Monday, March 27
THE YEAR’S MOST ANTICIPATED CONCERT!
CHICAGO SINGS BROADWAY POP
Monday, March 27, 2023
House of Blues Chicago, 329 N. Dearborn St.
Direction by Michael Weber+ & Frankie Leo Bennett+
Music Direction by David Fiorello+
With Guy Adkins Award Recipient Rick Boynton+
Event Chairs: Michelle* & Steve+ Cucchiaro
VIEW THE PROGRAM
Chicago Sings Artists
CAST: Neala Barron*, Molly Callinan*, Elisa Carlson*, Devin DeSantis+, Julia Fleckenstein*, Ricky Harris+, Matthew Hunter+, Angela Ingersoll*, Becky Keeshin*, Ivory Leonard+, Eric Lewis+, Christine Mild*, Andrew Mueller+, Juwon Tyrel Perry+, Alexis J. Roston*, Billy Rude+, Laura Savage*, Sawyer Smith^, Bethany Thomas*, A.D. Weaver+, Shaun White+ and Aeriel Williams*.
Read on below for cast bios. Cast subject to change without notice.
STUDENT PERFORMERS: Ethan Arnold+, Arwen Ghaffar*, Aalexi Gonzalez+, Xiol Hernandez+, Gabe Lockhart+, Jocelyn Suastegui*
MUSICIANS: Conductor/Keyboard David Fiorello+, Bass Jackson Kidder+, Guitar Kelan M. Smith+, Piano Linda Madonia*, Percussion Cami Mennitte*, Featured Instrumentalist/Sax Matthew Beck+, Featured Instrumentalist/Trumpet Monica Benson*
About Chicago Sings – The Annual Fundraising Concert
Chicago Sings is Porchlight’s signature fundraising concert, featuring live performances by Chicago music theatre’s best-loved artists, the presentation of the 2023 Guy Adkins Award for Excellence in the Advancement of Music Theatre in Chicago and more. Chicago Sings returns in 2023 for Chicago Sings Broadway Pop.
Since its earliest days, songs that have appeared on Broadway have crossed over to the music charts and popular songs heard on the radio have found their way to Broadway stages. In 2023, Chicago Sings Broadway Pop celebrates these Broadway musicals with an eclectic night of songs from such shows as Chess, Dreamgirls, Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia!, 9 to 5 and many more.
All Chicago Sings proceeds benefit our youth education, artistic and community outreach programs — support that advances Porchlight’s resilience and commitment to illuminating the past, present and future of music theatre.
Two Ways to Experience Chicago Sings
Chicago Sings Broadway Pop offers attendees two ways for patrons to participate in this unforgettable night:
“One Night Only” Experience — $150-175
The “One Night Only” Experience includes main floor seating or in the boxes of the House of Blues and access to the VIP cocktail hour before the performance.
“Oh, What a Night” Experience — $50
The “Oh, What a Night” Experience, hosted by the Porchlight Young Professionals, includes balcony seating in the House of Blues.
Tickets are now on sale! For sponsorship information, please contact Evin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2023 Guy Adkins Award Recipient
Porchlight Music Theatre is proud to announce the Chicago Sings Broadway Pop 2023 Guy Adkins Award for Excellence in the Advancement of Music Theatre in Chicago recipient, Rick Boynton+ of Chicago Shakespeare Theater!
Rick Boynton+ is the Creative Producer at Chicago Shakespeare Theater where he focuses on current and future artistic planning and production with an emphasis on developing new musicals, plays, and adaptations.
Boynton was instrumental in Chicago Shakespeare’s North American premiere production of SIX, which went on to engagements at American Repertory Theater, The Citadel Theatre and The Ordway Center of Performing Arts—before opening on Broadway in New York at the newly renamed Lena Horne Theatre, garnering the Tony Award for Best Original Score, the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, and a Grammy Award nomination.
