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Light Opera Works to Present MAME This August


Jerry Herman's Broadway classic MAME, with 26-piece orchestra, will be staged by Light Opera Works at Cahn Auditorium in Evanston, August 20 through 28.

Based on the play "Auntie Mame" by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, MAME follows the life of Mame Dennis, whose world is transformed when her young nephew comes to live with her in 1920s New York. Songs include "Open a New Window," "If He Walked Into My Life," "Mame" and "We Need a Little Christmas."

MAME is directed by Light Opera Works artistic director Rudy Hogenmiller, conducted by music director Roger L. Bingaman and choreographed by Clayton Cross.

The cast includes Nancy Hays (Mame Dennis), Mary Robin Roth (Vera Charles), Alicia Berneche (Agnes Gooch), Zachary Scott Fewkes (Young PatRick Dennis), Justin Adair (PatRick Dennis) and Nic Fantl (Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside).

The design/production team includes Adam Veness (scenic), Andrew H. Meyers (lighting), Bob Kuhn (costume), Jaime Karas (props), Aaron Quick (sound) and Katie Beeks (production manager).

The opening night reception for MAME is sponsored by Prairie Moon Restaurant in Evanston.

MAME is Light Opera Works' second production of 2016. The season will continue with the concert performance LET ME ENTERTAIN YOU: Jule Styne'S GREATEST HITS (October 7-16) and DIE FLEDERMAUS (December 26-January 1, 2017).

Discounted season packages are still available. Ticket prices for MAME begin at $34. Ages 25 and younger are half price. To order tickets, or for more information, call the Light Opera Works box office at (847) 920-5360 or order online 24 hours a day at

Director/Choreographer/Music Director Biographies:

Rudy Hogenmiller (Director), artistic director of Light Opera Works, directs MAME. He has directed and choreographed many productions for the company including MY FAIR LADY, GUYS AND DOLLS, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE FANTASTICKS, THE MERRY WIDOW, Cole Porter'S GREATEST HITS, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, H.M.S. PINAFORE, OLIVER!, MAN OF LA MANCHA, CAMELOT, BRIGADOON, HELLO, DOLLY!, THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, KISS ME, KATE, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE MIKADO, and THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Hogenmiller was seen on stage in 2014 as Mr. Applegate in DAMN YANKEES and as the Emcee in CABARET in 2013. He has been recognized with six Joseph Jefferson Awards and 17 nominations for best direction and choreography in Chicago, and has been a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers for more than 35 years.

Roger L. Bingaman (Music Director and Conductor) conducts the 26-piece MAME orchestra. Bingaman made his first appearance on the Light Opera Works podium in 1997, conducting THE MERRY WIDOW. Since then he has conducted many productions, including SOUTH PACIFIC, THE FANTASTICKS, CABARET, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, H.M.S. PINAFORE, OLIVER!, CAMELOT, THE STUDENT PRINCE, BRIGADOON, HELLO, DOLLY!, CAROUSEL, and THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD, as well as THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, MY FAIR LADY, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, THE MUSIC MAN, IOLANTHE, GIGI, OKLAHOMA!, BITTER SWEET, KISS ME, KATE, 110 IN THE SHADE, NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY, and BEAUTIFUL HELEN OF TROY. Bingaman has been director of the apprentice program and chorus master for the Sarasota Opera since 1998.

CLAYTON CROSS (Choreographer) choreographed MY FAIR LADY and GUYS AND DOLLS at Light Opera Works, played the Mute in THE FANTASTICKS and was a featured dancer in DAMN YANKEES. He was a Cagelle in Marriott Theatre's LA CAGE AUX FOLLES. Cross served for five years as artistic advisor, board member and choreographer for Renegade Dance Architects, and continues to consult and contribute choreography to the Capitol One Bowl's ALL AMERICAN HALFTIME SHOW. He is a master teacher for M.A. Dance, a Texas-based traveling convention circuit, where he has worked and judged for the past 17 years. Throughout his 20-year career as a dancer, Cross has worked with Robert Battle, Fernando Bujones, Frank Chaves, Paul Taylor, and Ann Reinking. He was featured in EVERY DANCER HAS A STORY, a PBS special about the River North Chicago Dance Company, where he was a company member for nine seasons and toured nationally and internationally. Originally from Midland, Texas, Cross received his early training from La Petite Dance Company, Coleman Academy, and the Midland Community Theatre. He holds a BFA in ballet and modern dance from Texas Christian University.

Cast Biographies:

Nancy Hays (Mame Dennis) makes her Light Opera Works debut. She returned to musical theater last year as Judy Garland in THE BOY FROM OZ for Pride Films and Plays. She has worked as a concert opening act for celebrities including Tommy Tune, Rita Rudner, George Burns and many others, as well as lead vocalist for several themed shows. Nancy's country line dance song "Come Dance with Me" is an international hit and has been nominated for several awards. She has recorded five albums and toured the UK four times with her original music. She has also made television appearances on Fox, ABC, Discovery, Fit TV, NBC, ABC, WGN, and WCIU and danced the salsa with Mario Lopez on national television.

