Saturday, September 22, 2018

PIPPIN Via Mercury Theater at Venus Cabaret from October 11 to November 18, 2018

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar

Mercury Theater Chicago Announces Cast of PIPPIN

PIPPIN to run in the Mercury Theater’s Venus Cabaret from October 11 to November 18, 2018

**Note: This play contains mature content, including sex, drug use, and theatrical gun fire and gun violence. It is recommended for mature audiences ages 15 and older.

I'll be out with my teenage son for the press opening, October 13th, so check back soon for our full review. Here at ChiIL Mama and ChiIL Live Shows we've long been fans of Mercury Theater Chicago's excellent productions, and we're elated that they've added the intimate Venus Cabaret to their sphere of influence. We're expecting Pippin to be stellar!

Mercury Theater Chicago, 3745 N. Southport Avenue, is pleased to announce that PIPPIN will run from October 11th through December 16th in Venus Cabaret Theater. In this ‘Magic to Do’ musical Prince Pippin is on a quest for his ‘Corner of the Sky’ and eventually meets a special ‘Kind of Woman’. 

Audiences will experience PIPPIN like never before in this intimate and immersive production featuring Donterrio Johnson as the Leading Player. PIPPIN will reunite the creative talents behind our hit production of HAIR THE AMERICAN TRIBAL LOVE ROCK MUSICAL featuring L. Walter Stearns (director), Eugene Dizon (musical direction), and Brenda Didier (choreography). 

Heir to the Frankish throne, the young prince Pippin is in search of the secret to true happiness and fulfillment. He seeks it in the glories of the battlefield, the temptations of the flesh and the intrigues of political power (after disposing of his father, King Charlemagne the Great). In the end, though, Pippin finds that happiness lies not in extraordinary endeavors, but rather in the unextraordinary moments that happen every day. PIPPIN’s message is universal and connects with audiences across the age spectrum.

With an infectiously unforgettable score from four-time Grammy winner, three-time Oscar winner and musical theatre giant Stephen Schwartz, PIPPIN continues to captivate and appeal to the young at heart throughout the world. Winner of four 2013 Tony Awards including Best Musical Revival, PIPPIN first opened in 1972 and ran on Broadway for 1,944 performances with choreography by Bob Fosse and a book written by Roger O. Hirson. 

The cast includes Nicole Armold, Kayla Boye, Adam Fane, Don Forston, Donterrio Johnson, Iris Lieberman, Michael Rawls, Gabriel Robert, Sawyer Smith and Koray Tarhan. In addition to Stearns, Dizon and Didier, the creative team includes Rachel Boylan (costume design), Dustin L. Derry (lighting design), Carl Wahlstrom (sound design), Shanna Vanderwerker (associate choreographer) and Max Maxin IV (video design). Stage management is by Scott Flores-Deter.

Mercury Theater Chicago is an entertainment complex consisting of 2 stages – Mainstage Mercury, an intimate jewel-box of a theatre, seating 290 people in a continental style and the Venus Cabaret, an immersive theatrical experience to delight all senses in a cabaret setting. The Mercury Theater is located in the heart of a sophisticated neighborhood of restaurants and shopping close to Wrigley Field. A delightful theater destination, 

Mercury Theater Chicago takes care of its guests from the moment they arrive with valet service and dining at its adjoining restaurant, Grassroots. The hilarious Broadway musical AVENUE Q will be playing on the Mainstage alongside PIPPIN through November 4th, 2018.

PIPPIN runs from October 11th through December 16th. The press openings are Saturday, October 13th and Sunday, October 14th at 7:30pm.  The performance schedule is Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays at 7:30pm, Saturdays at 2:30pm and 7:30pm and Sundays at 2:30pm. Wednesday evening performances at 7:30pm will be offered beginning on October 31st. 

Individual tickets range from $60-$65, which include appetizers and dessert, and are available online at, over the phone at 773.325.1700, or in person at the Mercury Theater box office at 3745 N. Southport Avenue, Chicago. 

About the cast of PIPPIN:

NICOLE ARMOLD (Catherine) is delighted to return to Venus Cabaret Theater where she was last seen as Susan in the inaugural production of Company. Her Mercury Theater Chicago credits include: Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins) and Martha (The Christmas Schooner). Other recent Chicago credits include: Ride the Cyclone and Sense and Sensibility (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Into the Woods (Metropolis), Northanger Abbey (Lifeline), Mill Girls (ATC/ETOPiA) and The Merry Widow (Light Opera Works). 

KAYLA BOYE (Ensemble, u/s Fastrada, Catherine) is thrilled to return to Mercury Theater Chicago where she was last seen in Mary Poppins. Selected credits include South Pacific (Drury Lane Theatre); Billy Elliot, New Faces Sing 1969 and Little Me (Porchlight Music Theatre) and A Christmas Story (Citadel Theatre). 

