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Photos: Porchlight Music Theatre's CHICAGO SINGS STEPHEN SONDHEIM Breaks Previous Records

Jim Corti presented the 2022 Guy Adkins Award for Excellence in the Advancement of Music Theatre in Chicago.

Porchlight Music Theatre's annual fundraising concert Chicago Sings celebrated the American theatre titan Stephen Sondheim at Chicago Sings Stephen Sondheim, directed by Artistic Director Michael Weber and Producing Artistic Associate Frankie Leo Bennett, music directed by David Fiorello+ and choreographed by Alejandro Fonseca and Laura Savage, held Monday, May 23 at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Check out photos below!

This year's Chicago Sings was a celebration of the life and art of the great composer and lyricist who changed the world of American music theatre with performances and the presentation of the Guy Adkins Award for Excellence in the Advancement of Music Theatre in Chicago to Jim Corti. The 2022 concert broke previous attendance and fundraising records for this annual offering. And, for the first time in Chicago Sings history, Porchlight offered two opportunities to experience Chicago's music theatre and cabaret performers saluting Sondheim: "It's a Hit" Live Experience that included a reception and live viewing in the Edlis Neeson Auditorium and the "Color & Light" Lounge Experience, hosted by the Porchlight Young Professionals, with a live stream of the performances in a lounge created on the second floor of the MCA.


The Sondheim celebration began with Artistic Director Michael Weber welcoming the sold out audience and introducing Nancy Voigts, with whom he sang "Invocation and Instructions to the Audience" from Sondheim's The Frogs. Next Lydia Burke and Parker Guidry sang "So Many People/What More Do I Need?" from Saturday Night, followed by Clare Kennedy, Mark David Kaplan and Nolan Robinson sharing "Pretty Little Picture" from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, followed immediately by Larry Adams and Paul Jordan Jansen performing "Pretty Women" from Sweeney Todd.


Weber returned to the stage to reflect on the passing of Sondheim this past year and to remember another loss to the Chicago theatre community, Hollis Resnik. Resnik's final performance on stage was as the legendary "Norma Desmond" in Porchlight Music Theatre's Sunset Boulevard and she is a former recipient of Porchligh's Guy Adkins Award for Excellence in the Advancement of Music Theatre in Chicago. In a salute to Resnik, Cecilia Iole and Genevieve Thiers then performed "One More Kiss" from Follies.


The next section of the night's program highlighted the characters on the fringe of society and those confronting the challenge of a single moment. These moving performances included Justin Brill and Will Skrip singing a medley of "Best Thing That Has Ever Happened" from Road Show and "With So Little to Be Sure Of" from Anyone Can Whistle. Andres Enriquez and Clare Kennedy then performed two songs from Evening Primrose, followed by Bryce Ancil, Brianna Borger, Justin Brill, Billy Dwyer, Parker Guidry, Paul Jordan Jansen, Mark David Kaplan, Nik Kmiecik and Taylor Lane in "Another National Anthem" from Assassins.


Jim Corti then presented the 2022 Guy Adkins Award for Excellence in the Advancement of Music Theatre in Chicago. Weber presented the award to Corti by reviewing the career of Corti as an actor, director, choreographer and artistic director, calling Corti "a Renaissance man." Corti, accepting the award, said that he was honored to join the great company of previous Guy Adkins recipients and thanked all of the great collaborations that helped him reach the place where he is today. These collaborations include his colleagues on and off the stage, theatre supporters and audiences.


Chicago Sings Stephen Sondheim also included dance performances, and in the A Little Night Music section, audiences saw Alejandro Fonseca, Taylor Lane, Nolan Robinson and Laura Savage perform a dance, choreographed by Fonseca and Savage to "Night Waltz" and a rousing rendition of "A Weekend in the Country," featuring Larry Adams, Christine Buanan, Lydia Burke, Andres Enriquez, Cecilia Iole, Will Skrip and the Chicago Sings ensemble.


