After a week back home, Drew Nellessen, a 2003 graduate of Valparaiso High School and a May 2007 graduate of Millikin University in Decatur, Ill., completes his final two performances today in "Chicago" (2 and 7:30 p.m.) before he heads back out with the national Broadway tour.
He also spent nearly two years in the spotlight for this step-by-step favorite choreography feat when "Chicago" played the Windy City on tour in 2009.
Drew was fantastic when I watched him in the spotlight last Tuesday for the press opening at Bank of America Theatre in Chicago.
I caught up with him backstage following the show to get the latest scoop.
"I just played Dubai for the holiday season and have also traveled to Tokyo," he said.
"While touring in the cast of 'West Side Story,' the production enjoyed runs in Hamburg, Berlin and Paris. For the last month, I stepped into the lead role of Riff while we played Paris."
But despite recent world travels, he said coming back to Chicago is always a joy.
"Being able to perform for friends and family, and those that have always supported me, is a real treat," he said.
"Also, it's extra special being able to play the beautiful theaters that I remember sitting in the audience as a child, middle school and high school age, as well as a college student aspiring to be one of those performers on stage."
He said playing the Bank of America Theatre is "one of those full circle moments we all hope to have in our lives."
"Those moments where we can pat ourselves on the back and smile and remember that it is these types of moments that we work hard for," he said.
"All the blood, sweat, and tears become worth it. It makes me still feel connected to home."
After this tour of "Chicago" ends later this month following Toronto dates, Drew will already be looking forward to a return to the Windy City, since he's already cast in a new adaptation of "Brigadoon," the musical by Alan Jay Lerner, with music by Frederick Loewe to be directed by Chicago's own Rachel Rockwell in the Albert Theatre at Goodman Theater June 27 to Aug. 3.
Losing to win
As promised, here's an update about our local contestants competing in the 2014 Seattle Sutton Slim Down Challenge. It's Week 6 of 15 and pounds continue to drop:
• Annette Walker, 57 of Gary, STARTING WEIGHT: 235, WEIGHT LOSS AFTER FIRST SIX WEEKS: 18
• Jessica Mignard, 31, of Valparaiso, STARTING WEIGHT: 196.6, WEIGHT LOSS AFTER FIRST SIX WEEKS: 25.4
• Linda Adams, 46, of Crown Point, STARTING WEIGHT: 204.8, WEIGHT LOSS AFTER FIRST SIX WEEKS: 10.8
• Lon Saloman, 45, of Valparaiso, STARTING WEIGHT: 269, WEIGHT LOSS AFTER FIRST SIX WEEKS: 34.8
• Maureen Anleitner, 60, of Chesterton, STARTING WEIGHT: 225, WEIGHT LOSS AFTER FIRST SIX WEEKS: 12.6
• Michael Adams, 52, of Crown Point, STARTING WEIGHT: 247, WEIGHT LOSS AFTER FIRST SIX WEEKS: 28.6
• Dr. Michael Perez., 46, of Munster, STARTING WEIGHT: 256, WEIGHT LOSS AFTER FIRST SIX WEEKS: 37
• Rebekah Cowan, 50, of Valparaiso, STARTING WEIGHT: 181, WEIGHT LOSS AFTER FIRST SIX WEEKS: 17.4
• Sue Kiefer, 52, of Crown Point, STARTING WEIGHT: 182, WEIGHT LOSS AFTER FIRST SIX WEEKS: 26.4
• Tim Kreke, 62, of Crown Point, STARTING WEIGHT: 264, WEIGHT LOSS AFTER FIRST SIX WEEKS: 35.6