Cast Set For Hell in a Handbag's POOR PEOPLE! The Parody Musical

Performances run May 2 – June 16, 2024.

By: Feb. 23, 2024
Cast Set For Hell in a Handbag's POOR PEOPLE! The Parody Musical
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Hell in a Handbag Productions will continue its 22nd season with the world premiere of POOR PEOPLE! The Parody Musical, an homage to many of the characters, songs and tropes of those very expensive Broadway and West End musicals about the less fortunate (Annie, Oliver!, Les Miz, Sweeney Todd... you get the gist). Written by ensemble member Tyler Anthony Smith* with direction by Stephanie Shaw, music direction by Andrew Milliken and choreography by Christopher Kelley, POOR PEOPLE! will play May 2 – June 16, 2024 at The Chopin Studio Theatre, 1543 W. Division St. in Chicago. Tickets go on sale Friday, March 1, 2024 at or The press opening is Friday, May 10 at 8 pm.

The cast includes ensemble members David Cerda*, Sydney Genco*, Caitlin Jackson*, Elizabeth Lesinski* and Tyler Anthony Smith* with Matty Bettencourt, Brittney Brown, Taylor Dalton, Dakota Hughes, Patrick O'Keefe, Shane Roberie and Tommy Thurston. Understudies include Connar Brown, Miguel Long, Halli Morgan and Brandon Nelson.

 It’s 1979 in dangerous, smoky, glorious New York City. Our story’s red-headed protagonist Li’l Orphan Arnie (Dakota Hughes) is fleeing from the guardianship of a sex-starved, meth-cooking madwoman (Sydney Genco*). Out on the streets, they befriend a slinky dancing cat (Matty Bettencourt), who leads them to a magical manhole, transporting them back in time to Paris, France in 1815. Trading in one poverty-plagued lifestyle for another, Arnie gives up the desire to find their parents and joins forces with a gang of pick-pocketing prostitutes, led by the mysterious Fagin (David Cerda*).

Life becomes even more dire when Mama Moneybags (Brittney Brown), a corrupt Republican from the future, takes it upon herself to put Fagin’s troupe out of work. Thankfully, there’s a bounty of colorful, destitute characters to help save the day, such as the tuberculosis-ridden Pantene (Caitlin Jackson*), a feral Beggar Woman (Elizabeth Lesinski*) and Nance, the classic hooker with a heart of gold (Tyler Anthony Smith*). Will the sun come out tomorrow? Do you hear the people sing? Will we be changing all of the lyrics to avoid being sued? Yes! 

Comments playwright Tyler Anthony Smith, "When I was in the fourth grade, I was supposed to be in the ensemble of our district's high school production of Oliver! I got sick, missed too many rehearsals, and was forced to exit the show. So not only is this Handbag's response to Apple TV's Schmigadoon!, it's also my revenge."

The production team includes G. "Max" Maxin IV (Scenic, Lighting and Projection Design), Rachel M. Sypniewski (Costume Design), Miranda Coble(Sound Design), Maggie O'Brien (Props Design), Jabberwocky Marionettes (Puppet Design), Keith Ryan* (Wig Design), Syd Genco* (Make-up Design), Michael S. Miller* (Graphic Design), Rick Aguilar (Photography), Jenna Raithel (Stage Manager), Veronica Kostka* (Assistant Stage Manager) and David Cerda* (Executive Producer).

*Denotes Handbag Ensemble Member


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