Now and Forever: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, With Linda Balgord, Opens at Chicago's Marriott Theatre
By Kenneth Jones
The world premiere of Marriott Theatre's Now and Forever, a theatrical exploration of the lush songs of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber — featuring Linda Balgord, a veteran of Cats, Sunset Boulevard and Aspects of Love — opens Jan. 23 following previews from Jan. 16 in suburban Chicago.
Marriott's Terry James (executive producer), Aaron Thielen (lead artistic director) and Andy Hite (artistic director) are behind the new creation, running to March 17 in Lincolnshire, IL. Chicago theatre veteran Marc Robin, a multiple Jeff Award winner, directs and choreographs the show, which has a full title of Now and Forever: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. ("Now and Forever," you might recall, was the advertising tagline for the long-running London and Broadway productions of Lloyd Webber's Cats.)
The show features lyrics and/or text by Don Black, Christopher Hampton, Charles Hart, Trevor Nunn (after T.S. Eliot), Tim Rice, Glenn Slater, Richard Stilgoe and David Zippel, with contributions by Amy Powers, from Evita, Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar, Whistle Down the Wind, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Starlight Express, Sunset Boulevard and its sequel Love Never Dies.
Now and Forever is co-created by Marriott Theatre lead artistic director and Jeff Award winner Thielen and 16-time Jeff Award winner Robin. They are the co-creators of the award-winning musical All Night Strut, A Fascinatin' Rhythm. Music supervisor and conductor is Patti Garwood. Musical director is Ryan T. Nelson. The Marriott Theatre's orchestrator and arranger, David Seigel, has orchestrated all of the music for Now and Forever.
Balgord, recently of Broadway's La Cage aux Folles and The Pirate Queen, has long been linked to Lloyd Webber musicals, having played Grizabella in the original Broadway production of Cats; Norma Desmond in the national tour of Sunset Boulevard; and Rose Vibert in the U.S. national tour of director Robin Phillips' Aspects of Love.
The cast also includes Erin Stewart (A Little Night Music on Broadway); Susan Moniz (Marriott's Kismet, Broadway's Grease); Stephanie Binetti (Marriott's White Christmas, national tour of Mamma Mia!); Catherine Lord (Marriott's 42nd Street); Max Quinlan (25th anniversary national tour of Les Miserables, Marriott's The Light in the Piazza); Ben Jacoby (Maine State Music Theatre's The Light in the Piazza); Brian Bohr (Joseph in Marriott's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat); Travis Taylor (Marriott's Pirates of Penzance); Jameson Cooper (Marriott's Hero, Legally Blonde, For the Boys) and Matt Raftery (a veteran actor/director/choreographer of more than 20 productions at Marriott Theatre, plus Broadway and touring productions).
The show's co-choreographers are Harrison McEldowney (Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, River North Dance Chicago, Dance Works) and Raftery (Marriott's Guys and Dolls).
The Now and Forever dancers are Lauren Blane, Michael Darnell, Ellen Green, Monique Haley, Raymond Interior, Luke Manley, Sam Rogers and Melissa Zaremba.
The production team includes Tom Ryan (set designer), Nancy Missimi (costume designer), Diane Williams (lighting designer), Bob Gilmartin (sound designer).
For more information, visit MarriottTheatre.com.
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