The second act began with a performance from students in Porchlight's music classes and their teachers. The funds raised at Chicago Sings support Porchlight's education and artistic programming and this act two opener brought both of those worlds together as students Celeste Kaplan, Gabriel Lockhart and Mateo Martinez and teaching faculty Frankie Leo Bennett, Becky Keeshin and Nik Kmiecik performed "Our Time" from Merrily We Roll Along and "Children Will Listen" from Into the Woods.

Porchlight's Development Director Evin Marie Rayford and Board Member Jeremy Eden hosted the paddle raising portion of the night. They shared with the audience how every dollar raised supports Porchlight including educational programming, presenting new works like Paul Oakely Stovall's Clear and continuing to be Chicago's home for music theatre.

Chicago Sings Stephen Sondheim also included songs from films with Sondheim and act two continuing with Music Director David Fiorello with Laura Savage, dancers Alejandro Fonseca, Taylor Lane and Nolan Robinson with Greg Strauss performing "Back in Business" from the film "Dick Tracy."

Kelan M. Smith played acoustic guitar for Bryce Ancil and Christine Bunuan's rendition of "There is No Other Way" from Pacific Overtures and then Smith played the mandolin for Brianna Borger as she performed "No More" from Into the Woods. Greg Strauss's trumpet was paired with Juwon Tyrel Perry for a Merrily We Roll Along/"Dick Tracy" mash up.

The final portion of the evening showcased songs of love and longing from the Sondheim canon and began with Neala Barron and Billy Dwyer singing "Loving You/No One Has Ever Loved Me" from Passion with Beckie Menzie performing "The Boy From..." from The Mad Show with dancer Alejandro Fonseca.

The Chicago Sings Stephen Sondheim finale included two of Sondheim's most popular songs, with the Chicago Sings company performing "Being Alive" from Company and then, led by Evan Tyrone Martin, the show concluded with "Sunday" from Sunday in the Park with George featuring Kelan M. Smith on electric guitar and Greg Strauss on trumpet.

The Chicago Sings band included David Fiorello, music director and orchestrator; Justin Akira Kono, drums; Rafe Bradford, bass; Hillary Bayley, violin and Lewis Rawlinson, cello.

Photos: Porchlight Music Theatre's CHICAGO SINGS STEPHEN SONDHEIM Breaks Previous Records
Mackenzie Maples, Eilish Morse-O'Rourke and Claire McConnell

Photos: Porchlight Music Theatre's CHICAGO SINGS STEPHEN SONDHEIM Breaks Previous Records
Porchlight Young Professionals Chair Rosie Schultz and Emeritus Chair Cody Czmyr

Photos: Porchlight Music Theatre's CHICAGO SINGS STEPHEN SONDHEIM Breaks Previous Records
A performance from CHICAGO SINGS Stephen Sondheim

Photos: Porchlight Music Theatre's CHICAGO SINGS STEPHEN SONDHEIM Breaks Previous Records
Porchlight Music Theatre Artistic Director Michael Weber, the 2022 Guy Adkins Award for Excellence in the Advancement of Music Theatre in Chicago Jim Corti and Porchlight Music Theatre Executive Director Jeannie Lukow

Photos: Porchlight Music Theatre's CHICAGO SINGS STEPHEN SONDHEIM Breaks Previous Records
Students from Porchlight Music Theatre's music classes (L to R) Mateo Martinez, Gabriel Lockhart and Celeste Kaplan join teaching artists (L to R) Becky Keeshin, Nik Kmiecik and Frankie Leo Bennett

Photos: Porchlight Music Theatre's CHICAGO SINGS STEPHEN SONDHEIM Breaks Previous Records
Porchlight Music Theatre Development Director Evin Marie Rayford and Board Member Jeremy Eden

Photos: Porchlight Music Theatre's CHICAGO SINGS STEPHEN SONDHEIM Breaks Previous Records
Laura Savage, Alejandro Fonseca, Nolan Robinson and Taylor Lane

Photos: Porchlight Music Theatre's CHICAGO SINGS STEPHEN SONDHEIM Breaks Previous Records
Juwon Tyrel Perry

Photos: Porchlight Music Theatre's CHICAGO SINGS STEPHEN SONDHEIM Breaks Previous Records
The cast



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