PORCHLIGHT MUSIC THEATRE ANNOUNCES CAST AND CREATIVE TEAM FOR ITS FIRST PRODUCTION OF 2018, STEPHEN SONDHEIM’S MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG
JANUARY 26 – MARCH 11 AT THE RUTH PAGE CENTER FOR THE ARTS
The Landmark Sondheim Musical that Charts the Highs and Lows of a Relationship Among Three Very Close Friends is Directed by Artistic Director Michael Weber with Artistic Associate Christopher Pazdernik as Associate Director and Music Direction by Aaron Benham
CHICAGO – Porchlight Music Theatre is proud to announce the next mainstage production it its 2017 – 2018 season Merrily We Roll Along, January 26 – March 11, 2018, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by George Furth, with direction by Porchlight Music Theatre Artistic Director Michael Weber, associate direction and musical staging by Porchlight Music Theatre Artistic Associate Christopher Pazdernik and music direction by Aaron Benham at Porchlght’s home, the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn Street. Merrily We Roll Along is based on the play by the same name written by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. Previews are Friday, Jan. 26 at 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 27 at 8 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 28 at 2 p.m. and Monday, Jan. 29 at 7:30 p.m. Opening night is Tuesday, Jan. 30 at 7:30 p.m. The regular run performance schedule is Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. (March 4 and March 11) and 6 p.m. (February 4, February 11, February 18 and February 25) with a weekday matinee Thursday, March 8 at 1:30 p.m. There is no 4 p.m. performance Saturday, Feb. 3 and no 7:30 p.m. performance on Thursday, March 8. Tickets are $33 – $60 and are available at PorchlightMusicTheatre.org or by calling the Porchlight Music Theatre box office, 773.777.9884.
Set over three decades of friendship and business, the landmark musical Merrily We Roll Along charts the highs and lows of a relationship among three very close friends. Starting from adulthood and traveling back in time to the idealistic intentions of youth, this powerful and emotionally moving story of looking at your life from the vantage point of having lived it features some of Stephen Sondheim’s best known songs including “Good Thing Going,” “Not a Day Goes By” and “Old Friends.”
The cast of Merrily We Roll Along includes Porchlight Music Theatre Artistic Associate Matt Crowle (Charley Kringas), Jim DeSelm (Franklin Shephard), Neala Barron (Mary Flynn), Keely Vasquez (Gussie Carnegie), David Fiorello (Joe Josephson), Aja Wiltshire (Beth), and ensemble including Kyrie Anderson (Make-up Artist), Larry Baldacci (Mr. Spencer), Katherine Condit (Scotty), Christopher Davis (Terry), Andrés Enriquez (Tyler), Frederick Harris (Jerome), Michelle Jasso (K.T.), Bernell Lassai (Bunker / TV Newsman), Cisco Lopez (Floor Monitor / Minister), Alana Lovely (Meg / TV Newswoman), Khaki Pixley (Dory / Girl Auditioning), Jonathan Stombres (Ru/ Nightclub Pianist), Liz Norton (Mrs. Spencer) and Zachary Fewkes and Asher Schenk alternating the role of Franklin Shepard, Jr.
Musicians for Merrily We Roll Along include Tony Scandora (percussion), Jackson Kidder (bass), Matt Beck (reeds #1: flute, oboe, clarinet, alto sax), Lara Regan (reeds #2: clarinet, alto sax, tenor sax, bass clarinet), Jered Montgomery (trumpet) and Matt Kowalski (trombone).
Members of the creative/production team of Merrily We Roll Along include Michael Weber (director), Christopher Pazdernik (associate director/musical staging), Aaron Benham (music Director, conductor, pianist), Bill Morey (costume designer), Anthony Churchill (projection designer), Jeff Kmiec (co-scenic designer), Greg Pinsoneault (co-scenic designer), Robert Hornbostel (sound designer), Rachel West (master electrician), Alex Rhyan (production manager), Johnnie Schleyer (technical director) and Matt McMullen (stage manager).