ADAM FANE (Ensemble, Lewis, u/s Pippin) is thrilled to return to the Mercury Theater/Venus Cabaret after playing Rod in the 2014 production of Avenue Q. Selected credits include: Rock of Ages (National Tour); Billy Elliot: the Musical (Porchlight Music Theatre); Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Mamma Mia!, Hairspray & Mary Poppins (Paramount Theatre); Gypsy, Shrek the Musical, & Ride the Cyclone (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Avenue Q (Jeff Award Nominated, NightBlue) Selected on-camera credits include “Canal Street” and “Chicago P.D.” 

DON FORSTON* (King Charlemagne) is excited to return to the Mercury Theater after two Christmas seasons in the Mercury Theater Chicago’s production of The Christmas Schooner. His numerous Chicago theatre credits include My Fair Lady, Guys and Dolls and Pirates of Penzance (Jeff Award Nominated) (Marriot 
Theatre); and White Christmas (Drury Lane). Select on-camera credits include “Chicago P.D.” and “Rookie of the Year.”

DONTERRIO JOHNSON* (Leading Player) returns to Mercury Theater Chicago where he was last seen in the 2014 cast of Avenue Q and The Color Purple. National Tours: Waitress Regional: Spamilton (Daveed Diggs); Jesus Christ Superstar (Judas, 2015 Jeff Award); Ain't Misbehavin (Andre, 2014 Jeff nomination); Next To Normal (Dan) and Urinetown (Mr. Cladwell). Selected on-camera credits include USA's “Sirens.” 

IRIS LIEBERMAN* (Berthe) is making her Venus Cabaret Theater debut. A Jeff Award-winning actress, she has performed leading and featured roles in over 170 productions. Selected credits include Cabaret (Theatre at the Center, Jeff nomination); Beauty and the Beast (Fireside Theatre), Elegy (Richard Christiansen Theatre), and Fiddler on the Roof (Paramount Theatre). Select on-camera credits include: “Hoodlum,” “Groundhog Day” and “Missing Person.”

MICHAEL RAWLS (Ensemble, u/s Leading Player) is excited to be a part of their first production with Venus Cabaret Theater. Their previous credits include Man of La Mancha (MadKap Productions); Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer (Hell in a Handbag) and Madagascar (Chicago Shakespeare). 

GABRIEL ROBERT (Theo) is thrilled for his Venus Cabaret Theater debut. Selected credits include Gypsy at Jedlicka Performing Arts Center and The Magic Flute at The Lyric Opera. Recent on-camera credits include a recurring role on Showtime’s “The Chi.”

SAWYER SMITH* (Fastrada) is excited to make their Venus debut! Mercury Theater Chicago credits include: The Bardy Bunch, The Producers, The Addams Family. Selected credits include: The Fly Honey Show 9 (The Inconvenience); Rock of Ages (Drury Lane Theater); First Date (Royal George); Cats, Rent and A Chorus Line (Paramount Theater); and Pippin (BoHo). Choreography credits include: Heathers: The Musical (Kokandy, Jeff Award); Altar Boyz, The Full Monty, Titanic, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Griffin Theatre) and Sweet Charity (Timber Lake Playhouse). 

KORAY TARHAN (Pippin) is thrilled to be making his Venus Cabaret Theater debut. Originally from Los Angeles, Koray graduated from Columbia College Chicago in 2013 and began traveling the country working regionally from San Diego to Cincinnati. Previous credits include The Boy Who Danced on Air (Diversionary Theatre, San Diego), Cabaret (Lewis Family Playhouse), Memphis (Porchlight Music Theater) and Seussical (Drury Lane)

About the Creative Team of PIPPIN: 

L. WALTER STEARNS (Director) As Executive Director of Mercury Theater Chicago, Walter is a champion for Chicago artists and productions and has overseen the physical and cultural revival of a beautiful theatre. He has directed over 40 musicals including his Jeff Award-winning productions of The Addams Family and Ragtime as well as the Jeff Award nominated productions of Mary Poppins, The Producers, The Addams Family, Avenue Q, The Color Purple, Barnum -The Circus Musical, The Christmas Schooner, Nine the Musical, Ragtime, Gypsy, The Secret Garden, Sweeney Todd, Company, A New Brain, Into the Woods, Merrily We Roll Along and Falsettos. He was pleased to produce The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes, which was awarded the Jeff Award for New Work. Most recently, he opened the new Venus Cabaret Theater with Stephen Sondheim’s Company. Walter has received the Jeff Award (Ragtime), BroadwayWorld Award (Avenue Q), After Dark Awards, the Larry Sloan Advocate Award (for his support of Season of Concern), the first Guy Adkins award for his contributions to the art of musical theatre and the Franny Award as a distinguished alumnus of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

EUGENE DIZON (Musical Director) is ecstatic to be collaborating with this talented cast and crew of Pippin at Venus Cabaret Theater. His work is Collage, Falsettos; 4 After Dark Awards (Ragtime, Sweeney Todd, A New Brain, Merrily We Roll Along), and BroadwayWorld nominations for Hair, Mary Poppins and The Color Purple. 

