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Quest Theatre Ensemble Presents The People's Barnum, 2/10

Quest Theatre Ensemble steps into the center ring with The People's Barnum, directed by Andrew Park and musical directed by Tobi Mattingly. Opening is Friday, February 10 at 8:00 p.m. at The Blue Theatre, (housed in St. Gregory the Great Church) at 1609 West Gregory (Gregory and Ashland). Tickets and information are available at or through or 312-458-0895.

Quest Theatre Ensemble presents the Tony award winning Broadway musical The People's Barnum.

About the show: "Set in the center ring, The People's Barnum! tells the true story of Phineas Taylor Barnum and the acts that made him famous. The tale is set to Cy Coleman and Michael Stewart's legendary music and features Quest Theatre Ensemble's well known shadow/rod puppetry. See General Tom Thumb only 25 inches from toe to crown! Witness Jumbo, the largest elephant in the world! Behold the oldest woman on the planet with your very own eyes! Marvel at the feats of contortionists, gymnasts, tumblers, and stilt-dancers! And find out first hand why The People's Barnum! is the "Greatest Show on Earth!""

Mark Bramble, a three time Tony nominee, and Michael Stewart, two time Tony winner, collaborated on several musicals together including The Grand Tour, Pieces of Eight, and Elizabeth and Essex. Cy Coleman took Tony Awards for his music in City of Angels, The Will Rogers Follies and On the Twentieth Century.

Andrew Park is Quest Theatre Ensemble’s founding Artistic Director. He holds an MFA in Directing and Dramaturgy from the Chicago College of Performing Arts. Andrew worked with Bread and Puppet Theatre (2001) and was the Artistic Director for three professional seasons aboard the Showboat Becky Thatcher Theater in Marietta, Ohio (1998-2000). Andrew’s original production, Seashore, was nominated for three Jeff Citations including “Ensemble” and “New Work” (2002). His credits include Circus Crashers at Actors Gym, a spectacle for the Lollapalooza music festival (2005), Cirque Shanghai at Navy Piers Skyline Stage (2006 & 2007) and Bai Xi at the Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City. He also directed Quest’s European Tour of Blue Nativity (2007) and conceived and directed Quest’s The People’s History of the United States which was nominated for two Jeff Citations including “New Work” (2008) and Evolution/Creation nominated for five Jeff Citations including “New Work” and “Direction” (2010). He is currently serving as Artistic Director for the John G. Shedd Aquarium.

Tobi Mattingly (Music Director/Conductor) previously music directed Little Shop of Horrors and The People's History of the United States for Quest Theatre Ensemble. She has served as director, music director, actor and singer for groups all over the region, including The Shedd Aquarium, Theatre Building Chicago, NightBlue, Broadway Baby Dinner Theatre (Milwaukee), Moraine VAlley Theatre for Young Audiences, Circle Theatre, Village Players, the Beverly Theatre Guild and The Caroling Party. Tobi works as a teaching artist with American Theatre Company's Mosaic and Bridge programs and previously with Improv Playhouse, Bucktown Music, the Beverly Arts Center and at various schools around Chicagoland. She has spent the past two summers directing plays and musicals at Long Lake Camp for the Arts in upstate New York. Tobi also donates her acting and musical abilities at her church, Harvest Bible Chapel.

The cast of The People's Barnum includes: Jason Bowen (P.T. Barnum) who is a founding member of Quest Theatre Ensemble and been seen in productions including The Wizard of Oz, The Drunkard and A Kiss From Alexander (Jeff nominated); Erin Daly (Joice Heth) who makes her Quest debut and has worked with MidTangent Productions and Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre; David Hathaway (Ringmaster/Bailey) who has performed with Milwaukee Rep, Casa Manana, and New Orleans Fringe; Kyle Kuhlman (Tom Thumb) who makes his Quest debut and has also performed with Street Tempo Theatre; Rachel Sparrow (Jenny Lind) who is currently studying for her Master's of Opera Performance at Northwestern; Laura Sturm (Chairy Barnum) who has performed with Remy Bumppo, Northlight, Provision, Signal Ensemble, Bailiwick and Mary-Arrchie; and Tamara White (Blues Singer) who makes her Quest debut. Kelly Amshoff, John Gurdian, JamAl Howard, Michael Lewis, Amy Malcom, Amber Lee Olivier, Annie Sheehan and Brett Taylor comprise the ensemble.

The The People's Barnum staff includes: David Leef (Choreographer), Nick Rupard (Scenic and Puppet Designer), Emma Weber (Costume Designer), Mike Nardulli (Lighting Designer), Scott Leigh Neilson and Hubert Campbell (Sound Designers), Jason Bowen (Production Manager), Charles Worth (Rehearsal Accompanist), Christina Huff (Stage Manager), Julie Taylor (Scenic Artist), and Anna Wegerson and Mollie Wegerson (Asst. Stage Managers).

Quest Theatre Ensemble
Quest was awarded its first Non-Equity Jeff Award (in the category of Artistic Specialization) for its 2010 production of Evolution/Creation. Evolution/Creation garnered Quest four additional
nominations in the categories of Production – Musical, Director – Musical, New Work, and Music Direction. Quest Theatre was also nominated for the 2008-2009 Non-Equity Jeff Award for New Work for its 2008 production, People’s History of the United States.

Quest Theatre Ensemble is dedicated to being the People’s Theater of Chicago. Whether in reverent procession down the gothic aisles of a quiet sanctuary, parading festively through the crowded streets of Chicago, or creating magical spectacles from behind the footlights on the stage - Quest creates visual and meaningful productions that "Inform, Delight, Inspire and Unite." Committed to making theatre accessible to everyone, the Ensemble chooses stories that have universal appeal and finds innovative ways to engage the community.

Quest believes in non-exclusionary art, and therefore does not charge for their productions.
Celebrating its 10th season with The People’s Barnum, Quest's spectacle performances feature their unique style of puppetry, whimsical humor and poignant message of art for everyone in every production. Former Mayor Richard Daley described Quest as, “The theatre with a conscience!”

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