Dorothy’s Best Bets

For those of us spending January at home, Broadway in Chicago is trying hard to provide some bright spots in the winter sky. Three productions are coming to the Windy City, and they couldn’t be more different.

DATE NIGHT: “Dreamgirls”
Cadillac Palace, Jan. 19 to 31

For a night out downtown with your husband or significant other, head over to the Cadillac Palace for the song-packed and soul-filled musical “Dreamgirls.” It’s a fictionalized version of the rise of a young female singing trio from Chicago to popular music stardom, based on the careers of girl groups such as the Supremes and the Shirelles and their male managers.

The music is by Academy Award-nominee Henry Krieger, and lyrics and book are by Tony and Grammy Award winner Tom Eyen. “Dreamgirls” won Tony Awards in 1982 and was made into a movie in 2008, for which Chicago favorite Jennifer Hudson won an Academy Award for her role as Effie, the rejected Dreamgirl.

FAMILY FUN: “Annie”
Auditorium Theatre, Jan. 19 to 24

Poor little Orphan Annie was born in a comic strip and lived in a girls’ orphanage during the Great Depression. But she gets a whole new life when she and her dog Sandy are taken into Daddy Warbucks’ mansion. Plus, she charms him and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt with her hopeful song “Tomorrow.”

This is real family entertainment and it might be fun to bring along any grandparents who haven’t managed to escape winter’s blast. The show, with music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin and book by Thomas Meehan, opened on Broadway in 1977, won a Tony for Best Musical and ran for 6 years. It was made into a film in 1982.

GIRLS’ NIGHT OUT: “Mamma Mia!”
Rosemont Theater Jan. 19 to 24

Get your girlfriends together for this romantic chick-fantasy, set on a sun-kissed Greek Island. Twenty-year-old Sophie is getting married, and she wants her father to walk her down the aisle. Trouble is, she has no clue to his identity. When she finds her mother’s old diary, she realizes that she has three possible fathers. When she invites all those men to the wedding, chaos ensues. In the end, Sophie calls off her nuptials and her mother and the most handsome of the former lovers walk down the aisle instead.

The idea of stringing together ABBA songs to create a musical was the brainchild of Judy Craymer, who commissioned Catherine Johnson to write the book. Johnson purloined the plot from the 1968 film “Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell” and since 1998 the show has been a smash hit, eventually playing in 41 counties and in 11 languages. Note that the girl is called Sophie, after the goddess of wisdom, suggesting the saying “it’s a wise child that knows its own father.”

For tickets and information on all three productions, visit Broadway in Chicago box offices, Ticketmaster outlets, call the Broadway in Chicago ticket line at 800-775-2000 or visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com.