Thursday, October 18, 2018


ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar:



Porchlight Revisits Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Tony Award-winner About the Founding of the United States of America with the Largest Cast in Porchlight Revisits History

I'll be out to review for ChiIL Mama. The Porchlight Revisits Series is one of our favorites. It's a short, sweet, and incredibly fun romp through lost musical gems rarely seen on stageIt's here audiences get to discover the 'lost musicals' of Stephen Sondheim, Cole Porter, Kander and Ebb and more when Chicago's finest music theatre talent, with script in hand and fully staged, dust off these treasures and escort you to the world of Broadway’s past.

Porchlight Music Theatre begins its sixth season of Chicago’s “lost” musicals in staged concert series with Porchlight Revisits 1776, music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards and book by Peter Stone with direction by Artistic Director Michael Weber, musical direction by Jeremy Ramey and musical staging by Michelle Lauto. Porchlight Revisits 1776 is presented for only three performances Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Thursday, Nov. 15 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. at The Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn Street. Tickets for 1776 are available now for $37, subscriptions to the three performance series including 1776, Can-Can, March 6 and 7, 2019 and Minnie’s Boys, May 22 and 23, 2019 are $90/per person and available at or by calling the Porchlight Music Theatre box office at 773.777.9884. 

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Tony Award-winner, Porchlight Music Theatre brings to Chicago the impassioned arguments and world-changing visions that were fought over in those sweltering summer days in Philadelphia nearly 250 years ago. The historic players will be present in the characterizations of Benjamin Franklin, Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson and others, showcasing the compelling debate of what are we willing to compromise to build a new country will ring out louder than the toll of the Liberty Bell.

With special permission from the rights holders, the approach to this production, which has been frequently presented with a primarily Caucasian and male identified cast playing the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the congressional staff, will be an inclusive company of actors, expanding the casting potential both in ethnic and gender identities, in modern dress. 

Every Porchlight Revisits begins with Behind the Show Backstory, an entertaining and informative multimedia presentation, created and hosted by Artistic Director Michael Weber, introducing the evening’s production including the show’s creative history, juicy backstage gossip and much more.

Top row: Joseph Foronda, “Benjamin Franklin,” Lucy Godinez, “Martha Jefferson;” Michelle Lauto, “Abigail Adams”
Bottom row: Robert Quintanilla, “Thomas Jefferson;” Kelvin Roston Jr, “John Adams” and Heather Townsend, “John Dickinson”

Featuring a cast of 26, the largest ever for a Porchlight Revisits production, the 1776 company includes: 
Micha Astala, “Dr. Josiah Bartlett;” Frankie Leo Bennett, “George Reed;” Jeff Bouthiette, “Samuel Chase;” Erica Chinn, “Col. Thomas McKean;” Cynthia Clarey, “Rev. John Witherspoon;” Jazmín Corona, “Andrew McNair;” Richard Costes, “Leather Apron;” Ryan Dooley, “James Wilson;” William Dwyer,“Edward Rutledge;” Joseph Foronda, “Dr. Benjamin Franklin;” Kim Fukawa, “Charles Thomson;” Lucy Godinez, “Martha Jefferson;” Randolph Johnson, “Stephen Hopkins;” Christopher W. Jones, “Lewis Morris;” Teressa LaGamba,“, “Richard Henry Lee;” Michelle Lauto, “Abigail Adams,” Anne Marie Lewis, “Joseph Hewes;” Cari Meixner, “Dr. Lyman Hall;” Robert Quintanilla,“Thomas Jefferson;” Nolan Robinson, “Courier;” Kelvin Roston Jr., “John Adams;” Jenny Rudnick, “Caesar Rodney;” Peter Ruger, “Robert Livingston;” Heather Townsend, “John Dickinson;” Jessica Vann,  “Roger Sherman” and Nancy Wagner,  “John Hancock.” 

