Theater Review: Ellen DeGeneres Brings Laughs, Magic to Chicago Theatre

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CHICAGO – “I like the word ‘somewhat’”, mused Ellen DeGeneres Wednesday night onstage at the Chicago Theatre in front of what is now her standard roused audience. “Like you can say, ‘I’m somewhat gay. But my girlfriend’s really gay.’”

Ellen DeGeneres with the Blackhawks” target=
Ellen DeGeneres with the Blackhawks
Photo credit: Mike Rozman

Donning her signature three-piece suit and striped trainers, the illustrious queen of sardonic élan once again trekked to the Windy City to host her eclectically-packed variety show, this year titled “Ellen’s Somewhat Special Special”. In her typical self-effacing fare, DeGeneres warned her doting viewers at the onset. “Really, it’s the fourth one,” referring to her curriculum vitae of revues. “How special could it be?”

Fortunately for the besotted crowds (many of whom packed Ellen-plastered merchandise) the funny lady’s customary diminishment was not reliable. Chock full of cirque and music acts that spanned the globe, the show boasted the talents of everyone from the Catwall Acrobats (an ensemble of bouncing athletes who completed remarkable stunts, in simultaneous motion, on a dual trampoline) to Grammy Award-winning country band Lady Antebellum. Oh, and the Blackhawks stopped by for a brief while. Stanley Cup firmly in tow.

Actor/producer Nick Cannon was once again on call as the evening’s warm-up DJ, a role in heavy demand during the evening’s copious commercial breaks (the entire performance will air, in an edited version, on TBS on June 27 at 9PM ET).DeGeneres wryly supplied her acts with a connecting adrenaline, providing her newer cohorts with jocular banter.

”Ellen’s Somewhat Special Special”” target=
”Ellen’s Somewhat Special Special”
Photo credit: Barry Brecheisen

Following Sauce and Victoria, a tricky duo adept at impossibly quick-changes, DeGeneres confessed, “It takes me fifteen minutes to unhook my bra sometimes, so that impresses me.” These bits were partnered with the highlight of the evening, a previously recorded gag that involved DeGeneres chaperoning six children on an after-hours field trip to the Museum of Science and Industry, a venture that, among bits involving the importance of alcohol during such ocasions, included a prayer circle dedicated to the comedienne’s two hopes: the success of Cover Girl’s anti-aging cream and “Finding Nemo 2”.

Ellen DeGeneres chaperones a field trip to the Museum of Science and Industry.” target=
Ellen DeGeneres chaperones a field trip to the Museum of Science and Industry.
Photo credit: Mike Rozman

DeGeneres concluded the evening with her staple question and answer session, during which she responded to a litany of queries ranging from a request for a list of comedy idols to an invitation to a backyard barbecue. But it was in answer to one participant’s topic, regarding the hardest thing she has done, during which DeGeneres paid reverence to her roots as a pre-network persona. “Sometimes the hardest thing you ever do is the best thing you ever do,” she advised her listeners. “And coming out was the hardest thing I had to do.”

StarMore theater reviews from critic Alissa Norby.
StarMore theater reviews from our other critics.

Truth may very well be in comedy, as they say, but for DeGeneres, a woman who long ago surpassed the risky confines that often come with Tinseltown authenticity, much in the way of humor has been lifted from the truth.

“Ellen’s Somewhat Special Special” airs June 27, 2010 on TBS at 9PM ET. To purchase tickets or for more information on TBS Presents Just For Laughs please visit here. For half-price Chicago theater tickets, visit our partner Goldstar. staff writer Alissa Norby

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© 2010 Alissa Norby,

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