Over the years WGN radio commentator Roy Leonard earned the appreciation of a lot of artists. His reviews and interviews brought their work to the attention of an ultramainstream audience, helping stimulate wider awareness of the local arts scene as well as big-name touring acts; the trust Roy's listeners placed in him meant his support could make a real difference. (He earned my gratitude when he gracefully delivered the narration I wrote for The Golden Bird, a children's music-theater piece performed by the Grant Park Symphony in 1988.) But this music-and-comedy variety extravaganza--a tribute to the retired radio personality--should appeal even to those who never listened to a Leonard broadcast. It stars comedian Martin Short, who got his start in the Toronto branch of Chicago's Second City before its TV spin-off, SCTV, brought him wider fame; this performance will team Short with veterans of Second City's Chicago troupe, among them Jim Zulevic, Rachel Dratch, and Steve Carell, in a series of comic sketches. The evening will also feature Second City alums Aaron Freeman and Tim Kazurinsky; the cast of The Irish...and How They Got That Way; local media personalities like Bob Sirott and Kathy O'Malley, delivering greetings from the likes of John Cleese and Steve Allen; and live music by some of Chicago's best talent--jazz vocalist Kurt Elling, blues-harp virtuoso Corky Siegel, folk-pop singer-songwriter Bonnie Koloc and her harmonica-playing partner Howard Levy, and folk-rock legend Jim Post. It's splashy, sentimental entertainment for a good cause: proceeds benefit Gilda's Club Chicago, a support agency for women with cancer named in memory of Short's colleague and Toronto Second City cohort Gilda Radner. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph, 312-464-9900 or 312-902-1500. Monday, March 22, 7:30 PM. $40 for the show only; $150-$250 for benefactor and supporter tickets to the show and various pre- and postshow receptions. --Albert Williams
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Martin Short uncredited photo; Tim Kazurinsky uncredited photo; Bonnie Koloc photo by Ronald Shafer.