Michael Weber is the artistic director of Porchlight Music Theatre where, under his leadership, the company has received the Best Production Equity Jeff Award for the past five consecutive years. He previously served as artistic director for the inaugural season of Drury Lane Theatre Water Tower Place (now The Broadway Playhouse) and at Theatre at the Center (1998 – 2004).  Weber recently made his Porchlight stage debut in Porchlight Revisits Do Re Mi this past spring. His productions of End of the Rainbow, Sweeney Todd, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Pal Joey, Assassins and Side Show at Porchlight Music Theatre, Grand Hotel at Drury Lane Theatre Water Tower Place and She Loves Me at Theatre at the Center were each nominated for the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Production. Directing credits include Living the History-125 Years of The Auditorium Theatre starring Patti LuPone and John Mahoney, Fifth of July and Talley’s Folly at the Oak Park Festival Theatre, The Petrified Forest at Theatre at the Center, Beauty and the Beast at Marriott Theatre, Over the River and Through the Woods at The Mercury Theater, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at Pheasant Run Theatre and Cirque du Symphony at Sears Center Arena. The recipient of two Joseph Jefferson Awards, he has written and directed the past twelve Joseph Jefferson Awards ceremonies. Weber’s regional acting credits include Annie Get Your Gun and Gypsy (both starring Patti LuPone) at Ravinia, Disney’s My Son Pinocchio at First Stage Milwaukee, Around the World in 80 Days at Cleveland Playhouse, The Winter’s Tale and Henry V at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, It Had To Be You (starring Cindy Williams and Eddie Mekka) at Little Theatre on the Square, Angel Street at First Folio Shakespeare and The Gifts of the Magi at Indiana Repertory. Weber is proud to serve as a pledge host on WTTW, Channel 11. 

ABOUT JEREMY RAMEY, music director
Jeremy Ramey is a concert pianist, conductor and music director based in Chicago.  He was awarded the non-equity Jeff Award for music direction for his work on Theo Ubique’s Light in the Piazza in 2012 and again in 2013 for the company’s Smokey Joe’s Cafe. Some of his favorite music directing projects include Altar Boyz at Downtown Drury Lane, Hats! with Grammy award winner Melissa Manchester and Tony-nominated director Lynn Taylor-Corbett, Forever Plaid at Drury Lane Oakbrook and C’est la Vie at Light Opera Works. Ramey was also the music director for both the world premiere and Wisconsin premiere of Adding Machine. He received his training in piano performance at Rhodes College, Northwestern University and The Juilliard School of Music. He has taught at Northwestern University, Columbia College, Loyola University and the University of Memphis. He is also the music director at Unity Church on the Northshore in Evanston, Illinois.

ABOUT MICHELLE LAUTO, musical staging and “Abigail Adams”
Michelle Lauto is Porchlight Music Theatre’s education associate and starred in Porchlight’s hit In The Heights. Lauto is an award winning Chicago based actor, singer, writer and educator having grown up in the Jersey suburbs of New York and begun acting in and around the city at the age of 16. At 21, she moved to Chicago to study her other love: comedy. She is a 2014 graduate of The Second City Training Center's Conservatory program. Since graduating, Lauto has worked at several prominent Chicago area theaters, including appearing in the Original Chicago Cast of Spamilton: An American Parody for which she won a 2017 Jeff Award for Best Actress in a Revue. She also enjoys working as a teaching artist and sharing her love of musical theatre with the next generation. 

A four-time Jeff Award nominee, three-time BTA Award winner and two-time Black Excellence Award winner, Kelvin Roston Jr. is the winner of the Light in the Darkness Public Education Award from NAMI for his play, Twisted Melodies, written and performed by himself. He is an artistic associate of Congo Square and has appeared at Court Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Marriott Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Black Ensemble Theatre, Timeline Theatre, Northlight Theatre and Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

ABOUT JOSEPH FORONDA, “Benjamin Franklin”
Joseph Foronda’s Broadway credits include Pacific Overtures, Miss Saigon and James Clavell's Shogun: The Musical. His West End credits include Pacific Overtures (Donmar Warehouse). And Chicago credits include productions at Goodman Theatre, Ravinia Festival, Silk Road Rising, American Theater Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Victory Gardens Theater. Foronda’s regional credits include productions at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Weston Playhouse and more. 

ABOUT LUCY GODINEZ, “Martha Jefferson”
Currently appearing as “Serena” in Legally Blonde at The Paramount Theatre, Lucy Godinez burst onto the Porchlight stage receiving rave reviews as “Nina” in In The Heights and in New Faces Sing Broadway 1969. She has appeared in Chicago in Hair at The Mercury Theatre, A Christmas Carol at The Goodman Theatre and others.

A Porchlight Music Theatre Artistic Associate, Heather Townsend’s Chicago theatre credits includes productions with Mercury Theatre, Shattered Globe, Northlight, Remy Bumppo, Dog & Pony, Theatre Wit, Apple Tree, Next and readings with the Goodman and Steppenwolf.  

