OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Chris Lemmon coming to Chicago with stage show about dad Jack

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2014-04-22T00:00:00Z 2014-05-04T18:42:10Z OFFBEAT: Chris Lemmon coming to Chicago with stage show about dad JackBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

This June marks 13 years since actor Jack Lemmon died in 2001 at age 76.

Producer Hershey Felder has made it his tradition as a stage performer to highlight a blend of storytelling and music for Chicagoland audiences.

In previous seasons, at his favorite venue for entertainment, The Royal George Theatre, 1641 North Halsted St. in Chicago, he's performed his acclaimed one-man show tributes such as "George Gershwin Alone" and "Maestro Bernstein." And last season, he welcomed to the stage the smash hit starring Mona Golabek in "The Pianist of Willesden Lane."

Next month, he presents the World Premiere of Chris Lemmon in "Jack Lemmon Returns," which starts previews May 2 and opens at 7 p.m. Monday, May 12 at The Royal George Theatre.

The production is written and directed by Felder and based on the true story of the legendary Jack Lemmon, the star of Hollywood iconic films like "Mister Roberts," "Some Like it Hot," "Days of Wine and Roses" and "The Odd Couple."

Actor and musician Chris Lemmon, who turns 60 in June, will share stories about his family and his relationship with his father, who had the lifelong dream of being an actor in New York as soon as he left his hometown of Newton, Mass. 

It was at the urging of a show-biz minded mother while faced with his serious business-minded father, that Jack proved to Hollywood no actor should ever be pigeonholed into being either a comedian or a serious dramatic artist. He was the first actor to win Academy Awards as both Best Supporting Actor and Best Actor.

"This remarkable story told by Chris Lemmon in the voice of his father is performed in the style of musical storytelling that Chicago audiences have come to know from me," said playwright/director Felder.

"Being able to work with Chris to present this piece has been an incredible joy both because of Chris' skill as an actor in the tradition of his father, and as a musician given that music was such an important part of his father's life. Having an insider's view into Hollywood and the craft of one of its prodigal sons makes for an extremely satisfying event."

Chris' mom is actress Cynthia Stone and he attended California Institute of the Arts. He has appeared in multiple stage productions, including the West Coast tour of "Barefoot in the Park," directed by Jerry Paris, the original West Coast production of "Shay" by Anne Commire, and A. R. Gurney's "Love Letters" with Stephanie Zimbalist. He also starred as character Richard Phillips in the TV situation comedies, "Duet" and "Open House," as well as in three films with his father, "Airport '77," "That's Life!" and "Dad." He wrote a biography tribute to his father called "A Twist of Lemmon," published in 2006 by Algonquin Books and re-released in 2008 by Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.

Performances of Chris Lemmon in "Jack Lemmon Returns" are 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $55. FYI: (312) 988-9000 or theroyalgeorgetheatre.com.

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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