Additional premieres include: The Notebook (CST), It Came From Outer Space (CST, TheatreSquared), As You Like It infused with the music of The Beatles (CST, Milwaukee Rep), The Book of Joseph (CST, Everyman Theatre, Off Broadway as The Lucky Star), Ride the Cyclone (CST, MCC, 5th Avenue/ACT, Alliance Theatre), Sense and Sensibility (CST, Old Globe), Cadre (co-director) (CST, Johannesburg, Grahamstown, Edinburgh, Vancouver), A Flea in Her Ear (CST, Williamstown Theatre Festival), The Three Musketeers (CST, Boston, London), The Emperor’s New Clothes (CST, Sydney), The Adventures of Pinocchio (CST, London), and Murder for Two (CST, New York). He has worked extensively with the Q Brothers Collective to create internationally acclaimed hip hop adaptations, including Othello: The Remix (CST, London, Germany, Edinburgh, South Korea, New York), Funk It Up About Nothin’ (CST, Edinburgh, Australian tour, London), and Q Brothers Christmas Carol.
Former artistic director of the Marriott Theatre and multiple Jeff Award-winning actor, Boynton has starred in numerous productions nationally, including CST’s production of A Flea in Her Ear as Camille (Jeff Award, After Dark Award). As a casting director at Jane Alderman Casting, projects included: the television series Early Edition, Missing Persons, Untouchables, and ER; the films While You Were Sleeping and Hoodlum, among others; and numerous national tours. He has lectured at his alma mater Northwestern University and is the former president of the board of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre.
The Guy Adkins Award for Excellence in the Advancement of Music Theatre in Chicago
For more than 10 years, Porchlight Music Theatre celebrates an individual who has made an exceptional and lasting contribution to the state of the art of Chicago music theatre, with the prestigious Guy Adkins Award. Guy Adkins was an award-winning Chicago actor who passed away in 2010. Among his significant stage credits were Oklahoma! Windy City and A Funny Thing Happened… at Marriott Theatre; The Taming of the Shrew at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre; Pericles, Twelfth Night, The Invention of Love and the title role in Hamlet at Court Theatre; The Time of Your Life at Steppenwolf and the world premieres of the musicals The Return of Martin Guerre and The Visit, both at The Goodman Theatre. The Chicago Sun-Times called Adkins, “…a smart and invariably graceful actor” and The New York Times called him “outrageously talented” for his turn at “Puck” in A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at the McCarter Theatre in New Jersey. Porchlight commemorates Adkins’ spirit and life with this annual award and celebrates the many gifts he shared with our theatre community and the world.
Past recipients include: 2022 – Jim Corti+, 2021 – Felicia P. Fields*, 2019 – Gary Griffin+, 2018 – Brenda Didier*, 2017 – Rachel Rockwell*, 2016 – E. Faye Butler*, 2015 – Dominic Missimi+, 2014 – Paula Scrofano*, 2013 – Douglas Peck+, 2012 – Hollis Resnik>, 2011 – L. Walter Stearns+
Cast & Creative Bios
Michael Weber+ is the Artistic Director of Porchlight Music Theatre. 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 Sunset Boulevard, Sweeney Todd, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Pal Joey, Assassins and Side Show here, as well as 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-Musical. 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 wrote and directed nine Joseph Jefferson Awards ceremonies (2009-2018). 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, and is author of the play, WAR of the WELLeS.
Frankie Leo Bennett+ is honored to return to directing at Porchlight Music Theatre but is no stranger to the PMT family, having appeared in In the Heights, New Faces Sing Broadway 1985 and Porchlight Revisits 1776 and will be directing the upcoming New Faces Sing Broadway 1971. Bennett is also a teaching artist for Porchlight Education Classes and was featured guest contributor to “Movie Musical Mondays” and “Sondheim @ 90” and serves on the PMT Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Regional direction: PUNKASS PASTRY (Independent Workshop), THE GOLDEN GIRLS: THE LOST EPISODES (Assoc. Director). Acting: Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, Kokandy Productions, Hell in a Handbag Productions. He is also a playwright/composer, recently with RESIDENT SERVICES: A CROSSED-UP ANIMAL MUSICAL. www.frankieleobennett.com
David Fiorello+ is a music director, performer, director, composer and arranger who’s no stranger to Porchlight. He has served as music director most recently for Porchlight Revisits The Apple Tree and previously for Porchlight’s Blues in the Night, Gypsy, Do Re Mi, Woman of the Year, several seasons of New Faces Sing Broadway as well as several Chicago Sings and ICONS Gala benefits. He also appeared onstage as “Joe” in Merrily We Roll Along. Fiorello currently serves as founder and artistic director of “The Beautiful City Project,” a theatre company committed to raising funds for local Chicago charities and nonprofits, using some of the city’s finest musical theatre talents. He’s music directed national and international tours, including John Doyle’s re-imagining of Sweeney Todd. He also served as music director for the Off-Broadway hit Danny & Sylvia: The Danny Kaye Musical. His orchestrations and arrangements have been heard across the nation, and on several albums. He’s taught and directed/music directed as part of the International Lyric Academy in Italy and is adjunct faculty at Columbia College Chicago. An in-demand vocal coach, Fiorello Studios has also provided unique cabaret programming featuring the music of The Indigo Girls, Jason Mraz, Kelly Clarkson, Eva Cassidy, Sara Bareilles and Colbie Caillat. For more information on Fiorello’s background, visit www.thebeautifulcityproject.com and www.fiorellostudios.com.
