Auditorium Theatre Hosts TOO HOT TO HANDEL Review – Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King

Stars of Too Hot To Handel, Alfreda Burke, Rodrick Dixon, Karen Marie Richardson, and Alvin Waddles photos by Paul Natkin
Too Hot To Handel photos by Paul Natkin

Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King’s message of “beloved community”

This production of Too Hot To Handel is a remarkable reworking of Handel’s Messiah that comes alive with the amazing talents of three soloists, Rodrick Dixon (tenor), Alfreda Burke (soprano) and Karen Marie Richardson (alto), and a chamber orchestra led by conductor Suzanne Mallare Acton. Also on stage, is a World-Class jazz combo featuring Detroit pianist Alvin Waddles. Bill Fraher, director of concert choirs at Old St. Patrick’s Church in Chicago, leads the 100 member choir. We are astounded as they fill the Auditorium Theatre, known for its legendary acoustics, with wonderful music.

The program begins with Anmarie Jones, student at Galileo Scholastic Academy, reading her poem, These Are The Sounds of My Neighborhood chosen in the annual Too Hot to Handel Poetry Contest.

Classical, Gospel, Jazz and Rock Fusion at The Auditorium Theatre!

The program opens with classic strings in the first movement and bounces into a lively contemporary beat that dazzles. For the next two and a half hours we hear the range of the soloists who effortlessly move from an operatic sound to jazzy scats. With each movement, we move from the orchestra alternating between classical and big band jazz styles to Jazz solos and interludes. Following the traditions of jazz and gospel music, the audience is part of the program. You’re instantly caught up in the rapture of the moment, clapping along and bouncing in your seat.

The musical performance is breathtaking, emotional, and downright joyful. More than just a concert, Too Hot to Handel is also performance art, from the expressiveness of the vocalists and the jazz solos to the sheer joy on the faces of the members of the choir. Any other performance of Handel’s Messiah would have a line of straight-faced, statue-like singers in long robes. This group performs gospel style with each individual doing his or her own thing, rocking and swaying to the music.

Stars of Too Hot To Handel Alfreda Burke and Rodrick Dixon photo by Paul Natkin
Too Hot to Handel Audience photo by Paul Natkin
Too Hot to Handel photo by Paul Natkin.

This is a program that is simply not to be missed. In its thirteenth year and always held on the weekend of Dr. Martin Luther King Day. If you can’t make the program this time, put it on your calendar for next year. Whether your taste is classical, jazz, or gospel, Too Hot To Handel will have you singing “Hallelujah” on the ride home!

When: January 14, 2017 3:00 PM

Where: Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Parkway Chicago, IL 60605

Tickets: $29+ available at the box office, by phone to 312 341 2300 or online at the Auditorium Theatre website

Steve Bellinger

Steve Bellinger was born and raised on the West Side of Chicago by a single mom who worked nights for a printing company. She would bring home books and magazines to encourage her kids to read. This is how he discovered Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke and the other masters of classic science fiction. It didn’t take long for him to get the itch to write. Over the years he’s written everything from newspaper articles, comic strips and radio drama to short stories and fan fiction. He is the author of the science fiction time travel novel The Chronocar. His second novel, Edge of Perception is due to be released in 2018..

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