ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar
Queer Eye: The Musical Parody
at The Second City in Chicago
By Catherine Hellmann, Guest Critic
My older daughter and I loved to watch the original “Queer Eye” when she was in high school. She’s now been finished with grad school about ten years. Yeah, we’re talking 2003. I’m wondering why bother to skewer an outdated show? Well, a new “Queer Eye” debuted in 2018 with a different cast who are mimicked perfectly in this funny production at Second City. My cynicism was won over. The talented cast have high energy, fun dance moves, and great voices which add to their over-the-top performances and drive the momentum of the show. I’ve been dragging my new-to-Chicago sister to a LOT of theater, and she said this was one of her favorites.
The poor sap (victim!) being made over is “Sam,”(Bryson Howard) who lives in his mom’s basement, was breastfed until he was 9 (ewww…), plays “Fortnite,” and “is unemployed but an aspiring puppetteer.” This prize of manhood is adored by his childhood friend Claire, played with goofy enthusiasm by Bridget Adams-King (who has an astounding voice). Of course, Sam is too clueless to realize that Claire has a tremendous crush on him. (hysterical puppet scene a la “Avenue Q” late in the show).
While being made over, Sam # 1 transforms into Sam # 2, played by the charismatic Jordan Dell Harris. One of the big improvements is switching out Sam’s ugly t-shirt; even his mother tells him,”This shirt says, ‘You’re a virgin.’”
Or as the fashionista (Tina Arfaee) sings: “Straight men’s clothes bring me to tears. They look like they haven’t shopped in years.”
There are ongoing jokes that the home makeover guy has to perform the most work, with Eddie Ledford as Bobby nearly having a nervous breakdown about needing to redo an entire living space. The other members of the “Fab Five” get off pretty easy with their tasks, especially the “Culture” guy, Karamo (Evan Tyrone Martin). My daughter and I always pondered exactly what the hell his role contributed. Here, Karamo sings how he doesn’t know what to do when it’s his segment. (“I got nothin’!”)
My sister’s favorite Fab Five was the grooming/hairdresser Jonathan, played with relish by Evan Starkweather. His comic timing and reactions were spot-on. They were funny as he delivered them, but I later watched an episode of the new “Queer Eye,” and he is channeling the hairdresser on the show. (“Are we about to bond?”)
My personal fave was the food guy, Antoni, played by the adorable (and hot!) Dominic Rescigno. He confesses that he is the “eye candy” of the show and asks when can he take his shirt off? Loved his cooking segment in his “Kiss the Cok” apron! (and avocado puppets!)
Dakota Hughes got a huge cheer from the crowd with her rousing song imploring Sam to move out of her house! She and Adams-King both had two roles with lots of back-and-forth costume changes. One of the funniest bits was when their characters asked where their other characters were and made a hasty excuse of, “Uhhhh…She’s busy.”
None of the show is possible without the tremendous talent of Music Director/Composer/Lyricist/
After the show, I walked my sis around so she could see the informal museum that celebrates all the talent that has rolled through Second City. All those famous faces that have created a huge legacy In Chicago. We’re lucky this theater is here.
Catherine Hellmann could use a makeover, but who has time between teaching teenagers and attending theater?
Legendary Chicago comedy institution The Second City is excited to present Queer Eye: The Musical Parody. Co-created and co-written by Second City Mainstage ensemble member Evan Mills and Heidi Joosten, the show will be co-directed by Mills and Stephen Schellhardt, who is also choreographer. Joosten, the composer, lyricist and orchestrator for the show, will fill the role of musical director. Cast members include Bridget Adams-King, Tina Arfaee, Jordan Dell Harris, Bryson Howard, Dakota Hughes, Eddie Ledford, Evan Tyrone Martin, Dominic Rescigno, and Evan Starkweather. Shannon Golden-Starr is stage manager.
Inspired by the hit Netflix show Queer Eye, Second City audiences will follow everybody's fave Fab Five as they help an Average Joe manifest their full potential through aggressive self-love, laugh-out-loud comedy, and more songs than you can handle, henny! Watch a two-act "episode" of the show we all thought we knew... until now. Queer Eye: The Musical Parody features all the avocados, plenty of pompadours, and maybe even a puppet or two. Say "YASS, and" to this hilarious experience where things just keep on getting better...and funnier!
Tickets for Queer Eye: The Musical Parody start at $39.00 and are available by phone at 312-337-3992 or online at secondcity.com. The show schedule is as follows beginning May 26, 2022: Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm; Sundays at 7pm in UP Comedy Club.
