Chi, IL Live Shows On Our Radar
Complete casting announced for the live theatrical adaptation of
Jim Henson’s Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas
Music and Lyrics by Academy Award Winner Paul Williams,
Book by Timothy Allen McDonald and Christopher Gattelli,
Directed and Choreographed by Tony Award Winner Christopher Gattelli
Starring Andy Mientus as Emmet Otter with Kathleen Monteleone as Ma
TICKETS NOW ON SALE FOR THE LIMITED RUN
November 14-December 31, 2023
at Chicago’s historic Studebaker Theater
Casting for the live theatrical adaptation of “Jim Henson’s Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas” is now set for the Chicago premiere production, November 14-December 31, 2023, at the Studebaker Theater at the historic Fine Arts Building, 410 South Michigan Avenue. Based on the beloved television special originally created by the legendary puppeteer Jim Henson, this family-friendly musical features music and lyrics by Paul Williams (The Muppet Movie), with book by lead producer Timothy Allen McDonald (Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach) and director/choreographer Christopher Gattelli (Newsies). Packed with puppets created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and starring Andy Mientus (Broadway’s Spring Awakening, Les Misérables) in the title role and Kathleen Monteleone (Broadway’s Hands on a Hardbody) as Ma, Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas is a heartwarming celebration of the true spirit of the holidays. I'll be out for the press opening on November 20th so check back shortly after for my full review.
Tickets, starting at $43, are now on sale at the Studebaker Theatre box office (410 South Michigan Avenue), fineartsbuilding.com/studebaker/, and 312-753-3210. Private balcony boxes for up to 6 people are available for family-friendly pricing of $300, including fees. Group reservations (8 or more people) are currently available through Group Tix and Tours at www.grouptixandtours.com.
Direct from its triumphant New York City run, Jim Henson’s Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas brings the beloved television special to life, live on stage. Hailed by The New York Times for its “enchanting puppets” created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and “superb score” by Academy Award®–winning songwriter Paul Williams, this 75-minute tale takes us to Frogtown Hollow, where Ma and Emmet Otter risk what little they have to make each other’s holiday dreams come true. Directed by Tony Award® winner Christopher Gattelli (Newsies, SpongeBob: The Musical, “Schmigadoon”), this very merry musical is a heartwarming celebration perfect for the entire family.
Leading the cast are Andy Mientus (Broadway’s Spring Awakening, Les Misérables, TV’s “Smash” and “The Flash”) in the role of Emmet Otter, and Kathleen Monteleone (Broadway’s Hands On A Hardbody, TV’s “Good Behavior”) as Ma. The cast also includes Jordan Brownlee (Puppeteer/Doc Bullfrog), Nick Cearley (Charlie Muskrat), Kevin Covert (Mayor Fox), Adam Fane (Understudy), Matt Furtado (Puppeteer/Stan Weasel), Sharriese Hamilton (Mrs. Mink), Steven Hunyn (Wendell Porcupine, u/s Emmet Otter), Ben Mathew (Harvey Beaver), Leah Morrow (Swing), Anney Ozar (Puppeteer/Old Lady Possum), Emily Rohm (Gretchen Fox), James Silson (Puppeteer/Snake), Sawyer Smith (Madame Squirrel), and David Stephens (Puppeteer/Yancy Woodchuck).
Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas is a theatrical adaptation of Jim Henson’s television special and is based on the illustrated book Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas by Russell Hoban and Lillian Hoban. The acclaimed musical premiered at Goodspeed Opera House in 2008 and played Off-Broadway at the New Victory Theater in December of 2021.
This Production of Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas was Licensed by Music Theatre International.
The music and lyrics for Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas are written by the legendary Paul Williams, the recipient of an Academy Award, two Golden Globe Awards and three Grammy Awards. His songs "The Rainbow Connection" and “Evergreen" are included in the American Film Institute's List of Top Movie Songs of All Time. The New York Times called Williams’s score for Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas “as playful as it is heart-whole beautiful.”
The book is co-written by lead producer Timothy Allen McDonald (Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach, Between The Lines, and The Book Thief) and director/choreographer Christopher Gattelli (Tony Award Winner for his Newsies choreography, and choreographer of SpongeBob the Musical and AppleTV+’s Schmigadoon!). Of the 2021 run, The New York Times hailed “the message, which celebrates fellow feeling and mutual care, is especially welcome right now,” while Hollywood Soapbox called it “an important staple of any holiday season.”
