Showing posts with label casting update. Show all posts
Showing posts with label casting update. Show all posts

Monday, March 11, 2019

Maurice Jones To Play Title Role in Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Hamlet

Chicago Shakespeare Theater announces updated casting for
Maurice Jones steps into title role

Joins company featuring: Karen Aldridge, Timothy Decker, Larry Yando, Sean Allan Krill, Paul Deo, Jr., Rachel Nicks, Mike Nussbaum, Greg Vinkler, Kevin Gudahl, Alex Goodrich, Samuel Taylor, Sarah Chalcroft, and Callie Johnson

Chicago Shakespeare Theater announces that Maurice Jones has stepped into the title role of the Theater’s upcoming production of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, staged by Artistic Director Barbara Gaines, in the Courtyard Theater, April 17–June 9, 2019. 

Most recently appearing on Broadway in The Lifespan of a Fact opposite Daniel Radcliffe, Jones is an accomplished classical performer whose Broadway credits include Saint Joan staged by Tony Award-winner Daniel Sullivan, The Cherry Orchard featuring Diane Lane, Romeo and Juliet starring Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad, and Julius Caesar with Denzel Washington—as well as credits at the Public Theater and Roundabout Theatre Company. The role of Hamlet was originally to be played by Raúl Esparza who had to withdraw from the production due to scheduling conflicts.

Joining Jones in the Hamlet company are Karen Aldridge (Gertrude), Timothy Decker (Claudius), Larry Yando (Polonius), Sean Allan Krill (Horatio), Paul Deo, Jr. (Laertes), Rachel Nicks (Ophelia), Mike Nussbaum (Gravedigger), Greg Vinkler (Gravedigger/Player King), Kevin Gudahl (Osric), Alex Goodrich (Rosencrantz), Samuel Taylor (Guildenstern), Sarah Chalcroft (Voltemand/Player Queen), Callie Johnson (Reynalda), and Drew Shirley (Barnardo), as well as ensemble members Al'Jaleel McGhee and Sam Pearson.

Cast of Hamlet

Celebrated actress Karen Aldridge takes on the role of Gertrude, queen of Denmark. In addition to numerous credits with Goodman Theatre, Writers Theatre, and Chicago Shakespeare, Aldridge originated the role of Tamyra in Tracy Letts’s Pulitzer-Prize-nominated Man from Nebraska at Steppenwolf Theatre, as well as Mrs. Phelps in the Broadway production of Matilda the Musical. She also starred in the international tours of Battlefield and Le Costume, both directed by the legendary Peter Brook. Timothy Decker portrays Hamlet’s uncle and adversary Claudius. Decker has appeared onstage at Chicago Shakespeare, Goodman Theatre, and American Blues Theatre, where he garnered the Jeff Award for his performance in Toys in the Attic. He notably completed a four-year run with 1,600 performances as Sam Philips in Million Dollar Quartet at the Apollo Theatre. In his twenty-fifth Chicago Shakespeare production, Larry Yando performs the role of Polonius. The five-time Jeff Award-winner—named “Best Actor in Chicago” by Chicago Magazine—is a mainstay on Chicago stages, including eleven seasons as Ebenezer Scrooge in the Goodman Theatre’s A Christmas Carol. Veteran of the National Tour of The Lion King, Yando recently concluded a critically acclaimed European tour of Peter Brook’s Battlefield.

Sean Allan Krill portrays Hamlet’s close friend and confidante Horatio. Krill debuted on Broadway as Sam Carmichael in Mamma Mia!, a role which he reprised in the production’s North American tour; additional Broadway credits include On a Clear Day You Can See Forever and Honeymoon in Vegas. He recently appeared in American Repertory Theater’s world premiere production of the Alanis Morrissett musical Jagged Little Pill, which is headed to Broadway in Fall 2019. Appearing as Laertes is Paul Deo, Jr., who has previously performed in the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park production of Troilus and Cressida, as well as Shakespeare Theater Company’s Twelfth Night and Romeo and Juliet. Rachel Nicks takes on the role of Ophelia. Nicks has appeared Off-Broadway in Final Follies, War, And I and Silence, and The Good Negro, as well as in productions with McCarter Theatre and The Old Globe.

