Die Laughing at the Hysterical Musical “Death Becomes Her” Through June 2, at The Cadillac Palace Theatre

Spread the love

The 1992 black humor satirical Universal Pictures film directed and produced by Robert Zemeckis and written by David Koepp and Martin Donovan of Death Becomes Her has become a “Musical Comedy Revitalized.” Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn, Bruce Willis, and Isabella Rossellini were the original campy over-the-top stars in the film receiving mixed reviews by critics but achieved a huge commercial success grossing $149 million worldwide and becoming an LGBTQ cult classic. Its pioneering computer-generated special effects won this film an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

Megan Hilty and Jennifer Simard

Emmy-nominated Marco Pennette, best known as a successful television comedy writer and producer, has successfully revamped the book for musical theatre. It is directed and choreographed by Tony Award nominee, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, and Lucille Lortel Award winner for choreography, Christopher Gattelli. The ensemble dancers were phenomenal with breath-taking athletic abilities. Broadway on Chicago and Universal Theatrical Group are producing this star-studded, spectacular, revitalized hysterically fun World Premiere of Death Becomes Her through June 2 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre at 151 West Randolph Street, Chicago.

Michelle Williams as Viola Van Horn and Ensemble

The original score of more than twenty songs in Death Becomes Her is composed by Julia Mattison and Noel Carey who are making their Broadway debut as lyricists and composers. Their lyrics and music are comedy gold and match the storylines flawlessly. Carey describes their style for this musical as  “The score is doing that 1950’s over-that-drama where someone faints and it’s scored. We have winks and nods to that. It certainly can’t be ignored.” Superb musical supervision is by Mary-Mitchell Campbell. Ben Cohen is the music director. He was the music director for the Grammy and Tony-winning Dear Evan Hansen. Orchestrations are by prolific Douglas Besterman a six-time nominated and three-time Best Orchestrations Tony Award winner. The acclaimed composer Sam Davis is responsible for the dance and incidental music arrangements. The entrancing lighting design by Tony Award, four-time Drama Desk Award, Outer Circle Award winner, and six-time nominee in various categories Justin Townsend. Sound design by Tony Award winner and eight-time nominee Peter Hylenski delights the audience and perfectly captures the elusive supernatural mood of this musical. World Famous Touring Illusionist and magician Rob Lakes’ illusions are amazing and impressive. While wig design by Award-winning Charles LaPointe, and makeup by Emmy-nominated Joe Dulude II bring both the glitz, glamour, and darkness to this tale of grudging friendship, love, and unreal striving for perfection.

Megan Hilty as Madeline Ashton Fading Broadway Actress and Jennifer Simard as the Second Fiddle Playwright Helen Sharp

 In an interview with Tribune Critic Chris Jones, star Megan Hilty expressed why the original film screams to become a musical. “So it must have been about 11 years ago and I was doing this interview, and someone asked me, ‘If there was one movie you could turn into a musical what would it be?” ‘Death Becomes Her.’ Duh! That is the only movie I can think of that truly heightened experiences that warrant breaking into song.” Hilty continues “It is fabulous and everyone loves it.” She is right on!

Christopher Sieber as Plastic Surgeon Ernest Menville

The starring role of Helen Sharp is played by two-time Tony Award, four-time Drama Desk Award, two-time Drama League Award, and Lucille Lortel Award nominee Jennifer Simard. Madeline Ashton portrayed by Megan Hilty also has a slew of nominations. She has a Tony nomination, two Drama Desk Award nominations, two Drama League Award nominations, an Outer Critics Circle Award nomination, and a Broadway.com Audience Award for Favorite Actress Win. Josh Lamon Madeline Ashton’s assistant is a convincingly comedic foil to her unrelenting narcissism. The Simard and Ashton duo beautifully balance snarkiness with adorably charming performances. Simard and Hilty play the ultimate frenemy rivals vying for plastic surgeon Ernest Menville’s affection portrayed by Christopher Sieber who has been nominated twice for a Tony Award and nominated twice for a Drama Desk Award, and once for an Outer Critics Circle Award nomination. Grammy Award winner Michelle Williams (Destiny’s Child, Chicago, and a Rockford native) plays Viola Van Horn a mystery woman with a secret magical potion that both frenemies imbibe. Then the trouble ensues. Williams plays a captivating mesmerizing sorceress with comedy chops. Jennifer and Helen’s youth and beauty are restored, with surprising side effects, but their eternal quest for revenge takes on a whole new dimension and intensity.

Christopher Sieber

The remarkably acclaimed set designer Derek McLane recipient of two Tonys, two Obies three Lucille Lortels, one Drama Desk Award, two Art Director Guild Awards, and two Emmys has created a dark, gothic set matching the storyline. It is easy to see why Paul Tazewell is such an honored and sought-after costume designer. His costumes are exquisite. Some are glamorous and sensuous, and others are drop-dead gorgeous. Many of Williams’s costumes were jaw-dropping stunning. He has won a Tony, Emmy, and an Academy Award nomination among twenty other well-deserved prestigious nominations.

Michelle Williams

I am absolutely thrilled and love it when Chicago gets first dibs on such a stellar cast, marvelous production, and award-winning creative support team as Death Becomes Her. In addition, Chicago theater audiences deserve accolades for their acceptance of new works, works in transition, and revivals. Emmy and Tony winner, Jason Alexander currently appearing in Judgement Day at the Shakespeare Theater echoes this sentiment in a recent ABC interview asserting, “There is a reason new pieces come to this town, because you have an audience that is interested in stuff, that you know, is still in development.” Daniel Breaker his co-star agrees. He played Aaron Burr in Chicago’s Hamilton. He says, “I’ve always been a fan of Chicago audiences. They’re hungry for new works. They love the classics. There is a real embrace to the diversity of theater. Opening night for Death Becomes Her with its rapid-fire silly fun comedy was embraced by an enthusiastic welcoming audience from the rise of the curtain to the finale.

Death Becomes Her runtime is 2 hours and 30 minutes including a fifteen minute intermission. Age Recommendations: This show is suitable for ages 12 and up. All persons entering the theater, regardless of age, must have a ticket. Interpark is the official parking garage for Broadway in Chicago. For tickets and further information contact Broadway in Chicago.

Photos Courtesy of: Broadway in Chicago


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.