Diana DeGarmo & Ace Young to Lead the Cast of SKATES in Chicago

Performances begin May 24, 2022 and the press opening is Sunday, June 5, 2022. 

By: Apr. 13, 2022
Diana DeGarmo & Ace Young to Lead the Cast of SKATES in Chicago

America's next big musical sensation has its cast! American Idol favorites Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young will lead the incredible cast of the new musical, Skates, featuring Adam Fane, Kelly Felthous, Cory Goodrich, Emma Lord, Jason Richards, Kelvin Roston, Jr., Michelle Lauto, Zach Sorrow, Trey Deluna and Adia Bell. Described as Grease meets Hairspray with a dash of Xanadu, this completely original, family-friendly musical is co-created by Christine Rea (book/lyrics) and Rick Briskin (music/lyrics), with direction by Brenda Didier, choreography by Christopher Chase Carter and music direction by Daniel A. Weiss. Only in Chicago, this world premiere is the first major production in the newly-renovated Studebaker Theater inside the historic Fine Arts Building (410 S Michigan Ave, Chicago). Performances begin May 24, 2022 and the press opening is Sunday, June 5, 2022.

"The world of Skates is one of joy, heart and a touch of magic! Inspired by my Windy City roots, I am beyond pleased to bring this Chicago-story home. We have assembled a crazily talented cast who bring the full force of Chicago's rich tradition of ensemble work front and center. It is thrilling to originate Skates in my hometown, and to be staging the world premiere at the glorious Studebaker Theater is a dream come true," comments Christine Rea.

Skates is a coming-of-age story with a twist. It's 1994a??and rocka??star, Jacqueline Miller has a lot to celebrate. She's headlining her first nationala??tour, has a hit record and is riding high. In the midst of this, she has agreed to kick off the galaa??re-opening of her beloved childhood roller rink, Windy City Skates. When complications hit hera??head-on, she takes a retrospective journey back to 1977 and finds herself again when shea??meets up with her 12-year-old self and all the people who have made her who she is. Froma??the wisdom of the Ouija Board, to the power of All-Skate Saturday, Skatesa??explores the magic and hope of finding your one true love while still being true to yourself.

The creative team for Skates A New Musical includes Christopher Rhoton (scenic design), Lindsay McWilliams (costume design), Chris Merriman (lighting design), Ray Nardelli (sound design), Bob Cline (casting director), William Collins (production stage manager) and Lisa Dozier/LDK Productions (general management).

Tickets for Skates A New Musical are on sale now and can be purchased online at www.fineartsbuilding.com/events/skates or by calling 312-753-3210. For more information about the world premiere of Skates, visit www.SkatesTheMusical.com.

About the Artists

CHRISTINEa??REA (book/lyrics) began her journey of producing, playwriting and performing as a kid on her parents suburban Chicago backyard patio. Upon pursuing a Master's Degree at DePaul Theater School, Christine toured the US, Canada and Europe performing; most notably as Mary Magdalene in the National Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar w/Ted Neeley & Carl Anderson of the acclaimed Norman Jewison film, and more recently with Mr. Neeley and Corey Glover of the groundbreaking rock band, Living Colour. Christine holds a History BA from the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana, is a proud member of The Dramatists Guild, Actors Equity Association and 14-Week Commercial Theater Institute Graduate. Christine is a dollhouse enthusiast, loves a good joke and believes everything is better with sprinkles.

Rick Briskin (music/lyrics) attended the acclaimed Berklee College of Music as a drummer and discovered his true love of songwriting. At that point, he picked up the guitar and began his journey as a singer/songwriter. Born in NYC, his parents instilled a love and appreciation for musical theatre. When approached to collaborate ona??SKATES, Rick's extensive knowledge of musical genre and style, coupled with his enthusiasm for musical theatre made him a natural. As a mainstay of the NYC music scene, he has produced and worked with a diverse group of artists in a wide range of styles. As a sideman, Rick has shared the stage with many artists including: Diana Ross, Frankie Valli, Cindy Lauper, Sheryl Crow and Anita Baker. Additionally, he can be heard on national jingles including spots for: Coca Cola, Mercedes Benz, Tanqueray, Huggies and Equitable Life. Most recently Rick released his solo album, Back To You, available on iTunes and Spotify. He is a proud member of AFM Local 802.a??

