Photo Flash: Porchlight Music Theatre Makes Arts Club Debut!

By: Mar. 06, 2018
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Porchlight Music Theatre made its debut at The Arts Club of Chicago, 201 E. Ontario Street, with its hit musical revue series, New Faces Sing Broadway 1959, hosted by Gene Weygandt, directed by Adrian Abel Azevedo with music direction by David Fiorello, Tuesday, February 27.
The evening began with a cocktail hour and hors d'oeuvres followed by the performance in a special salon setting. The "Wizard" from the Broadway and touring productions of Wicked Gene Weygandt hosted the evening and performed songs from the 1959 Broadway year with a cast of up and coming new talent including Anastasia Arnold, Curtis Bannister, Katherine Bourné, Roy Brown, Charlie Ingram, Bernell Lassai III, Mallory Maedke, Jenny McPherson, Jeff Pierpoint and Maisie Rose.
In addition to songs from A Party With Comden and Green, Destry Rides Again, Fiorello!, First Impressions, Flower Drum Song, Goldilocks, Gypsy, Juno, The Most Happy Fella, The Nervous Set, Once Upon a Mattress, Redhead, Saratoga, Take Me Along, Whoop-Up; New Faces Sing 1959 also included Porchlight Music Theatre's Artistic Director Michael Weber engaging the audience with "Name that Showtune," a fun and fast-moving music theatre trivia game where participants win Porchlight prizes. The audience participated in a sing-along for a rendition of "Do-Re-Mi" from The Sound of Music. Then the evening concluded with Weygandt and the cast wishing the audience of The Arts Club, "So Long, Farewell," also from The Sound of Music.
The 2017 - 2018 New Faces season sponsors Chicago's Elaine Cohen and Arlen Rubin welcomed the audience that included Arts Club members like Michelle Cucchiaro (Cucchiaro, Porchlight board member, served as host for the event) and Wynne Delacoma; Gold Coast neighbors of Porchlight's Ruth Page Center for the Arts Michael Elkow, Cindy and Steve Mitchell, Diane and Chuck Laff, Porchlight board members John Belom of Frankfort; Tony Gibson, George "Kim" Sargent and Jackie Shim Bryant of Lincoln Park along with Porchlight subscribers Brian Troy of River North, Richard Turner and Paul and Lynne Wellen of Lincoln Park.
In tribute to the original New Faces series that ran on Broadway and on film from 1934 - 1968, Porchlight Music Theatre created the Chicago musical revue series, New Faces Sing Broadway as a showcase for the best emerging music talent now performing on Chicago stages. Each edition is a "time-machine" journey from the start to the finish of an entire musical season from the classic days of Broadway, peppered with photos and films of the era in an exciting multimedia presentation with a favorite celebrity hosting and introducing the next generation of music theatre artists while guiding the audience through a vintage year on the Great White Way.
The original New Faces series via Broadway and movies was instrumental in introducing the public to emerging talent such as June Carroll, Robert Clary, Imogene Coca, Jane Connell, "Professor" Irwin Corey, Henry Fonda, Alice Ghostley, Ronny Graham, Tiger Haynes, Van Johnson, Madeline Kahn, Eartha Kitt, Robert Klein, Carol Lawrence, Paul Lynde, Virginia Martin, John Reardon, Maggie Smith, Inga Swenson and many, many others.
ABOUT Adrian Abel Azevedo, director
Adrian Abel Azevedo was the assistant director for Porchlight's Billy Elliot the Musical and he will next assistant direct Porchlight Revisits They're Playing Our Song. He previously worked with Billy Elliot's director Brenda Didier during last season's successful run of In The Heights. Other work with Porchlight includes directing New Faces Sing Broadway 2001 and New Faces Sing Broadway 1969. He has previously assisted for productions in various Chicago houses including Steep Theatre, Goodman Theatre and Teatro Vista. Azevedo is on staff for Goodman Theatre in the Education and Engagement Department.
ABOUT David Fiorello, music director
David Fiorello currently plays "Joe Josephson" in Porchlight's Merrily We Roll Along at the Ruth Page Center through March 17, 2018. He was the music director and arranger for Porchlight's Chicago Sings: Sinatra & The Rat Pack, Porchlight Revisits Woman of the Year, the 2016-2017 New Faces Sing Broadway season and the current New Faces season. Fiorello will music direct Porchlight Revisits Do Re Mi, May 22 - 24, 2018 at The Ruth Page Center. Fiorello has been in Chicago since 2010, when he moved from the East Coast to music direct and vocal coach at Northwestern University's Music Theatre Certificate Program. He served as music director for the Off-Broadway hit Danny & Sylvia: The Danny Kaye Musical, and has toured nationally and internationally with several productions, including John Doyle's re-imagining of Sweeney Todd, as music director. Fiorello has worked in Chicago with Chicago Shakespeare, The Marriott Theatre and many others. A director, music director, performer, writer, arranger and show doctor, he has helped guide new works to development and world premieres in Chicago, at New York Musical Festival and several premieres in the United Kingdom. He has written and collaborated on several original pieces, including the musical The Language or the Kiss, a musical featuring the music of The Indigo Girls, that he conceived, wrote the book and starred in for many Off-Broadway Industry readings.
ABOUT Gene Weygandt, host
Gene Weygandt is one of Chicago's most acclaimed actors, perhaps best known for his portrayal of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" in Wicked in Chicago, and on Broadway. He also starred as "Jean Shepherd" in A Christmas Story, the Musical. Also on Broadway, Weygandt originated the role of "Paul" in Big: The Musical. He is a three-time Jeff Award recipient for A Day in Hollywood/A Night in The Ukraine and Me and My Girl at the Marriott Theatre and for Little Shop of Horrors. He received an After Dark Award for his role as "Max" in the long running-hit, Lend Me a Tenor at the Royal George Theatre. Other credits include Inspecting Carol at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, The Taming of the Shrew at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and principal roles in Old Jews Telling Jokes, The Miser, Don't Dress for Dinner, Little Me and The Man Who Came to Dinner. Weygandt's TV and film credits include "The Birdcage," "The Babe," The Pager," "Chicago Fire," "Betrayal," "Boss," "Mind Games," "The Beast," "Home Improvement," "Cybil," "Murphy Brown," "The Drew Carey Show" and others.
ABOUT Porchlight Music Theatre AS Ruth Page ARTIST IN-RESIDENCE
Porchlight Music Theatre is proud to be a member of the vibrant Ruth Page Center for the Arts community and an Artist In-Residence. Central to the Ruth Page Center for the Arts' programming is the Artists In-Residence program, which is designed to serve organizations looking for a home base while they grow or expand their artistic and organizational capabilities. The Center is committed to nurturing and assisting dance and other performing artists, allowing for exchange and collaborative relationships to develop within the artistic community. The Ruth Page Center for the Arts is a destination for quality performing arts, accessible to a wide community regardless of race, gender, age, education or disability. An incubator of artistic energy and excellence, the Ruth Page Center for the Arts carries forward the vision of its founder, legendary dance icon Ruth Page, to be a platform for developing great artists and connecting them with audiences and community.
As the home for music theatre in Chicago now in its 23rd season, Porchlight Music Theatre is nationally recognized for reimagining classic productions, developing new works and showcasing musical theatre's noted Chicago veterans and rising stars. Porchlight elevates the genre by providing intimate and powerful theatrical experiences of music theatre through the lens of the "Chicago Style." The 2017-2018 year marks a milestone for Porchlight as the company becomes an Artist In-Residence at the historic Ruth Page Center for the Arts in Chicago's Gold Coast. Porchlight's rich history includes the staging of more than 60 productions with 15 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. The School at Porchlight is Chicago's center for music theatre training in the areas of performance, writing and appreciation including the launch of a youth Summer Camp in 2017. The company's many accolades include 22 Black Theatre Alliance nominations and seven awards, as well as a total of 139 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations resulting in 42 Jeff Awards including five consecutive Best Production awards for The Scottsboro Boys (2017), Dreamgirls (2016),
Sondheim on Sondheim (2015), Ain't Misbehavin' (2014) and A Class Act (2013).

