Chicago Theatre Workshop, in association with Fletcher Jones Volkswagen, is proud to announce the regional premiere of Little Miss Sunshine, May 11 – June 4, at The Edge Theatre, 5451 N. Broadway. Little Miss Sunshine, music and lyrics by James Lapine and book by William Finn, is directed and choreographed by Maggie Portman and music directed by Nick Sula. Previews are Thursday, May 11 and Friday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 13 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 14 at 3 p.m. Opening Night is Sunday, May 14 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 for previews and $32.50 – $42.50 for the regular run. Tickets are on sale now at www.chicagotheatreworkshop.org or by calling 773.999.9541.
From the Tony Award-winning team of James Lapine (Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George) and William Finn (25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) comes Little Miss Sunshine, a musical comedy about one modern family's unexpected route to brighter days. Based on the Academy Award-winning film by Michael Arndt, Chicago Theatre Workshop will be the first company in the United States to present the show since its off-Broadway run at New York's Second Stage Theater.
The Hoover family has seen better days. Richard, the father, is a floundering motivational speaker, Grandpa's been kicked out of his retirement home and Uncle Frank's been dumped by his boyfriend. Moody teenager, Dwayne, has taken a vow of silence, and overextended mom, Sheryl, can do little more than slap on a smile. But, when the youngest Hoover... energetic Olive, enters a regional children's beauty pageant, the family thinks that their luck could change and embarks on a cross-country trek, chasing the coveted title of "Little Miss Sunshine.”
The cast of Little Miss Sunshine includes; Greg Foster as “Richard,” Sharyon Culberson as “Sheryl,” Ken Rubenstein as “Grandpa,” Kyle Klein II as “Dwane,” George Keating as “Uncle Frank,” David Besky as “Larry,” Jennifer Ledesma as “Linda,” Connor Baty as “Josh,” Chayce Davis as “Chelsea,” Jersie Joniak as “Tracee,” Tatum Pearlman as “Deborah” and introducing Sophie Kaegi as “Olive Hoover.”
The design team includes; Robert Groth and Jenniffer Thusing (set designers), Jennifer Kules and Collin Helou (lighting designers), Martha Shuford (costume designer) Robert Hornbostel (sound designer), Jessica McCoy (production stage manager) Charissa Armon (casting director) Maggie Portman (director and choreographer), Nick Sula (musical director) and Tom Mullen (artistic director).
About Chicago Theater Workshop
Chicago Theatre Workshop, (CTW) is a new AEA development theatre company in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood, CTW produces work that challenges our perception of art and music. With a hybrid development and production model, CTW acts as an incubator for emerging talent and their work and helps provide the resources needed for commercial success. CTW is not solely a musical theatre company. CTW produces work where music plays an integral part of the fabric of each play, play with music or performance piece. In addition artists’ work also reaches global audiences through a digital platform where select productions are made available for streaming.
Chicago Theatre Workshop is proud to announce that its second production of the season, Creatives will appear in the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, performing at the prestigious Pleasance Theatre of Scotland.
Tribute shows are generally as good as the performers that star. I probably just stated the most obvious fact on the planet. Yet it’s so very true. No matter how good the song selection, the costumes, the set, it is the vocal performance that we bring home with us. In “My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra” a different taste of Sinatra is delivered; rather than presenting an Ol’ Blue Eyes impersonator, we are invited to a 1960’s club setting where four actors casually reminisce with the audience over more than fifty Sinatra favorites.
The musical revue, rich in its depicted era, stars George Keating, Christine Mild, Eric A. Lewis and McKinley Carter, each taking turns riffing through classics like “Makin’ Whoopee”, “Fly Me to the Moon”, “The Best is Yet to Come”, “Young at Heart”, and “It was a Very Good Year” – the songs are countless. The four have made their mark in the Chicago theatre scene, Lewis a Jeff Award Winner for his work in Porchlight Music Theatre’s “Dreamgirls”, Mild, who not only starred in Theater at the Center’s “Pump Boys and Dinettes” but who has recently released her debut solo album “Love Is Everything”, Carter, who has done work in prestigious venues such as Writers Theatre and Drury Lane Oakbrook, and Keating, who not only has been featured in Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” at Paramount Theater, but is the co-founder of the very popular Chicago and Off-Broadway hit “Schoolhouse Rock Live”.
The four actors work well together as snippets of Sinatra songs are often worked into light exchanges between the characters. They gracefully glide around the stage and upon the stairways often pairing elegantly for dance routines. Often, the characters might be seen having a drink at the bar or nonchalantly interacting at a table, setting a relaxed night-out-on-the-town mood. Throughout the show, Sinatra factoids and quotes are tossed about during song breaks, allowing at times for the audience to participate. The club centers around a bar, where a live band simplified to piano (William Underwood), bass (Jake Saleh) and drums (Nick Anderson) plays directly behind it. Despite the small size of the outfit, the sound is big and the musicians ever-impressive, each getting to show their skills off a bit while briefly featured individually in the second act.
While perhaps wishing for a little more "oomph" overall in the individual vocal performances (mainly on the lower notes) ala Sinatra, each of the performers have their shining moments and are able to deliver the songs with their intended pizzazz and vigor. But the magic in this show is when the four would sing together, whether it be a duet or a four-part harmony. It is with these synchronized vocal efforts one easily loses themselves in the beauty of Sinatra’s work.
Brenda Didier both directs and choreographs this fascinating piece with a stylish aplomb that captures the charm of the period so very well. Lewis particularly stands out during his renditions of “My Kind of Town” and “I’m Gonna Live ‘Til I Die”, while Keating finishes strong with a fervent version of “That’s Life”. The production flows at a nice pace and is a pleasing homage to Sinatra, though we are often teased with a song segment left wanting to hear the piece in its entirety. This is countered by the fact that we are given such a vast collection of the music Sinatra made famous. The show ties together well eventually leading us to an expressive interpretation of perhaps Sinatra’s most timeless classic, “My Way”, commendably performed by the entire cast.
“My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra” is a time capsule that will certainly touch the hearts of “Chairman of the Board” fans, but is equipped with enough nostalgia, panache and musical talent to please even the most curious. This polished production is being performed at Theater at the Center in Munster, IN through March 19th. Click here for tickets and/or more show information.
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