April 19, 2018 – June 16, 2018 (2017 – 2018 Season)
Music and Lyrics by David Bryan
Book and Lyrics by Joe DiPietro
Direction by Daryl Brooks
Co-Choreography and Assistant Direction by Chris Carter
Music Direction by Jermaine Hill
Assistant Choreography by Reneisha Jenkins
From the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis, Tennessee, comes the Tony Award winning Best Musical that bursts off the stage with explosive dancing, irresistible songs and a thrilling tale of fame and forbidden love. Inspired by actual events, Memphis is the story of a white radio DJ who wants to change the world and a black club singer who is ready for her big break. Their incredible journey to the ends of the airwaves is filled with laughter, soaring emotion and a roof-raising musical score by David Bryan of the band Bon Jovi.
STEPHEN “BLU” ALLEN (Wailin’ Joe) is excited to be returning to Porchlight Music Theatre where he was previously seen in In The Heights and The Scottsboro Boys. Other previous credits include Jesus Christ Superstar (Paramount), Five Guys Named Moe (Court Theatre), and Violet (Griffin Theatre). He hopes the audience will be moved by this show. Stephen is represented by Paonessa Talent’
SHANTEL CRIBBS (Ethel) is excited to make her debut with Porchlight Music Theatre. Cribbs has appeared in Hairspray (Windy City Music Theatre) and Marie Christine (BoHo Theatre). She has worked with Chet Walker, Bill Hastings and Kyle Pleasant at Jacob’s Pillow, where she performed in A Jazz Happening at the Ted Shawn Theatre. Cribbs is originally from Clinton Township, Michigan and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Musical Theatre Performance at Columbia College Chicago.
GILBERT DOMALLY (Gator) is excited to be returning to Porchlight Music Theatre where he was last seen in Dreamgirls. Other select Chicago credits include: Hairspray, Little Mermaid, Jesus Christ Superstar, Elf, and Cabaret (Paramount Theatre), Madagascar (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre), Next to Normal (BoHo Theatre) and Dessa Rose and Wild Party (Bailiwick Theatre). Gilbert is grateful to God, and his family and friends for the unending support.
RYAN DOOLEY (White DJ/Mr. Collins/White Father/Gordon Grant) is thrilled to make his Porchlight Music Theatre debut with Memphis! Select Chicago credits include: “Bert” in Mary Poppins (NightBlue), “Robert Martin” in The Drowsy Chaperone, and “Clarence” in It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play (Metropolis). He has also been seen in shows at Drury Lane Oakbrook, Theo Ubique, and more! Selected regional credits include: 1776 (Farmers Alley Theatre), The Fantasticks, and Spamalot (Encore Musical Theatre Company). Thank you for supporting live theater! www.ryan-dooley.com.
ARIEL M. DORSEY (Ensemble) is a Chicago native who began dancing at the age of seven. She received formal training at Chicago Academy for the Arts under the direction of Ana Peskevska and Randy Duncan. Mrs. Dorsey went on to further her studies at SUNY Purchase College in New York where she graduated with a BFA in dance where she worked with choreographers including Nelly Van Bommel, Pam Tanowitz, Jonathan Alsberry, and Ori Flormen. Mrs. Dorsey dances with Winifred Haun and Dancers.
JARED DAVID MICHAEL GRANT (Black DJ/Reverend Hobson) is a Chicago entertainer and 2013 graduate of Columbia College Chicago. Originally from Rochester, NY, Grant moved to Chicago 10 years ago. Grant is returning to Porchlight Music theatre where he has been seen in The Scottsboro Boys and Dreamgirls. Some other credits include: Christmas in Chicago: A Musical Revue (Fine Print Theatre), Jesus Christ Super Star (Paramount Theatre), Our Town (Redtwist Theatre), Nine Lives the Musical (Chicago Musical Theatre Festival), and Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play (Theatre Wit). Grant was a company member with Childs Play Touring Theatre. He thanks his family, select friends and the beautiful people of Wakanda (You know who you are!). #WakandaForever
GRAHAM HAWLEY (Ensemble) is thrilled to be returning to Porchlight Music Theatre where he was last seen as “Grandma Dancer” in Billy Elliot the Musical and “Yulnick/Junior” in Little Me. Other Chicago credits include “Policeman/Sweep” in Mary Poppins (Mercury Theater) and “Shane Stant/Dance Captain” in Tonya and Nancy the Rock Opera (Underscore Theatre Company). Regional credits include Carner and Gregor’s Toast (Bloomington Playwright’s Project), Mary Poppins, and Shrek (Cardinal Stage Company). He holds a B.A. in Theatre and Drama from Indiana University and is a proud alumnus of the Singing Hoosiers and Varsity Singers. Huge thanks to his parents, sister, and friends for their endless love and support.
