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9 Broadway Musicals that Premiered in Chicago First

July 1, 2016 by CJ Schwartz
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Out-of-town-tryout’s are a divisive issue amongst commercial producers. Some swear by them and others feel they’re not worth the added costs.

Whatever your opinion is on out-of-town tryouts, Chicago has always been, and continues to be, one of the top cities for out-of-towns. In 2016 alone, Chicago has hosted Gotta Dance, Spongebob the Musical, War Paint, and a few quieter productions with Broadway aspirations such as Ride the Cyclone.

So, what are some beloved Broadway musicals Chicago audiences got to see first?

Big Fish

Directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, Big Fish, based on the book and film of the same name, opened in an out-of-town tryout in Chicago in 2013. Big Fish then went on to Broadway where it played 34 preview performances and 98 regular performances before closing.

Spamalot

Monty Python’s Spamalot — the musical based on the British sketch comedy team’s film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” debuted in Chicago in 2005. Spamalot went on to win three Tony Awards including Best Musical.

On Your Feet!

On Your Feet! is a jukebox musical based on the lives and music of husband and wife Emilio Estefan and Gloria Estefan. After premiering in Chicago earlier in 2015, On Your Feet! opened officially on Broadway on November 5, 2015.

The Producers

The Producers, adapted by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan from Brooks’ 1968 film of the same name, had a pre-Broadway tryout in Chicago in 2001 starring Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane. After opening on Broadway, the show won 12 Tony Awards, surpassing the record of 10 wins held by Hello, Dolly! for 37 years.

The Addams Family

The Addams Family is a musical comedy based on the popular macabre American family characters. After a tryout in Chicago, the show opened on Broadway in April 2010. The original cast featured Nathan Lane as Gomez and Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia.

Movin’ Out

Movin’ Out, a musical based on the songs of Billy Joel and conceived, choreographed and directed by Twyla Tharp, played its World Premiere, pre-Broadway engagement in Chicago in 2002. Movin’ Out went on to win two Tony Awards for Best Orchestrations and Best Choreography.

Kinky Boots

Kinky Boots, by Tony winner Harvey Fierstein and Grammy winner Cyndi Lauper, made its world premiere in Chicago in 2012. It was nominated for 13 Tony Awards and took home six, including Best Musical.

The Last Ship

The Last Ship, an original musical with music and lyrics by Sting was inspired by Sting’s own childhood experiences. The musical premiered in 2014, in Chicago, before moving to Broadway where it received two Tony Award nominations for Best Original Score and Best Orchestrations.

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace, a musical with music and lyrics by Christopher Smith and a book by Smith and Arthur Giron had a pre-Broadway run in Chicago in 2015 before opening on Broadway. Unfortunately, the show closed after only 116 performances.

Check out what else is playing in Chicago and experience an unknown play or musical before it hits the Great White Way!