shop right next to the bar, and, Michael Kingston, who plays two parts—(one) owns a souvenir store next to the bar. “
The Creative Process… “turning this over to a creative team, that's something that takes a little getting used to. I had an idea of what I wanted. I had a vision and I wanted to be a part of the creative process all the way. But when you hire a great composer and lyricist, a wonderful book writer and a director of experience, you have to let them do their thing and then come in and comment on it. You can't micro-manage. …For me it was a learning process because, you know, I think that when you come in as a novice, having been in the Senate, having been a real estate developer, having been a restaurateur, and all of a sudden you're coming in and you think you're going to produce this musical, obviously you have a lot of people who were skeptical and say: “Well, what do you know about this? Why should we even listen to you? What credibility do you have?” But like one of my good friends, Rich Melman told me,: “Hire the best team.” That’s the key to everything. Hire the best team. The people you have confidence in. Then turn them loose because they're professionals too. And they only want the best. … We all want the same thing at the end. We want a great show. We want the audience to walk out, singing, smiling, laughing, and telling their friends you got to go see it.” PODCAST
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