Neala Barron* can be currently seen in Porchlight’s Cabaret and previously: Merrily We Roll Along, A Funny Thing.., and Chicago Sings. Other favorite credits: 110 In the Shade (Jeff Nom.), Marie Christine (Boho Theatre); Botticelli in the Fire (First Floor Theater); Queen of the Mist (Firebrand Theatre); Ragtime, Titanic (Griffin Theatre Company); Adding Machine (The Hypocrites); Hello Again (Theo Ubique); Assassins, The Full Monty (Kokandy Productions), and more. TV credits include Chicago Med (NBC), Night Sky (Amazon).
Molly Callinan* is an electric, Chicago based pop/rock singer who has captivated audiences all over the world. She got her start as a kid, knocking on her neighbors doors asking for money in return for a song. Molly turned her little business into a career! She’s been in multiple theatre productions. You may have seen her tearing up the stage as lead singer of the popular, all girl, rock band CATFIGHT. Molly has also been touring/singing for the troops with Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band for 10 years. She currently has her own band called Too Much Molly Band. Molly is known for her killer vocals, her over the top stage presence, her ability to connect with her audience, and her amazing costumes.
Elisa Carlson* is thrilled to be sharing the stage with such a phenomenal ensemble of talented humans! Elisa is a 20-year veteran of the piano bar scene, both in Chicago and around the world. Chicago credits include: Once (Writers Theatre), Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (American Blues Theater), Once (Paramount Theatre), Peter and the Starcatcher (Metropolis Performing Arts Center), One Man, Two Guvnors (Court Theatre), Pop Waits (Neo-Futurists), and American Idiot (The Hypocrites). Catch Elisa in Porchlight’s upcoming production of Ernest Shackleton Loves Me! www.elisacarlsonmusic.com
Devin DeSantis+ was seen as “Buddy” in Side Show and in Porchlight Revisits Can-Can (Porchlight Music Theatre). Other credits: “Charlie” in Kinky Boots, “Prince Eric” in The Little Mermaid, “Tommy” in The Who’s Tommy (Jeff Nomination), “Marius” in Les Miserables (Jeff Nomination) and currently as “Rapunzel’s Prince” in Into the Woods (Paramount Theatre), “Frank Churchill” in Emma (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre), “Britt Craig/Young Soldier” in Parade (Writers Theatre), “Frederick Frankenstein” in Young Frankenstein (Drury Lane). He is a singer with Bluewater Kings Band here in Chicago and a member of The Four C Notes: A Tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
Julia Fleckenstein* is so excited to be performing with Porchlight! BFA in Musical Theater (Dance Emphasis) from the Chicago College of Performing Arts 2021. Originally from Dallas, TX! Some favorite Chicago performances include: A Chorus Line, Can-Can, Anything Goes. Regional: Newsies (Casa Mañana) Film: “Cassie” (Chicago St-ART), “Promise of the Butterfly” (Amazon Prime). IG @jflecki. Love & gratitude <3.
Matthew Hunter+ was in Porchlight’s Dreamgirls (“C.C. White” understudy) and New Faces Sing Broadway 2001. Other credits include Theo Ubique: Godspell (Ensemble), Songs For a New World (Man 2), Black Ensemble Theater: Men of Soul. Evanston/Skokie: 10 years in choral music education and current Director of Choirs at Niles West High School in Skokie, IL. Singer and songwriter; named one of the North Shore’s “Top talents, art influencers, and dazzling performers” in Modern Luxury NS magazine (2016). Assistant Music Director: Musical Theater Intensive (Goodman).
