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Song and dance man: Jason Graae's in town



The son of an Argonne National Laboratory scientist, musical theater star Jason Graae spent his early years in Elmhurst, Lombard, and Villa Park, and after his family moved away he returned for several summers to attend a Northwestern University program for talented teens. But once his career took off in the 80s and 90s, he had precious little time for the Chicago area, instead establishing his reputation with performances in Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? and Falsettos on Broadway and the LA production of Ragtime, in which he played escape artist Harry Houdini. He started spending more time on his home turf last year, when he returned for gigs at the Auditorium Theatre and Davenport's cabaret in Wicker Park. This weekend he comes to Arlington Heights as part of the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre's "Broadway Cabaret" series, a perfect showcase for his talents. With his supple tenor, smooth dancing skills, sharp wit, and buoyant charm, Graae is equally adept at campy comedy and warmhearted romanticism. He's inclined to season his set with offbeat material, eschewing overdone standards for relatively unfamiliar fare that allows him greater interpretive freedom. This weekend's repertoire ranges from vintage tunes by Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, and Rodgers and Hart to selections from Al Carmine's cult classic Promenade and two Charles Strouse scores (Applause and Annie Warbucks), as well as a contribution by local pianist Chuck Larkin and the exquisite "What More Can I Say" from Falsettos. Graae appears at 8 Friday and Saturday, February 1 and 2, at 111 W. Campbell in Arlington Heights. Tickets are $30; call 847-577-2121.

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