Brenda Didier (Director) Ms. Didier is thrilled to join Skates for this exciting reboot! A freelance director/choreographer based in Chicago,a?? credits include: Kenny Rogers Christmas Tour, Second City, Six Flags, Busch Gardens, T-Mobile's national commerciala??Home for the Holidays,a??Leo Burnett'sa??Leo on Icea??at the Chicago Theatre,a??Cirque Shanghai at Navy Pier's Skyline Stage, Atlantic City, Las Vegas and off-Broadway, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, The Goodman, Paramount Theatre, Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre, Porchlight Music Theatre, Mercury Theater Chicago, Kokandy Productions, Boho Theatre, industrials and live events. She is the Artistic Director and owner of the Lincolnshire Academy of Dance, now in its 24th season and their 2021 national award winning LAD Ensemble. Ms. Didier is a multiple Joseph Jefferson Award recipient (direction & choreography), After Dark Award and National Youth Theatre Award recipienta??and was honored witha??the 2018 Guy Adkins Award for the advancement of Musical Theatre in Chicago.a??

Christopher Chase Carter (Choreographer) is the Artistic Director of Mercury Theater Chicago. Before moving to Chicago Christopher studied in Michigan, where he began his theater career performing, directing and choreographing award-winning community and college productions. He is also a graduate from Grand Valley State University achieving his bachelor of arts while on scholarship. In 2019 Carter directed and choreographed the pilot production of "Scottsboro Boys'' working closely with Musical Theater International (MTI) and Susan Stroman at the International Thespian Festival. He followed that up by directing a history-making production of "Legally Blonde" at Northwestern University.

In 2005 he was awarded a scholarship to the Debbie Allen Dance Academy. After training at DADA, he returned to Michigan to finish his degree. He was one of four dancers chosen for a scholarship to study abroad in Kingston, Jamaica to further his training and education at The Edna Manley School. After graduating, this inspired Christopher to start his own scholarship, The Christopher Carter Arts Scholarship, to help underprivileged artists pursue their dreams. With a true passion for creativity and art Christopher is excited about the future of theater and looks forward to being part of the evolution of performance and artistry.a??

DANIELa??A. WEISS (Music Director) was thea??Associatea??Conductor for the original Broadway productions of Rent, Taboo (Boy George), Brooklyn, HAIR (Assistant Conductor), Music Director for Duncan Sheik's Whisper House At London's The Other Palace. He is the Musical Director for actor Anthony Rappa??as well as the show Let It Be, playing theaters and arenas throughout the states, New Zealand, Malaysiaa??and Hong Kong. He's a member of the touring group, Disney On Broadway. Daniel has composed anda??arranged for Rock Anda??Roll Refugee:a??The Life And Music Of East Villagea??Icon Genya Ravan.a??In thea??summer of 2015, he was Musical Director ofa??Songs For A New World by Jason Robert Browna??and MD, orchestrator and keyboardist for Anthony Rapp's one-man show, Without You,a??having toureda??the Edinburgh Fringe, Menier Chocolate Factory, UK, KTG Theater S Korea, and the Panasonic Theater, Toronto. He's composed original music for the show,a??Happily After Tonight (Mateo Moreno) anda??with Anthony Rapp he wrote and arranged songs for the showa??Dedalus Lounge by playwright, Garya??Duggin. Artist Tours include: Joan Osborne, Disney On Broadway, Anthony Rapp, Adam Pascal, Jeffreya??Gaines, Alexis P Suter and Slam Alan. Most recently he recorded Hammond organ for the Goo Goo Dolls upcoming album release and scored two movies: the romcom Ageless Love and a documentary featuring the photography by Bev Grant.

