Emily Berman, Rebecca Finnegan and More Set for Chicago Debut of SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM, Beginning Tonight at Porchlight
Porchlight Music Theatre presents the second production in its 20th Anniversary Season of Sondheim, the Chicago premiere of Sondheim on Sondheim, beginning tonight, February 6, and running through March 15, 2015, featuring music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, conceived by James Lapine, direction by Nick Bowling with music direction by Porchlight Artistic Associate Austin Cook at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.
The accolades and honors continue to be given to Stephen Sondheim more than 50 years into his celebrated and legendary career. Recently, he received the first-ever ASCAP Centennial Award as well as the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, and the Walt Disney feature of Into the Woods is slated for a Christmas debut. Porchlight Music Theatre is honored to present the first-ever Chicago production of the complete catalogue of the master's career.
"The words "intellectual" and "Broadway musical" were seldom mentioned in the same breath until the era of Stephen Sondheim," said The New York Times. Sondheim on Sondheim delves into this era and is the final say on this unparalleled body of work with an intimate portrait of the famed songwriter in his own words and music. Featuring new arrangements of more than two-dozen Sondheim songs, ranging from the beloved to the obscure, interspersed with filmed commentary by the composer himself, Sondheim on Sondheim reveals fascinating details about his life and his art.
The Chicago company of Sondheim on Sondheim includes Porchlight Artistic Associate and audience favorite Rebecca Finnegan, who most recently received critical acclaim as "Mrs. Lovett" in Porchlight's sold-out production of Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Finnegan, a the three-time Jeff Award-recipient, has been seen on Broadway in Summer and Smoke and, locally, at Court Theatre, The Goodman, Chicago Shakespeare, Drury Lane, Marriott and TimeLine, among others; Jeff Award-nominee, James Earl Jones II, recently returned to Chicago from the first national tour of Porgy and Bess, has been seen in Shrek at Chicago Shakespeare, Sweet Charity at Writers' Theatre and Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting at Lookingglass; Emily Berman, most recently seen in Days Like Today at Writers' Theatre and King Lear at Chicago Shakespeare, where she will soon appear in the world-premiere musical, Sense and Sensibility; Matthew Keffer, recently of The Wild Party at Bailiwick Chicago and Juno at TimeLine Theatre made his Porchlight debut in the Porchlight Revisits... production of the classic musical, Golden Boy; Adrienne Walker, Jeff Award-nominated this year for her work in The Color Purple at The Mercury Theatre who was also seen in Dreamgirls at Marriott Theatre and Porgy and Bess at Court Theatre; Stephen Rader, last seen in The Normal Heart at TimeLine Theatre and Boojum at Chicago Opera Vanguard; Amelia Hefferon recently starred as the title role of The Little Prince at Lookingglass Theatre; and newcomer Yando Lopez, an audience favorite from Porchlight Revisits... production of the musical comedy classic Bells Are Ringing and recently seen in One Hit Wonders with the Black Ensemble and In the Heights at The Paramount Theatre.
The artistic/production staff includes Porchlight Artistic Associate Jeffrey Kmiec (scenic design), Sally Dolembo (costume design), Chris LaPorte (sound design), Porchlight Artistic Associate Nick Belley (lighting design), Mike Tutaj (video design), Emily Rogers (choreography), Porchlight Artistic Associate Aaron Shapiro (production management), Dylan Pickus (assistant director), Alex Weisman (dramaturg) and Jessica Forella (stage management).
The performance schedule is Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. There is an added matinee performance Thursday, March 12 at 1 p.m. NOTE: *There are no Thursday 7:30 p.m. performances February 12 and March 12. Tickets are $35 for preview performances, $50 for the opening night performance and reception, $39 for Thursday performances and $45 for all other performances. Subscriptions or single tickets are available at porchlightmusictheatre.org or by calling 773.777.9884. Groups of ten or more may receive discounts on tickets purchased via Group Theater Tix at 312.423.6612 or grouptheatertix.com.