Elaine Cohen and Arlen Rubin of Chicago sponsor Porchlight's 2017 - 2018 New Faces series.

Porchlight Music Theatre is partially supported by generous contributions from the Bayless Family Foundation, Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation, Actors' Equity Foundation, Chapman | Spingola, Attorneys at Law, the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, James P. and Brenda S. Grusecki Family Foundation, Lou Malnati's on State Street, the MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at the Prince Foundation, Q Chicago, The Saints and the Topfer Family Foundation. The season program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, a state agency and by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.
Photos by Austin Packard

Photo Flash: Porchlight Music Theatre Makes Arts Club Debut!
Curtis Bannister

Photo Flash: Porchlight Music Theatre Makes Arts Club Debut!
Todd Arp, Brian Donlan, Rick Kronenburger and Ron Krueger of the West Loop surround Tamara Sims, Porchlight Board Member and ICONS Gala Chair

Photo Flash: Porchlight Music Theatre Makes Arts Club Debut!
Lori and Steven Kaufman of Lincoln Park flank Porchlight Music Theatre Board Member Michelle Cucchiaro of Lakeview

Photo Flash: Porchlight Music Theatre Makes Arts Club Debut!
Lincoln Park's Donna La Pietra and the Gold Coast's Elaine Cohen

Photo Flash: Porchlight Music Theatre Makes Arts Club Debut!
Bill Kurtis of Lincoln Park joins Rhona and Julian Frazin of Sandburg Village

Photo Flash: Porchlight Music Theatre Makes Arts Club Debut!
NEW FACES SING BROADWAY 1959 ensemble and host, Gene Weygandt, (center)