Showing posts with label Stephen Sondheim. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stephen Sondheim. Show all posts

Saturday, March 24, 2018

OPENING: STEPHEN SONDHEIM’S COMPANY To Kick Off Grand Opening of Mercury Theater Chicago's Venus Cabaret Theater

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:
Mercury Theater Chicago Announces Grand Opening of
Venus Cabaret Theater and cast of
April 5 – June 3, 2018

Here at ChiIL Live Shows, we're beyond excited for the grand opening of Mercury Theater Chicago's Venus Cabaret Theater. I'll be ChiILin' at this stellar space, next door to Mercury Theater's main stage, for the press opening on April 15th, so check back soon for my full review. I've attended quite a few afterparties in this sweet space and can't wait to see the launch of their lineup of shows. Mercury and Venus are out of this world, with a fun lineup of annual favorites.

Mercury Theater Chicago, 3745 N. Southport Avenue – is pleased to announce the opening of VENUS CABARET THEATER with a uniquely intimate production of Stephen Sondheim’s COMPANY, running from April 5th through June 3rd. Press opening is the weekend of April 13th-15th. Named for the planet next to Mercury, Venus Cabaret is a versatile new performance space offering food and drinks to complement each production. Audiences at COMPANY will be welcomed to Bobby’s 35th Birthday Party and will be treated to party appetizers, a cash bar and even birthday cake. Making his Mercury Theater Chicago debut, David Sajewich will be featured in the role of Bobby. The production will be led by Jeff Award winners L. Walter Stearns (Director) and Eugene Dizon (Musical Director).

Set in a swinging New York City, Stephen Sondheim’s game-changing musical is a sophisticated and honest look at modern adult relationships. On the night of his 35th birthday, confirmed bachelor, Robert, contemplates his unmarried state. Over the course of a series of dinners, drinks and even a wedding, his friends – “those good and crazy people, his married friends” – explain the pros and cons of taking on a spouse. Robert is forced to question his life choices and what it means to be alive.

From musical theater’s most renowned composer, COMPANY is regarded as a trailblazer of the dark-comedy, modern-musical genre and the winner of seven Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Music and Lyrics (Stephen Sondheim) and Best Book (George Furth). With popular and familiar songs such as “Another Hundred People,” “Marry Me a Little,” “The Ladies Who Lunch,” and “Being Alive,” COMPANY is just as entertaining, relevant, and relatable as it was when it debuted in 1970.

Audiences will be immersed into the action as they are welcomed at the door and immediately whisked into the world of Bobby’s Birthday Party. The characters will joke around and socialize with attendees as they wait for the big birthday surprise. All of the senses will be dazzled with food and drink offerings tailored to the show. Venus Cabaret Theater was designed to put the audience right in the middle of it all – everyone is a part of the story.

COMPANY will feature David Sajewich as “Bobby” and his cast of married friends will include Nicole Armold, Jenna Coker-Jones, Nicole Cready, Hannah Dawe, Greg Foster, Frederick Harris, Derek Self, Steve Silver, Ryan Stajmiger and Heather Townsend. The girlfriends in Bobby’s life include Kyrie Courter, Kiersten Frumkin and Allison Sill. The costume design is by Robert Kuhn, lighting design is by Dustin L. Derry and projection design is by Liviu Pasare. The stage manager is Richard Lundy.

After two years in the making and a $1M renovation, VENUS CABARET THEATER at Mercury Theater Chicago is finally ready for its grand opening. This versatile, state-of-the-art performance space seats 80 people in a flexible theater/dining space. The renovation was designed and built by Trent Zilmer (Z Design Build Group) with interior décor by Dianne Green Moen and theatrical technology by Mike Ross and Matt Gajowniczek (Sound Production and Lighting). The Mercury/Venus theater and restaurant complex is located in the heart of the Southport Corridor, a sophisticated neighborhood of restaurants and boutiques just steps from 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 performance schedule for COMPANY 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 May 16th.

Individual tickets are $65 each, include appetizers and dessert, and are available online at, over the phone at 773.325.1700, or in person at 3745 N. Southport Avenue, Chicago.

Last Call: 
Extended and highly recommended tribute to Gilda Radner ending April 15th. We adored Bunny Bunny and can't recommend it highly enough. This poignant and powerful show is unconventionally and absolutely a love story. Don't miss this!

