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Chicago attorney Adam Whiteman pens musical drama celebrating local folk hero Francis O’Neill

Chicago lawyer, Adam Whiteman, has written and is now producing a musical drama celebrating the life and times of Francis O’Neill, the Chicago Chief of Police who is widely revered for his efforts to preserve and revive traditional Irish music.

Whiteman, who lives in Highland Park and maintains a Loop office, concentrates on general business law, litigation and real estate. He is an active member of the Illinois State Bar Association and is the editor of the Real Property Newsletter for the Real Estate Section Counsel. He is also a chair certified arbitrator for the Lake and Cook County mandatory arbitration program and serves as an arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association with regard to commercial disputes.

In addition to his full-time law practice, Whiteman is a composer, record producer and playwright. Whiteman is the founder of Big Chicago Records (, a label dedicated to Chicago’s diverse music scene. The label has sold well over 100,000 albums from record stores, museums, airports and gift shops all over the greater Chicago area. Albums produced by Whiteman include “A Chicago Blues Tour”, “A Chicago Jazz Tour”, “The Chicago Music Scene” and “Musica Latina Chicago.”  Whiteman was a music major at the University of Wisconsin Madison where he studied French Horn performance and composition. His compositions appear on his albums and have been used in commercial settings.

“It was while producing “Hidden Treasures: Irish Music in Chicago” that I developed a fascination with the music of the Irish. In researching the album, I discovered the accomplishments of Francis O’Neill and realized he and I had something in common. He was a policeman dedicated to preserving Chicago’s Irish music scene, and I was a lawyer with a similar goal!” 

After more than eight years of work, Whiteman has produced  Music Mad, a musical drama celebrating the life and times of Chief Francis O’Neill. The play is currently in production and set to premier in May 2012 at Chief O’Neill’s Pub and Restaurant (3471 North Elston, Chicago) in Chicago. Stefan Brun directs.

The show premieres at Chief O’Neill’s and is show is co-produced by the Prop Thtr. The production follows the success of other Chicago-centric Prop productions, such as Busted City and Hizzoner, a production recounting the career of Richard J. Daley, which ran for more than 400 performances. Prop has become a respected incubator for innovative shows about Chicago.

Music Mad combines dramatic content with traditional Irish tunes, song and dance in an exploration of Chief Francis O’Neill relationship with the music of Ireland.  He served as Chicago’s venerated Chief Superintendant of police from 1901 to 1905.  O’Neill was a colorful personality who was revered for his bravery in the field and his upstanding character in the office. O’Neill was also a respected Irish historian who dedicated his life to the preservation of traditional Irish music. His publication, “O’Neill’s Music of Ireland” is considered one of the leading reference sources on the subject.

“Music Mad is just the kind of show we are looking to present,” says Stefan Brun, “It is a new play which tells a very ‘Chicago’ story. Formatted as an interview which is colored with dramatic and musical breaks, I believe the show will be a positive contribution to Chicago’s theatrical landscape.”

“It is our goal to both educate and entertain”, says playwright Adam Whiteman. “O’Neill was truly a renaissance man.  He was a gifted leader who navigated life with a warrior’s skill, a poet’s incite and a musician’s heart.  I believe his story will resonate with people on many levels

Respected and talented Irish musicians and actors have been cast in the various roles, including, Brett Tewell, Mike O’Brien, Vera Kelly and Farley Masterton. In addition, Laurence Nugent will be displaying his expertise on the Irish flute throughout the show.

Music Mad opens at Chief O’Neill’s on May 6, 2012 and runs through June 28, 2012.  Performances are Sundays (4:00 P.M. and 7:30 P.M.) and Thursdays (7:30 P.M.) Tickets are $22 and can be purchased at or at the door.

Posted on February 27, 2012 by Chris Bonjean
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