Ball in play

A former lawmaker takes the Cubs’ World Series win to the stage

A former lawmaker takes the Cubs’ World Series win to the stage - Photo by Rena Naltsas
By Dustin J. Seibert
Chicago Lawyer correspondent

As its subtitle implies, “Miracle,” a Royal George Theater stage production about the 2016 Chicago Cubs World Series-winning season set as the backdrop, is “A Musical 108 Years in the Making.” For William Marovitz, the Cubs’ triumph came right on time for “Miracle.”

Marovitz conceived the two-hour-15-minute musical with retired Cook County circuit judge Julian Frazin and began putting it together about eight months before the Cubs captured the world championship. He said many things about the musical — from the events on the stage to the highlights on the screen to the name itself — were directly impacted by the Cubs’ successful season. “Miracle” opened in May and is playing at The Royal George Theater; it will run as long as it continues selling tickets, Marovitz said.

In addition to “Miracle,” the former state senator keeps busy with the Democratic Party as well as several other business pursuits. His activities include involvement in numerous Chicago restaurants as well as real estate deals in Miami and Chicago’s swanky Fulton Market District.

Marovitz talks to us about the creation and impact of “Miracle” and what he has planned for the future.

Chicago Lawyer: Are you a huge Cubs fan yourself?

Marovitz: I’m a huge baseball fan. I’m also fan of the White Sox. I was very involved on both sides of town in the mid-1980s: The Chicago Tribune and MLB came to me and asked for my help in getting lights installed at Wrigley Field. I was a senator from that district and I went to work to craft a compromise with the community, which was largely against the lights.

We worked it out so that 8-8-88 was the first night game at Wrigley Field. We had a compromise of only 18 night games and that the Cubs would provide security in the neighborhood, sticker parking and offsite parking so that residents could retain their own parking. On the South Side, I was very instrumental in helping get the money for the White Sox to build the a stadium and prevent them from moving to Tampa/ St. Pete [Fla.], which they were likely to do. Today, I am rooting very hard for both teams to win.

CL: How did the show come to pass?

Marovitz: I was working with Julian Frazin on another show called “A Chicago Story: From Daley to Daley” about everything that happened with Richard the First to Richard the Second and everything in between; not just politics and government, but the Bulls Dynasty, the Bears Super Bowl, the burning of the West Side, Harold Washington, Jane Byrne, Eddie Vrdolyak.

The script and the songs just never came together, and then Richie Daley decided not to run again. Rahm [Emanuel] came in and he had his problems and I just didn’t think it was gonna go anywhere. I sat down with some of the people I was working with and said to them, “We’ve missed our window of opportunity,” and a window of opportunity is everything. As the phrase “window of opportunity” kept repeating in my mind, I came up with another idea.

It was February 2016 and I decided to do a show about the 2016 Chicago Cubs as seen through the eyes of a typical working-class family of generational Cubs fans in Chicago who own a bar in Wrigleyville.

It was before the team reported to spring training, but I did know as a baseball fan, I knew they had as good a team as any in baseball and therefore a greater chance of going to the World Series. I wanted to follow this team and this season through the eyes of this family; we show the highlights of the Series on screens above the stage. We had many scripts and many songs, but I wasn’t happy with any of them and I wasn’t going to do it until I was happy.

Then, in September, I hired a whole new creative team. The whole idea came out of a seed that was germinated in my brain and I kept watering it and nurturing it and finally brought it to the stage three years later.

CL: How did “Miracle” evolve when the Cubbies actually won?

Marovitz: We had several ideas of how we would write that into the script, but of course we couldn’t write the ending until the season ended. None of the initial script we wrote is what you’re seeing on stage right now. It changed completely. A number of people have asked me what we would have done if the Cubs didn’t win the World Series. I think I would have still done a show and instead of the title “Miracle,” it would’ve been “Wait’ll Next Year” because Cubs fans are Cubs fans and they love their team, win, lose or draw. They fill that stadium with 40,000 people every day, but of course it’s much sweeter when you have a World Series victory to look back on.

CL: What kind of response have you received from “Miracle”?

Marovitz: People have said to me that it brings tears to their eyes for myriad reasons. Last weekend, Willson Contreras told me he cried during the last half of the show because of the emotion that was evident on the screen and what they went through during the rain delay and when they were down 3-1. People have told me they visited their grandparents and parents in the cemetery with the W flag or a Cubs hat or a piece of memorabilia they left on their gravestone because they were longtime-suffering Cubs fans.

So, a lot of people tell me how emotional their family story has been and that’s what “Miracle” is … a family story. It’s not about balls and strikes. It’s about a family that has highs and lows, ups and downs and overcomes diversity and gains faith.

One of the most gratifying things is to be outside the theater in the lobby when people are coming out of your show and to see them smiling and laughing and singing and humming a tune and really enjoying themselves and knowing that you helped provide that enjoyment for thousands of people.

CL: What’s next for you in the creative world?

Marovitz: As a business person and a creative person, I try to dedicate laser focus on what I’m doing at the moment and spend whatever time and money I can to give it the best chance of success. I do have an idea I think Chicagoans would love, but let’s see what happens with “Miracle” first.