Save the Dates:

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:


The Landmark Sondheim Musical that Charts the Highs and Lows of a Relationship Among Three Very Close Friends is Directed by Artistic Director Michael Weber with Artistic Associate Christopher Pazdernik as Associate Director and Music Direction by Aaron Benham

Porchlight Music Theatre is proud to announce the next mainstage production it its 2017 – 2018 season Merrily We Roll Along, January 26 – March 11,  2018, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by George Furth, with direction by Porchlight Music Theatre Artistic Director Michael Weber, associate direction and musical staging by Porchlight Music Theatre Artistic Associate Christopher Pazdernik and music direction by Aaron Benham at Porchlght’s home, the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn Street. Merrily We Roll Along is based on the play by the same name written by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. 

Previews are Friday, Jan. 26 at 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 27 at 8 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 28 at 2 p.m. and  Monday, Jan. 29 at 7:30 p.m. Opening night is Tuesday, Jan. 30 at 7:30 p.m. The regular run performance schedule is Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. (March 4 and March 11) and 6 p.m. (February 4, February 11, February 18 and February 25) with a weekday matinee Thursday, March 8 at 1:30 p.m. There is no 4 p.m. performance Saturday, Feb. 3 and no 7:30 p.m. performance on Thursday, March 8. Tickets are $33 - $60 and are available at or by calling the Porchlight Music Theatre box office, 773.777.9884.

Set over two decades of friendship and business, the landmark musical Merrily We Roll Along charts the highs and lows of a relationship among three very close friends. Starting from adulthood and traveling back in time to the idealistic intentions of youth, this powerful and emotionally moving story of looking at your life from the vantage point of having lived it features some of Stephen Sondheim’s best known songs including “Good Thing Going,” “Not a Day Goes By” and “Old Friends.”


Film Screening: “Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened” Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m.

Porchlight Music Theatre and members of its Merrily cast host a screening of "Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened.” The screening includes pre-film performances of musical numbers from the Porchlight Music Theatre production and post-film discussion with audience and Porchlight cast members.

Merrily We Roll Along opened to enormous fanfare in 1981, and closed after sixteen performances.  For the first time, "Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened" draws back the curtain on the extraordinary drama of the show's creation—and tells the stories of the hopeful young performers whose lives were transformed by it. Directed by Porchlight Advisory Board Member Lonny Price, who played “Charley” in the original cast, the film is a bittersweet meditation on the choices we all make, and the often unexpected consequences of those choices—through success and failure. Featuring exclusive appearances by Stephen Sondheim, Hal Prince, Jason Alexander, Mandy Patinkin, Adam Guettel, Frank Rich and the original Broadway cast of Merrily We Roll Along.

RSVP by calling Porchlight Music Theatre box office, 773.777.9884 or sending an email to

Porchlight Revisits Merrily We Roll Along, the 1934 play
Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m.
For one night only, Porchlight Music Theatre’s Porchlight Revisits staged concert series will present the original 1934 Broadway play Merrily We Roll Along by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart that inspired the Stephen Sondheim musical. Written by the team that created You Can't Take it With You, The Man Who Came to Dinner and Once in a Lifetime, and originally featuring a cast of over 90 actors, this is an extraordinary opportunity to experience this very rarely seen classic. Join Artistic Director Michael Weber and Porchlight’s Merrily cast with a “Behind the Show Backstory” look at the production that has never been revived on Broadway followed by a fully staged reading of Kaufman and Hart’s play.

Tickets: $20 
Purchase tickets at 

Post-Performance Conversation 
Thursday, Feb. 22 - following the 7:30 p.m. performance

Immediate following the performance, Thursday, Feb 22, Porchlight and Merrily cast members share their experiences from this Sondheim production and answer audience questions. 

The Post-Performance Conversation is free and open to the public.
All special events take place at The Ruth Page Center for the Arts.