JAMES EARL JONES II* (Bobby)returns to Porchlight Music Theatre where he was nominated for a Jeff Award for his role in Sondheim on Sondheim and a Black Theatre Alliance Award for his role in the Jeff Award-winning The Scottsboro Boys. Some Chicago/regional credits include Carlyle and Wonderful Town (Goodman Theatre), She Loves Me, Ragtime, Madagascar, October Sky, Elf, Dreamgirls, and The Full Monty (Marriott Theatre), Five Guys Named Moe, Satchmo at the Waldorf, The Secret Garden, The Good Book, and Porgy and Bess (Court Theatre), Shrek (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Cymbeline (First Folio Theatre), Sweet Charity and Company (Writers Theatre), Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting (Lookingglass Theatre Company), Porgy and Bess (Lyric Opera of Chicago and San Francisco Opera), The Wiz (Theatre at the Center, Jeff Award nomination), Aida, Spamalot, and Ragtime (Drury Lane Theatre), A Civil War Christmas (Northlight Theatre), Annie Get Your Gun (Ravinia Festival), and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Broadway in Chicago and Mason Street Warehouse). National tour credits include: The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. Television and film credits include: Pokerhouse, Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Empire. Mr. Jones is represented by Stewart Talent. For Semaje . . .
KAYLA KENNEDY (Ensemble) is very excited to be making her Porchlight Music Theatre debut and to be performing in the city proper after commuting out to the suburbs for so long! Those suburban credits include Mamma Mia (Marriott Theatre), Mamma Mia and Disney’s The Little Mermaid (Paramount Theatre), A Wonderful Life, The Tin Woman, Nice Work If You Can Get It, All Shook Up, Spamalot, Big Fish, and Women On The Verge (Theatre at the Center). Kayla earned a BFA in Musical Theatre from Ball State University and is represented by Gray Talent! Hugs and kisses to Mom & Dad, Shannon, Richard, and Michael. www.kaylatkennedy.com
NICOLE LAMBERT (Ensemble) is excited to be returning to the Porchlight Music Theatre family where she was last seen in In The Heights. Her favorite Chicago credits include: Creatives (Chicago Workshop Theater), Godspell (St. Sebastian Players), Rent (Bright Side Theater), and Fame the Musical (Real Clear Theater). Nicole received her degree from Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.
BERNELL LASSAI III (Ensemble) is grateful to work with Porchlight Music Theatre again where he was last seen in Merrily We Roll Along, Billy Elliot the Musical, and Porchlight Revisits The Rink. Regional credits include: Smokey Joe’s Cafe and Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (The Little Theatre On The Square), Giggle, Giggle, Quack (Lifeline Theatre), A Christmas Carol (Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre), Antony & Cleopatra (Shakespeare Festival St. Louis), and work at Bigfork Summer Playhouse and Hope Summer Repertory Theatre. Bernell is a graduate of The Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University.
IVORY LEONARD IV (Ensemble) is making his Porchlight Music Theatre debut. Chicago area performances include Peter Pan (Music Theater Works). He appeared as “Joseph” in Black Nativity (Edmonds Stage), “Bottom” in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Ballet Arts Conservatory), and “Bobby” in The Color Purple (Charles Winterwood Theater). Leonard also toured with Danco II, Rennie Harris’s Awe Inspiring Works (RHAW), and Invincible: A tribute to Michael Jackson and is a 2015 graduate of Florida A&M University with a BA in Theatre Performance and minor in dance.
MALLORY MAEDKE (Ensemble) was recently in Porchlight Music Theatre’s New Faces Sing Broadway 1959! Other credits include: Hair (Mercury Theatre), The Little Mermaid (Paramount Theatre), One Hit Wonders (Black Ensemble Theater), Cabaret (Theatre At The Centre), Beehive the Musical (Little Theater on the Square), and 42nd Street, All Shook Up, and The Addams Family (Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre). She also performed as a Back Up Vocalist for Kristin Chenoweth at The Chicago Theater. Maedke is originally from Green Bay, WI and graduated Columbia College Chicago with a BFA in Musical Theater Performance in 2014. Spread love!
MARVIN MALONE II (Ensemble Swing) is making his Porchlight Music Theatre and Chicago area debut. He is a senior Musical Theatre, BFA major originally from Cleveland, Ohio. Favorite credits include “Oscar” in Sweet Charity, “Papa Ge” in Once on This Island (Columbia College Chicago), “Radames” in Aida (Playhouse Square Cleveland). Be sure to keep up with Marvin at MarvinMalone.com, and @ TheMarvinsRoom_ on Instagram & Twitter!