Diana DeGarmo (Jacqueline Miller) Singer, songwriter, and full-out entertainer, from stage to screen, Diana DeGarmo has conquered it all and then some. Her powerhouse vocals set her apart from a young age and shot her to fame on American Idol opening doors to her numerous Broadway shows, Off-Broadwaya??Shows, National & International Tours, a recurring role on The Young & The Restless, movies, and much more. Even when the world shuttered ina??2020, Diana helped create three groundbreaking virtual musical productions, forming new and exciting theatre even in thea??mosta??dire of times. Diana's solo and duo cabaret shows, with husband Ace Young, have also received national acclaim. Most recently a lifelong dream was realized when she portrayed the iconic Patsy Cline with STAGES St. Louis to rave reviews. Her beloved country roots lend her voice to seamlesslya??transition through pop, theatre, jazz, and anything else hera??heart desires. Listen to her newest musical creation GEMINI wherever you find fine music online or with her pink & black, double vinyl album available ata??www.dianadegarmo.com.

Ace Young (Blake/Russ Reiner) is a man of many talentsa??anda??has the credits to back them up. Whether it is building a song or a house, Ace is a true renaissance man. There is nothing he cannot do when he puts his mind to it. Even before his multiple #1 hits as a songwriter, Ace was wowing millions on TV shows like American Idol and Half & Half. His Grammy-Nominated song "It's Not Over" gave way to his own BMI Pop Award and many other songwriting acclaims. Ace has starred on stages around the world from Broadway in HAIR and GREASE, touring the country in JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, regional theatre standout performances as Stacee Jaxx in ROCK OF AGES at Pittsburgh CLO and Radames in AIDA with Axelrod PAC, as well as honoring our military on across the globe with the USO. He and his wife Diana's cabaret shows reach back to their roots with their love of intimate, moving music receiving rave reviews and awards.a?? His next chapter of artistry has him sitting in the producer, writer, and artist chairs, for his newest acoustic album Up All Night.

ADIAa??BELL (Swing) is from Phoenix, Arizona and a 2018 graduate of The University of Arizonaa??BFAa??Musical Theatre program. Her Regional credits includea??The Music Mana??(Arizona Theatre Company) anda??The Color Purplea??(Drurya??Lanea??Oakbrook).a??She appeared in Sister Acta??(Deloris),a??Hands on aa??Hardbodya??(Norma),a??The Pajama Gamea??(Mabel) anda??Doubt, A Parablea??(Mrs. Muller) at Arizona Repertory Theatre.

Adam Fane (Scotty Watkins) is thrilled to go back in time! Credits include: Rock of Ages (National Tour); Ms. Blakk for President (Steppenwolf)Jersey Boys(NCL);The Producers, Disney's The Little Mermaid, Mamma Mia!, Hairspray & Mary Poppins (Paramount Theatre); Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man (Greenhouse Theater); Monty Python's Spamalot, Avenue Q, & Pippin (Mercury Theater Chicago); Billy Elliot the Musical (Porchlight Music Theatre); Gypsy, Shrek the Musical, & Ride the Cyclone (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Cabaret (Theater at the Center); First Date (Royal George Theater); Chicago (Mason Street Warehouse); Avenue Q (Principal Actor in a Musical -Jeff Nomination). Film: Canal Street. TV: Chicago PD (NBC)

Kelly Felthousa??(Meghana??Behnke) hasa??appeared in the Chicago productions ofa??The Music Man, CHICAGO (Jeff nomination), Little Shop of Horrors (Jeff nomination), Cabaret, Seussical, Oliver, The Pajama Game and Dames At Sea.a??Kelly'sa??New York creditsa??include the original companiesa??ofa??Trip Of Lovea??(Caroline),a??Max And Rubya??(Ruby) and Seussicala??(Mayzie).a??Hera??National Toursa??include Wickeda??(Glinda,a??Nessarose u/s performed),a??Flashdancea??(Gloria)a??and Greasea??(Marty).a??Other favoritesa??are Southa??Pacifica??(Nellie) ata??Asolo Repertory Theatre; Rock of Agesa??(Regina)a??regional premiere at The Gateway Playhouse;a??Legally Blondea??(Elle) anda??Singin' In The Raina??(Kathy) ata??North Shore Music Theatre; Bring It Ona??(Eva)a??originating the role at the Alliance Theatre; and A Chorus Linea??(Val) ata??Maine State Music Theatre.a??She has appeared ona??Law and Order: SVU, Lightyears,a??and numerous commercials.

