OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Bee Gees music 'stayin' alive' and thriving with Australian tribute

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-07-26T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Bee Gees music 'stayin' alive' and thriving with Australian tributeBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

I've heard the song "Grease," as sung by Frankie Valli, countless times, and in my mind, always credited Valli as the man behind both the vocals and written words.

As it turns out, this title song for the musical motion picture "Grease," which was based on the stage play of the same name, was created by Barry Gibb, who deserves an equal nod for it becoming a No. 1 single in the United States in 1978.

Entertainers Matt Baldoni, Jack Leftley and Paul Lines are making sure Barry and his brothers are getting the attention they deserve, while bring the trio's music from their group sound the Bee Gees to both nostalgic and new generations of audiences.

From the producers of the touring show "RAIN – A Tribute to The Beatles," Annerin Productions and co‐producer SPI Entertainment are the backers who have assembled Baldoni, Leftley and Lines and dubbed them the Australian Bee Gees for a two-hour touring tribute concert celebrating the Gibbs.

Tagged as "The New Australian Bee Gees Show," it's billed as "a multimedia theatrical concert experience that takes a nostalgic trip through the legacy the Bee Gees left behind while celebrating more than four decades of the infectious music written by the Gibb Brothers."

Various forms of this salute to the adored trio have been around for 19 years. And now until Aug. 4, "The Australian Bee Gees Show" is playing at Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place in Chicago. (The first time the group played the Chicago area was in 2009 when they performed at The Venue at Hammond's Horseshoe Casino.)

This is a fun and lively performance that guarantees even the most cemented feet of reluctant audience members are likely to at least be toe-tapping by the end of the show. And for die-hard Bee Gees fans? It is pure, simple hairy chest and spandex heaven, with plenty of gold chains tossed in for good measure.

The concert uses live camera images and vivid graphics on projection screens, and audiences are encouraged to dance in the aisles or stand and sway from their seats.

The program is divided in sections to span the career of the Bee Gees, starting with early hits such as "Massachusetts," "New York Mining Disaster 1941" and "To Love Somebody," and later reaching all the way to popular classics such as "Stayin' Alive," "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart," "Tragedy" and "You Should Be Dancin'."

There's not likely to be any shortage of fans, looking for a good time, to fill seats. The Bee Gees are one of the top five of the most successful recording artists of all time, alongside the Beatles, Paul McCartney, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. Having sold more than 220 million records worldwide, they also have had at least 2,500 artists record their songs.

Baldoni, who portrays Barry Gibb in the tribute show, is the clear stand-out talent, sporting an ear-to-ear smile that could melt butter. He easily connects with the audience and clearly has a passion for performance. Lines, aka Robin Gibb, and Leftley, aka Maurice Gibb, have less to do on stage, at times, offering some broken, forced banter with one another, which feels scripted.

When asked about the "real" Bee Gees connection to this production, Baldoni told my columnist colleague Eloise Valadez: "Barry is aware of us."

Barry is 67, while his younger twin brothers have "left the stage," with Robin having died last year at age 62 and twin brother Maurice preceding him in 2003 at age 53.

Tickets start at $29 (using the online promo code THANKYOU) to $80, and performances are Tuesdays through Fridays at 7:30 p.m. and 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 and 6 p.m. Sundays. FYI: (800) 775‐2000 or BroadwayInChicago.com. Validated parking available at the Water Tower Place garage for just $14.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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