Photo Flash: MEET JOHN DOE Celebrates Opening Night

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Porchlight Music Theatre will present the highly anticipated Midwest Premiere of the new musical MEET JOHN DOE, based on the film of the same name by Frank Capra, opening Tuesday, March 8th at 7:30 p.m. and running through April 17, 2011 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont, Chicago. The production is Directed and Choreographed by James Beaudry, Artistic Director at Timber Lake Playhouse. 

MEET JOHN DOE had its workshop premiere at the New York Music Theater Festival (NYMF) in 2004 and was selected as part of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre convention in 2005. In 2006 it was presented in a limited production at the Goodspeed Opera House. In 2007, MEET JOHN DOE made its world premiere at the Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., where it was nominated for seven Helen Hayes Awards. The production features music by Andrew Gerle and lyrics by Eddie Sugarman with additional story by Matt August. Gerle and Sugarman also co-wrote the production's book. The pair won a 2006 Jonathan Larson Award for MEET JOHN DOE and Gerle has created new orchestrations specifically for the Porchlight Music Theatre production.

The New York Post said that MEET JOHN DOE is "Irresistibly catchy...sparkles with wit and irony....success is written all over it!" Theatermania.com raved, "A smart and feisty show wrapped in a big Broadway sound!" The Examiner called it "One of the best new musicals in years" and the Washington Post enthused "A promising American musical isn't born every minute....filled with clever lyrics and supple melodies."

Based on the classic 1941 film starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck, MEET JOHN DOE follows plucky journalist Ann Mitchell, who loses her job in the middle of the Great Depression. Ann prints a phony letter from a "John Doe" who, protesting the state of society, promises to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge on Christmas Eve. Circulation goes through the roof and she convinces her editor to hire an out-of-work ballplayer, John Willoughby, to stand in while she ghost-writes the "John Doe" column. With her words and his down-home charm, John Doe quickly becomes a national sensation. As Ann, John and "John" tour the country, and when the paper's powerful owner reveals his true plans for John Doe, both Ann and John must confront the hoax they've created and decide what is best for their country.

Andrew Gerle (Music and Co-Bookwriter) is a three-time recipient of the Richard Rodgers Award for musical theater writing, administered by Stephen Sondheim and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, for The Tutor (book and lyrics by Maryrose Wood.) He received the first Burton Lane Fellowship for Young Composers from the Theater Songwriters' Hall of Fame and has recently been collaborating with librettist Royce Vavrek on new works for The New Ensemble Theater Company, as well as an opera, The Beach, which was selected for New York City Opera's 2011 VOX reading series. His play Renovations was recently included in The Blank Theater's Living Room Reading Series in Los Angeles, and will be premiered in 2011 at the White Plains (NY) Performing Arts Center. He has been a Fellow at the MacDowell Artists' Colony and a writer-in-residence at the Sundance Theater Institute at Ucross and the Eugene O'Neill Musical Theatre Conference. As a musical director, he has worked on dozens of Off-Broadway, regional and touring productions. He has served as musical director and accompanist for such distinguished artists as Kitty Carlisle Hart, John Raitt, Jennifer Holliday, Leslie Uggams, Liz Callaway, Mary Testa and Michael Rupert. A CD of his jazz arrangements of the songs of Maltby & Shire with vocalist Christa Justus was released in 2010 under the PS Classics Label. His book, The Enraged Accompanist's Guide to the Perfect Audition, will be published this March by Hal Leonard (Applause Books.) He is on the faculty of Yale University, where he teaches musical theater songwriting.

Eddie Sugarman (Lyricist and Co-Bookwriter) is Managing Director of the Jedlicka Performing Arts Center in Cicero, Illinois. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a BFA in Musical Theatre, he went on to perform in regional theatre and in New York City for about a decade, where he appeared on Broadway in the original cast of the Tony Award-winning musical Ragtime. His holiday musical The Nutcracker Sings, had its premiere at the Jedlicka Performing Arts Center and is currently booking multiple productions for Christmas 2011. He has won the ASCAPlus Award and a grant from the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, and has had the honor of serving on the Musical Theatre Panel for the National Endowment for the Arts.

James Beaudry (Director and Choreographer) serves as Artistic Director at Timber Lake Playhouse. His directing and choreography credits include the world premieres of Jason & Ben (NYMF) and Mark Twain's Blues (Off-Broadway.) He has staged over 50 productions working with companies as diverse as The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute, Tada! Youth Theatre, New York Musical Theatre Festival, Downtown Cabaret Theatre and The Guggenheim Museum. Musical credits include Chicago, Cats, West Side Story, Into The Woods, Pippin, The Wiz, Curtains, Hair, Urinetown, Oklahoma!, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Bat Boy, White Christmas, Godspell, Fame, Footloose, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and 42nd Street. Original dance works include Rite of Spring-- Left of Center, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Xenophobia! and Eleanor Rigby Died in a Church.

MEET JOHN DOE features an all-star cast including Sean Effinger-Dean as Beany, Karl Hamilton as John Doe, Elizabeth Lanza as Ann, Rus Rainear as The Colonel, Jim Sherman as Connell, and Mick Weber as Norton. The production also stars Eli Branson as Bert, Harmony France as Eileen, Elizabeth Gray as Peggy, Kelly Hackett as Betty, Elizabeth Haley as Helen, Matthew Keffer as Ted, Travis Porchia as Henry, Pavi Proczko as Bill, and Michael Reyes as Alexander. Musical direction is by Eugene Dizon, Lighting Design is by Mac Vaughey, Costume Design is by Elizabeth Wislar, and Set Design is by Ian Zywica.

About Porchlight Music Theatre
Porchlight Music Theatre is Chicago's music theatre leader; producing award-winning interpretations of classic musicals and cutting-edge new works on intimate stages. The company is recognized for providing nurture and challenge for stars-in-the-making as well as veteran performers. The company has staged 37 shows including four world premieres, among them, The Teapot Scandals, its first work developed through Off the Porch, Porchlight's new works program, as well as seven Chicago premieres. An Equity theater since 2004, the company has already received a total of 33 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations resulting in 11 Jeff Awards.

Porchlight Music Theatre is partially supported by generous contributions from the A.R.T League, the Arts Work Fund at the Chicago Community Trust, a City Arts Program 2 Grant from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, the Shen Family Foundation, the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council (a state agency), the MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the National Association of Realtors, Peoples Energy and The Saints.

Ticket Information
MEET JOHN DOE runs through April 17, 2011. The Press Opening is Tuesday, March 8 at 7:30 p.m. The performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Single tickets are $38.00, and discounts for seniors, students and groups are available. Tickets may be purchased through the Stage 773 box office at 773.327.5252 or at www.stage773.com. Group Sales Discounts are available through www.GroupTheaterTix.com or at 866.809.3075.

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