Cory Goodrich (Rebecca Miller) is a Jeff Award-winning actress for her roles as Mother in Ragtime, and June Carter Cash in Ring of Fire and was most recently seen playing the accordion in Evita. Cory is also a composer with an original country album W.O.M.A.N. , Wildwood Flower, a collection of folk songs featuring the autoharp and her latest electro-folk album, Long Way Around, features music from her memoir, 'Folksong: A Ballad of Death, Discovery, and DNA.'

Emma Lord (Jackie Miller) is so excited to be joining the Skates team! NY New Works Credits: Senior Class (NAMT Festival), Disney's Descendants (Disney Theatricals), ThreeTimesFast (dir. Michael Bello), The Greatest Showman (Disney Theatricals). NY Regional Credits: Amélie (Amélie), City of Angels (Angel City 4), Les Misérables (Feuilly).

Jason Richards (Hank Miller)is so thrilled to rock and roll with the cast of Skates! He was most recently seen as Georges in La Cage aux Folles at Music Theatre Works opposite Ginger Minj from RuPaul's Drag Race. Other Chicagoland credits include: Tateh in Ragtime (Griffin, Jeff Nomination), David Frost in Frost/ Nixon (Redtwist), Roger Debris in The Producers, Trekkie in Avenue Q (Mercury Theatre Chicago),Cinderella, The Producers, A Christmas Story (Paramount Theatre), City of Angels, La Cage aux Folles (Marriott Theatre), Shrek (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Annie Warbucks, Big River, It's a Wonderful Life (Theatre at the Center), Assassins (Kokandy Productions, Jeff Nomination), The Wild Party (Bailiwick Chicago, Jeff Award-Best Ensemble), The Gifts of the Magi (Porchlight Music Theatre), The Drowsy Chaperone, Living on Love (Peninsula Players). He received the Joseph Jefferson Award for his performance as Nicky/Trekkie Monster in Night Blue's Avenue Q and four Wilde Award nominations from his time as an actor in his hometown of Detroit.

Kelvin Roston Jr.a??(Jack/Danny Myers) is an actor/singer/musician/writer.a?? He was last seen as Caesar in August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean at Goodman Theatre and Othello in The Tragedy of Othello, The Moor of Venice at Court Theatre. Kelvin is the playwright/musical director/performer of Twisted Melodies, a look at mental illness through the eyes of legendary soul singer and musician Donny Hathaway, which has toured nationally, including a stop at New York's Apollo Theater.a??Chicagoland theaters: Congo Square, Court, Paramount, Marriott-Lincolnshire, Goodman, Eta, Writers, Black Ensemble, Timeline, Northlight, Steppenwolf, Pegasus, Chicago's Children's Theatre.a??a??Regional: The Black Rep (St. Louis, MO), Fulton (Lancaster, PA), New Theatre (Overland Park, KS),a?? MSMT (Brunswick, ME), BCS (Baltimore, MD), Mosaic (WASHINGTON DC), Apollo(New York, NY).a??a??International: Orb (Tokyo, Japan), Festival Hall (Osaka, Japan).a?? Television: South Side, Chicago Med, Chicago PD, KFC, Instant Care, Ace Hardware.a??a??Film: Get a Job, Princess Cyd, Breathing Room.a?? Awards: Jeff Award, 4 BTA Awards, 3 Black Excellence Awards, NAMI Award, Court Theatre's 2019/20 Nicholas Rudall Classic Artist Award.

