United Center to host Bicentennial Birthday Party


Monday, December 3, 2018

information provided by the Office of the Governor

CHICAGO, Ill. (October 12, 2018) — An original musical rendition of the Gettysburg Address with Miguel Cervantes will be featured in a night of tributes to Illinois entertainers, with performances by Illinois’ top musicians, a Chicago sports championship parade, and a star-studded cast of Illinois celebrities. It’s all part of the line-up for the state’s Bicentennial Birthday Party at the United Center December 3.

Details for the event were revealed at an October 4 press briefing hosted by Second City and “Saturday Night Live” alum Tim Kazurinsky from the Museum of Broadcast Communications, whose interactive “Saturday Night Live” exhibit served as a fitting backdrop.

The program for the 200th Birthday Party features six acts that highlight the people, places, events, and innovations that were Born, Built, and Grown in Illinois.

Among the most anticipated acts is a tribute to the state’s greatest citizen, Abraham Lincoln, that includes a special musical rendition of the Gettysburg Address starring Miguel Cervantes, who plays Alexander Hamilton in Chicago.

REO Speedwagon, recently voted Illinois’ top musical group in a recent statewide Bicentennial survey, will rock the United Center as part of the tribute to Illinois entertainment. REO’s Kevin Cronin addressed reporters remotely while on tour to express the band’s excitement.

“We’ve been thrilled to fly the flag as proud Midwesterners and Illinoisans throughout our careers, and we are honored to come and celebrate our home state’s 200th birthday,” he said. “Hey Illinois…get ready to party.”

For the sports segment of the show, the United Center will be transformed into a parade of Olympic Champions, championship team owners, legends, trophies, and celebrity fans who will recreate celebrations of Illinois’ greatest sports moments. The Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs, and White Sox will be well represented.

The Rockford Peaches also will be recognized on the 75th anniversary of their first All-American Girls Professional Baseball League championship.

Legendary Blackhawks anthem singer Jim Cornelison will open the party.

Previously confirmed to participate are members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Styx, Blues legend Buddy Guy, Olympic champion Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Bill Kurtis, and Joe Mantegna.

Bicentennial Office Executive Director Stuart Layne noted there will be other celebrities added to the program and many surprises in store for the evening. “If you think about the big names associated with Illinois history, entertainment, and sports, we’re inviting them all,” he said.

The program

Bill Kurtis intro, National Guard Color Guard, Jim Cornelison to sing national anthem

Act 1: Born, Built, and Grown—Why we are celebrating
Highlighting the people, places, events, and innovations that make us Illinois Proud

Act 2: Veterans

  • Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra play piece from the movie Lincoln (John Williams’ composition)
  • Joe Mantegna narrates Illinois Veterans video
  • Recognize Bicentennial HONOR 200 veterans; CSO plays Armed Forces Medley

Act 3: Illinois entertainment

  • Video of iconic Illinois movies, theater, shows, actors
  • Illinois Rock bands perform (Styx, REO, other collaborators)

Act 4: Sports

  • Jackie Joyner-Kersee,
  • Video: History of NFL/Bears
  • Championship Parade: Owners, players, trophies, and celebrity fans from Bears, Bulls, Cubs, White Sox, Blackhawks, Rockford Peaches, Olympic champions

Act 5: History/Culture

  • Lincoln video
  • Gettysburg Address Rap: “All People are Created Equal” – Miguel Cervantes (Hamilton, Chicago) with 24 Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awardees

Act 6: History of Chicago Blues

  • Video chronicling migration of jazz and blues from Louisiana to East St. Louis and Chicago King of Chicago Blues Buddy Guy, his band performs finale
  • Ensemble of guests sing “Sweet Home Chicago,” “Happy Birthday,” celebratory birthday cake from Eli’s Cheesecake

Tickets are $75 and $50 and are on sale through Ticketmaster and at the United Center box office.

For information go to www.illinois200.com.

About the Illinois Bicentennial

On December 3, 1818, Illinois became the 21st state in the union. The Illinois Bicentennial is a yearlong celebration of what has been BORN, BUILT, & GROWN in the state and a reminder of why we are #IllinoisProud.