Puppets are created by the iconic Jim Henson’s Creature Shop (My Neighbor Totoro, Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock). Scenic design for Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas is by three-time Tony nominee Anna Louizos (In The Heights, High Fidelity, and The Mystery of Edwin Drood), with costume design by two-time Tony winner Gregg Barnes (Follies and The Drowsy Chaperone), lighting design by Obie Award winner and Tony Nominee Jen Schriever (Death of a Salesman and A Strange Loop), and sound design is by Emmy Award winner Matt Kraus (“Disney's Broadway Hits at Royal Hall”). The New York Times raved of the production “the sets are charming and transporting, the costumes elegant.” The orchestrations are by Dan DeLange (Oliver nominated production of Showboat, Goodspeed Musicals) and the music supervisor is Larry Pressgrove (Tony nominated production of [title of show]). Two-time Tony nominee Alexander Robertson (The Wiz; New York, New York; and The Piano Lesson) is Senior Associate Producer.
Follow Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok at EmmetOtterLive. The official website is www.EmmetOtterLive.com.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
PAUL WILLIAMS (he/him, Composer/Lyricist) – Lyricist and composer Paul Williams has won an Oscar, two Golden Globe Awards, three Grammys, an Ivor Novello, and has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. "The Rainbow Connection" and “Evergreen" grace the American Film Institute's List of Top Movie Songs of All Time. His song scores include The Muppet Movie and The Muppet Christmas Carol, Bugsy Malone, Ishtar, Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas, and Phantom of the Paradise. Writing with Gustavo Santaolalla for the animated film, The Book of Life, Williams received a World Soundtrack Award for their “Apology Song" and the pair recently co-wrote "If It's To Be" for “Maya and The Three.” As President and Chairman of the Board of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Paul Williams is also a leading spokesman for music creators in the digital age.
TIMOTHY ALLEN MCDONALD (he/him, Lead Producer/Co-Book Writer) – Librettist credits: Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach (Benj Pasek, Justin Paul), Jim Henson's Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas (Paul Williams, Christopher Gattelli), Between The Lines (Elyssa Samsel, Kate Anderson), Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka (Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley), The Big One-Oh! (Dean Pitchford, Doug Besterman), The Book Thief (Jodi Picoult, Elyssa Samsel, Kate Anderson) and Breathe (inducted into the Library of Congress representing musical theatre authors' response to the COVID-19 pandemic). Tim is also the Founder of Junior Theater Festivals and Founder and CEO of iTheatrics, which adapts musicals for performance by young people all over the globe. 36 million people attend performances of these adapted musicals annually in North America - three times the annual audience for Broadway shows. iTheatrics adaptations are licensed by Concord Theatricals (Youth Edition musicals) and Music Theatre International (Broadway Junior musicals).
CHRISTOPHER GATTELLI (he/him, Director/Choreographer/Co-Book Writer) received the 2012 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for his choreography of Newsies. Additional Broadway choreography credits include The King and I, SpongeBob the Musical, My Fair Lady, South Pacific, Sunday in the Park with George, The Cher Show, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Casa Valentina, Amazing Grace, Godspell, The Ritz, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, 13, and High Fidelity. Christopher choreographed South Pacific and My Fair Lady at the Sydney Opera House, directed and choreographed Silence! The Musical Off-Broadway, Jim Henson's Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas (Goodspeed), Departure Lounge (The Public Theater) and In Your Arms (New York Stage and Film and The Old Globe). Other select Off-Broadway credits: Altar Boyz, Bat Boy: The Musical, and Dogfight. West End and London credits include South Pacific, Sunday in the Park with George, and tick, tick...BOOM! Christopher's choreography is currently featured on the Apple TV+ musical comedy series “Schmigadoon!”, and TBS' “Miracle Brothers.” Christopher choreographed the Coen brothers' film Hail, Caesar! as well as Warner Brothers' Isn't It Romantic. Upcoming: the Netflix animated feature film The Monkey King, and Wonka.
