The best produced show of the Muny’s 103rd season, “Chicago” capped off the welcome return to tradition in Forest Park this summer with a sultry and sleek music-and-dance showcase.
Everything about the production was on point – from the crisp staging by director Denis Jones and his snappy choreography to the jazzy brass beats from the swinging orchestra conducted by music director Charlie Alterman.
And this production blazes with star power. You will remember the names of the lead trio: Sarah Bowden (Roxie Hart), J. Harrison Ghee (Velma Kelly) and James T. Lane (Billy Flynn).
With snazzy music by John Kander and barbed lyrics by Fred Ebb, patterned after old-timey vaudeville numbers, and a saucy original book by Ebb and Bob Fosse, the story is a sardonic take on fame and the justice system set during the freewheeling Jazz Age.
It is based on a 1926 play by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins about actual criminals she covered for a newspaper in Chicago. This current script adaptation is by David Thompson, who worked with Kander and Ebb on the musicals “The Scottsboro Boys” and “Steel Pier.”
Jones’ clever concept was to set the show as an entertaining spectacle at a speakeasy, with café tables around a perimeter so it’s watched by not only the Muny audience but also by performers on stage. He did a similar staging, but not an exact replica, for the 2012 Muny version. That point of view works brilliantly.
Scenic designer Tim Mackabee gave it a striking look while the lighting design by Rob Denton added to the stylized atmosphere and the stellar video design by Shawn Duan complemented the experience perfectly.
Drenched in cynicism, “Chicago” satirizes corruption and is a show-bizzy spin on tawdry headline-grabbing trial that marked the Prohibition Era — but are also timely today. Merry murderers Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly attempt to seize the spotlight and become celebrities.
Perhaps when the musical debuted in 1975, it was ahead of its time, for contemporary audiences didn’t find it relatable. The week after the Broadway show closed after 936 performances in the summer of 1977, it transferred to the Muny. Starring Jerry Orbach and Ann Reinking, it was not well-received (I was there).
The mostly unsympathetic characters take part in a three-ring circus that’s part illusion and part rhapsody in sleaze. Its relevance has only grown over the years, especially in the digital age of social media.
A rebirth after a robust 1996 Tony Award-winning revival received universal acclaim and broke records as the longest-running musical revival and the longest running American musical in history, second only to “The Phantom of the Opera” on the all-inclusive list (it surpassed “Cats” on Nov. 23, 2014, with its 7,486th performance).
Because the 24-hour news cycle has helped fuel an obsessive celebrity culture and the emergence of reality television has made stars out of unsavory housewives, wealthy influencers like the Kardashians and self-absorbed narcissists, now society has caught up with “Chicago’s” place in pop culture history.
It took me awhile to warm up to the musical, but after watching a few high-profile celebrity trials, you see the parallels. And those songs from the team that gave us the insightful “Cabaret” get better every time you hear them.
A movie adaptation in 2002 garnered an Academy Award for Best Picture, earning six total, including Best Supporting Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones as Velma, which also helped its acceptance. It was the first musical since “Oliver!” in 1968 to win the top award.
Cut to Artistic Director and Executive Producer Mike Isaacson’s first season at The Muny in 2012, and “Chicago” was second in the line-up following Fox Theatricals’ Tony winner “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” He said it had been the most requested show on the annual survey for several years.
It’s back, for just the third time, 10 years later, with Jones, now a two-time Tony Award nominee for choreography on “Tootsie” in 2019 and “Holiday Inn” in 2017, raising the bar once again.
He has put his stamp on of two of the Muny’s best shows during the past decade, “42nd Street” in 2016 (Jones, St. Louis Theater Circle Award) and “A Chorus Line” in 2017, and now with another fresh outlook on “Chicago.”
Jones is familiar with the Broadway revival, for he was a swing performer and later dance captain, during four separate runs for him (performing in total for about four and a half years). He worked with Ann Reinking, Bebe Neuwirth, Joel Grey and James Naughton, who began their roles in 1996. So, he had specific ideas on what to keep and what to change.
