Porchlight's 20th Anniversary Season Will Feature Sweeney Todd and More in All-Sondheim Lineup

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24 Mar 2014

Porchlight Music Theatre will feature a season of works by award-winning composer Stephen Sondheim.

The Chicago-based theatre's 20th anniversary season includes Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, the first Chicago production of Sondheim on Sondheim and the comedy A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

Additionally, the Porchlight Revisits series will feature one-night-only presentations of Bells are Ringing, Mack and Mabel and City of Angels.

"The 20th anniversary has already created quite a buzz as Porchlight has received congratulations and compliments from luminaries like Stephen Sondheim, Harvey Fierstein, Lonny Price, Linda Kline and John Bucchino," managing artistic director Michael Weber said in a statement. "Our platinum anniversary season featuring all Sondheim Mainstage productions and a special concert presentation of the music of the rare TV special Evening Primrose was created for those who cannot get enough of Sondheim's incredible skill, wit and the undeniable magic he creates on stage.

"We also continue to excel in offering memorable theatrical experiences with the return of our sold-out Porchlight Revisits… 'lost' musicals in concert series and special events such as Chicago Sings where this year's audiences will experience the best of Chicago music theatre talents gathered to perform the music of the legendary Walt Disney Studios songbook in concert. More special events are in the works and will be announced throughout the season. The excitement of our 20th anniversary is palpable and we hope that audiences will join us for this celebration," he continued.



The season-at-a-glance follows.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Hugh Wheeler
Direction by managing artistic director Michael Weber
Music direction by Porchlight artistic associate Doug Peck
Starring Porchlight artistic associates David Girolmo as Sweeney Todd and Rebecca Finnegan as Mrs. Lovett
Oct. 3-Nov. 9
Opening Night: Oct. 7
Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.

"Based on the Victorian era serial, this Tony and Olivier-winning musical tells the tale of London barber Sweeney Todd, torn from his family and exiled for 15 years on a miscarriage of justice who returns home to a city as corrupt as when he left. Hell-bent on revenge after learning the agonizing fate of his wife and daughter, he takes up his razors to dish out a brutal recipe of justice with the help of infatuated and enterprising meat pie-maker Nellie Lovett in this spine-chilling musical masterpiece of obsession, retribution and culinary curiosity."

Sondheim on Sondheim
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Conceived by James Lapine
Direction by Nick Bowling
Music direction by Porchlight artistic associate Austin Cook
Feb. 6-March 15, 2015
Opening Night: Feb. 10
Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.

"In this first-ever Chicago production of the complete catalogue of a master's career since its Broadway premiere, Stephen Sondheim's final say on his unparalleled body of work is an intimate portrait of the famed songwriter in his own words and music featuring new arrangements of more than two-dozen Sondheim tunes, ranging from the beloved to the obscure, interspersed with filmed commentary by the composer himself, who reveals fascinating details about his life and his art."

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart
Direction by managing artistic director Michael Weber
Music direction by porchlight artistic associate Linda Madonia
Choreography by Porchlight artistic associate Brenda Didier
April 17-May 24
Opening Night: April 21
Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.

"Way back in ancient Rome, the house slave Pseudolus yearns for freedom, while his young master pines for the pretty girl next door. In exchange for his freedom, Pseudolus promises to find a way to unite the young lovers. But promises made are not easy to keep when a simple plan explodes in the wake of mistaken identities, frantic chases, lascivious husbands, men in dresses, long-lost children, mixed-up potions and all to the tunes of musical comedy – tonight!"

PORCHLIGHT REVISITS…

In addition to the performance, before every Porchlight Revisits... production, audiences are invited to Behind the Show Backstory, hosted by Weber. This multi-media presentation about that evening's production includes its photographic and video history, backstage stories and more. 

Bells are Ringing
Books and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green 
Oct. 29 at 8 PM
Behind the Show Backstory begins at 7:15 PM
Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.

"Debuting on Broadway in 1956, Bells are Ringing was created for the legendary star Judy Holiday, and its score is one of the lushest and cleverest in Broadway history including the songs 'The Party's Over,' 'Long Before I Knew You' and 'Just in Time' and tells the story of Ella Peterson, a 1950s operator at a telephone message service in New York City. Ella falls for one of her clients, the aspiring playwright Jeff Moss AKA telephone number 'Plaza 0 double-four double-three,' but, unsure of herself, Ella assumes other identities in an effort to keep the conversation continuing as the comical plot thickens."

City of Angels
Book by Larry Gelbart 
Music by Cy Coleman 
Lyrics by David Zippel
March 4 at 8 PM
Behind the Show Backstory begins at 7:15 PM
Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.

"Sexy, smart and funny, City of Angels is the 1990 Best Musical Tony Award-winning detective thriller with the jazzy score that really kills including 'What You Don't Know About Women,' 'With Every Breath I Take' and 'You're Nothing Without Me.' An ingenious spoof of 1940s Hollywood and whodunit films with side-by-side stories about the 'real' world of a detective fiction writer and the 'reel' world of his fictional gumshoe hero, one balances romance and rewrites, while the other slinks through a film noir netherworld of thugs and femmes fatales."

Mack and Mabel
Book by Michael Stewart 
Music and lyrics by Jerry Herman 
May 13 at 8 PM
Behind the Show Backstory begins at 7:15 PM
Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.

"It's the roaring 1920s, a time when movies were silent and cinema was magic. Movie Director Mack Sennett, the 'King of Comedy' and creator of The Keystone Kops, discovers Mabel Normand, a waitress from Brooklyn, and turns her into a star. So begins one of the most tempestuous, hilarious and heart-wrenching American love stories. With a spectacular, soaring score including 'I Won't Send Roses,' 'Time Heals Everything' and 'Movies Were Movies.' Mack and Mable is a beautiful, touching and ultimately heart-breaking story of two of Hollywood's greatest icons."

SPECIAL EVENTS:

Chicago Sings DISNEY
Conceived and Directed by artistic associates Doug Peck and Rob Lindley
Aug. 25 at 8 PM  
Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse Ave.
This one-night-only concert event also features live and silent auctions

"In Porchlight's 9th annual concert celebration, Chicago's crème de la crème of vocal talent pay tribute to the music associated with one of the supreme visionaries of American entertainment, Walt Disney. Since his first sound cartoon in 1928, that introduced the world to a certain mouse, to this year's Academy Award-winning 'Frozen,' the name Disney has been associated with the most beloved melodies, unforgettable lyrics and the silliest symphonies."

Evening Primrose - in concert
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Performance Date and Artists; TBA

"Originally produced in 1966 for television with a teleplay by James Goldman and starring Anthony Perkins, Porchlight presents this one-night-only concert of the music inspired by the story of a poet who takes refuge from the world by hiding out in a department store after closing time where, to his surprise, he meets a community of 'night people' who also happen to live there. This Chicago premiere presents one of the most rare and enchanting productions of Sondheim's early works."

Single tickets for all performances go on sale June 16 and are available online at porchlightmusictheatre.org or by calling the Stage 773 box office at (773) 327-5252.

All subscriptions are available at porchlightmusictheatre.org or by phone at (773) 777-9884.