Additionally, he has been the musical director for Company, The Producers and Barnum, all at the Mercury, and Company at Venus. He is honored to have been inducted into the Chicago Filipino Hall of Fame. Eugene has co-produced 6 “Season of Carols” CD’s (with Cory Goodrich) which features some of the brightest talent in Chicago theater today, for which Season of Concern awarded him the 2013 Larry Sloan Advocate Award and the Season of Concern 2018 Larry Sloan Legacy Award for consistently and passionately being a trailblazer on behalf of Season of Concern. Eugene has been musical directing for over two decades garnering 6 Jeff Awards (Ragtime, Sweeney Todd, Amadeus, Company, Into the Woods, Merrily We Roll Along), Jeff nominations for A Grand Night for Singing, Candide, Nine the Musical, Closer Than Ever, A Little Night Music, Passion and Colette.

BRENDA DIDIER (Choreographer) is thrilled to make her Venus Cabaret debut! Dider’s Mercury Theater choreography credits include Barnum, The Color Purple, The Addams Family, The Christmas Schooner, Mary Poppins and directing last season's Hair. Didier is a freelance director/choreographer and recipient of multiple Jeff Awards in direction and choreography, After Dark Awards, the National Youth Theatre Award and was honored last spring with the 2018 Guy Adkins Award for the advancement of music theatre in Chicago. 

RACHEL BOYLAN (Costume Design) is excited to be a part of Venus Cabaret’s inaugural season after having spent many years working at Mercury Theater Chicago. Her Mercury Theater Chicago design credits include: Avenue Q (2014 and 2018), Mary Poppins and I Left My Heart. Additional selected Chicago credits include: Leavings (Polarity Theater Ensemble); Hello & Goodbye (Bluebird Arts); All Girl Dracula (The Mammals); Who Too, The Dancing Plague (The Right Brain Project); Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (St. James Community Theater). 

DUSTIN L. DERRY (Lighting Design) is excited to return for his fourth project with Mercury Theater Chicago after recently working on Avenue Q, Company and The Christmas Schooner. Selected theatrical work includes Bullets Over Broadway (Nightblue). Select dance credits include Ensemble Español, Inaside Chicago Dance, Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre and the Moscow Ballet. 

G. "MAX" MAXIN IV (Video Design) is excited to be working with Mercury Theatre again after last working on Avenue Q. Selected Chicago credits include: Avenue Q (Mercury Theater); Cyrano (Jeff Award Nominated); A Little Night Music, Urinetown (Jeff Award Nominated); Oklahoma (Marriott); Pippin, Chorus Line, Little Women, Cabaret, Bare (Another Door); The View Upstairs (Circle Theatre); Homos or Everyone in America, Perfect Arrangement and Angry Fags (Pride Films & Plays). 

CARL WAHLSTROM (Sound Design) is ecstatic to be working on Pippin, his 16th show at Mercury Theater Chicago. Carl’s recent design credits include the Venus Theater Cabaret inaugural production of Company and the currently running Mercury Theater Chicago production of Avenue Q. Wahlstrom is the resident sound engineer at Mercury Theater Chicago. 

SHANNA VANDERWERKER (Associate Choreographer) is delighted to make her Mercury Theater Chicago debut. Selected choreography credits include 42nd Street, Newsies, South Pacific, Beauty and the Beast, Singin’ In The Rain (Fireside Theatre); Lysistrata Jones (Refuge Theater Project, Jeff Award Nominated). Selected performance credits include Dance Captain of the 1st National Tour of Wicked as well as a swing in the Broadway company, company member of in NYC, and “Kids of the Kingdom” at Walt Disney World. 

SCOTT FLORES-DETER* (Stage Manager) is excited to be working with Venus Cabaret Theater. Selected credits include: Pinkalicious: The Musical (Emerald City), The Nutcracker (Peoria Ballet), Late Nite Catechism 

(Nuns4Fun Entertainment), and various productions with The Second City. Flores-Deter is currently working on the Mercury Theater Chicago stage in the long-running hit, Avenue Q, after an incredible run in 2014 (BroadwayWorld Award).

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