His associate choreographer, Barry Busby, deserves a shout-out too, for the dance numbers are seamless. They put the roar back in The Roaring Twenties, and the vibrancy shows in Bowden-led “Roxie” and “Me and My Baby,” and Billy’s flashy “Razzle Dazzle.”
“Chicago” will always be Fosse’s magnus opus, for his signature moves, those distinctive deliberate dance steps – and jazz hands! But this isn’t a copycat at all. (Fosse may have lost the Tonys for choreographer and director pf “Chicago” to “A Chorus Line” in 1976, but he holds the all-time record, with eight, for choreography).
The athletic dancers excel at the high-octane numbers. Six performers carry out “Cell Block Tango” with the attitudes you expect – Liz (Madison Johnson), Annie (Taeler Cyrus), June (Veronica Fiaoni), Hunyak (Lizz Picini), Velma (Ghee), and Mona (Carleigh Bettiol), more commonly known as “Pop, Six, Squish, Uh-Uh, Cicero, and Lipschitz.”
Bowden plays Hart with verve, oozing phony wholesomeness in the public eye and a ruthless craving for attention when not. She was here once, in “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway,” and is an energetic firecracker on stage.
The magnetic Ghee sashays and struts as tough-as-nails Kelly, resentful of Hart being the shiny new sensation. He got our attention as Lola in “Kinky Boots” in 2019 and is a dynamic force every time he appears. Wearing satiny outfits and displaying a silky voice, he sets the tone with a seductive “All That Jazz” and an indignant “I Know a Girl,” and shows off his dexterity in “I Can’t Do It Alone.”
Bowden is fire to Ghee’s ice, a combustible fun mix for the “My Own Best Friend” that closes Act 1 and the “Nowadays”/ “Hot Honey Rag” finale with those omnipresent canes and hats Fosse was so fond of using.
James T. Lane embodies the slick ambulance chaser lawyer Billy Flynn with a demanding and greedy nature – and delivers a dandy disingenuous “All I Care About” – accompanied by a marvelous fan dance that received its own ovation. Lane was last seen as Sebastian in 2017’s “Little Mermaid” here.
One of this show’s standout numbers is the “We Both Reached for the Gun” press conference rag with Billy pulling Roxie’s strings like a ventriloquist and the ensemble doing fast footwork.
It’s good to see veteran performers Emily Skinner and Adam Heller, who were both in The Rep’s magnificent “Follies” in 2016, and St. Louis Theater Circle nominees for previous Muny work, back on the outdoor stage. As Matron “Mama” Morton, Skinner belts out a terrific “When You’re Good to Mama” and teams with Ghee on one of my favorites, “Class.”
Heller, last seen as Ben Franklin in “1776,” plays Roxy’s cuckolded husband Amos Hart as a more naïve sad sack, not realizing how he is being manipulated. He strikes the right tone for an affecting ‘Mr. Cellophane.”
With her sweet soprano, Ali Ewoldt poses as the powerful radio personality Mary Sunshine and sings the ironic “Little Bit of Good.”
Regular Michael James Reed capably portrays five different roles in the ensemble: stage manager, Sgt. Fogarty, doctor, Aaron and the Judge.
The technical elements were also superior, with costume designer Emily Rebholz’s striking work with vintage fashions and for limber dance outfits, accompanied by strong wig design by Tommy Kurzman.
The shortened season is coming to an end, and what the Muny achieved this summer is remarkable, putting five shows together in eight weeks. This is also the time for a fond farewell to Denny Reagan, who is retiring after spending 53 years at the Muny, the last 30 as President and CEO.
A trip to the Muny isn’t complete until you greet Denny, or see him greeting patrons, at his ‘spot.’ We look forward to working with his top-shelf successor, Kwofe Coleman, starting in January.
This collaborative production was a grand, great, swell time where all the elements came together in blissful harmony.
Attendance for the opening night performance was 6,435. The show runs an estimated 2 hours and 30 minutes.
“Chicago” is the final show of the shortened 103rd five-show season, through Sunday, Sept. 5. Performances are at 8:15 p.m. each evening on the outdoor stage in Forest Park. Emerson was the 103rd season sponsor.
For more information, visit muny.org.