JOHN MARSHALL, JR. (Ensemble) is delighted to return to Porchlight Music Theatre after previously appearing as “The Three Legged Man” in Side Show. Most recently he was seen as “Artie” in Yank: A WWII Love Story (Pride Films in Plays). Other credits include: Mamma Mia! (Marriott Theatre), Hairspray (Paramount Theatre), West Side Story (Drury Lane Theatre), Big Fish, All Shook Up, and Nice Work If You Can Get It (Theatre at the Center). “This one’s for anyone who loves to dance!”
LIAM QUEALY* (Huey Calhoun) is making his Porchlight Music Theatre debut! Chicagoland credits include: “Pepper” in Mamma Mia, “Jim Hickam” in October Sky, “Munkustrap” in Cats (Marriott Theatre), “Cousin Kevin” in Tommy, “Skimbleshanks” in Cats, “Mark” in A Chorus Line (Paramount), “Tony Elliot” in Billy Elliot the Musical, “Fred” in A Christmas Carol (Drury Lane Oakbrook), and “Claude” in Hair (Mercury Theater). Other regional credits include The Old Globe in San Diego, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, and Writers Theatre. Off-Broadway: Dear Edwina. National Tour: Fiddler on the Roof. Liam is also an Eagle Scout and a proud AEA member. Love to Rose.
CASIENA RAETHER (Clara/White Mother + Dance/Fight Captain) is delighted to make her debut at Porchlight Music Theatre with such a talented cast. She was recently seen in It’s a Wonderful Life the Musical and as “Fruelien Kost” in Cabaret at Theatre at the Center. Favorite roles include: “Jackie” in Mauritius, “Gwendolyn” in The Importance of Being Earnest, “Cassie” in A Chorus Line, and “Kitty” in The Drowsy Chaperone. Casiena holds a BFA in Acting from UW – Stevens Point and is happy to call Chicago home.
LORENZO RUSH, JR.* (Delray Jones) Is back home at Porchlight Music Theatre where he previously appeared in Porchlight Revisits They’re Playing Our Song, Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Jeff Award Nomination) and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Other Chicago credits include: Five Guys Named Moe (Court Theater), Jesus Christ Superstar (Paramount Theater), Little Shop of Horrors (American Blues Theater), Parade (BoHo Theater), Dreamgirls, and City of Angels (Marriott Theater). TV/Film credit: Sirens (USA). Rush received his BFA in Musical Theater at Western Illinois University. For Samantha and Phoebe. Proverbs 18:16.
ISAIAH SILVIA-CHANDLEY (Buck Wiley/Martin Holton) is making his Porchlight Music Theatre and Chicago area debut. Regional credits include: Spamalot (Seacoast Repertory Theatre), The Young Americans (Music and Dance Outreach Tour — Japan, Europe, and US). He is a 2018 Musical Theatre Performance BFA graduate of Columbia College Chicago where he performed in Sweet Charity, Little Shop of Horrors, and Women On the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. www.isaiahsilviachandley.com @itszayzay_
AALON SMITH (Ensemble) is thrilled to be making her Porchlight Music Theatre debut! Aalon is originally from Denver, Colorado and is currently a junior BFA Musical Theatre Performance major at Columbia College Chicago. She has performed regionally as “Tribe” in Hair (Metropolis Performing Arts Center) and some of her favorite Columbia College Chicago productions include Sweet Charity, Caroline, or Change, Little Shop of Horrors, and Once On This Island.
KORAY TARHAN (Perry Como) is thrilled to be working once again with Porchlight Music Theatre after debuting earlier this year with Porchlight Revisits They’re Playing Our Song. Hailing from Los Angeles, Tarhan is a Columbia College Chicago graduate with a passion for combining his expertise in music, physical theatre, and acrobatics. Tarhan recently completed an acting internship with the Cincinnati Playhouse where he performed in Jane Eyre, A Christmas Carol, and A Prayer for Owen Meany. Other credits include: “The Unknown Man” in the World Premiere of The Boy Who Danced on Air, “Emcee” in Cabaret (The Lewis Family Playhouse), and “Roger” in Rent (Columbia College Production). He would like to thank his family, friends, and lovely girlfriend, Josephine, for their continued love and support!
