For the past 12 years, The Auditorium Theater has presented TOO HOT TOO HANDLE on its stage. I chaired this event for 9 years, working with Rod Dixon and his wife Burke. It is the program that keeps on giving. It is a musical that started for Christmas. It was eventually moved to January as a musical celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. It is an amazing show, it grows and grows. People come annually for the celebration. It is one of the best musicals you will ever see, featuring incredible talent with an all city choir. Handel’s, Messiah was composed in 1741 and is the composers most famous work. The Jazz Gospel Messiah is incredible. It is renown to be played at Easter, but I thnk it fits King’s birthday best. If you have not seen it, join us this year. Here’s an interview with Rod Dixon, who is the star of the show, engaging his profound tenor voice. Too Hot, To Handle, celebrates King’s birthday with beautiful music that is uplifting, motivating and magical. You will literally jump for joy.
Every year Too Hot to Handel outperforms itself with a “unique” factor. What is the uniqueness for this year?
In 2017, Too Hot to Handel “The Jazz Gospel Messiah” will stream via internet to 4 prisons in the US on January 15th; (Angola Louisiana maximum security State Penitentiary, Lake County Adult Corrections Division, Danville Correctional Center and Lawrence Correctional Center in Illinois). The Auditorium Theater of Roosevelt University, sponsors and the Christian Reform Church of Elmhurst will partner to share the power of this great Chicago tradition of coming together to promote tolerance and inclusion. Incarcerated men and women will have a chance to discuss the music, text and its connection to Martin Luther King Jr.
How is the City-wide choir selected and do they perform at other times of the year?
There are auditions held at Old St. Patrick’s Church in Chicago. Choir conductor, Bill Fraher, and staff hear singers from all over the Midwest every year to participate in this great Chicago tradition.
How long does it take to put the performance of Too Hot to Handel together?
The Chicago choir rehearses from October to January. Rackham Symphony Choir and Detroit Opera house performs the work annually in December. Maestro Suzanne Acton, Rackham Symphony Choir members and the Detroit rhythm section join the Chicago production in January for the MLK weekend celebration. Two hundred musicians come together on the Auditorium Theatre Stage to celebrate and represent a “Beloved Community”.
What is your favorite element about Too Hot?
I enjoy the way the show speaks musically to the national and local discourse of Chicago. The show is always current!
Name six songs on your personal playlist?
* Anthem from Chess
* Somewhere from West Side Story
* You’ll Never Walk Alone from Carousel sung by Alfreda Burke
* Climb Every Mountain from Sound of Music sung by Alfreda Burke
* Dream Medley arrangement by Fred Nelson III
* Faith Medley arrangement by Fred Nelson III
What message do you want Too Hot To convey to its audience?
Too Hot to Handel at the Auditorium is a live theatre experience that people from everywhere come together to unite and share. The audience conveys the message of love, peace, inclusion and respect!
This year, I understand the musical is streaming to prisons. Why is this important and how did it materialize?
The Christian Reform Church of Elmhurst, Illinois has an outreach ministry in prisons. They felt that “Too Hot to Handel” had the power to transform and motivate positive self worth!
Could Too Hot be performed at another time of the year?
Yes…Christmas and Easter are good times for this production as well.
How does this marvelous musical personally effect you?
The word, the music and performance practice allows me to connect to everyone from a place of gratitude.
Who would you like to see perform in Too Hot, that hasn’t?
Anyone who wants to give and receive what we have experienced the last 12 years! It’s American but universal in its appeal.