Portraying the Gravediggers are Mike Nussbaum and Greg Vinkler. A seven-time Jeff Award-winner, Nussbaum’s illustrious career at Chicago Shakespeare has included notable performances in Henry VIII, Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, and Follies. The Sarah Siddons Society honoree starred in Peter Brook’s international touring production of The Cherry Orchard, as well as in the original Broadway productions of David Mamet’s American Buffalo and Glengarry Glen Ross. Now 95 years old, Nussbaum is hailed “the oldest working actor in the United States.” Vinkler has appeared in nearly forty Chicago Shakespeare productions, garnering Jeff Awards for his performances in King Lear, Hamlet, and Twelfth Night. He made his Broadway debut in the 2009 revival of West Side Story, and has appeared regionally with Milwaukee Repertory Theatre and Peninsula Players Theatre, where he also serves as artistic director—and in Chicago with Writers Theatre, Court Theatre and Goodman Theatre. Multiple Jeff Award-winner Kevin Gudahl is Osric. A veteran of more than forty Chicago Shakespeare productions, Gudahl has also appeared onstage at Court Theatre, Goodman Theatre, and Writers Theatre, in addition to five seasons with the Stratford Festival.

As Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Alex Goodrich and Samuel Taylor, respectively. Goodrich has previously appeared on Chicago Shakespeare’s stages in Love’s Labor’s Lost, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Taming of the Shrew. Goodrich frequently appears at Northlight Theatre and Marriott Theatre, where his performance in the world premiere musical Hero earned him a Jeff Award. Taylor returns to Chicago Shakespeare after memorable performances in Macbeth, Henry V, Julius Caesar, The School for Lies, and The Feast: an Intimate Tempest. His numerous Shakespeare credentials include teaching courses on the playwright at the University of Chicago and co-founding the Back Room Shakespeare Project.

Sarah Chalcroft returns to Chicago Shakespeare after appearing in King Charles III to perform the roles of Voltemand and the Player Queen. Playing Reynalda is Callie Johnson, who garnered a Jeff Award for her performance in Porchlight Music Theatre’s Pal Joey and has also appeared at Drury Lane Theatre and Marriott Theatre.

As a leading director of Shakespeare internationally renowned for her populist and dynamic interpretations, Barbara Gaines has staged more than sixty productions at Chicago Shakespeare throughout her distinguished career, garnering the prestigious Honorary OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) and Joseph Jefferson Awards for Best Production (Hamlet, Cymbeline, King Lear, and The Comedy of Errors), and for Best Director (Cymbeline, King Lear and The Comedy of Errors). Joining Gaines on the Hamlet creative team are Scenic Designer Scott Davis, Costume Designer Susan E. Mickey, Lighting Designer Robert Wierzel, Sound Designer Lindsay Jones, Projection Designer Mike Tutaj, Wig and Make-up Designer Richard Jarvie, and Fight Choreographer Matt Hawkins. Tyrone Phillips is the production’s Associate Director.

For more information, visit

Hamlet is presented in Chicago Shakespeare’s Courtyard Theater, April 17–June 9, 2019. Single tickets ($48–$88) are on sale now. Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater’s website at

Chicago Shakespeare strives to make its facility and performances accessible to all patrons through its Access Shakespeare programs. Accessible performances for Hamlet include:

Audio-description – Sunday, May 19, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. with optional touch tour at 12:00 p.m.

ASL Duo-interpretation – Friday, May 31, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
Open-captioning – Thursday, June 6, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, Chicago Shakespeare has redefined what a great American Shakespeare theater can be—a company that defies theatrical category. This Regional Tony Award-winning theater’s year-round season features as many as twenty productions and 650 performances—including plays, musicals, world premieres, family programming, and presentations from around the globe. Chicago Shakespeare is the city’s leading producer of international work, and has toured its own productions across five continents. The Theater’s nationally acclaimed arts in literacy programs support the work of teachers, and bring Shakespeare to life on stage for tens of thousands of students annually. Each summer, the company tours a free professional production to neighborhood parks across Chicago. In 2017 the Theater unveiled The Yard, which, together with the Jentes Family Courtyard Theater and the Thoma Theater Upstairs, positions Chicago Shakespeare as Chicago’s most versatile performing arts center.