JACOB VOIGT (Mr. Simmons) is grateful to return to Porchlight Music Theatre following his performance in Billy Elliot the Musical. Previous New York City roles include: “Lord Capulet” in Romeo and Juliet, “Bradley Headstone” in Our Mutual Friend, “J.P. Morgan” in Ragtime, and “Edna Turnblad” in Hairspray. He is a proud graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and has performed in concert at Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall. @thejacobvoigt www.thejacobvoigt.com
NANCY WAGNER (Gladys Calhoun) is making her Porchlight Music Theatre debut. Chicago credits include: Relativity (U/S, Northlight Theatre) and El Words (Fury Theatre). Regional credits include: Little Women (including National Tour) and Puss In Boots (Minneapolis Children’s Theatre Company). Television: Home Improvement and Carol & Company. Michigan: Cabaret, Hello Dolly!, Oklahoma!, Driving Miss Daisy, The Mousetrap, Stupid F**king Bird, Harvey, Rabbit Hole, Sunday in the Park with George, and Barefoot in the Park. www.nancywagner.net
AERIEL WILLIAMS (Felicia Farrell) is overjoyed to be cast in this role in Porchlight Music Theatre’s Memphis. Williams recently played “Young Josephine Baker” in The Black Pearl. Other credits include: “Lourelle” in Dreamgirls, “Squeak” in The Color Purple, “Paulina” in A Winters Tale, and “Vera” in Seven Guitars. Recently Aeriel has been seen as Shante in The Chi and Empire. Aeriel would like to thank God for every opportunity, and the love and support from her family and friends. Philippians 4:6
*Denotes member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in America
^Denotes members of the United Scenic Artists IATSE, the Union and Professional Association of Designers, Artists, and Craftspeople
+Denotes Porchlight Music Theatre Artistic Associate
DAVID BRYAN (Books & Lyrics) is a Grammy Award-winning keyboard player and founding member of Bon Jovi. Over the past 26 years the band has sold more than 130 million records and toured the world, playing to millions of people. Their recent Lost Highway Tour was the #1 grossing tour in the world. David and Joe DiPietro have also co-written the award-winning musical The Toxic Avenger, currently playing at New World Stages. David is a National Spokesperson for VH1’s Save The Music Program. Much Love to Lexi, Colton, Gabby, Lily and my family.
JOE DiPIETRO (Music & Lyrics) has won two Tony Awards, a Drama Desk Award and 2 Outer Critics Circle Awards. Broadway: Nice Work If You Can Get It (Tony noms – Best Book, Best Musical), Memphis (Tony winner – Best Book, Best Score, Best Musical.) All Shook Up, Living on Love. Off-Broadway: Clever Little Lies, The Toxic Avenger, The Thing About Men, Over the River and Through the Woods, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. His most recent play, Hollywood, recently debuted at LaJolla Playhouse. Other recent regional credits include: The Second Mrs. Wilson (Long Wharf Theatre & George Street Playhouse) Chasing the Song (La Jolla Playhouse,) Ernest Shackleton Loves Me (Arts Emerson,) The Last Romance (Old Globe,) Creating Claire (George Street Playhouse.) He sits on the board of Only Make Believe, a charity dedicated to bringing interactive, therapeutic theatre to chronically ill children.
DARYL BROOKS (Director) is excited to be making his Porchlight Music Theatre directorial debut. Daryl has been a visible part of the Chicago theatre scene since 1999, performing and directing all over the city. He is currently the Associate Director at the Black Ensemble Theater where recent projects include writing and directing Sammy: A Tribute to Sammy Davis Jr, The Black Pearl: The Story of Josephine Baker (Winner Best Production and Director Black Excellence Awards 2017), and Men of Soul (Jeff nominated best review and best director, Winner Black Excellence Awards best director). Daryl would like to thank Michael Weber for the opportunity to tell this story, Brenda Didier for keeping the door open, and also Denise, his friends, and family for their continued support and patience. Maya, Daddy loves you!
JERMAINE HILL (Music Director/Conductor) is originally from New York City and received his Bachelor of Music from Ithaca College and a Master of Music from the New England Conservatory. Recent Chicago credits include serving as musical director and piano/conductor for Ragtime (Griffin Theatre) and Madagascar (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre), performing onstage in Breathe With Me (Erasing the Distance), and a recent guest spot on NBC’s Chicago Med. Equally at home on theatrical and concert stages, he has appeared at New York’s Carnegie Hall, Boston’s Jordan Hall, Chicago’s Symphony Hall, The Lost Colony (NC), Rome Capitol Theatre (NY), and the Aldeburgh Festival in the U.K. He is an assistant professor and music director for the theatre department at Columbia College Chicago. He is a member of the Chicago Federation of Musicians and is proudly represented by Gray Talent Group.