About the Artists
Bridget Adams-King (“Claire/Rachel”) (she/her) is thrilled and so grateful to be making her Second City debut! Some of the theaters she has previously worked with include Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Kokandy Productions, Northlight Theatre, and Griffin Theatre. She is a two-time Jeff-nominated performer for her portrayal of “Kate” in If/Then at Brown Paper Box Co. and “Lucy Parsons” in Underscore Theatre Company’s 2018 production of Haymarket: A New Folk Musical. She has also appeared in an episode of NBC’s hit show Chicago PD. She is repped by Gray Talent Group. @badamsking www.bridgetadamsking.com
Tina Arfaee (“Tan”) (they/any) has been writing and performing in Chicago since 2012, most notably at The Annoyance Theater with Matt Damon Improv. With MDI, she wrote and starred in the web series In-Diana. She has also appeared on an episode of Chicago Fire, Centered the web series, and short film The Sweatshirt. Tina is a graduate of The Second City/NBC Universal Bob Curry Fellowship. She is repped by Big Mouth Talent. @tinatwocats
Shannon Golden-Starr (Stage Manager) (She/They) CHICAGO: I, Banquo, Short Shakespeare: The Comedy of Errors, Q Brothers' Christmas Carol, Shakespeare in the Parks production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre), Frankenstein, Act(s) of God, Plantation!, Hard Times, Moby Dick, Thaddeus and Slocuum: A Vaudeville Adventure (Lookingglass Theatre Company); The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Frederick (Chicago Children’s Theatre); The King of the Yees, Uncle Vanya, Carlyle, Soups Stews and Casseroles: 1976, Feathers and Teeth (Goodman Theatre); The Mutilated, Simpatico (A Red Orchid Theatre); This Wonderful Life (American Blues Theater); Betrayal (Raven Theatre).
Jordan Dell Harris (“Sam #2”) (he/him) is making his Second City debut! He was last seen onstage as “Donald” in Windy City Playhouse’s The Boys in the Band (Jeff Award winner, Best Ensemble). Other Chicago credits include work with Goodman Theatre, Raven Theatre, Griffin Theatre, The Story Theatre, BoHo Theatre and more. TV credits include 4400 (CW) and Next (Fox). www.JordanDellHarris.com
Bryson Howard (“Sam #1”) (he/him) is a Chicago transplant from South Carolina by way of Nashville, TN, and Paris, France. After four and a half years of performing improv and scripted comedy around Chicago, the city thankfully has not yet rejected the transplant. He has been fortunate enough to perform in several shows at The Annoyance Theatre; he was part of the cast of The Queer Eye: The Musical Parody at the Playground Theater; he is an ensemble member of Baby Wants Candy, and he can be found performing improv at various venues in Chicago with his comedy partner Cassidy Russell. Twitter: @BrysonHoward. Instagram: @BrysonDallasHoward.
Dakota Hughes (“Bev/Executive Producer”) (They/Them) is ecstatic to make their Second City debut! Dakota is a Los Angeles native and graduate of Columbia College Chicago, where they earned a BFA in Musical Theatre Performance. Some favorite credits include Kinky Boots, Cinderella (Paramount Theatre), American Idiot (The Hypocrites), Lizzie (Firebrand), Thrones! The Parody Musical! (The Apollo Theater), and [title of show] (Open Door Rep).
Heidi Joosten (Music Director/Composer/Lyricist/Orchestrator) (she/her) is thrilled and grateful to be making her Second City debut with this show that is so near and dear to her heart. A multi-hyphenate performing artist, Heidi has collaborated on over 100 new theatrical, comedic, and concert works in the Chicagoland area since her arrival in 2014. Notable writing credits include: Queer Eye: the Musical Parody (The Second City), Saint Hildegard: the Rupertsberg Tour (Theo Ubique), Micro (Music Theatre of Madison), and The Bone Harp (Underscore Theatre Company). Joosten is a highly-sought after composer with over 200 works to her name, and her award-winning music has been performed across the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia. Heidi holds a Bachelors of Music from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Masters of Music from Roosevelt University - Chicago College of Performing Arts. Proud member of ASCAP and the Dramatists Guild. www.heidijoosten.com
Eddie Ledford (“Bobby”) (he/him) is a Chicago-based actor, singer and comedian. He is a graduate of The Second City’s Conservatory, an ensemble member of the queer comedy group Baby Wine, and has performed in theaters, festivals and digital projects around the city including The Annoyance, Rhino Fest, Chicago Sketch Fest, Ordinary Peepholes, Commercial Appeal and web series Guilty. He originated the role of “Bobby” in the show’s initial run at The Playground Theatre and is very happy and grateful to reprise it at The Second City. Instagram: @_eddele
Evan Tyrone Martin (“Karamo”) (he/him) is excited to be making his Second City debut! Most recently, Evan could be seen in Blues In The Night at Porchlight Music Theatre opposite Broadway star Felicia P. Fields. Regional credits: “Jim” in Roundabout Theatre's digital reading of Zora Neale-Hurston's musical SPUNK (directed by Lili-Ann Brown); The Black Clown (Ensemble) at American Repertory Theater/Lincoln Center's 2019 Mostly Mozart Festival; Hair (“Hud”) at Mercury Theater; Jesus Christ Superstar (“Jesus,” BTAA Nomination) at Paramount Theatre; Dreamgirls (“Curtis,” BTAA Nomination) and Far From Heaven (“Raymond,” Jeff nomination) at Porchlight Music Theatre; and The Little Mermaid (“King Triton”) at Arkansas Rep. Evan has worked with Godspeed, Arkansas Shakes, Chicago Shakes, Chicago Humanities Festival, and many others. He also toured starring in the hit revues Unforgettable: Falling in Love with Nat King Cole and An Unforgettable Nat King Cole Christmas. Next up, Evan will play “Mister” in The Color Purple at the legendary MUNY in St. Louis. Instagram: @3vanMart1n. He is repped by Paonessa Talent.