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The Muny announced today 27 principal cast members for its 2021 season in Forest Park. Complete company casting will be announced throughout June and July.
After what will be a 23-month intermission, The Muny’s 103rd season will open with the Muny premiere of Smokey Joe’s Cafe, followed by the beloved classic The Sound of Music. The season continues with a newly reimagined Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, the Midwest regional and Muny premiere of On Your Feet! and closes with Broadway’s longest-running American musical Chicago. The Telsey Office is the official casting partner for The Muny.
“This is an amazing, thrilling, heart-stopping collection of talented artists,” said Muny Artistic Director and Executive Producer Mike Isaacson. “Our return this year in many ways has as much significance as our 100th season. It means so much to so many. I can’t wait for these amazing people to share their gifts.” SMOKEY JOE’S CAFE The Songs of Leiber and Stoller July 26 – August 1 Words and Music by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller Sponsored by Ameren
CHARL BROWN (Sonny) is thrilled to be appearing on The Muny stage for the first time and at this historic moment for theatre. He was nominated for a Tony Award for the role of Smokey Robinson in Motown: The Musical and reprised this role opening the West End production. This winter, he is slated to appear as Brick in Virginia Stage’s production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Other Broadway/tour: Jersey Boys, Sister Act, Hair. Select regional: The Who’s Tommy (Denver Center, Kennedy Center), Ever After (Paper Mill Playhouse), Johnny Baseball (American Repertory Theater), Dreamgirls, Ragtime, Six Degrees of Separation, Jesus Christ Superstar, A Chorus Line. Select television: FBI, Evil, Madam Secretary. When not in an acting role, Charl tours the globe with his group, The Doowop Project, including venues such as The Blue Note Beijing, Disney Symphony Hall, Ottawa Symphony, City Winery Nashville and many others worldwide.
MICHAEL CAMPAYNO (Rod) originated the role of Rob Camilletti in The Cher Show and also starred as Fiyero in the hit musical Wicked on Broadway. A Pittsburgh native and graduate of Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, he made his television debut as Rolf in the NBC live telecast of The Sound of Music starring Carrie Underwood and can be heard on the cast recording. His other credits include Lancelot in Camelot starring Robert Sean Leonard and Barry Bostwick, productions at Pittsburgh CLO, and in concert with the Phoenix Symphony and Carolina Philharmonic. Television: The Other Two (HBOMAX), The Good Fight (CBS). Proud member of SAG, AFTRA and AEA. Follow @michaelcampayno
MYKAL KILGORE (Little Walter) is an award-winning actor and a Grammy and NAACP Image Award-nominated singer/songwriter. His debut album, A Man Born Black, is a gumbo of American roots and modern feels that highlight his ability to go from Broadway showtune storytelling to soul and jazz scatting to gospel. Mykal most recently starred in his online special, Mykal Kilgore Live… on the Innanets! Broadway: Motown: The Musical and Hair. National tour: The Book of Mormon. Other select credits: The Witch in Into the Woods at Barrington Stage Company, The Who’s Tommy at The Kennedy Center, Songs for a New World at Encores! OffCenter. TV/Film: NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, The Wiz Live! and Collateral Beauty. Mykal has racked up 10M+ views on social media with his videos, including his viral Reclaiming My Time video. #blacklivesmatter #translivesmatter #loveoneanother MYKALKILGORE.COM
TIFFANY MANN (Willie Mae) Broadway: Be More Chill, Waitress. Off-Broadway: Jerry Springer: The Opera (Lucille Lortel Award), Invisible Thread, Cabin in the Sky. Other select theater: Dreamgirls (Effie), Live from Lincoln Center: Sweeney Todd in Concert. TV: New Amsterdam and Rise for NBC, Orange Is the New Black. @iamtiffanymann
HAYLEY PODSCHUN (Annette) Originally from Kansas, Hayley returns to The Muny after playing Dainty June in the 2018 production of Gypsy. Broadway: Wicked (Glinda, national tour), Hello, Dolly!; Something Rotten, Chaplin (Mildred Harris), Anything Goes, Pal Joey, Sunday in the Park with George, Hairspray (Broadway, national tour) and The Sound of Music. Off-Broadway: Freckleface Strawberry (Freckleface, original cast). Select regional credits: Holiday Inn (Linda Mason, Paper Mill Playhouse), I Married an Angel (Anna Murphy, NY City Center Encores!), The Royal Family of Broadway (Gwen, Barrington Stage, world premiere), Holiday Inn (Lila Dixon, Goodspeed, world premiere) Crazy for You (Polly, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival), Peter Pan (Peter Pan, Artpark), Legally Blonde (Elle Woods, Arvada Center). Film/TV: Hairspray (Tammy), The Blacklist, Louie, Isn’t It Romantic and Hail, Caesar; You can also find Hayley on QVC as a guest host for Zodiac Shoes. IG: @hayley_podschun or www.hayleypodschun.com for more!