CHRISTOPHER CARTER (Choreographer/Assistant Director) is a graduate of Grand Valley State University with a liberal arts degree in dance. Carter has traveled all over performing, directing, and choreographing. Some of his credits include: Porchlight Revisits They’re Playing Our Song, Dreamgirls, and In The Heights (Porchlight Music Theatre), Five Guys Name Moe (Court Theater), Hair (Mercury Theater), The Legend Of Georgia McBride (Northlight Theater), Sweeney Todd (Grand Valley State University), Oklahoma (Lyric Opera Chicago), Show Boat (San Francisco and Houston Grand Opera), Hairspray (Drury Lane Oakbrook), Joseph . . . (Paramount Theater), Duke Ellington’s Queenie Pie (Chicago Opera Theater), Oliver (Light Opera Works), The Wiz (Theatre at the Center), Smokey Joe’s Café (Circle Theatre), and The Wild Party (Actor’s Theater). Carter has been the choreographer for the Grand Rapids Civic’s SRT for the past five years. Carter is a former Debbie Allen Dance Academy scholarship student. Other credits include national tours, commercial, industrial, and concert work.
RENEISHA JENKINS (Assistant Choreographer) is excited to return to Porchlight Music Theatre as Assistant Choreographer for Memphis. She recently served as Dance Captain for Porchlight’s production of Dreamgirls. Other recent dance theatre credits include Dance Captain for Paramount’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar, Dance Captain for Theatre at the Center’s Annie Warbucks, Assistant Choreographer for The Wiz at South Bend’s Civic Theatre and Choreographer for Seussical for CMC in Peoria IL. Other external dance credits include Head Coach for Bradley University Dance Team and Founder and Choreographer of NFINIT HipHop Dance Troupe. Thanks Chris for the opportunity to work with you again. Proud Member of Actors’ Equity. Love you Bro!
JACQUELINE^ and RICHARD PENROD (Scenic Designers)
BILL MOREY+^ (Costume Designer) is an Artistic Associate at Porchlight Music Theatre. Bill is a 12-time Jeff Award Nominee in Costume Design and has won the Equity Jeff Award for Porchlight’s productions of Nine, The King and I, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and Dreamgirls. He is also the recipient of two After Dark Awards and the BroadwayWorld Chicago Award for Costume Design. His work has been seen at Theo Ubique, TimeLine, Lifeline, Piven, BoHo, and Off Broadway at the York Theater. www.billmorey.com
DENISE KARCZEWSKI^ (Lighting Designer) is thrilled to return to Porchlight Music Theatre after designing Merrily We Roll Along, Billy Elliot the Musical, In The Heights, and Dreamgirls. Denise is the resident lighting designer at Black Ensemble Theater where she received BTAA awards for her designs of Indigo Blues and One Name Only as well as an African American Arts Alliance Award for her set and lighting design of Ella: the First Lady of Song. Denise is one of the technical directors and designers at New Trier Township High School. She would like to thank Michael for the opportunity and Daryl for all his love and support. Maya, mommy loves you!
ROBERT HORNBOSTEL (Sound Designer) is excited to be back for his third season with Porchlight Music Theatre and this amazing team! Recent Porchlight credits include Merrily We Roll Along, Billy Elliot the Musical, In The Heights, Dreamgirls, End Of The Rainbow, Far From Heaven, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Side Show, Porchlight Revists Babes in Arms, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Robert is a freelance composer, designer, and engineer in Chicago, including work with New Millennium Theater, Raven Theater, Eclectic Theater, First Floor Theater, Roosevelt University, and many others. Robert would like to thank his fellow designers, friends, and family for their continued support. Selections of his previous work can be found at www.TechmagicDesigns.com. Enjoy the show!
ANDREW ASHLEY HATCHER (Properties Designer/Assistant Stage Manager) is a stage manager, props designer, and general theater-maker. A recent transplant from Austin, TX, this is his second show in Chicago — following the well-received production of Becky Shaw at Windy City Playhouse. Austin-area credits include numerous award-winning shows with Salvage Vanguard Theater (where he remains a company member), Austin Playhouse, Breaking String Theater, Doctuh Mistuh Productions, Fusebox Festival, Mary Moody Northen Theatre, TexArts, Texas Performing Arts, and Trouble Puppet Theater.