Michelle Lautoa??(Tonya Carson) has been seen in In The Heights (Porchlight Music Theatre), Spamilton: An American Parody (The Royal George, for which she received the Jeff Award for Best Actress in a Revue), HAIR (Mercury Theater Chicago), Sunset Boulevard (Porchlight Music Theatre), Oklahoma, Ragtime, and Grease (Marriott Theatre), Evita (Drury Lane), and more.

TREY DELUNA (Swing) Chicago credits include: Ramon Novarro in Sons of Hollywood (Windy City Playhouse); Matt/Scratchy and understudying Mr. Burns in Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play (Theater Wit). Regional credits include: Rolf in The Sound of Music, Linus in You're a Good Man Charlie Brown (Parallel 45 Theatre); Chino in West Side Story, ensemble of Shakespeare in Love (Hope Summer Repertory).

Zach Sorrow (Brad Miller) Chicago credits include: Elvis (Million Dollar Quartet, Theatre at the Center), Elvis U/S (Heartbreak Hotel, Broadway Playhouse), Swing (Groundhog Day, Paramount Aurora), Rolf (Sound of Music, Lyric Opera). Regional credits include: John Fogerty (The Fortunate Sons: A CCR Tribute), Doody (Grease, Royal Caribbean), Lucas (Addams Family, New Theatre KC).

HHWTS PRODUCTIONS (Producer) Skates co-creators and married couple Christine Rea (Book/Lyrics) and Rick Briskin (Music/Lyrics) share more than 60 years of theater and music business between the two of them. As creative producers of HHWTS Productions LLC, they strive to deliver universally appealing shows with timeless and enduring messages. Upcoming: The Studebaker Theater, Skates, A New Musical about Life, Love & the Roller Rink. Recent: Off-Broadway, The Crusade of Connor Stephens, a new play; Hamilton Stage (UCPAC) 2017, Hit Her With The Skates. Ms. Rea is a proud graduate of the Commercial Theater Institute.a??www.hhwtsproductions.com

MARY BEIDLER GEAREN PRODUCTIONS (Producer) Mary is passionate about the support and development of new work. Off Broadway producing projects include: All Is Calm - The Christmas Truce Of 1914, by Peter Rothstein, which won the Drama Desk Award 2019 for "Unique Theatrical Experience" and was subsequently filmed for PBS release in 2020. The Crusade of Connor Stephens by Dewey Moss featuring James Kiberd. Before I Disappear, written by and featuring Alexandra Billings. Mary also developed and directed. (The Los Angeles production earned two ADA award nominations.) Mary is delighted to be back in Chicago where she won two After Dark Awards for her performances at Bailiwick Repertory Company.a??The Bailiwick production she directed of The Christmas Schooner earned 5 Jeff Award nominations. a??She is thrilled to have been involved with Skates since 2014. Forward Motion!

About the Studebaker Theater

In 1898, Fine Arts Building created the historic Studebaker Theater, originally built to house vaudevillian performances and later expanded into large productions in the 1920s. During subsequent years, performances by Bob Hope, Peter O'Toole, and Vincent Price graced the stage. Studebaker Theater continued throughout the years being known as one of the most important live theatrical venues in Chicago, receiving landmark status in 1978.


In the 1970s, the city underwent a downturn in live theater attendance and the Studebaker was converted into four separate motion picture cinemas. Eventually in the year 2000, the Studebaker was closed entirely, and in 2005, Fine Arts Building underwent new ownership. After extensive restoration efforts began in 2015, Studebaker Theater reopened for live performances. Another major renovation began in 2021, led by property owner Berger Realty Group, to revitalize the historic Studebaker by honoring its history while advancing its technological capacity for contemporary multidisciplinary performances, and bringing this one-of-a-kind theater into its next chapter.


Renovations of the Studebaker Theater will be completed in May 2022, coinciding with the world premiere of Skates A New Musical.

a??Photo credit: Russ Rowland

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