Monday, March 5, 2018

CASTING UPDATE: Lorenzo Rush Jr To Replace James Earl Jones II in Porchlight Revisits They’re Playing Our Song

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

MARCH 6 - 8

The Tony Award-nominated Musical Features Book by Neil Simon, Music by Marvin Hamlisch and Lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager and the Production is Directed and Choreographed by Christopher Carter and Musical Direction by Andra Velis Simon 

This Tuesday ChiIL Live Shows will be ChiILin' at opening night of Porchlight Revisits They’re Playing Our Song. I've caught Lorenzo Rush Jr in Five Guys Named Moe (Court Theater) and Little Shop of Horrors (American Blues Theater), and Sharriese Hamilton in Rock of Ages (Drury Lane Oakbrook Theatre); Wonderful Town (Goodman Theatre),Thaddeus and Slocum (Lookingglass Theatre) Pericles (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); and We Three Lizas (About Face Theatre), so I'm looking forward to this. Check back soon for my full review.

Porchlight Music Theatre announced that Lorenzo Rush Jr has replaced James Earl Jones II in Porchlight Revisits They’re Playing Our Song, music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager and book by Neil Simon, with direction and choreography by Christopher Carter and musical direction by Andra Velis Simon. Porchlight Revisits They’re Playing our Song is presented for three-nights-only Tuesday, March 6 through Thursday, March 8 at 7:15 p.m. and is performed on the set of Porchlight’s Merrily We Roll Along (previews begin January 26) at Porchlight’s new home, The Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn Street. Tickets for They’re Playing Our Song are $35. All tickets include access to the popular pre-performance event, Behind the Show Backstory, a multimedia presentation, created and hosted by Porchlight Music Theatre Artistic Director Michael Weber that discusses the evening’s production including the show’s creative history, juicy backstage gossip and the state of the art on Broadway that season. Single tickets to They’re Playing Our Song and subscriptions for the entire series are available at or by calling the Porchlight Music Theatre box office at 773.777.9884. 

Due to a scheduling conflict, James Earl Jones II is unable to perform in this production. Rush assumes the role of “Vernon Gersch” and joins Sharriese Hamilton in Porchlight Revisits They’re Playing Our Song, a romantic musical comedy about the affair (both professional and romantic) of a wisecracking composer and an aspiring, offbeat lyricist. Creatively, their relationship works great, but personal trials and tribulations lead them toward finding a new way to make harmonious music together in this laugh-a-minute romantic charmer. The show features musical hits “Fallin’,” “If He Really Knew Me” and “Just For Tonight.”

The cast of Porchlight Revisits They’re Playing Our Song includes: Sharriese Hamilton (Sonia Walsk), Lorenzo Rush Jr. (Vernon Gersch) and Anastasia Arnold, (voice of Sonia Walsk); Kiersten Frumkin, (voice of Sonia Walsk); Yando Lopez,  (voice of Vernon Gersch); Billy Rude, (voice of Vernon Gersch); Tyler Symone, (voice of Sonia Walsk) and Koray Tarhan, (voice of Vernon Gersch).

The production team includes Christopher Carter, director; Andra Velis Simon, music director; Lucia Lombardi, stage manager; Joaquin Gomez, assistant stage manager and Samantha Treible, wardrobe supervisor.

The musicians are Chel Hernandez, bass; Tony Scandora, drums and Page Kallop, guitar.

ABOUT CHRISTOPHER CARTER, director and choreographer
Christopher Carter is a graduate of Grand Valley State University with a liberal arts degree in dance. Carter has traveled all over performing/directing and choreographing. Some of his credits include Dreamgirls and In The Heights at Porchlight Music Theatre; as well as Sweeney Todd, Godspell, Secret Garden and Pirates Of Penzance (Grand Valley State University); Show Boat and Oklahoma (Lyric Opera Chicago); Show Boat (San Francisco and Houston Grand Opera); Hairspray (Drury Lane Oakbrook), Joseph… (Paramount Theater); Duke Ellington’s Queenie Pie (Chicago Opera Theater); Oliver, Carousel and Brigadoon (Light Opera Works); The Wiz, 42nd Street and Guys and Dolls (Theatre at the Center); Smokey Joe’s Café (Circle Theatre); The Wild Party (Actor’s Theater). Carter has been the choreographer for the Grand Rapids Civic’s SRT the past four years. Other credits include national tours, commercial, industrial and concert work. As a scholarship student of The Debbie Allen Dance Academy in California, he moved to Chicago in 2009 to expand his mind and resume.  