CHRISTOPHER SAMS (Cornelius) is ecstatic to join The Muny and Marcia Milgrom Dodge in turning up the summer heat with Leiber and Stoller’s Smokey Joe’s Cafe. Broadway credits feature Mufasa in Disney’s The Lion King. National touring credits include The Lion King (Ensemble, u/s Mufasa), The Color Purple (Ensemble/Grady/Buster), Ragtime (Coalhouse Walker Jr.) and Rock of Ages (Ensemble/Ja’Keith). Became a proud AEA member doing Smokey Joe’s Cafe with Ms. Dodge in 2016 and this is Chris’ third time rocking through the neighborhood.
NASIA THOMAS (Pearl) was most recently seen as Cathy in Out of The Box Theatrics version of The Last Five Years. In the fall, she can be seen as The Radio in the upcoming revival of Caroline, or Change on Broadway. Most recently seen in Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations on Broadway. Broadway: Little Eva in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. National tour: Beautiful. Regional: Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations (Berkeley Rep, Kennedy Center, Center Theatre Group, Mirvish Theatre), Beauty and the Beast (TUTS), Hairspray, (Muny). BFA Musical Theatre, Elon ‘15, The Governors School for the Arts ‘11. Member at DGRW Talent. IG: @nasiathomas.
JASON VEASEY (Doc) Jason is happy to be back in one of his favorite cities making his Muny debut! Theatre credits include the Broadway and national touring companies of The Lion King, the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Strange Loop and a couple visits to Smokey Joe’s Cafe! He’s been at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Denver Center and The Public in New York. TV/Film credits include High Maintenance, Chicago Fire, Little Voice, Dash & Lily, Flatbush Misdemeanors and I’m Not Him.
THE SOUND OF MUSIC August 3– 9 Music by Richard Rodgers Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II Book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse Suggested by “The Trapp Family Singers” by Maria Augusta Trapp Sponsored by Edward Jones
KATE ROCKWELL (Maria Rainer) is thrilled to be back at The Muny! Previous Muny credits include Beauty and the Beast (Belle) and Tarzan (Jane). On Broadway, she recently starred as the original Karen Smith in Mean Girls: The Musical (Drama Desk nomination). Her previous Broadway dumb blondes include originating the role of Skylar in Bring It On: The Musical, Rock of Ages, Hair and Legally Blonde. She’s been seen recently as Nina Bennett on Fox’s Almost Family, High Maintenance, Deadbeat and Sex and the City: The Movie. Upcoming: Harlem on Amazon. She released her debut solo album, Back To My Roots, in 2018 on Broadway Records, and has performed her solo concert by the same name at Birdland Jazz Club, City Winery and other venues in NYC. She is a WSET-certified wine lover and has the two cutest dogs on the planet.
MICHAEL HAYDEN (Captain Georg von Trapp) Broadway: All My Sons, Festen, Henry IV, Judgement at Nuremberg (Tony nomination), Cabaret, Carousel. Off-Broadway: The Lady from Dubuque, Measure for Measure, Dessa Rose, Far East. London: Cabaret, Carousel (Olivier nomination). Regional: Much Ado About Nothing, The Winter’s Tale, Henry V, Richard II, Merrily We Roll Along. Film: Patient 001, Charming Billy (American Film Institute Best Actor Award). TV: Evil, Elementary, Chicago Fire, Law & Order and Murder One.
