Miracle: A Musical 108 Years in the Making is a Must-See For Cubs Fans

Meeting Wayne Messmer before Miracle: A Musical 108 Years 
in the making
Ok, I know this is a food blog, but be foreward that there isn't much about food in this post. The name of our blog also has the word "Chicago" in it. And there is one thing - one sweet, beloved, wonderful, beautiful, nostalgic, magical thing - in Chicago that I love as much as food. And it's the Cubbies. 

For those of you who may not be from Chicago, I'm talking about the Chicago Cubs. The north side team that was once the known as the "Lovable Losers." The team that spent 108 years in a pennant drought. The team that either made you spend year after year in a desperate depressing hole of "wait 'til next year" or had you faithfully and completely believing that "this will be the year" year after year no matter how bad things were going. Always the optimist, I never gave up rooting for the boys in blue and knew that the day was coming - even if it wasn't right around the corner, it was coming - and I was patient and loved them every step of the way. I knew they'd do it one day. To quote of one of my favorite baseball movies, Angels in the Outfield, "It could happen." And I knew one day it would.

Wayne Messmer's World Series Ring

So this month a new musical debuted at the Royal George Theatre and it was one I couldn't wait to see. It's called Miracle: A Musical 108 Years in the Making.

I'll be writing a review on the musical for a local paper and in that I'll give a little more detail about the actors and the songs and the show itself. In this blog post, I just wanted to convey what it meant to me as a true blue die-hard lifelong Cubs fan. And I couldn't fit all that into a review that will go into a print newspaper - I could fill pages about my journey as a Cubs fan.

First, a little on why I'm a Cubs fan. As with many other Cubs fans, it is a generational thing. It's passed down from parent to child. It's often inherited as fully as any other characteristic, like having brown eyes or a thin build. 

That was the case for me. I was a Cubs fan because my father was a Cubs fan. But that's as far back as it goes. His father wasn't a Cubs fan. In fact not a lot of people in his Central Illinois hometown were. A good number of them were Cardinals fans. But when dad was 9-years-old in 1945, he turned on his radio and listened to a broadcast of the World Series. He fell in love with the Cubs and was an intense fan from that time on. And he couldn't wait for them to play in a World Series again.

Being a Cubs fan started with my dad and was passed on to me. But it didn't end there. My first born had no choice. Just like I didn't. As a toddler he was dressed in Cubbie blue. He watched them on television. I took him to games. I got him hooked. I can't tell you how many times we were waiting outside the fence along the player's parking lot after games while my son tried to get autographs from players - and he was successful on a few occasions.

My sister,  a season-ticket holder started giving him and my other boys a set of game tickets each year for their birthday/Christmas. She also took him to his first Cubs Convention. Somehow, being a die-hard Cubs fan didn't catch on with his younger brothers. But my oldest sleeps, eats, breathes and bleeds Cubbie blue. It's a bond between the three of us that is so special and there's nothing else like it. Many of the most significant and most cherished memories of my life are related to the Cubs. There are years that will forever stick in my mind. 1984 - the year the Cubs clinched their division. 1991 - the year I was married. 1994 - the year I became a mom. 2000 - the year I published my first freelance piece. 2001 - the year my first book was published. 2007 - The year I went to my first playoff game. 2011 - the year my sister and I started this food blog. 2016 - the year the Cubs went all the way.

The Cubs Catcher, Willson Contreras 

So, this play I went to see - it was about that 2016 season. And it was about a family that was very intertwined with the team. There were some parallels that made it that much more heartwarming and emotional to watch. There were three generations of fans - just like in my family. The play brought back all of the excitement and emotion of 2016 and the roller coaster ride it was. And I woke up the next morning smiling - like I do after they pull off an amazing win in extra innings of a night game.

Not everyone is going to be as emotionally invested in this story as I am. We weren't very far into it when I realized I should have brought kleenex - and a lot of it. I couldn't help but be taken back to that night in 2016 when the curse was broken and Wrigleyville rejoiced - and IT HAPPENED.

Like other significant events that have been brought into our living rooms on screens - like the death of John Kennedy or John Lennon or the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster - it was one where I will never forget exactly what I was doing at that moment. It will be forever ingrained in my brain that scene when Kris Bryant made that unsteady throw to Rizzo, who threw his hands in the air and that ball in his back pocket just before Chicago erupted.

My dad was living about five minutes away at the time and we had been watching a lot of the postseason coverage together. One day my sister drove up with her kids from her home near Peoria and we got together at a Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the game with my dad. Another night I took my dad to a local restaurant and we watched a game together while we enjoyed dinner. But for game seven of the World Series, we decided to watch it at my house - the three of us. It was do or die. There were no more games to watch after that night and we all wanted to be together for the final outcome.

Also, it happened to be a weeknight. So as the evening went on, my kids went to bed one by one. My husband also turned in for the night. He had to be up at 5 a.m. the next morning for his 24-hour shift at the firehouse. So, by the time the rain delay had passed the house was dark and quiet and the three of us sat in the living room watching together, lights dimmed down low, and eventually cheering in a whisper and jumping up and down in slow motion as not to wake anyone. 

Then we watched the celebration on the field and the sweet moment of Carl Edwards, Jr. running across the outfield with a W flag behind him, flowing like a cape. And after Dad had left and my son had gone to bed, I just sat by myself in the dark watching for hours - interviews and champagne spraying on players and Bill Murray celebrating and an intoxicated Theo causing me to tweet, "Did Theo just drop an F bomb on live TV?" I watched it until the coverage concluded and then went back and watched it some more.

I loved having the chance to relive that night a little bit while watching the musical with my son. I shed a lot of tears while sitting in the balcony of the Royal George Theatre. Ironically, I had much the same view I do at games in my sister's upper deck season ticket seats - a bar in front of the seat that was in my lower view if I reclined a little too far back - just like those seats we have been occupying for years in section 532 of the Friendly Confines.

And if you think it's crazy that I get teary-eyed about baseball, it's because it's just so much more than baseball. In 2015, when my Dad was 79, he told me "All I want before I die is to see the Cubs win the World Series." There have been a whole lot of people who had that same wish and didn't live to see it happen. So, when it finally happens and your dad is there to see it with you, it's a bit overwhelming. However, as I watched the musical with my son, my dad was hundreds of miles away in a hospital recovering from a heart attack. And I so wished he was there watching it with us. I'm hoping he'll get strong enough to be able to go see it with me during its run.

So, I'll insert a little bit of foodiness here by saying that I was attending an opening night performance to benefit Chicago Cubs Charities. As we exited the theatre, we received boxes of popcorn from Nuts on Clark, like what you can get at the ballpark. We also stuck around a little bit for the reception where there were tasty passed appetizers, like bruschetta and crab cakes, along with a buffet that included a favorite ballpark food, hot dogs - with plenty of appropriate toppings like onion, relish and giardiniera (and no ketchup).

The evening included meeting Wayne Messmer, who sings the National Anthem at the Cubs games. He just happened to be standing around in the empty lobby as we entered to get our tickets. And I got a little giddy inside when I spotted Willson Contreras in the audience.

And add in to the mix that the Cubs are currently in first place and have been performing so well and that made it all even better. It's still very early in the season, but hey, it could happen again. 

The way I see things, you can live your life as if nothing is a miracle. Or you can live your life as if everything is a miracle.

I'm all about miracles. And this play about the best miracle of all was a grand slam.

For more information and tickets, visit www.theroyalgeorgetheatre.com.