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Chicago Is Talking About . . .
THE “Michael Jackson Tribute Spectacular: MJ Live,” scheduled for February 1 at the Rosemont Theatre, has been described as “the ultimate MJ tribute show,” and it mirrors the electrifying performances by the legendary King of Pop. Renowned impersonator Michael Firestone, who has become a fixture doing the show in Las Vegas, incorporates many of the elements that rocketed Jackson to superstardom, including his incredible dance moves. But it’s the music that’s always at the forefront and includes the performance of hit songs such as “Bad,” “Billie Jean” and “Beat It.” Additionally, Firestone reaches back for tunes made popular by the Jackson 5, including “ABC” and “I Want You Back.” The spectacular lighting and special effects enhance the show that many observers consider to be representative of one of history’s greatest entertainers.  
The 'Stay Tuned: Rock On TV' Exhibit
A Tribute To 'The King of Pop'
THE first stop in the nationwide tour of the Stay Tuned: Rock On TV exhibit has arrived at the Museum of Broadcast Communication and will continue to be displayed through April 2. From “American Bandstand” to the height of MTV, the multisensory and multimedia exhibit highlights the story of how TV and rock and roll benefited each other and how TV helped to launch the careers of legendary entertainers. The exhibit provides visitors with an experience that’s narrated with exclusive footage from Mike Meyers, Martha Quinn, Kelly Clarkson, Micky Dolenz, Kevin Eubanks, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Shaffer and Darlene Love. Included among the 300 artifacts in the exhibit are stage designs from the Beatles’ appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” outfits worn by the Jackson 5, clothing worn by Sonny and Cher, Davy Jones’ jacket worn on “The Brady Bunch,” contracts between entertainers and “American Bandstand,” the acoustic guitar played by Eric Clapton on “MTV Unplugged” and much more. The educational walk through history goes from the post-war ‘40s through the era of “The Voice.” For more information, go to www.museum.tv/index.htm.
The Tale Of 'Once On This Island'
THE storyline in the Tony Award-winning Once On This Island has a familiar ring to it, but there’s so much more that gives the entertaining musical its own distinctive identity and appeal, beginning with the music. Simply put, the production––running through February 2 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre––is a kind of Romeo and Juliet that takes place in the French Antilles, where Ti Moune (Courtnee Carter), a young peasant girl who (through a remarkable set of circumstances), falls in love with a well-to-do guy (Tyler Hardwick) on the other side of the tracks and later, despite some incredible obstacles and the family barriers that want to keep them apart, she embarks on a determined journey to reunite with the man she nursed to health after a terrible accident. 
   Based on Rosa Guy’s 1985 novel My Love, My Love and directed by two-time Tony Award-nominated director Michael ArdenOnce On This Island is more than a love story, and it focuses on other serious themes such as the pains associated with the dark-skinned/light-skinned issue and problems some parents have with their children’s inevitable desire for independence. Also noteworthy is the fact that In this production members of the audience are seated on stage but don’t really interfere with the visuals of Dane Laffrey’s scenic design, which gives the sense of a functional, close-knit Caribbean village. While acclaimed choreographer Camille A. Brown adds a deft touch, it’s the music by Tony Award-winners Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty that adds charm and prompt thoughts of gentle breezes, swaying palm trees and brilliant sunsets.
   As part of Once On This Island’s first national tour, the cast includes some of the show’s Broadway performers, including Carter, Hardwick, Cassondra James, Phillip Boykin and Tamyra Gray, who plays the evil-intentioned spirit Papa Ge. The successful actress, songwriter and singer is also remembered as finishing in fourth place on the first season of “American Idol” in 2002.
   For more information and tickets to Once On This Island, go to www.broadwayinchicago.com.