BRYONHA MARIE PARHAM (The Mother Abbess) is thrilled to be making her Muny debut in her home state! Broadway: Prince of Broadway, The Book of Mormon, After Midnight, The Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess, Ragtime. Off Broadway/NY: Promenade (NY City Center Encores!), Candide (Carnegie Hall), Ragtime (Lincoln Center). National tour: Falsettos. World premieres: Dave (Arena Stage), Prince of Broadway (Tokyo Theatre Orb). Concert: New York Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra (Bernstein’s Mass), Kansas City Symphony, 92nd Street Y Lyrics & Lyricists series. Regional: The Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess (American Repertory Theater), Ragtime (Kennedy Center), The Civil War (NETworks), Hair (Sacramento Music Circus), Dreamgirls (Effie, North Shore), Little Shop of Horrors (Berkshire Theatre Group) and many more! Television: The SpongeBob Musical: Live on Stage!; Madam Secretary, Live from Lincoln Center: Sweeney Todd in Concert (Beggar Woman) and Show Boat in Concert, 66th and 68th Annual Tony Awards, The Today Show. Twitter/Instagram: @BryonhaMarie
ELIZABETH TEETER (Liesl von Trapp) is thrilled to return to the Muny stage after last being seen off-Broadway as Lily in The Secret Life of Bees (Atlantic Theatre Company). Broadway: Betty in The Crucible, Young Elizabeth in The Audience, starring Helen Mirren; and Jane Banks in the closing company of Mary Poppins. Other NYC credits include workshops with Kathleen Marshall, Anne Kauffman, Leigh Silverman, Rachel Brosnahan and more. Regional: The Muny, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Opera Theatre St. Louis, Tennessee Williams Festival, Variety Theatre. TV/Film: Leaving (short film), The Last O.G. (TBS). You can also see her this August as Laura in The Glass Menagerie with the Tennessee Williams Festival. Eleven years ago, she played one of the tiniest von Trapp children at The Muny and is honored for this full circle moment. @elizabethteeterofficial
ANDREW ALSTAT (Rolf Gruber) is thrilled to be returning to The Muny for his second season! Originally from Pomona, Illinois, Andrew is a recent graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where he received his BFA in Musical Theatre. He was last seen on the Muny stage as Chuck Cranston in Footloose. Recent credits: The Rocky Horror Show (Rocky) and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Frederick) for CCM, Newsies (Albert, Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts), Legally Blonde (Emmett) and Anything Goes (Billy Crocker) for McLeod Summer Playhouse. @a_alstat. @andrewalstat_photography
JENNY POWERS (Elsa Schraeder) is thrilled to be back at the Muny where her credits include 1776 (Abigail Adams, 2019), Jerome Robbins’ Broadway (Monotony Singer/Hildy, 2018), Mamma Mia! (Tanya, 2016); The Addams Family (Morticia Addams, 2014), Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins, 2013), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Milly, 2011), Camelot (Guenevere, 2009) and Oliver! (Nancy, 2006). Broadway: Rizzo in Grease and Meg in Little Women. Theatre highlights: Marie Dancing Still (5th Avenue Theatre), Lois Lane in It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman (NY City Center Encores!), Donnybrook! (Irish Rep, Drama Desk nomination); Dangerous Beauty (Pasadena Playhouse), Happiness (Lincoln Center), Secondhand Lions (5th Avenue) and Little Dancer (Kennedy Center). TV: The Mysteries of Laura, Blue Bloods, Power, The Good Wife, Mercy, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Nurse Jackie, All My Children. She is also the co- founder of The Link Theatre Company thelinktheatre.org jenny-powers.com
