Auditorium Theatre’s Too Hot to Handel isn’t your great-great-great grandfather’s Handel
Of all the options we have in Chicago, I didn’t expect to spend a blustery January evening grooving along to jazzy, uptempo renditions of Handel’s Messiah. An unparalleled experience, it was a moving, talented-filled tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that had the whole house dancing in the aisles and giving standing ovations after many numbers.
This isn’t your great-great-great grandfather’s Handel: The musical arrangement is everything from jazz to gospel and blues, swing, classical and even scat. Led by soloists Rodrick Dixon (wow, that voice!), Alfreda Burke and Karen Marie Richardson, all weighty voices able to draw out the passion of every piece.
But the 50-piece orchestra led by Suzanne Mallare Acton and chorus of 100 led by Bill Fraher of Old St. Pat’s is no backdrop. Virtuosos like pianist Alvin Waddles, electric guitarist Dave Marsh and David Taylor on drums are truly powerhouses on full display with their improvised solos.
The Auditorium Theatre has hosted the Chicago version since 2006, and many audience goers have been going year after year.
There are only three performances every year, so you’ll have to mark your calendars for next January. It’s definitely a hot way to get through January in Chicago.
I attended a performance courtesy of the Auditorium Theatre, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.