Angela Ingersoll* received Chicago’s Jeff Award starring as “Judy Garland” in Porchlight’s End of the Rainbow. Reprising the role, she won Los Angeles Times’ “Woman of the Year in Theatre”. Ingersoll was Emmy Award nominated for her performance in Get Happy: Angela Ingersoll Sings Judy Garland on PBS, currently touring live in concert. She is Artistic Director of Artists Lounge Live, co-founded with husband Michael Ingersoll. The company creates and produces concerts nationwide. Artistsloungelive.com
Becky Keeshin* – Credits include: Nunsense, New Faces Sing NOW, Chicago Sings Stephen Sondheim (Porchlight Music Theatre), ShakesFest! (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Fiddler on the Roof (Lyric Opera of Chicago), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shrew’d (First Folio), 33 to Nothing, Killing Game (Red Orchid) Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins (Strawdog). Indecent (CATCO), Tuck Everlasting, Mockingbird, Auntie Claus (Nashville Children’s Theatre). Graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University. Proud member of AEA and represented by DDO Artists Agency.
Ivory Leonard+ is elated to join the company of this year’s Chicago Sings at Porchlight. He is an multi award-winning artist, CEO & founder of SANKOFA1619, a published author, and yoga Instructor. He has made appearances at top regional and opera theatres in the Midwest, and trained at renown dance company PHILADANCO. His recent children’s books are entitled: “Who Can I Be?” and “Where Can I Go?”. IG: @ivoryleonard & @sankofa1619. Be the change you seek.
Eric A. Lewis+ is excited to be returning to Porchlight Music Theatre where he was last seen as Tom Collins in RENT and previously as “Jimmy Early” in Dreamgirls (Jeff Award). Other credits include “Simon”/”Judas” standby in the national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar; Spamilton (Original Chicago Cast); Five Guys Named Moe (Court Theater). Eric would like to thank God and his family for their continued love and support for which he is immensely grateful.
Christine Mild* is a 19-year member of Actors’ Equity and graduated from Northwestern University’s Theatre program. Christine starred in Porchlight Revisits The Rink alongside Chicago icon Hollis Resnik. She recently performed her Patsy Cline tribute show Back in Baby’s Arms in Key West, FL, headlined with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and performs regularly with multiple bands: The BlueWater Kings, The Yacht Rock-ettes and Martin & Mild, a folk duo. Her debut album, “Love Is Everything,” is available on all online music platforms.
Andrew Mueller+ is embarking upon his Porchlight debut (after having done various concerts and benefits) with Chicago Sings and starring in the upcoming Ernest Shackleton Loves Me. Notable Chicago productions include: Peter in Jesus Christ Superstar (Lyric Opera), Mark in RENT (Paramount), Man of La Mancha (Marriott Lincolnshire), Shakespeare In Love (Chicago Shakespeare), Almost Heaven: John Denver’s America (Theatre At The Center), A Christmas Carol (Drury Lane Oakbrook), Wonderland: Alice’s Rock & Roll Adventure (Chicago Children’s Theater). Jeff Award for Huck Finn in Big River (BoHo Theatre Ensemble). Off-Broadway: Prentiss in Peter And The Starcatcher (New World Stages), Alice By Heart (MCC). Regional: My Paris (Long Wharf), Some Lovers (Old Globe & Adirondack Theatre Festival), Baskerville (Cardinal Stage). You can catch him performing with his band, The Red Roses, in and around Chicago. www.theredrosesband.com
Juwon Tyrel Perry+ is a genre-bending, multidisciplinary artist, who hails from Osceola, Arkansas. Juwon has had the opportunity to perform on stages from: North Carolina Theatre, Court Theater, Paramount Theater, Geva Theatre, Marriott Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare and many more. Juwon owes his love of music to his late father; Joe Charles Perry Jr., who himself was a musician whose musical taste knew no genre. Love galore to his family and guardian angels; “ya’ll are the music in me!” IG: @juwontyrelperry
Alexis J. Roston* is an award winner (Jeff, Black Excellence and Black Theatre Alliance) for her portrayal of “Billie Holiday” in Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar And Grill (Porchlight). Other Chicago credits include: Sister Act (Mercury), Hair (Paramount), Crowns (Goodman), For Colored Girls… (Court), What I Learned In Paris, (Congo Square) and Company, (Writers). Her T.V. credits include ”The Chi” and “Chicago PD”. Alexis is a proud member of Congo Square Theatre, Actor’s Equity and Sag-Aftra, represented by Paonessa Talent.
