Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Introduction to Broadway in Chicago through Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking

I did an interview with Desperate Housewives actor James Denton, current owner of Harry Caray’s on Navy Pier and former waiter at one of the chain’s other restaurants. He told me that he first ended up in Chicago because there was so much theater to do. I had heard that too, but I figured it was time for me to check it out myself.

My mother was in town visiting me and it just happened to be at the same time that Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking was playing at the Bank of America Theatre in Chicago. I don’t usually make roundtrips there in one day, but the timing just didn’t work out for an overnight stay and we were both anxious to see this show for various reasons.

When my mom was a teen, singer Eddie Fisher was her idol. She had pictures of him everywhere, owned his records and even had obtained a few autographs. She was also a fan of Debbie Reynolds and had seen Carrie Fisher on television a few times.

For me, the attraction to Wishful Drinking was very different. I had lost the attention of many a male when faced with a poster of Princess Lea and though I’m not a Star Wars fan (I hear many a gasp out there, but it’s true, not everyone loves the series), I had enjoyed watching Fisher in other movies. The big one for me, though, was my favorite movie. Carrie Fisher had played best friend to Meg Ryan’s Sally Albright in When Harry Met Sally

Regardless of our reasons for going, my first experience with a Broadway show in Chicago went above my expectations, as they did my mom’s.  The Bank of America Theatre rivals any one on New York’s Broadway and the parking was a lot easier (you can stay or valet with the Hampton’s Majestic right next door). The theater was also extremely helpful and accommodating to my mom’s need for accessibility.

The show itself was just fantastic. Carrie Fisher is open and honest about the wild ride she has taken with her life. The things that would make most people fall apart, she manages to relive with the audience while carrying on a sense of humor. She sits down to talk, takes walks around the stage, brings audience members up to join her, uses props to make her points, and even sings in a voice that could only come from the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher.

Wishful Drinking manages to turn the tragedies of Carrie Fisher’s life – a public split of her parents after her father left her mother for Elizabeth Taylor; alcoholism; drug addiction; two divorces, including one from singer Paul Simon; a bi-polar diagnosis;  and electroconvulsive therapy, formerly called electric shock therapy – into comedy.

While Wishful Drinking is no longer in Chicago, Carrie Fisher is still touring with the show. You can also catch the details with the Wishful Drinking bookor a DvD of the show. (She also has a  new book out, Shockaholic, which I have not read.)

As for Broadway in Chicago, I will definitely be back and I urge you to schedule it in on all trips you make to the Windy City. 


  1. Marcia, I loved Wishful Drinking, and think Carrie Fisher is a wickedly funny and honest performer and writer. I agree her best role was in When Harry Met Sally, and your review just reminds me how much I love Chicago. Thanks! Diane Mandeville

  2. Hi Diane,

    Glad you liked it -- my story and the play!