Mary Robin Roth (Vera Charles) was seen most recently in Light Opera Works concert productions of HOLLYWOOD'S GREATEST SONG HITS and Cole Porter'S GREATEST HITS. Previously, she was Dolly Levi in HELLO, DOLLY! and five different characters in NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY. She was seen at Lyric Opera of Chicago as the Nurse in A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE starring Renee Fleming. Mary Robin's credits include Sister Lazarus in SISTER ACT (Marriott Theater), Fraulein Schneider in CABARET and Jeanette in THE FULL MONTY (Mason Street Warehouse; Saugatuck, Michigan), Rose in GYPSY and Miss Hannigan in ANNIE (Arkansas Repertory Theatre), and Fanny Brice in FUNNY GIRL (Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre of Indianapolis). Other favorite Chicago roles include Mame in MAME, and Carlotta in FOLLIES (for which she was honored with a Jeff Award and an After Dark Award) and SHEAR MADNESS (Mrs. Shubert). Broadway credits include THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD and SENATOR JOE. Her touring credits include the national and international companies of EVITA and the Toronto company of SUNSET BOULEVARD.

Alicia Berneche (Agnes Gooch) returns to Light Opera Works, where she was Marian in THE MUSIC MAN, Sarah in BITTER SWEET, Mabel in THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, Phyllis in IOLANTHE, Elsie Maynard in THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD, and sang in OPERETTA'S GREATEST HITS and HOLLYWOOD'S GREATEST SONG HITS. She has starred on opera stages around the globe, often specializing in contemporary works, including appearances at Lyric Opera of Chicago as Daisy Buchanan in THE GREAT GATSBY and Helen Niles in MOURNING BECOMES ELEKTRA. Alicia has performed at the Goodman Theatre, London's Barbican Centre, and the Brooklyn Academy Of Music in the world premiere of Philip Glass' and Mary Zimmerman's GALILEO GALILEI. She has originated leading roles in more than 10 world premiere operas and orchestral pieces, and has sung with celebrated conductors and ensembles, including CARMINA BURANA with the Minnesota Orchestra under Osmo Vänskä and LE NOZZE DI FIGARO with Zubin Mehta. Alicia just completed a sold-out production with Milwaukee Opera Theatre of THANK YOU, NEXT!, an opera she wrote with composer Tim Rebers, and a tour of Scotland and England in Chamber Opera Chicago's PERSUASION.

Zachary Scott FEWKES (Young Patrick) is making his Light Opera Works debut. He is 10 years old and was introduced to the stage at the age of 7 when he performed in ANNIE JR. (Cricket Theatre). Some of Zach's favorite roles include Colin Craven in THE SECRET GARDEN (Lake Forest Theatre), Oliver in OLIVER! (Citadel Theatre), flying across the stage as Peter in PETER PAN (Seth Paine Elementary) and Gavroche in LES MISERABLES (LZP Productions). When not performing, he enjoys playing travel baseball with his buddies on the Lake Zurich Cougars, as well as golf, piano and violin.

Justin Adair (Older Patrick) returns to Light Opera Works after playing Sky Masterson in GUYS AND DOLLS and Lt. Joseph Cable in SOUTH PACIFIC last season. Recent credits include BoHo Theatre's FUGITIVE SONGS (Jeff Nomination, Actor in a Supporting Role) and Barrett in Griffin Theatre's TITANIC (Jeff Nomination, Actor in a Supporting Role -- Musical). Other Chicago credits include Fabrizio in THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA (Jeff Award, Actor in a Supporting Role -- Musical) and SMOKEY JOE'S CAFÉ (Jeff Nomination, Ensemble) at Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, LES MISERABLES (Drury Lane Theatre), and JUNO (TimeLine Theatre). With Chicago Opera Vanguard, he played Eddie in the Chicago premiere of GREEK and Jimmy in THE SUITCASE: AN OPERA, which the company took to Belfast, Northern Ireland. Justin spent a summer with the College Light Opera Company in Cape Cod for their 2011 season. He is a graduate of Roosevelt University's Chicago College of Performing Arts and holds an Associate's in Fine Arts from the College of DuPage.

NIC FANTL (Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside) has happily found his way back to the stage after 20 years in creative advertising. Recent roles include Mr. Bumble (OLIVER!), Javert (LES MISERABLES), Jim Haller (ALL SHOOK UP), and Franklin Hart Jr. (9 to 5 THE MUSICAL). Nic also performs regularly with The Music Institute of Chicago.

Effective January 2, 2017, Light Opera Works will be known as Music Theater Works

Light Opera Works is a resident professional not-for-profit theater in Evanston, founded in 1980. The company's mission is to produce and present musical theater from a variety of world traditions. All productions are presented in English, with foreign works done in carefully edited modern translations. Maximum scholarship is employed to preserve the original vocal and orchestral material as well as the spirit of the original text whenever possible. Audiences know that at Light Opera Works they will experience repertoire often unavailable on the stages of commercial theaters and opera houses, in modern productions with professional artists and full orchestra.

Light Opera Works' mission is to produce musical theater from a variety of world traditions, to engage the community through educational and outreach programs, and to train artists in musical theater.

Photo Credit: Rich Foreman

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