Tony Award winner Alice Ripley and Tony nominee Norm Lewis will join Steppenwolf Theatre's co-founder Jeff Perry in Standup Shakespeare: A Concert Reading, an unusual musical that sets passages from William Shakespeare’s plays and poems to original jazz, baroque, samba, and gospel-rock.
This “fractured love story” with music by Ray Leslee, book by Kenneth Welsh, and words by Shakespeare, is being presented July 17 in Chicago as a benefit for Steppenwolf.
Ripley received the 2009 Best Actress in a Musical Tony Award for her work in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Next to Normal. She starred in the original Broadway casts of Sunset Boulevard, Side Show (Tony and Drama Desk nominations), James Joyce’s The Dead, The Rocky Horror Show, and American Psycho.
Lewis made history in May of 2014 as the first African-American to play the title role of The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. He can currently be seen in the new VH1 series, Daytime Divas, and on the drama Scandal, alongside Jeff Perry. Lewis received Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League, and Outer Critics Circle award nominations for his performance as Porgy in the Broadway revival of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.
Perry served as Steppenwolf artistic director 1982–1985 and 1986–1987. His Steppenwolf acting credits include August: Osage County (also Broadway and London), The Grapes of Wrath (also Broadway and London), and Picasso at the Lapin Agile (world premiere).
Accompanying the cast of Standup Shakespeare are Marshall Coid (Violin), Dave Dunaway (Bass), Ray Leslee (Piano), and Josh Plotner (Woodwinds).
Steppenwolf’s performance series LookOut is described as presenting work “across genre and form, emerging artists and performance legends, quintessential Chicago companies and young aspiring ensembles, familiar Steppenwolf faces and new friends.”
Standup Shakespeare will be performed at 6:30 PM in Steppenwolf’s Downstairs Theatre, 1650 North Halsted Street in Chicago, Illinois. Single tickets ($79–$99) go on sale June 23 at 11 AM (CT) at (312) 335-1650 or Steppenwolf.org. A limited number of $15 student rush tickets will be available one hour before the show.
Lewis and Ripley have both been special guest performers on Playbill’s Broadway on the High Seas cruises. Cabins are available for Playbill’s Rhine River cruise in August 2017, featuring Seth Rudetsky, Andréa Burns, Faith Prince, Terrence Mann, Charlotte d’Amboise, and Santino Fontana. Playbill Travel is now also booking Broadway on the Danube River with Michael Feinstein for November 2017, also featuring Carmen Cusack, Julia Murney, Christopher Fitzgerald, Marc Kudisch, Christopher Sieber, Brandon Uranowitz, and Rudetsky, as well as other exciting talent to be announced. Visit PlaybillTravel.com for booking and information.