MATTHEW McMULLEN* (Stage Manager) is delighted to be returning to Porchlight Music Theatre where he previously stage managed Merrily We Roll Along! Previous stage management credits include Million Dollar Quartet, Fiddler on the Roof, Route 66 (Paramount Theatre), Chicago, A Christmas Carol, Sleeping Beauty (Drury Lane Theatre), Big Fish, The 39 Steps, Nice Work If You Can Get It (Theatre at the Center), Red (Goodman Theatre). He has also worked at Silk Road Rising, Chicago Children’s Theatre, and Provision Theatre Company. In addition, Matthew can be seen (from the booth) as a part-time SM for Blue Man Group Chicago. Thanks always to Missy for her long-suffering support. Proud Equity member.
MARY ZANGER* (Assistant Stage Manager) is delighted to work with Porchlight Music Theatre again following Merrily We Roll Along. Previous stage management credits include: Puff: Believe it or Not (ASM — Remy Bumppo), The CiviliTy of Albert Cashier (Permoveo Productions/PFP), Candide (Music Theater Works), The Fantasticks (ASM — Quest Theatre Ensemble), Cinderella (Metropolis SOPA), Children of Eden, TARZAN, The Music Man, and Hairspray (Rising Star Theatre Company). Proud graduate of Clarke University and member of Actor’s Equity.
MATT NADLER (Assistant Stage Manager) is thrilled to be back with Porchlight Music Theatre where he worked on Merrily We Roll Along, Billy Elliot the Musical, Dreamgirls, In The Heights, The Scottsboro Boys, and Marry Me A Little. He graduated from Emerson College in 2015 with a BFA in Stage Management. Much love to his family for always supporting him in his goals.
JOAQUIN GOMEZ (Assistant Stage Manager) is thrilled to be working on his third mainstage show at Porchlight Music Theatre! A Chicago native, he recently worked with Porchlight on Merrily We Roll Along (Child Supervisor/ASM Swing), New Faces Sing Broadway 1959 (Stage Manager), Porchlight Revisits They’re Playing Our Song (Assistant Stage Manager), and Billy Elliot the Musical (Child Supervisor/ASM Swing).
MICHAEL WEBER (Artistic Director) most recently directed Merrily We Roll Along for Porchlight Music Theatre as well as the Porchlight Revisits production of Woman of the Year. His productions of End of the Rainbow, Side Show, Forum, Sweeney Todd, Pal Joey and Assassins 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 Equity Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Production-Musical. Other directing credits include Living the History-125 Years of the Auditorium Theatre starring Patti Lupone, John Mahoney, and stars of Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Joffrey Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and others, 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 Mercury Theater, and Cirque du Symphony at Sears Center Arena. The recipient of two Joseph Jefferson Awards, he has written and directed the past ten Joseph Jefferson Awards ceremonies. Weber’s regional acting credits include The Merry Widow and The Sound of Music at Lyric Opera, 42nd Street at Paramount, 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, Angel Street at First Folio Shakespeare, and The Gifts of the Magi at Indiana Repertory. Having served previously as artistic director of Drury Lane Theatre Water Tower Place (now The Broadway Playhouse) and Theatre at the Center, Michael is proud to serve as a pledge host on WTTW, Channel 11.
JEANNIE LUKOW (Executive Director) is a founding member of Porchlight Music Theatre’s board of directors serving on the board for 19 years, six of them as it’s president. She was thrilled to join the staff in September 2014 as the company’s first Executive Director. Prior to taking the helm at Porchlight, Jeannie ran Bespoke Cuisine, one of Chicago’s leading cooking party venues, which she co-founded/owned for 12 years. Before the hospitality/food business, Jeannie built a 15-year career in marketing communications, much of it spent in association management. Her most recent position was as Managing Director of Marketing Communications for the National Association of Realtors, one of the nation’s largest trade associations. She is a native Michigander and graduate of Michigan State University.
*Denotes member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in America
^Denotes members of the United Scenic Artists IATSE, the Union and Professional Association of Designers, Artists, and Craftspeople
+Denotes Porchlight Music Theatre Artistic Associate
Chicago Tribune – Chris Jones
3.5 OUT OF 4 STARS
“A good time for everybody”
“These are top-drawer performances, as good as you can see in most any musical in the city.”
“an exuberant production that’s admirable in its craft and integrity, accessible to all kinds of people, determined not to run from the tougher scenes, and genuinely touching to boot.”
“There’s powerful support, too, from Lorenzo Rush Jr., who plays Felicia’s disapproving brother, Delray, as well as from both James Earl Jones Jr., and Gilbert Domally.”
“a big and juicy hit for Porchlight: “Memphis” has its first Chicago-style production and it’s work of which a mid-sized company like this one should be proud.”