ABOUT STEPHEN SONDHEIM, music and lyrics - Stephen Sondheim is an American composer and lyricist known for his immense contributions to musical theatre for more than 50 years. He is the winner of an Academy Award, eight Tony Awards (more than any other composer) including the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, eight Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and the Laurence Olivier Award. Sondheim has written material for movies, including the 1981 Warren Beatty film Reds, for which he contributed the song "Goodbye For Now." He also wrote five songs for the 1990 movie Dick Tracy, including a song performed by Madonna that won the Academy Award for Best Song. In celebration of his 80th birthday, the former Henry Miller's Theatre was renamed the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.
ABOUT JAMES LAPINE, book - James Lapine won three Tony Awards for Best Book (Musical): in 1988 for Into the Woods, in 1992, with William Finn, for Falsettos and in 1994 for Passion. He has also been nominated seven other times: as Best Director (Musical) and Best Book (Musical) in 1984 for Sunday in the Park with George; as Best Director (Musical) in 1988 for Into the Woods; in 1992 for Falsettos, in 1994 for Passion; and in 2002 for a revival of Into the Woods; and as Best Director (Play) in 2000 for Dirty Blonde.
ABOUT NICK BOWLING, director - Nick Bowling was the founding artistic director and is now associate artistic director at TimeLine Theatre. He is the recipient of five Jeff Awards for Outstanding Direction (The History Boys, Fiorello!, This Happy Breed and The Crucible at TimeLine, Another Part Of The Forest at Eclipse Theatre) and six nominations for The Normal Heart, Blood and Gifts, The Farnsworth Invention, Hauptmann and The Lion in Winter (TimeLine) and Closer Than Ever (Porchlight Music Theatre). At Porchlight, he last directed the critically acclaimed A Catered Affair. Other recent credits include Marriott's The King and I, TimeLine's Juno, 33 Variations and My Kind of Town as well as Northwestern University's Cabaret, Writers Theatre's Bach at Leipzig and Shattered Globe Theatre's Time of the Cuckoo.
ABOUT ARTISTIC ASSOCIATE AUSTIN COOK, music director - Austin Cook received the 2014 Jeff Award for Artistic Specialization for conducting Ain't Misbehavin' at Porchlight. His acting credits include the first national tour of Million Dollar Quartet (Jerry Lee Lewis, tour music director), American Blues Theater's Hank Williams: Lost Highway (Hoss) and Porchlight's Putting It Together (music director, man 4). Cook has received a Jeff Award for Some Enchanted Evening (music director/pianist). Some of his favorite music direction credits include: the first national tour of Million Dollar Quartet and Rooms: A Rock Romance. He has also worked with Second City, Walt Disney Entertainment and produced musicians John Michael Presney, Billy Woodward & The Senders, Yuleberrys & Friends, Cody Slaughter. Cook's work has been heard across the country as a performer, producer, musician and music director. He is a proud ensemble member of American Blues Theater.
ABOUT PORCHLIGHT MUSIC THEATRE - Porchlight Music Theatre, currently celebrating its 20th season, is nationally recognized for developing innovative new works, reimagining classic productions and showcasing musical theatre's noted veterans and rising stars. Porchlight elevates the genre in Chicago by providing intimate and powerful experiences and opportunities for growing diverse audiences. With the vision of Artistic Director Michael Weber, Porchlight builds on its role as Chicago's leading music theatre producer. Porchlight's rich history includes the staging of more than 50 productions with 12 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 including BEST MUSICAL! A Completely Improvised Musical Comedy! which enjoyed a smash engagement at The Second City. The School at Porchlight is Chicago's new center for music theatre training in the areas of performance, writing and appreciation. The company has received a total of 73 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations resulting in 30 Jeff Awards, most recently garnering the 2014 Jeff Award for Production - Revue, Director - Revue, Porchlight Artistic Associate Brenda Didier and Artistic Specialization, Porchlight Artistic Associate Austin Cook and Costume Design - Midsize, Porchlight Artistic Associate Bill Morey, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.