Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-06-24
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



NUNN ON ONE: THEATER Andre De Shields navigates the theater 'Jungle'
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Andre De Shields is a natural born performer and a triple threat with acting, singing, and dancing. He is also accomplished in directing, writing and teaching.

After college he choreographed Bette Midler's concert and starred in The Wiz on Broadway. He continued on The Great White Way with Ain't Misbehavin' and The Full Monty.

He performed in the Goodman Theatre's production of Camino Real, where he only simulated sex but was murdered onstage. He follows that with a return to that venue as King Louie in The Jungle Book. Windy City Times went backstage at the iconic theater's gala dinner to chat a bit with the entertainer. [Note: De Shields is in a same-sex relationship and introduced his partner to WCT.]

Windy City Times: Hey, Andre. How long have you been in the biz?

Andre De Shields: Forty-five years. I started here in Chicago. You need to know that fact.

WCT: Are you from Chicago?

Andre De Shields: No, but when I graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, my first gig was in Chicago the very month I graduate. That was the Chicago production of Hair at the Shubert Theatre, now called the Bank of America Theatre.

I worked here for four years then I went to New York and they assumed I was Chicago talent, which I was in terms of how I honed my talent but I wasn't born and bred in Chicago. I get welcomed back here like a favorite son and I am happy about that.

WCT: How was it working with Bette Midler?

Andre De Shields: My relationship with Bette Midler is important because I was the first person to choreograph her Harlettes. This was in 1971. when it was Merle Miller, Gail Kantor and Melissa Manchester—three white women.

WCT: You have done so many shows in the past, like Ain't Misbehavin' and The Wiz. What part did you play in that?

Andre De Shields: Want to guess?

WCT: I could see you playing a few different parts.

Andre De Shields: I was The Wiz.

WCT: What did you think of the movie?

Andre De Shields: There are easier ways of losing 33 million dollars!

WCT: How did you become involved with The Jungle Book?

Andre De Shields: Mary Zimmerman was casting and came to New York. She asked to interview me. We had a sit down conversation and we spoke for a half hour. We bonded rather quickly and then I got the call.

WCT: How do you make the role your own?

Andre De Shields: Didn't you just witness what I did tonight? [Laughs] That is how I make it my own.

WCT: It would just be easy to emulate the Disney cartoon.

Andre De Shields: I saw the Disney Jungle Book many years ago in my formative years. Because it is in the canon of American fairy tales ,I am left with some impression of it. When I knew I would be doing this role I went back to 2004 when briefly I performed in a play on Broadway called Prymate. Google it and you will understand my next statement. I wanted to finish the work that I started in Prymate. That is what I am doing with King Louie in The Jungle Book.

WCT: Were you always a ham? I saw some hamming up at this preview.

Andre De Shields: I suppose that is a fair way of describing me, but I would never describe myself as a ham. What I would say is I am happiest when I am onstage in a follow spot singing my ass off.

WCT: I like how you interacted with the crowd. Do you do that in the stage version?

Andre De Shields: This is a concert, so especially in these gala performances—with the audience so far away from us and [with them] eating and drinking—you really want them to understand this is participation. This isn't television. This isn't passive entertainment. You have to be involved in order to see what it is you came to get!

WCT: How was the last show you did at the Goodman Camino Real?

Andre De Shields: It was a very significant experience not only because it opened a window onto Tennessee Williams that I believe he had been cheated of these many years that he has been playwright laureate of the United States of America. What I understood about his canon, and iconic characters they are all alter egos of Tennessee Williams. I am positive about this now that I have been in Camino Real.

The other reason that it was significant for me is that theater is the place to take risks. That doesn't happen very often or as often as I think it should but in that production it was risk repeatedly taken. It made people uncomfortable but you have got to understand that is part of the reason of coming to the theater, to be challenged and be taken out of your comfort zone. The covenant that we make with the audience is that we will challenge you but we won't harm you so take the trip with us.

WCT: You have a few projects coming up, including one with Victory Gardens Theater.

Andre De Shields: They are happening simultaneously. I have a residency and Victory Gardens is my host theater. So when I am not at the Goodman I will be there.

WCT: How you do you do it all?

Andre De Shields: I don't get much sleep!

The new musical based on the Disney film and stories by Rudyard Kipling runs now through Aug. 4 at the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St.

For tickets and information, visit .

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Director David Zak steps down from post after community outcry 2020-07-04 - Pride Films & Plays (PFP) Executive Director David Zak stepped down from his longtime post July 3 after numerous members of Chicago's theater ...

Gay News

Broadway suspends shows through 2020 2020-06-30 - The Broadway League announced June 29 that Broadway performances in New York City will be suspended through the remainder of 2020 due to ...

Gay News

'Magic Parlour at Home' during July 2020-06-28 - Magician Dennis Watkins is taking his experience The Magic Parlour online for a completely new virtual offering dubbed "The Magic Parlour at Home." ...

Gay News

CHF talk to feature Abby McEnany and Samantha Irby 2020-06-24 - Actor Abby McEnany and writer Samantha Irby will have a conversation in a Chicago Humanities Festival digital program that will take place Thursday, ...

Gay News

THEATER Despite everything, there are shows for Pride Week 2020-06-24 - It's almost impossible to write about the indelible events of 2020 ( which is still not quite half over ) without diminishing them. ...

Gay News

Raven Theatre names new managing director 2020-06-24 - Following a nationwide search, Raven Theatre's board of directors announced Markie Gray as the company's new managing director, effective July 1. Originally from ...

Gay News

47th Non-Equity Jeff Awards announces honorees 2020-06-22 - June 22, 2020 — Chicago — As part of the annual recognition of theater excellence, the 47th Non-Equity Jeff Awards has announced honorees ...

Gay News

'That's Queer, Grandma' June 22-July 6 2020-06-17 - PlayMakers Laboratory ( PML ) celebrates Pride Month virtually with a free presentation of That's Queer, Grandma—a romp through student-written stories that at ...

Gay News

COVID-19 Mercury Theater permanently closing 2020-06-17 - Executive Director L. Walter Stearns and partner, business manager Eugene Dizon, announced the permanent closure of Mercury Theater Chicago after 10 years and ...

Gay News

The Last Sunday in June online live reading June 28 2020-06-16 - Chicago, IL - Jonathan Tolins' look at gay life in the 1990s - THE LAST SUNDAY IN JUNE — will be performed via ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.