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New Holiday Musical Event LIGHT IT UP! Premieres At Cleveland Play House

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Light It Up! is a new, holly-jolly musical event that features original pop, rock, gospel, and jazz holiday tunes and new arrangements of traditional Christmas carols.

New Holiday Musical Event LIGHT IT UP! Premieres At Cleveland Play House

Cleveland Play House presents the world premiere of Light It Up!, a family-friendly musical extravaganza written and composed by Jason Michael Webb and Lelund Durond Thompson.

Directed and choreographed by Christopher Windom, the production running now through December 22, 2021 in the Allen Theatre and features Florrie Bagel, Kristina Gabriela, Matt Gittins, Brennyn Lark, Terica Marie, Gustavo Márquez, Benjamin H. Moore, Christopher B. Portley, Helen Marla White, and Mariama Whyte. Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.clevelandplayhouse.com.

Light It Up! is a new, holly-jolly musical event that features original pop, rock, gospel, and jazz holiday tunes and new arrangements of traditional Christmas carols. The piece began as a series of original songs and arrangements of Christmas carols composed by Jason Michael Webb for "Broadway's Carols for a Cure," a special project to support Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Co-creator Jason Michael Webb says, "I used [the Carols for the Cure project] as a writing exercise; it was an opportunity to work with new people - a cast from a new world." Webb worked with several artists from various Broadway casts that contributed original tunes for the project. He wrote the song "Light it Up" for the Broadway cast of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Webb says, "After a few years, we had accumulated a number of these songs...we always wanted to string them together into a show that would uplift and encourage people."

Co-creator Lelund Durond Thompson says, "Coming out of the last year with the pandemic where we have been isolated and where we've not had the opportunity to feel, inspire, connect - we really wanted to create a piece that spoke to the need for us to really enjoy living life." Thompson says, "Loss is something I am very sensitive to, and we've gone through a year where so many people experienced loss for the first time. We didn't want to ignore what we've all gone through as a community. We've created something that feels new, fresh, and unapologetically inclusive."

Director Christopher Windom shares, "...it's a Christmas show, and it is fun and touching. Where we are at this time in this moment in this year, I can't think of anything that would be more meaningful than a dose of delight during the holiday season." Windom continues, "It is not without its messages and manifestos, but the greater part of it is delightful fun. I'm a firm believer that in the specific, you can find the universal. Something as specific as a religious holiday - Christmas - within that is the opportunity to see the universal, which is people coming together, loving each other, experiencing peace, and experiencing joy. It allows people to see themselves in it."

Webb and Thompson worked together on CPH's 2020 virtual concert, "Songs from The First Noel." Thompson is a 2006 graduate of the Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House (CWRU/CPH) MFA Acting Program and appeared in the 2014 New Ground Theatre Festival production of Joe. Webb created musical arrangements for CPH's 2018 production of Marie & Rosetta.

The three collaborators recently worked together on the Aretha Franklin biopic, Respect, starring Jennifer Hudson. Directed by award-winning director Liesl Tommy, Thompson served as an acting coach, Webb served as executive music producer, and Windom served as choreographer.

CPH Artistic Director Laura Kepley shares, "Light it Up! is a musical holiday spectacular set in a fictional village, where the spirit of Christmas is upheld every day. 'Lighting it up' refers not just to a Christmas tree, but to everyday actions we can take to make other people feel lighter, brighter and happier." Kepley says, "Part pageant, part musical revue, the show draws from the Christian faith and traditional Christmas songs as well as other religious traditions from around the world, folk tales, and secular practices that bring light into the darkest time of the year. The cast and musicians are incredible. You will relish the classic holiday standards and you will sing the new holiday songs as if they had been part of your tradition for decades. I am so thrilled to bring this new holiday musical event to Cleveland when it feels like we need it the most."

Leading the on-stage orchestra is Musical Director Keith Williams, who serves as conductor and keyboardist. On the stage, Williams is joined by Matthew Dolan on keyboard, Joseph Rangel on guitar, Charise Grimes on bass, and Aaron Smith on percussion.

Light It Up! was developed with support of the Roe Green Fund for New American Plays. Light It Up! is sponsored by The Kulas Foundation.

Tickets to Light It Up! range from $15 to $95. Performances run now through December 22, 2021 in the Allen Theatre from Tuesday through Sunday. ASL-interpreted and open-captioned performances available on select dates. Virtual streaming accessibility is also available. For the full schedule of performance, further details on accessibility, and to purchase tickets please visit: www.clevelandplayhouse.com.


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