BILL MUR­RAY: IDEAL ON STAGE, LESS SO AT VIP MEET- AND- GREET

Chicago Sun-Times - - CUBS EXTRA - Fol­low Hedy Weiss on Twit­ter: @HedyWeis­sCritic HEDY WEISS

It is a fact uni­ver­sally un­der­stood that gifted per­form­ers tend to be at their very best when on stage and scripted.

Bill Mur­ray gave a ter­rific twohour per­for­mance Tues­day night at Sym­phony Cen­ter, where his show “New Worlds: Bill Mur­ray, Jan Vogler and Friends,” a unique blend of dra­matic per­for­mance and mu­sic, played to a packed house. A post- show CD sign­ing ap­par­ently went as planned, too. And things con­tin­ued in a per­fectly fine way as au­di­ence mem­bers, who had paid $ 150 ( in ad­di­tion to the price of a con­cert ticket) in or­der to at­tend a post- show gath­er­ing in the the­ater’s Bun­trock Hall, waited to join Mur­ray for pizza and beer.

Ac­cord­ing to Sean Kennedy, 35, an at­tor­ney who had treated his brother to the con­cert and post- show event for his birth­day ( the post- show party was a ben­e­fit for the CSO As­so­ci­a­tion), some of the 100 or 150 peo­ple or so with post- show tick­ets headed to the food ta­bles be­fore Mur­ray’s ar­rival, while oth­ers lined up so that they could have their photo taken with Mur­ray by a pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­pher. ( The pic­ture would later be posted on a spe­cial on­line site avail­able to the par­ty­go­ers.)

“Mur­ray posed with cou­ples and oth­ers for about 20 or 25 pho­tos, then saw peo­ple he knew in the crowd and went over to chat or hug them, then came back to do an­other 20 or 25 pic­tures,” re­called Kennedy. “By the third time he came back to con­tinue with the pho­tos he had pizza in his hand. And he had al­ready turned away one wo­man who was shoot­ing pic­tures with her cell­phone. Mean­while, by now, the idea was that the pro­fes­sional pho­tos would be taken with larger groups. And when a wo­man de­manded that she wanted one with just her and her hus­band, in­stead of a group of strangers, he yelled at her to get out. I think some peo­ple thought he was kid­ding at first, and she was em­bar­rassed and moved to the side. But he was se­ri­ous.”

Kennedy wasn’t mak­ing ex­cuses for Mur­ray but said he was “some­what sym­pa­thetic.” And he added that once the ac­tor abruptly left the room, the three mu­si­cians who had played with him fol­lowed suit.

“It was a great show, and he’d been to the Cubs game the night be­fore,” Kennedy said. “He was prob­a­bly just tired.”

Kennedy and his brother, who were to­ward the back of the pack, never got a photo (“We were about 10 peo­ple away from [ Mur­ray] when he left”), but he did re­quest the re­fund that was of­fered, not­ing “The CSO peo­ple were very sym­pa­thetic and un­der­stand­ing about it. I haven’t seen the re­fund on my credit card yet, but that’s likely just my credit card com­pany.”

| TODD ROSEN­BERG

Bill Mur­ray de­liv­ers prose from Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture by Hem­ing­way, Whit­man, Twain and oth­ers at Sym­phony Cen­ter on Tues­day. TODD ROSEN­BERG PHOTO

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