Faith in Music: 'Too Hot to Handel' heats up this weekend at Chicago Auditorium Theatre

2013-01-18T00:00:00Z Faith in Music: 'Too Hot to Handel' heats up this weekend at Chicago Auditorium TheatreBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

Even for return audiences who make Chicago Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University an annual destination for "Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah" concert event, change is part of this weekend's "hot ticket" musical celebration.

"We've added a video element for something extra for this amazing presentation," said Brett Batterson, executive director of the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University.

It was Batterson, who had the idea eight years ago to bring the event to Chicago after he accepted his position with the theater.

The artistic blending of music, faith and gospel this weekend in Chicago at the Auditorium Theatre, has performances Saturday and Sunday.

Since its 2005 Chicago debut at ATRU, "Too Hot to Handel" has continued to grow in popularity each year.

Chicago favorites Rodrick Dixon, Alfreda Burke and Karen Marie Richardson join 200 of Chicago's finest musicians and vocalists, under the direction of Bill Fraher and Suzanne Mallare Acton, filling the historic landmark theater with the joyous sounds and exuberance of this All-American reinvention of Handel's "Messiah."

"The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University is proud to support the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through one of the jazziest, most swinging ‘Messiahs' that our audience will ever hear," Batterson said.

"Too Hot to Handel" shapes George Frederic Handel's beloved "Messiah" masterpiece into an active listening experience.

"Too Hot To Handel" grew from an idea from composers Gary Anderson and Bob Christianson, who originally created this jazz-gospel adaptation in 1992. Since then, this soulful work has uplifted audiences in cities throughout the United States.

The location of the concert at the historic Chicago venue adds to the experience, especially for young audience members attending for the first time.

The Auditorium's Department of Creative Engagement has been working to utilize innovative programming to involve the community by teaching Chicago students about Martin Luther King Jr. and the power of music and celebration. For the 4th consecutive year, last month, the Auditorium invited Chicago Public School students, grades 3 to 12, to write an original poem celebrating Dr. King's vision of the beloved community. Finalists' poems will be published and for the opening night performance, winners will recite their poem on stage before the show. 

"Our space holds 3,900 seats and we always have more than 2,000 people who attend," Batterson said.

"This weekend, we have ticket-holders who come from Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana, in addition to our Chicagoland area, just to be part of this special musical gathering."

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