Andra Velis Simon returns to Porchlight, where she music directed last year’s Porchlight Revisits On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. Most recently she was the music director for the Firebrand production Lizzie. Regional credits include: Oregon Shakespeare Festival, A.R.T. in Cambridge, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Skirball at NYU, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Berkeley Rep and Olney Theatre Center in Maryland. In Chicago, her credits include Chicago Children’s Theatre, Firebrand, The Goodman, The Hypocrites, Theater Wit and many others. Velis Simon is an adjunct faculty member at Columbia College Chicago, where she has taught musical theatre performance since 2008.

Sharriese Hamilton returns to Porchlight Revisits where she last starred in On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. She hails from Okemos Michigan with a BA in Theatre from Michigan State University and has been seen at Porchlight Music Theatre in How To Succeed, Ain’t Misbehavin, Pal Joey and A Class Act. Her Chicago credits include Sleeping Beauty, Madagascar, The Velveteen Rabbit, Sister Act (Marriott Theatre); Rock of Ages, James and the Giant Peach (Drury Lane Oakbrook Theatre); Wonderful Town (Goodman Theatre),Thaddeus and Slocum (Lookingglass Theatre) Pericles (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); The Wild Party, See What I What I Wanna See and Passing Strange (Bailiwick Chicago); All Shook Up (Theatre at the Center) Jesus Christ Superstar (Theo Ubique), and We Three Lizas (About Face Theatre). Regional credits include HAIR (McLeod Summer Playhouse) SpamalotWorkingThe 25th Annual Putnum County Spelling Bee, and Buddy:The Buddy Holly Story (Timber Lake Playhouse).

Lorenzo Rush Jr returns to Porchlight Music Theatre where he appeared in Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Jeff Award Nomination) and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. He has also performed in Five Guys Named Moe (Court Theater) Jesus Christ Superstar (Paramount Theater), Dreamgirls, City of Angels (Marriott Theater), Little Shop of Horrors (American Blues Theater), and Parade (BoHo Theater). Rush’s TV/Film credits include: “Sirens” on USA Network. Rush received his BFA in Musical Theater at Western Illinois University.

Continuing to forge its role as “Chicago’s Music Theatre,” Porchlight launched the exciting new series Porchlight Revisits in 2013; especially created for the die-hard music theatre aficionado. Each season, Porchlight Music Theatre shares with audiences the rare opportunity to visit three musicals that opened on the Great White Way but have since gone “unsung.” The finest music theatre artists in Chicago dust off these neglected treasures and, with script in hand and minimal staging, escort audiences to a world of Broadway long past. Previous Porchlight Revisits productions include: (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 and (2013/14) Anyone Can Whistle, Golden Boy, Fade Out-Fade In.

Future Porchlight Revisits Final Performance in its 2017 – 2018 Series:

Do Re Mi 
May 22 – 24
Book by Garson Kanin
Music by Jule Styne
Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
Direction and Choreography by Christopher Pazdernik
Music Direction by David Fiorello
Starring Nancy Voigts and Porchlight Artistic Director Michael Weber
Originally created for the comic style of the great Phil Silvers and Nancy Walker, this is the story of “Hubie Cram,” a minor-league conman endlessly scheming to win big who, at the urging of his long-suffering wife, “Kay,” decides to go (somewhat) straight by moving into the jukebox and music promotion business as he concocts his biggest score ever. Featuring the hits: “Make Someone Happy,” “Fireworks” and “I Know About Love.”

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 summer “Make Your Own Musical” 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 continues its fifth season of Chicago’s “lost” musicals in staged concert series with Porchlight Revisits They’re Playing Our Song, starring Sharriese Hamilton and Lorenzo Rush Jr., music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager and book by Neil Simon, with direction and choreography by Christopher Carter and musical direction by Andra Velis Simon. Porchlight Revisits They’re Playing our Song is presented for three-nights-only Tuesday, March 6 through Thursday, March 8 at 7:15 p.m. and is performed on the set of Porchlight’s Merrily We Roll Along (previews begin January 26) at Porchlight’s new home, The Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn Street. Tickets for They’re Playing Our Song are $35. All tickets include access to the popular pre-performance event, Behind the Show Backstory, a multimedia presentation, created and hosted by Porchlight Music Theatre Artistic Director Michael Weber that discusses the evening’s production including the show’s creative history, juicy backstage gossip and the state of the art on Broadway that season. Single tickets to They’re Playing Our Song and subscriptions for the entire series are available at or by calling the Porchlight Music Theatre box office at 773.777.9884.

Porchlight Music Theatre is partially supported by generous contributions from the  Bayless Family Foundation, Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation, Actors’ Equity Foundation, 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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