While chatting by phone with actor John O'Hurley Friday, my lunchtime call caught him right between bites of his tuna salad sandwich.
O'Hurley, who has returned to headliner duties on stage for a new national tour of the musical "Chicago," isn't eager to greet the Windy City's lingering winter temperatures this week. But he is eager to bring this show back to its city claim-to-fame namesake for a week of performances.
I've seen various productions of the stage musical favorite "Chicago" during the decades, and the story, music and dancing are always a feast for the eyes and ears.
But seeing this story on a stage while it's playing a run in the city of Chicago adds even another layer of thrilling excitement to the experience.
The last time we had "Chicago" in Chicago, it was for a quick weekend of performances in June 2011, with O'Hurley at the helm. Previously, in February 2009, O'Hurley was along for the ride for his first touring time playing Billy Flynn, the slickest lawyer in the Windy City.
"I go back and forth from playing dates with the national tour intertwined with reprising the role in New York for the Broadway run as well," O'Hurley told me.
"The last time I was in Chicago in June 2011, it was for a nine-city tour of the musical at the Oriental Theatre, which is where we also played in 2009. For this return, we'll be at Bank of America Theatre."
The limited one-week engagement at Bank of America Theatre, 18 W. Monroe, opens Tuesday and continues until Sunday, March 2.
"Chicago" first opened to rave reviews on Nov. 14, 1996, and now has the distinction of being the longest running American musical in Broadway history.
Produced by Barry and Fran Weissler with a legendary book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse and music by John Kander and lyrics by Ebb, "Chicago" won six 1997 Tony Awards including Best Musical Revival and the Grammy Award for Best Musical Cast Recording.
Set amidst the razzle-dazzle decadence of the 1920s, "Chicago" is the story of Roxie Hart, a housewife and nightclub dancer who maliciously murders her on-the-side lover after he threatens to walk out on her. Desperate to avoid conviction, she dupes the public, the media and her rival cellmate, Velma Kelly, by hiring Chicago's slickest criminal lawyer to transform her malicious crime into a barrage of sensational headlines.
When stepping into the shoes of the Billy Flynn character for Broadway dates in New York, O'Hurley said over the years, he's also worked with some of the female headlining talents who have joined the cast, including Christie Brinkley and Robin Givens.
This national tour is directed by David Hyslop and choreographed by David Bushman.
Performances for "Chicago" this week are 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $30-$95 at (800) 775-2000 or BroadwayInChicago.com or chicagothemusical.com.