Miracle playing at Royal George Theatre through July 14
by Carrie Steinweg
CHICAGO, Ill. (June 1, 2019) – Miracle: A Musical 108 Years in the Making, playing at the Royal George Theatre in Chicago, is, in essence, a story of underdogs who have been beat down over and over only to finally succeed in the end in the most dramatic fashion possible. I attended the May 24 opening night event, which was combined with a fundraiser for Cubs Charities. I was already pumped before reaching our seats after meeting Wayne Messmer in the lobby. Messmer can be heard at Cubs games singing the National Anthem, and he made a cameo in that night’s show. Cubs’ catcher Willson Contreras was also seated in the audience and posed for photos with the cast following the show.
The play and the players
Miracle transports you back to the 2016 roller coaster season of highs and lows in the lives of a north side family who operates a fictional Wrigleyville bar called “Maggie’s.” Three generations of the Delaney family are characters in the play along with other big-time Cubs fans and family friends.
Charlie Delaney is played by Brandon Dahlquist, as a former promising pitcher in his late 30s and college teammate of Cubs’ catcher David Ross. After career setbacks and his mother’s illness, Delaney came home to keep the family bar going. He’s a Cubs fan who has lost faith in his team and the business. He is sandwiched between his father, played by Gene Weygandt, whose love of the team stemmed from his love for his wife, Maggie, and his daughter, Dani, played by the impressive 13-year-old Amaris Sanchez. Filled with optimism, suspicion, and teenage hormones, she’s a loyal follower who spends the play in a Schwarber jersey that she vows to keep on until he makes his return to the team.
Maggie was one of those die-hard fans who spent her life rooting for her team, but never lived to see them win a World Series. So you can expect to need some tissues for scenes that take place at her grave site as the Cubs make their way through the season, into the playoffs, and on to win the World Series in extra innings in game 7.
Allison Sill plays Sofia, Charlie’s Chicago Public Schools teacher wife whose impending layoffs put further strain on the finances of the family already struggling to keep the bar going and Maggie’s traditions alive. Veronica Garza plays the spunky and enthusiastic Babs, a no-nonsense Wrigleyville mechanic who tells it like it is. And Michael Kingston plays Weslowski, a neighborhood souvenir shop owner along with a dual role as a man who is waiting in the wings to buy Maggie’s and turn it into a modern sports bar that brings in lots of dough but has little charm. I recognized Kingston immediately from a local production at the Theatre at the Center in Munster—he played Mr. Macy in the recent run of Miracle on 34th Street.
The musical scenes include original music, both upbeat, catchy tunes and sentimental songs that will captivate the audience. A favorite of mine was a nod to the announcers of the past, called “The Voice Above the Crowd,” accompanied by video footage of Harry Caray, Jack Brickhouse, and others in the announcer’s booth. There were also opportunities to sing along to familiar tunes. Pearl Jam rocker Eddie Vedder’s Cubs anthem “All the Way” was one of the songs playing as we were seated, and we later joined in on “Take Me Out the Ball Game” and “Go Cubs Go.”
An ode to optimism
On its own Miracle is a touching story of family and faith that any theatre-goer would enjoy. And although the place and the people are fictional, it’s about a spectacular true event that nearly all Chicagoans have some recollection of. For those who are true blue fans—the ones who stuck with the Cubs through so many disappointing seasons—it’s an ode to our optimism, confidence, trust, faith, commitment, and unwavering love for nine guys on a diamond among ivy-covered walls in the Friendly Confines, and a memorial to all the fans who didn’t live to see the day that they went all the way. It offers a lovely rush of reminiscent emotions of a night that has been arguably the most intense baseball game this century (or longer). It also re-ignites a passion and hope that it could happen again. (The Cubs were in first place in the National League Central division as of press time.)
It should also be noted that you never know who might be in the audience with you. While the show I attended, where Messmer and Contreras were in the audience, was a special event, other celebs have popped in to see the show—among them Hall-of-Famer and former Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg; Tom Higginson of the band Plain White T’s (which originated in Lombard, IL), and Berwyn native Jim Peterik, songwriter and co-founder of the bands Survivor and Ides of March. So you never know who you may run into while you’re there.
Miracle: a Musical 108 Years in the Making is more than a home run. For this lifelong Cubs fan it was a grand slam—a bottom of the ninth, down-by-three, David Bote ultimate grand slam.
For information about showtimes and dates at the Royal George Theatre, and to purchase tickets, visit www.miraclethemusical.com.