The cast of Merrily We Roll Along includes Porchlight Music Theatre Artistic Associate Matt Crowle (Charley Kringas), Jim DeSelm (Franklin Shephard), Neala Barron (Mary Flynn), Keely Vasquez (Gussie Carnegie), David Fiorello (Joe Josephson), Aja Wiltshire (Beth), and ensemble including Kyrie Anderson (Make-up Artist), Larry Baldacci (Mr. Spencer), Katherine Condit (Scotty), Christopher Davis (Terry), Andres Enriquez (Tyler), Frederick Harris (Jerome), Michelle Jasso (K.T.), Bernell Lassai (Bunker / TV Newsman), Cisco Lopez (Floor Monitor / Minister), Alana Lovely (Meg / TV Newswoman), Liz Norton (Mrs. Spencer), Khaki Pixley (Dory / Girl Auditioning), Jonathan Stombres (Ru/ Nightclub Pianist) and Zachary Fewkes and Asher Schenk alternating the role of Franklin Shepard, Jr.

Musicians for Merrily We Roll Along include Tony Scandora (percussion), Ben Dillinger (bass), Mike Matlock (reeds #1: flute, oboe, clarinet, alto sax), Lara Regan (reeds #2: clarinet, alto sax, tenor sax, bass clarinet), Jered Montgomery (trumpet) and Matt Kowalski (trombone).

Members of the creative/production team of Merrily We Roll Along include Michael Weber (director), Christopher Pazdernik (associate director/musical staging), Aaron Benham (music Director, conductor, pianist), Bill Morey (costume designer), Tony Churchill (projection designer),  Jeff Kmiec (co-scenic designer), Greg Pinsoneault (co-scenic designer), Robert Hornbostel (sound designer), Rachel West (master electrician), Alex Rhyan (production manager), Johnnie Schleyer (technical director) and Matt McMullen (stage manager).

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 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). 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.

Christopher Pazdernik is a director/choreographer with "a near encyclopedic knowledge of musicals" (Newcity). At Porchlight Music Theatre, Pazdernik is a proud artistic associate and has directed and choreographed numerous Porchlight Revisits including The Rink, Anyone Can Whistle, City of Angels and Applause and co-curated the Porchlight New Faces Sing Broadway series.  He is best known for the critically acclaimed production of High Fidelity (Jeff Awards for Best Director and Best Production of a Musical) at Refuge Theatre Project, where he also serves as artistic director. Recent credits include Carrie (Ohio Northern University), Wicked City (Chicago Theatre Workshop), Planted (Chicago Musical Theatre Festival), Make Me a Song (Eclectic Theatre Co.) and Story of A Story (The Untold Story) (Underscore 

Theater Co.). He is also a frequent cabaret director and curator, including Broadway's Cult Classics at Davenport's Piano Bar and the His & His series at Pride Films & Plays. An openly HIV+ artist, Pazdernik was also a 2016 Windy City Times 30-Under-30 honoree for his contributions to Chicago's LGBTQ community and currently serves on the Ambassador Committee for the AIDS Run/Walk Chicago and as chairperson on the Community Advisory Board for Howard Brown Health, one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ organizations.

Aaron Benham is a local music director, conductor, arranger and composer and has previously worked with Porchlight as music director for Side Show and Putting it Together. Other Chicago credits include The Sweet Smell of Success (Kokandy Productions), The Wild Party (Jeff Award), Carrie, Dessa Rose (Bailiwick Chicago); Melancholy Play (Piven); We Three Lizas (About Face); Always Patsy Cline, revues of Marvin Hamlisch, the Andrews Sisters (Jeff Award), Cole Porter, Jule Styne (Theo-Ubique); Parade, Gypsy (Harper College); as well as work with American Theatre Company, Chicago Opera Theatre, the New Colony, Northlight, Timeline and Writers Theatre.

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 the home for music theatre in Chicago now in its 23rd season, 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.” The 2017–2018 year marks a milestone for Porchlight as the company becomes an Artist In-Residence at the historic Ruth Page Center for the Arts in Chicago’s Gold Coast. 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 the launch of a youth “Write Your Own Musical” Summer Camp in 2017. The company’s many accolades include 22 Black Theatre Alliance nominations and seven awards, as well as a total of 139 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).

Porchlight Music Theatre is partially supported by generous contributions from the Actors’ Equity Foundation, the Bloomberg Philanthropies, Chapman | Spingola, Attorneys at Law, the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, James P. and Brenda S. Grusecki Family Foundation, the MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at the Prince Foundation, 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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