Billy Rude+ – Credits include: Sunset Boulevard, Pump Boys & Dinettes, They’re Playing Our Song (Porchlight) Others include Grease, Murder For Two (Marriott Theatre), Beauty and The Beast (Drury Lane Oakbrook), Blue Heaven (Black Ensemble Theatre), Million Dollar Quartet (Broadway Nat’l Tour, South Coast Repertory, Laguna Playhouse, others). BroadwayWorld Los Angeles Award Nomination (Best Performer in A Musical), Jeff Award Nomination (Best Supporting Performer In A Musical). Music, art, and more @billy_rude and www.billyrude.com
Laura Savage* recently choreographed RENT for Porchlight Music Theatre as well as Cruel Intentions at Kokandy Productions, and Zorro at Music Theatre Works. She has associate choreographed and dance captained at such venues as: Marriott Theatre, Paramount Theatre and Drury Lane Theatre. Laura is a Jeff nominated actress and has performed in over 35 Chicago productions including A Chorus Line, Call Me Madam and Pal Joey here at Porchlight Music Theatre. Laura also appeared on and choreographed for Fox’s hit show “EMPIRE”.
Sawyer Smith^ is thrilled to be back with Porchlight! Sawyer has appeared in Porchlight concerts including Chicago Sings Rock and Roll Broadway. Sawyer was also recently seen in the Pre-Broadway tryout of The Devil Wears Prada. Other Chicago Credits: Steppenwolf Theater, Paramount Theater, Mercury Theater, Drury Lane Theater, Marriott Theater, Chicago Shakespeare, The Inconvenience. A Graduate of The Chicago College of Performing Arts. Live in your Truth! Thanks to family, Ben, and friends for their love and support! Follow them @thesawyersmith.
Bethany Thomas (she/her) is a Chicago-based singer, actor and writer known for work at Writers Theater (Once, Into The Woods, A Moon For The Misbegotten), Northlight Theater (Songs For Nobodies), The Goodman (A Christmas Carol), Teatro ZinZanni, Chicago Shakespeare (The Tempest), Porchlight Music Theatre (Marry Me A Little), Court Theater (Porgy and Bess), Milwaukee Rep (The Color Purple, Ragtime). Bethany’s original music is available on iTunes, Bandcamp, Spotify and everywhere else. @bethanyt80
A.D. Weaver+ has been seen at Drury Lane (Elf The Musical, Forever Plaid) Portland Center Stage (RENT) Phoenix Theater Company (The Color Purple), Drury Lane Fireside Theatre (The Buddy Holly Story), Mirrorbox Theater (His Shadow), Mercury Theater Chicago (Avenue Q, Little Shop of Horrors), Playhouse Stage Co. NY (Ragtime), Court Theater (Five Guys Named Moe), Children’s Theater of Madison (Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane), Black Ensemble Theater (Holiday Extravaganza, Teddy Pendergrass Story), Cardinal Stage Co. (A Year with Frog and Toad), ETA Theater (Migration). Television: “Southside: (HBO).
Shaun White+ was most recently seen in Porchlight Music Theatre’s Cabaret and spent this past Halloween season touring with Ginger Minj in her Hocus Pocus drag show! Chicago: Priscilla Queen of the Desert (Mercury Theater). Other: La Cage Aux Folles, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Crazy For You, A Christmas Story, A Chorus Line. Education: CCPA; BFA in Musical Theatre: Dance. He would like to thank his family and friends for their constant love and support! Enjoy the show! instagram: @shaun_white11, drag instagram: @missariahard
Aeriel Williams* is ecstatic to do Chicago Sings Broadway Pop with Porchlight Music Theatre, where she was last seen as “Felicia Ferrell” in Memphis. Credits include Off-Broadway: Trevor the Musical! Regional: Oedipus Rex, Gospel at Colonus, Antigone (Court Theater), “Dyanne” in Million Dollar Quartet (Theater at the Center), “Diana Ross” in Women of Soul and “Young Josephine” in Josephine Baker: The Black Pearl (Black Ensemble Theater). Television: “The Chi,” “Empire”. Aeriel would like to thank her family, friends, educators, and mentors for all their love and support! Psalms 91. Social Media: @MonAerie.
Pronoun/Other Key: + (he/him/his); * (she/her/hers); ^ (they, them, theirs); = (any with respect); > (deceased)