Photo Flash: Inside Porchlight Music Theatre's August 20 Chicago Sings The MGM Musicals Fundraiser
Porchlight Music Theatre welcomed a sold out crowd at the 13th Annual Chicago Sings concert fundraiser; Chicago Sings The MGM Musicals, held Monday, Aug. 20 at 7 p.m., at Second City's UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave, direction by Keely Vasquez, music direction by Porchlight Artistic Associate Beckie Menzie, stage management by Jake Allen Miller and sound design Robert Hornbostel. Monday's event was the company's most successful Chicago Sings to date. Sales from this one-night-only performance benefit Porchlight Music Theatre's youth educational and community outreach programming raising more than $54,000.
The stellar evening saluting MGM musicals began with James Earl Jones II singing "Hooray for Hollywood/Going Hollywood" from Going Hollywood. Artistic Director Michael Weber then welcomed the sold out crowd to Porchlight's special event and played host for much of the evening, sharing with the enthusiastic audience information about MGM's productions, their stars and the night's performers. Next Christine Mild, accompanied on guitar and vocals by Patrick Martin, delighted the audience with their take on the classic "Singin' in the Rain" from The Broadway Revue of 1929 and Singin' in the Rain. "A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody" from The Great Ziegfeld was performed with perfection by Kelvin Roston Jr. and then Music Director Menzie tickled the ivories and sang "Fascinating Rhythm" from Lady Be Good. Demonstrating their comedic chops for the audience, David Fiorello and Nancy Voigts had the audience laughing with "Aba Daba Honeymoon" from Two Weeks with Love. Cynthia Clarey showed the range of possible emotion via MGM, following the comedy of "Honeymoon" with the iconic "Ol' Man River" from Show Boat and Till the Clouds Roll By. Lyric Opera star Genevieve Thiers delved into the archives with "Lover Come Back to Me/Ah! Sweet Mystery" from New Moon/Naughty Marietta. The threesome of Devin DeSantis, Britt-Marie Sivertsen and Stephen Schellhardt highlighted the dance aspect of the musicals with their version of "Good Morning" from Babes in Arms and Singin' in the Rain. "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan" from The Band Wagon saw Alexis J. Roston vamping for the audience, and "Steppin' Out with My Baby" from Easter Parade by Tom Michael led the audience to the presentation of the Luminary Award to James Jensen.
Jensen walked on the stage to a standing ovation and accepted the inaugural award from Executive Director Jeannie Lukow for his selfless dedication to not only Porchlight, but also the arts throughout Chicago and the nation for more than 40 years. Tammy Mader and Richard Strimer closed out Act 1 with "Moses Supposes," the only song specifically written for the musical Singin' in the Rain.
Students Camila Barragan, Kaitlin Deodhar, Sara Deodhar, Maeve McGeehan and Janelly Rosendo from Porchlight Music Theatre's "Make Your Own Musical" Summer Camp began Act 2 with a medley of "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead/We're Off to See the Wizard" from The Wizard of Oz. Weber and Porchlight's new Education Associate Michelle Lauto explained to the audience the importance of arts education for these students on stage as well as their contemporaries who get to attend classes and performances at Porchlight. Weber then introduced Institutional Advancement Director Don Sprague and WGN-TV's Paul Lisnek, who engaged the audience in a fundraising activity for the education and outreach programs at Porchlight . In between suggested donation levels, both Lisnek and Sprague shared facts about the program with the audience letting them know that every dollar given, no matter the denomination, will make a difference in these children's lives. After the paddle raising, the performances continued with Neala Barron singing "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart" from Listen Darling and then Brandon Dahlquist, Jim DeSelm, Sharriese Hamilton and Khaki Pixley shared the stage and harmonies with "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe" from The Harvey Girls. The crowd went crazy for Robin DaSilva's "I Got Rhythm" from Girl Crazy and An American in Paris. Lauto returned to the stage to sing "Somewhere over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz and Bethany Thomas had the crowd entranced with her version of "Easy to Love" from Born to Dance. "They Can't Take That Away from Me" from Barkleys of Broadway was performed by Lorenzo Rush Jr. with his signature flair, and "I Remember It Well" from Gigi was given a twist when performed by Sean Fortunato and Mark David Kaplan. Yando Lopez's beautiful rendition of "Get Happy" from Summer Stock prepped the audience for the all-star conclusion of "That's Entertainment" from Band Wagon that had the audience on their feet and singing along.
Photo Credit: Michael Courier
Maeve McGeehan, Camila Barragan, Sara Deodhar, Janelly Rosendo, Kaitlin Deodhar
Lynn Orschel with Connie Barkley
Paul Lisnek and Don Sprague
Michael Weinberg and Amanda Black
Sam Grodzin and Roz Alexander