DeYoung to take Styx and strings to Rosemont

Dennis DeYoungIt's been 20 years since their hitmaking high, but Chicago has never been able to get enough of "Babe," "Come Sail Away" and "The Best of Times."

So, once again, one of the South Side's favorite sons, former Styx singer Dennis DeYoung, will mount the stage at Rosemont Theatre May 11 to play those and other classics with a full orchestra.

"I'm really excited about the Rosemont show," DeYoung says from his hotel room at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where he's currently fighting the voice-ravaging effects of "negative humidity."

"It's brutal here," he says, singing the praises of humidifiers. DeYoung's at the end of a weeklong run of rock shows at the MGM Grand's Hollywood Theatre, with his latest touring band. The one-time Styx singer, these days, is playing scattered dates around the country with another band, featuring material from both his albums with Styx and his solo efforts at a variety of venues (including an upcoming Michigan casino gig with Molly Hatchet and Ted Nugent).

"We've done six shows here in seven days," he says, joking about the unnerving experience of seeing your face advertised in commercial loops on gigantic marquee screens that appear everywhere, from the airport to the outside walls of the downtown hotels.

"It's a humbling experience to see your visage projected 24 feet high on a video screen outside of a hotel."

While DeYoung is enjoying the opportunity to "rock" again on the road with his small touring band, he and the band are really looking forward to working with orchestras again this spring and summer.

"I'm really excited about the Rosemont show," he says. "We're also playing with the Houston, Memphis, and Dayton symphonies, and doing two shows in Orlando with an orchestra. And on May 4, I'll be doing a benefit with the Ronald McDonald charities."

The charity show (which is not open to the public) is part of an ongoing relationship De-Young has forged with the foundation.

"It's really been an honor and a privilege to be associated with the good works of the Ronald McDonald charities," he says. "They do wonderful work for kids and people."

DeYoung promises some surprises in this year's orchestral show at Rosemont. Since the band has played with an orchestra there before, this time around he has altered the song list to include a performance of "Castle Walls," a song from Styx's The Grand Illusion album that the band itself never played live. He'll also be performing "Ave Maria," one of the tracks from his Hunchback of Notre Dame musical, and a brand new solo song which he says sounds like "a cross between Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin."

Two of the singers who have worked with him on the Hunchback project will join him onstage, as will the Glen Ellyn Children's Choir. He also promises to play the mandatory hits, from "Come Sail Away," "Babe," "Don't Let it End" and "Lady" to "Mr. Roboto," "Suite Madame Blue," and his biggest solo hit, "Desert Moon."

"We'll have it all," he promises, "including a salad bar and juggling prunes."

Chicagoans will no doubt eat it all up except, perhaps, the prunes.

Dennis DeYoung's concert will be at the Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River Road, Rosemont, May 11, 8 p.m. Tickets are $35 to $65 at (312) 559-1212.