Live, from Peoria Illinois, it’s Saturday Night starring Chip Joyce in Getting Wilder presented by Peoria Cabaret Theatre in The Broadway Lounge at the Maxam Building. And now please welcome this week’s host, Chip Joyce in Getting Wilder!
Here we are at The Maxam Building on Washington Street. It’s certainly one of Peoria’s more impressive and unique buildings. Check out the Peoria downtown skyline in the mirrored windows! Very cool! There’s a flyer for the show on the door and as you enter there’s a nice waiting area in the front foyer.
As I was heading down the front hallway I noticed someone painting in the front room, so I thought I’d barge in like I always do and see what was going on. It turns out that Peoria’s best known artist, Preston Jackson was painting a mural for the building in there! It’s always a pleasure to see Preston, we had a nice chat and then I let him get back to work.
Okay, it’s off to the Broadway Lounge we go. That’s Nyk Sutter the Banquet and Lead Event Manager at the door. He told me to go in and I could take my seat at table number one in the dining room.
Wow, check out the bar in here! Very nice! The dining room/stage area is straight ahead, right down this hallway.
There’s the dining room and i thought I’d go up and take some shots of the stage. There’s assorted Gene Wilder photos including pictures with him and Gilda Radner and Zero Mostel. There’s also VHS tapes and DVD’s of some of the movies that Gene Wilder starred in throughout his career. And there’s my table. Let’s sit down and let the evening begin!
I’m early as always, but some people have beat me here. That’s Jen, who’s our waitress for the evening. She took my order and through the miracle of these here interwebs...
Here it is! The dinner for the show was a three course dinner. You had your choice of soup or salad for the first course. For the main entree you could choose between a New York Strip Steak, Chicken in a cream sauce or Grilled Salmon. I got the soup which was mushroom bisque and for the main course I got the chicken. The dinner was really tasty. The mushroom bisque had chunks of fresh mushroom and the soup really was flavorful. It was seasoned nicely and I really enjoyed it. The main course didn’t disappoint either. It was a large chicken breast covered in a rich herb cream sauce. The chicken was juicy and the sauce really made the dinner a rich and tasty meal. It came with oven-roasted carrots and a rice pilaf with peas. My only complaint was the peas, I’m not really a fan of peas, but I guess it’s better than beans! Oh and there was homemade cheesecake for dessert, but I passed on that because I was full from the first two courses! All in all a wonderful meal!
After dinner I found Chip and his wife Jenny near the bar. Chip told me that the first night of the show went great. He explained that the show is a tribute to Gene Wilder and his wonderful acting, writing and directing career. He said that the show is done cabaret style with lots of songs and a couple guest singers are part of the show as well. I can’t wait for this because I’m a huge Gene Wilder fan! They went backstage to get ready and I returned to my table in the theater/dining room. And soon it’s...
This was so entertaining from the get-go. Chip shared personal stories of how he got to know Gene Wilder in film and what an inspiration he was to him. He also told stories about Gene and his career and sang lots of songs. I didn’t know that Chip was such a talented vocalist but the songs were really done nicely and Laura Weaver Hughes who was the pianist and musical director for the show was fantastic. Chip didn’t imitate Gene Wilder but he certainly summoned his inner-Wilder for the show. He captured some of the understated energy and subtle mannerisms that really gave the show and songs a Gene Wilder feel to them. Some of the songs in the first part of the show included “Puttin’ On The Ritz” from Young Frankenstein, “Springtime For Hitler” from The Producers, “By The Light of the Silvery Moon” and the theme from “Blazing Saddles.”
Chip had two guest stars in the show and the first was Anthony Hendricks who sang the song, “I Just Called To Say I Love You.” The song was featured in the film, “The Woman In Red,” which Gene Wilder starred in with Gilda Radner and he wrote and directed the film. The song, which was written and sung by Stevie Wonder won an Academy Award for the best original song in a film that year. The crowd loved Anthony’s moving and powerful version of the song.
As the song ended and everyone was watching Anthony leave the stage, Chip surprised everyone in Willy Wonka fashion by appearing in the shadows off to the side of the stage. Then he got back on stage and continued with the fun and entertaining cabaret show.
At one point in the show he talked about Gene Wilder’s romance and relationship with his wife, Gilda Radner. The second guest star was brought up during this portion and that guest star was Susan Hazzard. Susan did a wonderful job singing the song, “Talk Dirty To The Animals,” from Gilda Radner’s Broadway show back in the ‘70’s. Just like Chip, she didn’t do an imitation of Gilda Radner, but you certainly could see some Gilda influences in the song and the way Susan delivered it. The song is hilarious and she did a beautiful job singing it.
Chip finished the show with more songs and the last song was, “Pure Imagination,” from Willy Wonka. He came back for an encore and performed the song, “Candyman” in a fitting tribute to Gene Wilder and Willy Wonka. At the end of the song he threw candy to the crowd and he got a much-deserved standing ovation from the audience! It was a wonderful show and I had a great time! I’ve never been to the Broadway Lounge before and I will return soon!
After the show I got a photo of Jenny with Laura Weaver Hughes who did such a great job accompanying Chip on piano throughout the show. And the bottom photo is Chip with his mom who was understandably very proud of her son! Chip said he may do the show again down the road and if you missed it, you should definitely snap up tickets for the next one fast. Both of these shows sold out quickly and I’m glad I was one of the lucky ones to see it! We’ll see you all tomorrow!
316 SW Washington Street