Evan Mills (Co-Director/Writer/Creator)( He/Him) is incredibly grateful to be co-directing the original musical he wrote with his writing partner Heidi Joosten, Queer Eye: The Musical Parody. He is currently an ensemble member in The Second City’s 110th Mainstage Revue and was previously an ensemble member of The Second City Mainstage revue Together at Last. Evan has toured with Second City’s RedCo and is a recipient of the Bob Curry Fellowship Program. He spent a summer in Washington D.C., performing at the Kennedy Center in Generation Gap and has also performed at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. He has been featured in the Break Out Comedy Festival, LA Laughter Comedy Fest, and the Comedy Central Showcase. You can check out his original music on Spotify (“A Little Bit Alexis” cover and “Sissy Boy”) and follow him on all social media platforms @awkvanmills.
Dominic Rescigno (“Antoni”) (he/him) is experiencing a dream come true doing this show with these people on this stage. He is a graduate of Second City’s Comedy Studies program and is currently finishing the Conservatory. He has performed for Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Onion, ClickHole, Walt Disney World, and starred in Chicago's long-running comedy Tony N' Tina's Wedding. His two webseries The Dominics and Dominic Tonight! have been critically ignored. www.dominicrescigno.com | @dominicrescigno
Stephen Schellhardt (Co-Director/Choreographer) (he/him) is thrilled to be a part of the Queer Eye: A Musical Parody family. He is a Jeff Award-winning director and actor, as well as choreographer, producer, educator, and casting director. In Chicago, Stephen has worked with the Marriott Theater, Writers Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre, Mercury Theater, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, About Face Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Chicago’s Lyric Opera, The Goodman Theatre, Porchlight Music Theatre, Ravinia Festival, Northwestern University, and BoHo Theatre, where he served as a company member and Artistic Director for six years. National tours include Altar Boyz. International credits include Jane Austen’s Persuasion at The Royal Winchester Theatre in England and the Shanklin Theatre on The Isle of Wight (Chamber Opera Chicago). From 2014-2017, Stephen served as Associate Producer and Casting Director at Writers Theatre in Glencoe before becoming a visiting professor at Northwestern University and then moving to The Chicago College of Performing Arts, where he now holds the title of Head of Musical Theatre. Stephen is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama and a proud member of the Actors Equity Association.
Evan Starkweather (“Jonathan”) (he/they) is a Chicago-based performer and writer making their Second City debut. They were last seen performing karaoke at a bar in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, but before that, they wrote and performed numerous sketch and musical variety shows at The Annoyance, The Playground, and The Second City Training Center. They are a graduate of The Second City Conservatory, and their music video “Platonic Gay Best Friend” has been featured on Funny or Die. @evanspelledellen
About The Second City
The Second City opened its doors in 1959 as a small comedy cabaret and has since grown to become the world’s most influential name in improv and comedy. Second City's stages, Touring Companies, and Training Centers across North America have proudly been the launch pad for many of the funniest names on the planet, including John Belushi, John Candy, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Keegan-Michael Key, Eugene Levy, Tim Meadows, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Suzy Nakamura, Catherine O’Hara, Amy Poehler, Gilda Radner, Sam Richardson, Joan Rivers, Amber Ruffin, Jason Sudeikis, and Steven Yeun, among many more.