JOHN SCHERER (Max Detweiler) has appeared at The Muny in Cinderella, Kinky Boots, Annie, Young Frankenstein, The Buddy Holly Story, The Addams Family, Spamalot and Mame. He has appeared on Broadway in LoveMusik, By Jeeves and Sunset Boulevard. Off-Broadway credits include Dames at Sea, Olympus on My Mind and Preppies. Other NY credits include The Most Happy Fella (NY City Opera) and Out of This World (NY City Center Encores!). He has toured nationally in 42nd Street, Cats, Mame, Hello, Dolly! and White Christmas. His regional credits include Arena Stage, Goodman Theatre, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Kennedy Center, Goodspeed Opera House, Paper Mill Playhouse and many others. Television credits include Blue Bloods, The Shield, Crossing Jordan, Law & Order (SVU and CI) and Titus. He is originally from Buffalo, NY and is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University. SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS August 12 – 18 Book by Lawrence Kasha and David Landay Lyrics by Johnny Mercer Music by Gene de Paul New Songs by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn Based on the MGM Film and “The Sobbin’ Women” by Stephen Vincent Benet Dance Music Arrangements by Sam Davis Sponsored by U.S. Bank
KENDRA KASSEBAUM (Milly Bradon) Muny: Guys and Dolls (Miss Adelaide, 2019). On Broadway, Kendra originated the role of Janice in the Tony-nominated production of Come From Away as well as Sam in Leap of Faith. She played Glinda in Wicked on Broadway, in San Francisco and on the first national tour (Helen Hayes nomination). Other New York: The Receptionist (Manhattan Theatre Club) and the Tony Award-winning, Grammy-nominated production of Assassins. Kendra made her Broadway debut in Rent. For Roundabout Theatre, she performed the role of Petra in A Little Night Music, starring Vanessa Redgrave and Natasha Richardson. Kassebaum’s regional appearances include Actors Theatre of Louisville, The 5th Avenue Theatre, American Conservatory Theater, Ordway, Florida Stage and her hometown St. Louis Muny. Film: The Other Woman (with Natalie Portman and Lisa Kudrow).
EDWARD WATTS (Adam Pontipee) is delighted to make his post-pandemic debut at The Muny! Broadway: Robert/David in Scandalous. Other New York: Superman (It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman), El Gallo (The Fantasticks), Joe (The Most Happy Fella) and Steve (Show Boa Tours: The Book of Mormon, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Les Misérables and The Little Mermaid. Selected regional: The Grinch in Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Old Globe), Harold Hill in The Music Man (Goodspeed Musicals), Joe Bradley in Roman Holiday (Guthrie Theater), Carl-Magnus in A Little Night Music (Michigan Opera Theatre), Thomas Jefferson in 1776 (Goodspeed) and Miles Gloriosus in A Funny Thing… Forum (Shakespeare Theatre Company, Helen Hayes nomination). Television: NCIS: New Orleans, Quantico, The Sopranos, Rescue Me. Proud member of AEA. EdwardWatts.net.
ON YOUR FEET! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan August 21 – 27 Featuring Music Produced and Recorded by Emilio & Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine Book by Alexander Dinelaris Sponsored by BMO Harris Bank
OMAR LOPEZ-CEPERO (Emilio) is deeply humbled to return to the Muny stage after appearing in Paint Your Wagon (Armando) and The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Prior to the pandemic shutdown, he was seen in the off-Broadway premiere of The Unsinkable Molly Brown (Vincenzo). Broadway: On Your Feet! and American Idiot. Off-Broadway: The Public Theater’s Central Park concert of The Capeman. Regional/tour credits: The Flamingo Kid (Alejandro) at Hartford Stage, Guys and Dolls (Sky Masterson) at Theatre Under The Stars, Evita as Che (national tour, Fulton Theatre) and as Peron (Bay Street Theater). TV credits: Blue Bloods (CBS), The Detour (TBS), Vegas (CBS). He is a graduate of The University of Miami Frost School of Music with a degree in Vocal Performance. Alongside his performing career, he has developed an acting and voice studio where he coaches professional artists and students to maximize their potential. www.omarlopezcepero.com @omarlopezcepero
