Ron Hawking Takes Center Stage––Again
And the award-winning performer is bringing a few of his legendary friends along with him
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YOU never know what’s going to come out of Ron Hawking’s mouth. Or more precisely whose voice and what song will come out of his mouth. Sinatra. Tony Bennett. Ray Charles. Joe Cocker. Louis Armstrong. Nat King Cole. Frankie Valli. Burt Bacharach. Bobby Darin. Andrea Bocelli. Lou Rawls. Kenny Rogers. And so many more that you might not expect to come from the multitalented vocalist and impressionist.
It’s all a part of the 10th anniversary celebration of Hawking’s entertaining production “The Men and Their Music,” which will be featured at the Apollo Theater Chicago from September 7 through October 1. “For the 10th anniversary of ‘The Men and Their Music,’ we’ve put together a refreshed set list that commemorates and showcases the legendary singers and songwriters of popular song, plus a few surprises from artists of today,” says Hawking, a 2015 Grammy Award-nominee for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. “With a team of brilliant musicians alongside me, we bring these great songs—and the men who sang them—back into the spotlight on the Apollo’s intimate stage.”
The entertaining and multifaceted show originated in 2007 at Chicago’s Mercury Theater, where it ran for a year before Hawking, an entertainment fixture in Chicago since the 1970s, took it on the road to share his talents in cities across the country. It was greeted with such enthusiasm that the show became more and more popular, and the recipient of the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award at the Chicago Music Awards had carved his own niche into an industry that can be demanding and some of its followers fickle.
As Hawking says, it's not easy "to keep the musical plates spinning," and to stay on top, Hawking’s show is one that’s ever-evolving, so you never know who will be featured in the performance––especially since he has a love for all kinds of music. “I’ve always had a very eclectic love of music––from classical to rock––and I thought it would be a very good fit for my talent because I not only like singing all different types of music, but I’m not limited to one style,” says the man who found out he could do impressions as a child. “I thought this show would be a great showcase, not only for the audience but a good showcase for my talent. It proved to be true. I not only get to showcase my artistry as a singer but my artistry as an impressionist, and at the same time make some of these artists from our baby-boomer history come alive in various formats."
For those who might not be aware of “The Men and Their Music,” perhaps they are among the thousands who have been touched by Hawking’s long-running salute to Frank Sinatra in “His Way: A Tribute to the Man and His Music,” which highlighted Hawking’s cabaret style in venues across the country from 1998 to 2006. Additionally, in honor of Sinatra’s 100th birthday in 2015, in a special one-night-only performance at the Auditorium Theatre, he honored Ol’ Blue Eyes with “His Way––Sinatra’s Centennial Celebration.”
So naturally music lovers wonder if Sinatra and other members of The Rat Pack will be a part of the show at the Apollo Theater. Hawking’s answer is simple: “Well, you can’t fire Frank, can’t fire Dean and you can’t fire Sammy.” Joining them will be a collection of legendary figures and their songs, including medleys from newcomers Elton John and Billy Joel, and a special salute to the recently deceased “Rhinestone Cowboy,” Glen Campbell. But there’s even more in his attempt to bring something new to the stage. To refresh his repertoire even further, Hawking has taken some gigantic, impressive steps by inserting two iconic songs into the show that he will do in foreign languages, one being The Moody Blues’ classic “Nights in White Satin,” which he will sing in Italian.
Perhaps such ingenuity and determination (and the voice) are the primary reasons that the legend of Ron Hawking continues to grow, years after he established himself as a top studio singer and voice-over actor for commercial ad campaigns and after being selected for the role of the Syracuse University play-by-play football announcer in the 2008 movie The Express.
Even with so many varying talents that he can summon, for Hawking, it’s still music––more accurately, performing music––that deeply touches his soul. And his level of excitement is heightened daily as he gets closer to performing that first song at the Apollo. “I always try to entertain my audience the best way I know how,” Hawking says. “I want the Apollo audience to walk away from the show with a spring in their steps and music in their hearts."
Vocalist and impressionist Ron Hawking brings his acclaimed show to Apollo Theater Chicago.
As a child, Hawking's first impression was of singer and trumpeter Louis Armstrong.
Show Schedule: Thursdays at 2 p.m.; Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 5 and 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m. Ticket prices are $65 VIP seating (includes one free beverage at the Apollo lobby bar); $25 to $45 standard seating. To purchase tickets, call the Apollo Theater box office at 773/935-6100.
“I’ve always had a very eclectic love of music––from classical to rock––and I thought ['The Men and Their Music'] would be a very good fit for my talent. With a team of brilliant musicians alongside me, we bring these great songs––and the men who sang them––back into the spotlight."
–– Ron Hawking