Jim Henson’s Creature Shop™ provides digital puppetry, animatronic creatures, animation, and soft puppets to the international film, television, theater, live event and advertising industries. Recent credits include My Neighbor Totoro, Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock (Apple TV+), Duff’s Happy Fun Bake Time (discovery+), The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (Netflix), Word Party (Netflix), and Earth to Ned (Disney+). Based in Los Angeles and New York with satellite shop capabilities internationally, the Shop is known for designing and building some of the world’s best-known characters including the Sesame Street puppets and the classic Muppets, as well as the iconic characters from Dinosaurs, Farscape, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and many more. Other feature film credits include the highly anticipated Five Nights at Freddy’s, Where the Wild Things Are, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Five Children and It.
The shop is also known for its live performance work with artists like Coldplay, Cee Lo Green, Lady Gaga and Deadmau5. A recipient of more than 9 Emmy Awards for its outstanding work building puppets for Sesame Street, the Shop also received an Academy Award for its visual effects work on the film Babe. Other awards include a Scientific and Engineering Academy Award for the Henson Performance Control System, a powerful custom-based interface for puppeteers, and an Emmy Award for its work in developing the Henson Digital Performance Studio, a patented control system technology that enables puppeteers to perform computer-generated characters in real time. www.creatureshop.com
ANDY MIENTUS (he/him, Emmet Otter) is an actor and writer best known for his work on Broadway and television. He recently starred in the live action television adaptation of “Grendel” based on the award-winning Dark Horse comic book. Also on Netflix, he can be seen in “Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings: Two Doors Down” (GLAAD Media Award) and in the series recurring role of Hartley Rathaway (aka The Pied Piper) on the hit CW series “The Flash.” Andy made his television debut as composer Kyle Bishop on the NBC musical drama “Smash” and was also a series regular on the NBC/Universal series “Gone.” Other recurring roles include “Anger Management” (FX) and “Chasing Life” (Freeform). On Broadway, Andy starred as “Marius” in the revival of Les Miserables, and as Hanschen in Deaf West Theater’s revival of Spring Awakening, which he also co-conceived with director Michael Arden. Other stage credits include the National Tour of Wicked, the title role in Tommy at The Denver Center, Moisés Kaufman’s revival of Bent at Mark Taper Forum, the Off-Broadway revival of Carrie at MCC and recently tick, tick…BOOM! at Bucks County Playhouse. Andy made his London stage debut in the new musical The View Upstairs at Soho Theatre. He is a founding company member of The Forest of Arden and was associate director of their first commission, ALIEN/NATION, at Williamstown Theatre Festival. As a writer, he made his debut with the book and lyrics to Burn All Night at American Repertory Theater (ART), and with the middle grade fiction series The Backstagers from Amulet/Abrams. Andy’s YA novel, “Fraternity” was published in September 2022 by Amulet/Abrams and he is at work on a screen adaptation for Sony Pictures Television and RuCo. He can be heard on “The Jonathan Larson Project” (Ghostlight Records) and “R&H Goes Pop.” Andy trained at the University of Michigan immediately prior to making his professional debut in Spring Awakening, directed by Michael Mayer. IG: @AndyMientus
KATHLEEN ELIZABETH MONTELEONE (she/her, Ma) kick-started her career when she competed for the role of Sandy on NBC’s GREASE: You’re the One That I Want. Soon after, she landed the role of Elle Woods in the national tour of Legally Blonde The Musical and made her Broadway debut originating the role of Heather Stovall in Hands On A Hardbody. She’s been seen in TNT’s Good Behavior alongside Michelle Dockery and Comedy Central’s Goatface with Hasan Minhaj.Monteleone currently stars in the feature film American Reject (1091 Pictures), which she also wrote and produced. The film is inspired by Kathleen’s true story as a singing reality show hopeful. It features original music with a soundtrack including performances by Angelica Hale, Rebecca Black, Keala Settle and Juvenile. In 2022, Kathleen teamed up with Grammy Award-winning record and songwriting duo The Jam (Jordan Omley and Michael Mani) to release the EP titled “Look At Me Now.” Monteleone and her husband Frank co-own Full Armor Films, a development and producing company. They split their time between New Orleans and New York City with their four children. @kmontleon
ANNA LOUIZOS (she/her, Scenic Design) is a three-time Tony Award nominated set designer. Broadway: School of Rock (sets and costumes), In the Heights, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Avenue Q, Holiday Inn, Honeymoon in Vegas, Cinderella, Dames at Sea, It Shoulda Been You, White Christmas and Holiday Inn, High Fidelity, Curtains, and others. Selected Off Broadway: Roundabout, Public, MTC, Is There Still Sex in the City?, tick tick... Boom, Altar Boyz, and others. Art Director: Sex and the City.