ABOUT MICHAEL WEBER, DIRECTOR
Michael Weber is the artistic director of Porchlight Music Theatre where, under his leadership, the company has received the Best Production Equity Jeff Award for the past five years. He previously served as artistic director for the inaugural season of Drury Lane Theatre Water Tower Place (now The Broadway Playhouse) and at Theatre at the Center (1998-2004). His productions of End of the Rainbow, Sweeney Todd, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Pal Joey, Assassins and Side Show at Porchlight Music Theatre, Grand Hotel at Drury Lane Theatre Water Tower Place and She Loves Me at Theatre at the Center were each nominated for the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Production. Directing credits include Living the History-125 Years of The Auditorium Theatre starring Patti LuPone and John Mahoney, Fifth of July and Talley’s Folly at the Oak Park Festival Theatre, The Petrified Forest at Theatre at the Center, Beauty and the Beast at Marriott Theatre, Over the River and Through the Woods at The Mercury Theater, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at Pheasant Run Theatre and Cirque du Symphony at Sears Center Arena. The recipient of two Joseph Jefferson Awards, he has written and directed the past twelve Joseph Jefferson Awards ceremonies. Weber’s regional acting credits include Annie Get Your Gun and Gypsy (both starring Patti LuPone) at Ravinia, Disney’s My Son Pinocchio at First Stage Milwaukee, Around the World in 80 Days at Cleveland Playhouse, The Winter’s Tale and Henry V at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, It Had To Be You (starring Cindy Williams and Eddie Mekka) at Little Theatre on the Square, Angel Street at First Folio Shakespeare and The Gifts of the Magi at Indiana Repertory. Weber is proud to serve as a pledge host on WTTW, Channel 11.
ABOUT CHRISTOPHER PAZDERNIK, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR/MUSICAL STAGING
Christopher Pazdernik is a director/choreographer with “a near encyclopedic knowledge of musicals” (Newcity). At Porchlight Music Theatre, Pazdernik is a proud artistic associate and has directed and choreographed numerous Porchlight Revisits including The Rink, Anyone Can Whistle, City of Angels and Applause and co-curated the Porchlight New Faces Sing Broadway series. He is best known for the critically acclaimed production of High Fidelity (Jeff Awards for Best Director and Best Production of a Musical) at Refuge Theatre Project, where he also serves as artistic director. Recent credits include Carrie (Ohio Northern University), Wicked City (Chicago Theatre Workshop), Planted (Chicago Musical Theatre Festival), Make Me a Song (Eclectic Theatre Co.) and Story of A Story (The Untold Story) (Underscore Theater Co.). He is also a frequent cabaret director and curator, including Broadway’s Cult Classics at Davenport’s Piano Bar and the His & His series at Pride Films & Plays. An openly HIV+ artist, Pazdernik was also a 2016 Windy City Times 30-Under-30 honoree for his contributions to Chicago’s LGBTQ community and currently serves on the Ambassador Committee for the AIDS Run/Walk Chicago and as chairperson on the Community Advisory Board for Howard Brown Health, one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ organizations.
ABOUT AARON BENHAM, MUSIC DIRECTOR/CONDUCTOR/PIANIST
Aaron Benham is a local music director, conductor, arranger and composer and has previously worked with Porchlight as music director for Side Show and Putting it Together. Other Chicago credits include The Sweet Smell of Success (Kokandy Productions), The Wild Party (Jeff Award), Carrie, Dessa Rose (Bailiwick Chicago); Melancholy Play (Piven); We Three Lizas (About Face); Always Patsy Cline, revues of Marvin Hamlisch, the Andrews Sisters (Jeff Award), Cole Porter, Jule Styne (Theo-Ubique); Parade, Gypsy (Harper College); as well as work with American Theatre Company, Chicago Opera Theatre, the New Colony, Northlight, Timeline and Writers Theatre.
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.
ABOUT PORCHLIGHT MUSIC THEATRE
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 “Write Your Own Musical” Summer Camp in 2017. The company’s many accolades include 17 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).