NATASCIA DIAZ (Gloria Fajardo) Most widely recognized for the documentary Every Little Step, this three-time Helen Hayes Award-winner returns to The Muny after her “breathtaking” turn as Velma Kelly in Chicago, and her award-winning turn as Anita in West Side Story. Broadway: Seussical (Bird Girl), Man of La Mancha (Antonia, u/s Aldonza). Off-Broadway: Tick, Tick…Boom!, Jacques Brel…; Washington DC: Petra (A Little Night Music) Rosalie (Carnival), Aurora (Kiss of the Spider Woman). Her first Helen Hayes happened in a tie with Chita Rivera for her transformation into Scottish rocker Monica in Rooms, and her second for her performance in Brel. Other favorites: Jenny (The Threepenny Opera), Betty 3, Collective Rage (Woolly Mammoth), Mariana (Measure for Measure), Savage (Savage in Limbo), Rafaella (Grand Hotel, NY City Center Encores!) and winning her third award for her “obsessively watchable, gorgeously sung” (Washington Post) role in a “career-defining performance” (BroadwayWorld) as Fosca in Sondheim’s Passion. TV: FBI IG:@LadyDiaz777
ALMA CUERVO (Consuelo) Broadway: On Your Feet!; Beauty and the Beast, Cabaret, Titanic, The Heidi Chronicles, Quilters, Is There Life After High School?; Censored Scenes from King Kong and Bedroom Farce. She has toured nationally in Wicked, My Fair Lady, Cabaret, M. Butterfly and Dancing at Lughnasa. Off-Broadway: Allegro (Classic Stage Company), Far From Heaven (Playwrights Horizons) and Road Show (The Public). She received an OBIE for her performance in Uncommon Women and Others and Philadelphia’s Barrymore Award for The Beauty Queen of Leenane. Ms. Cuervo has worked extensively in regional theatre, most recently In the Heights at Music Theatre Wichita and Yerma at Huntington Theatre. Film/Television: The Goldfinch, Bull, Lisey’s Story, City on a Hill, Instinct, The Slap, and she was a regular on Norman Lear’s AKA Pablo. She narrates many audiobooks and is a graduate of Tulane University and Yale School of Drama.
LEE ZARRETT (Phil) Broadway: My Fair Lady, On Your Feet!; Hair, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Jane Eyre. National tours: Peter and the Starcatcher, Les Misérables. TV: The Blacklist, High Fidelity, Gotham, Louie, Boardwalk Empire. Off-Broadway: NY City Center Encores!, New Victory, Vineyard Theatre. Regional: Pittsburg CLO, La Jolla Playhouse.
CHICAGO August 30 – September 5 Book by Fred Ebb and Bob Foss Music by John Kander Lyrics by Fred Ebb Based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins Script Adaptation by David Thompson Sponsored by Missouri Lottery
SARAH BOWDEN (Roxie Hart) Originally from Australia, Sarah most recently played Velma Kelly in Chicago at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre with Denis Jones directing and is beyond excited to be working with Denis again on this dream show! USA highlights include Cherry Sundae in the first national tour of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, playing Cassie in A Chorus Line in 2016 at The Hollywood Bowl opposite Mario Lopez, and her first Muny production of Jerome Robbins’ Broadway in 2018. Sarah spent many years in Germany playing Sally Bowles in Cabaret, Anita in West Side Story, Doralee in 9 to 5, Gloria in Flashdance and lastly, Esmeralda in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, with Scott Schwartz (director) and Chase Brock (choreographer). INSTA: @sarahbowden.de
J. HARRISON GHEE (Velma Kelly) is honored to be returning to The Muny playing Velma Kelly. Many thanks to family, friends, and his agency Nicolosi & Co. for continued love and support. Broadway/International tour: Kinky Boots (Lola/Swing), Mrs. Doubtfire (Andre Mayem). Regional: The Color Purple (Ensemble), The Sting (Johnny Hooker). Television: High Maintenance (Charles), Raising Dion (Kwame). Industrial: Tokyo Disney Sea’s Big Band Beat, Norwegian Cruise Line. Proud graduate of The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (NY) @jharrisonghee