GREGG BARNES (he/him, Costume Design) – Broadway: Some Like It Hot (Tony nomination), Pretty Woman, Mean Girls (Tony nomination), Tuck Everlasting (Tony nomination), Something Rotten! (Tony nomination), Aladdin, Kinky Boots (Tony nomination, Olivier Award), Follies (Tony Award, Drama Desk Award), Legally Blonde (Tony nomination), The Drowsy Chaperone (Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, Olivier nomination), To Be Or Be Not To Be, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Flower Drum Song (Tony nomination), Side Show. Other: Dreamgirls (Olivier nomination), Pageant (Olivier nomination). TDF Young Master Award. Faculty NYU Undergraduate Drama 1983-2002.
JEN SCHRIEVER (she/her, Lighting Design) – Broadway: Death of a Salesman, 1776, A Strange Loop, Birthday Candles, Lackawanna Blues, What the Constitution Means to Me, Grand Horizons, Lifespan of a Fact, Eclipsed, Ghetto Klown. Off-Broadway: Selling Kabul, A Strange Loop (Playwrights); Power Strip (LCT3); Superhero (2ST); What the Constitution Means to Me (NYTW); Thom Pain, Night is a Room (Signature); Collective Rage, School Girls…. (MCC); Usual Girls, Bobbie Clearly, On the Exhale (Roundabout); Dan Cody’s Yacht (MTC). Opera: Die Fledermaus (MET); Pearl Fishers (ENO). Adjunct: Purchase College.
MATT KRAUS (he/him, Sound Design) – Broadway: Liza's at the Palace..., Kristin Chenoweth: My Love Letter to Broadway, Kathy Griffin Wants a Tony. Off Broadway: Caucasian Chalk Circle, 50 Shades! The Musical, Fat Camp, Lone Star Love, Cam Jansen, Voca People. Audio Coordinator for remote shoots of “The Tonight Show” and NBAs “2020 Bubble.” Regional: Paper Mill Playhouse, St. Louis Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse, Walnut Street, Ogunquit Playhouse, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. Sound Designer for the iTheatrics Junior Theatre Festival 2008-2022. Matt has won an Emmy Award for his work as Sound Designer on “Disney's Broadway Hits at Royal Hall” which he has toured around the world.
iTheatrics is the world’s leading authority on educational musical theater. It develops new family friendly musicals (The Book Thief currently in production in the U.K.) iTheatrics also adapts Broadway and West End musicals which are licensed by Music Theatre International and Concord. An estimated 36 million people attend its shows annually in North America alone, which is triple Broadway’s attendance numbers. iTheatrics achieves its mission of making the world a better place one musical at a time by building sustainable musical theater programs in under-served schools with partners including the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, New York City’s Department of Education, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, McGraw-Hill Education, Educational Theatre Foundation, and NBC Universal. It also produces Junior Theater Festivals Worldwide, which the New York Times hailed as "a rousing celebration of theatre." iTheatrics.com, JuniorTheaterFestival.com
The Jim Henson Company has remained a leader in family entertainment for over 65 years and is recognized as an innovator in puppetry, animatronics, and digital animation. Henson’s most recent credits include the Oscar®-winning Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio for Netflix, the Emmy®-winning Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock for Apple TV+, and the feature film The Portable Door for MGM+. The Company is currently in post-production on a new reimagining of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day starring Eva Longoria and Cheech Marin for Disney+. Other television credits include Slumberkins, Harriet the Spy and Fraggle Rock: Rock On, all for Apple TV+, Word Party for Netflix, Earth to Ned for Disney+, and the Emmy-winning Netflix Original series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.