ABOUT CYNTHIA CLAREY, “The Reverend John Witherspoon”
In addition to her Porchlight debut in The Scottsboro Boys, Cynthia Clarey has sung leading roles in Thea Musgrave’s Voice of Ariadne, which was her New York City Opera debut, Anthony Davis’ Under the Double Moon, Minoru Miki’s Actor’s Revenge, Myron Fink’s Chinchilla and many more.  She has sung the role of “Carmen” throughout the world and toured in seven countries with Peter Brook’s innovative La Tragedie de Carmen.

One of Porchlight’s most popular offerings, Porchlight Revisits celebrates the lost musical gems of The Great White Way. Everyone knows Rodgers and Hammerstein's hits Oklahoma!, South Pacific, and The Sound of Music. But have they ever had the chance to experience, live on stage, their rarely seen Broadway shows Allegro, Me and Juliet or Flower Drum Song? It's here audiences get to discover the 'lost musicals' of Stephen Sondheim, Cole Porter, Kander and Ebb and more when Chicago's finest music theatre talent, with script in hand and fully staged, dust off these treasures and escort you to the world of Broadway’s past.

The experience begins with Behind the Show Backstory, an entertaining and informative multimedia presentation, created and hosted by Artistic Director Michael Weber, introducing the evening’s production including the show’s creative history, juicy backstage gossip and much more.

Porchlight Revisits is the ticket to go behind the scenes with an introduction to the luminaries who created the greatest musicals of all time and an opportunity to discover a new 'old' favorite all in one big show—plus Porchlight Revisits subscribers are invited to influence the choosing of future titles in the series.

Previous Porchlight Revisits productions include: 
(2017/18) Do Re Mi, They’re Playing Our Song, Woman of the Year;
(2016/17) The Rink, Little Me, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever;
(2015/16) Chess, Applause, Babes in Arms; 
(2014/15) Bells Are Ringing, City of Angels, Mack & Mabel 
(2013/14) Anyone Can Whistle, Golden Boy, Fade Out-Fade In

Porchlight Music Theatre is proud to be a member of the vibrant Ruth Page Center for the Arts community and an Artist In-Residence. Central to the Ruth Page Center for the Arts’ programming is the Artists In-Residence program, which is designed to serve organizations looking for a home base while they grow or expand their artistic and organizational capabilities. The Center is committed to nurturing and assisting dance and other performing artists, allowing for exchange and collaborative relationships to develop within the artistic community. The Ruth Page Center for the Arts is a destination for quality performing arts, accessible to a wide community regardless of race, gender, age, education or disability. An incubator of artistic energy and excellence, the Ruth Page Center for the Arts carries forward the vision of its founder, legendary dance icon Ruth Page, to be a platform for developing great artists and connecting them with audiences and community.

As Chicago’s home for music theatre, Porchlight Music Theatre enters its 24th season and its second as an Artist In-Residence at the historic Ruth Page Center for the Arts in Chicago’s Gold Coast. Porchlight Music Theatre is nationally recognized for reimagining classic productions, developing new works and showcasing musical theatre’s noted Chicago veterans and rising stars. Porchlight elevates the genre by providing intimate and powerful theatrical experiences of music theatre through the lens of the “Chicago Style.” Porchlight’s rich history includes the staging of more than 60 productions with 15 Chicago premieres and five world premieres. Through Porchlight’s “Off the Porch” new works program, the musicals of the next generation are developed and given a first audience. The School at Porchlight is Chicago’s center for music theatre training in the areas of performance, writing and appreciation including a youth summer “Make Your Own Musical” camp and a Saturday morning youth program. The company’s many accolades include 28 Black Theatre Alliance nominations and seven awards, as well as a total of 151 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations resulting in 42 Jeff Awards including five consecutive Best Production awards for The Scottsboro Boys (2017), Dreamgirls (2016), Sondheim on Sondheim (2015), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (2014) and A Class Act (2013).

The Honorable Julian Frazin and Rhona Frazin and Charles and Diane Laff sponsor Porchlight Revisits 1776.

Porchlight Music Theatre is supported by generous contributions from the Actors’ Equity Foundation, Bayless Family Foundation, Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation, Chapman | Spingola, Attorneys at Law, the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Elegant Events Lighting, James P. and Brenda S. Grusecki Family Foundation, the MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at the Prince Foundation, the Morgan Stanley Foundation, Q Chicago, The Saints and the Topfer Family Foundation. 

The season program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, a state agency, and by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events. 

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