EMILY SKINNER (Matron “Mama” Morton) Muny: Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Billy Elliot. Broadway: Side Show (Tony nomination, Drama League Award), The Cher Show, Prince of Broadway, Jekyll & Hyde, The Full Monty, James Joyce’s The Dead, Dinner at Eight (Outer Critics Circle nomination), Billy Elliot (BroadwayWorld Award). Off-Broadway: Picnic (Drama Desk nomination), Jerry Springer: The Opera (Carnegie Hall), Fiorello!; No Strings, Pardon My English, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (all for NY City Center Encores!). She has sung leading roles at Manhattan Theatre Club, WPA Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Roundabout Theatre Company, York Theatre, Paramount Theatre at Madison Square Garden. Regional: The Kennedy Center, Signature Theatre, Alliance Theatre, Ford’s Theatre, Long Wharf, Old Globe, Goodspeed, Bucks County Playhouse, Virginia Rep, and many others. She has sung with symphonies around the globe and her numerous recordings may be found at Amazon.com. www.emily-skinner.com
JAMES T. LANE (Billy Flynn) West End: The Scottsboro Boys, A Chorus Line (Palladium, revival). Broadway: Kiss Me, Kate (Paul), King Kong, The Scottsboro Boys (Ozie Powell/Ruby Bates), Chicago and A Chorus Line (Richie). National tours: Jersey Boys, Cinderella, Fame. Regional: Guys and Dolls (Nicely Nicely, Virginia Stage Company), Mary Poppins (Bert, Drury Lane Theatre), The Wiz (Tin Man), Promenade, Grand Hotel and Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope (all for NY City Center Encores!), Disney’s The Little Mermaid (Sebastian, The Muny), Broadway at Music Circus, The Old Globe, American Conservatory Theater and Dallas Theater Center. Concerts: Carnegie Hall with The New York Pops, Ottawa Symphony and many more. James is the creator of a one man show entitled Triple Threat: A Play That Moves and Sings. Look for streaming information, booking, as well as performance dates at www.jamestlane.com. Mr. Lane teaches music theatre dance when and wherever anyone will let him! Instagram: @jamestlane www.jamestlane.com
ADAM HELLER (Amos Hart) Muny: Gypsy, 1776. Repertory Theatre of St. Louis: Follies, Brighton Beach Memoirs. Broadway: It Shoulda Been You, Elf, Baby, It’s You; Caroline, or Change; A Class Act, Victor/Victoria; Les Misérables. National tours: Titanic, Falsettos. Off-Broadway: Popcorn Falls (Davenport), A Letter to Harvey Milk (Theater Row), Peer Gynt (CSC), Wings (Second Stage), Make Me a Song: The Music of William Finn and The Immigrant (New World Stages), Merrily We Roll Along (York). Regional: The Flamingo Kid (Hartford Stage), Fiddler on the Roof (Connecticut Critics Circle Award) and Rags (Goodspeed), The Chosen (Barrington Stage), My Name is Asher Lev (Arden), Merrily We Roll Along (Kennedy Center). TV: The Bite, FBI: Most Wanted; Ray Donovan, The Good Fight, Elementary, Unforgettable, The Americans, The Sopranos, Law & Order (all), Oz, Submissions Only. Graduate: NYU/Tisch.
ALI EWOLDT (Mary Sunshine) is beyond thrilled to return to The Muny. She appeared here as Philia in Forum, Martha Jefferson in 1776 and Maria in West Side Story. Other credits include Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, Cosette in Les Misérables (Broadway, national tour), The King and I (Broadway, tour, Lyric Opera of Chicago), Maria in West Side Story (national tour, international tour), Luisa in The Fantasticks (off-Broadway), Fan/Mrs. Bonds in A Christmas Carol (McCarter Theatre) and Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls (Sacramento Music Circus). Concert/symphony work: Alice Tully Hall, The Town Hall, NY Pops at Carnegie Hall, Houston Symphony, American Pops Orchestra, Kaohsiung Symphony and The Boston Pops with Maestro Keith Lockhart. Her TV/Film credits include The Michael J. Fox Show, Yield, Mia and The Cactus. Ali has a BA in psychology from Yale University and is a proud Filipina American and member of Actors’ Equity. @aliewoldt
Current season ticket holders for the 2021 season will receive their season tickets later this month. New season subscriptions for the 2021 five-show season are currently available, with single tickets becoming available July 12. Tickets can be purchased online at muny.org or by phone by calling (314) 361-1900 ext 1550. Currently, the box office in Forest Park is closed for walk-up service until July 5.
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