Chicago Tonight, WTTW – Hedy Weiss
“NOTHING SHORT OF PHENOMENAL”
“A transformative evening in the theater, it features galvanic direction by Daryl Brooks, volcanic dancing created by choreographer/assistant director Christopher Carter and his assistant Reneisha Jenkins, a powerhouse onstage band driven by music director/pianist Jermaine Hill, and a large, fiercely talented cast that brings an electric energy to the storytelling”
“Along the way there are wonderfully winning performances by James Earl Jones II as Bobby, the black janitor who befriends Huey (and aces his big number, “Big Love”), and Gilbert Domally as Gator, who brings the first act to a close with the resounding call for change, “Say a Prayer.” Yet in many ways the real stars of the show are the fabulously talented members of the large ensemble, both black and white, who sing and dance up a storm (and even jump rope), and could easily compete with the chorus of any Broadway company.”
“And no doubt “Memphis” will live in you by the time you leave the theater.”
Around The Town Chicago – Alan Bresloff
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – FIVE OUT OF FIVE STARS
“This is one that YOU SHOULD SEE!!!”
“Porchlight, American Musicals, Chicago Style, continues to amaze its audiences with productions that jump off the stage and make the drive to their new home at The Ruth Page Center For the Arts, a trip to remember!”
“ a rip-roaring production”
SplashMags.com – Noel Schecter
“Memphis is a big musical, a throwback really, and the Porchlight cast is more than up to the challenge. I mean honestly, there really is no reason that the production cannot move a few blocks south to one of the bigger downtown theaters.”
PictureThisPost.com – Amy Munice
TOP PICKS FOR THEATER IN CHICAGO NOW
“GET READY FOR FUN!”
“It’s difficult to overstate the talent explosion powering this production. In the first instant you might wonder if slight-framed Aerial Williams has what it takes to fill the theater. Then, within a musical Memphis-minute ,you realize she’s got that opera-hall sized diva voice that transforms Porchlight’s new bigger performance venue at Ruth Page into a cozy and intimate soiree space. Quealy is that kind of triple threat that makes one curious about whether his first love was theater, music or dance. These are stars more than ready for Broadway.”
“Catchy, rockin’ music plus great story well told—no wonder this won the Tony!”
TheFourthWalsh.com – Katy Walsh
“You need to see it, hear it and experience it yourself! MEMPHIS is your musical destination! Get a ticket before this show sells out!”
“I LOVED my trip to MEMPHIS!”
“DANCING! This show has some of the most memorable choreography I’ve seen. Choreographer and Assistant Director Christopher Carter, along with Assistant Choreographer Reneisha Jenkins, have this fabulous and tireless ensemble moving and grooving nonstop.”
“Director Daryl D. Brooks masterfully directs Memphis.”
“And special gratitude to Costume Designer Bill Morey for the massive, twirling, mid-century fashion show.”
Paul Lisnek, Backstage Comcast Network Host, “Behind the Curtain,” WGNPlus.com
FOUR OUT OF FOUR STARS
“I have seen this show a half dozen times on Broadway and national tours. But Broadway has met its match with the Porchlight Music Theatre’s production. Perfection in casting, staging and musical production. Music in our soul is lifted from this blues/gospel/pop/rock blended score that will leave everyone wanting more. Liam Quealy brings a different take to the lead Huey Calhoun but one I found to be more realistic and true to reality than even Broadway, Aeriel Williams fresh off her astounding performance in Black Pearl returns to power as Felicia and an unexpected standout in the casting of the role of Delray Jones, a presence on Broadway, but a standout on the Porchlight stage. I glow about every Porchlight production, but this one seems to just take things a notch above, from the beautifully melodic Say A Prayer to the reality striking Change Don’t Come Easy, you will walk out with the score in your head and if you are like me, you’ll say (as does Huey), Memphis lives in me. Bravo Porchlight, once again.”
Chicago Sun-Times – Catey Sullivan
THREE OUT OF FOUR STARS
“A wildly entertaining production.”
“Porchlight’s cast is unstoppable as it rips through the two dozen or so foot-pumping barn-burners”
“What makes “Memphis” worth seeing is its mighty sound. Under the virtuosic music direction of Jermaine Hill, a quintet of on-stage musicians back the vocals with a sound that’s positively orchestral. The vocals are smoking hot — whether it’s the whole ensemble raising the rafters for the gospel truth of “Make Me Stronger,” or as a lone, clarion soloist searing the stage with “Colored Woman” (Williams) and “She’s My Sister” (Rush).”
“The production looks great, too. Christopher Carter’s choreography is a kinetic reflection of the dawn of mainstream rock.”
“Costume designer Bill Morey’s cavalcade of ‘50s silhouettes is worthy of a couture runway.”
“Set designers Jacqueline and Rich Penrod manage to put the audience right in the center of the radio dial.”
“It all adds up to a wildly entertaining production.”
ChicagoTheatreReview.com / ChicagolandMusicalTheatre.com – Colin Douglas
“An evening of unbridled joy to usher in the Spring… It’s phenomenally performed, majestically produced and, quite simply: Hock-a-doo not miss this production!”
“The Ruth Page Center for the Arts will be rockin’ and shakin’ for the next couple of months with the pulsating beat of 1950’s era rock ‘n roll, rhythm and blues.”
“Electrified by Daryl Brooks’ inspired and artistically perfect direction, this production is as moving as it is exciting. It features an onstage bandstand of polished accompaniment by Musical Director Jermaine Hill, along with over two hours of spirited, period-perfect choreography, magnificently crafted by Christopher Carter, who also assisted Mr. Brooks in staging this story.”
“Mr. Brooks’ spectacularly gifted ensemble, all of whom sing, dance and portray multiple supporting characters, is simply brilliant.”
“Beautifully acted, sung and danced by some of the city’s most skilled talent, directed with spirit by Daryl Brooks, masterfully accompanied by Musical Director Jermaine Hill and creatively choreographed by Christopher Carter—this is one of the finest productions by an excellent theatre company.”
Newcity – Irene Hsiao
“Porchlight’s production, directed by Daryl Brooks, is a feast for the eyes and ears.”
“The singing and dancing are fabulous, and the entire ensemble radiates with life. Williams’ cool beauty is the perfect antidote to the tussling between the outsized men who surround her—Quealy’s rambunctious Huey and Rush’s forceful and intimidating Delray. James Earl Jones II is particularly endearing as the janitor Bobby. He and Gilbert Domally, in the role of Gator, show how a voice can open up a better world in parallel to the sad one we have.”
Chicago Reader – Oliver Sava
“This talented ensemble puts on a fun show.”
BroadwayWorldChicago – Rachel Weinberg
“Hockadoo! Porchlight Music Theatre’’s MEMPHIS bursts onto the stage with joy and earnest energy.”
“MEMPHIS’s overall message of hope makes for an evening that provides many moments of joy-and that’s in no small part thanks to Porchlight’s incredible cast.”
“The entire ensemble dances the night away to Christopher Carter’s bouncy, playful choreography. They handle the moves smoothly and with plenty of carefree smiles that lend a sense of effortlessness to the dancing. Thanks to Jermaine Hill’s music direction, they also harmonize effortlessly as well.”
“As the eccentric Huey, Liam Quealy seems in his element. Quealy plays the role as appropriately quirky, but he has clearly done the work to find the truth in the character. Quealy’s Huey is outsized and out there when he needs to be, but he also nails the character’s underlying vulnerabilities. He’s a compelling vocalist, too.”
“Aeriel Williams is magnificent as Felicia. She has an angelic singing voice but also finds power in every note. Quealy and Williams play off one another delightfully, and we truly believe that these two characters care for one another.”
“Lorenzo Rush Jr. is appropriately gruff as Felicia’s protective older brother Delray, and the part allows him to showcase his deep, rich singing voice. Other standouts include Gilbert Domally as Gator, and the always charming James Earl Jones II as Bobby. Jones has a second act solo that turns into a sly showstopper.”
“Now is an especially timely moment to produce MEMPHIS, which makes the show’s relevance cut even deeper.”
“MEMPHIS reflects our times, but it also provides a needed dose of fun and catchy, expertly performed music.”
Let’s Play (ChicagoNow.com) – Rick and Brenda McCain
“MEMPHIS is a musical delight! … This energetic and we must say a very talented group of actors astounded us for 2 ½ hours with explosive singing, dancing, and exceptional acting”
“A few of our favorites are Aeriel Williams, (Felicia Farrell) who has a voice and acting skills that will no doubt take her far in the business.”
“The infectious Liam Quealy who embodied the character Huey Calhoun to perfection was inspired by the real-life Memphis DJ Phillips. He was a man that was unbiased and wanted to get people together through the sound of music.”
“Huey was joined by his new best friend; Bobby played by James Earl Jones II. His comedic timing was priceless!”
“Stephen Allen, Jr., was convincible as Wailin’ Joe and lastly, another favorite and you might have to get the Kleenex ready for this one was Gator played by Gilbert Domally who melted your heart with his backstory.”
“Director Daryl D. Brooks made MEMPHIS a “MUST-SEE” soaring emotion of song and laughter.”
“We highly recommend that you come out and see this sensational musical “MEMPHIS” about chasing fame and forbidden love, but it also about relationships between a brother/sister a mother/son and a boss/employee.”