Chuck Cooper, Leslie Odom, Rema Webb to Celebrate Being Alive in Philly Oct. 24-Dec. 2

News   Chuck Cooper, Leslie Odom, Rema Webb to Celebrate Being Alive in Philly Oct. 24-Dec. 2
Casting has been announced for the second resident theatre engagement of director Billy Porter's Being Alive, a newly constructed revue of songs by Stephen Sondheim that merges Shakespeare poetry with African-American musical idioms.
Billy Porter
Billy Porter Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Philadelphia Theatre Company will open its new home, the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, with the show on Oct. 24. The Philadelphia production includes some holdover cast members from the show's August-September world premiere at Westport Country Playhouse. Philly performances continue to Dec. 2.

The PTC production will reflect new ideas and a mostly new cast since the Westport production in Connecticut.

Conceived and directed by Billy Porter, who worked closely with Sondheim, the ensemble cast features Bryan Terrell Clark, Tony Award winner Chuck Cooper (who appeared in Westport), Vanita Harbour, Patina Miller, Jesse Nader, Leslie Odom, Jr. (who appeared in Westport), Nandi Walker and Barrymore Award nominee Rema Webb (who appeared in Westport).

According to PTC, "Being Alive is a unique musical fusion which blends four decades of Stephen Sondheim's inventive music and lyrics with the passion and style of jazz, blues, soul, R&B, hip-hop and gospel. Using Shakespeare's 'Seven Ages of Man' from As You Like It for dramatic structure, director-conceiver Billy Porter brings it all to vibrant life in this joyous celebration…"

The score includes "Send in the Clowns," "Pretty Women," "Children Will Listen" and "Being Alive." As an actor, Billy Porter has appeared on Broadway in Miss Saigon, Five Guys Named Moe, Grease, Smokey Joe's Café, Dreamgirls and Hair and Off-Broadway and regionally in Romance in Hard Times, The Merchant of Venice, House of Lear, Radiant Baby, Birdie Blue, Topdog/Underdog, Angels in America, Going Native, Songs for a New World, Jesus Christ Superstar and Jelly's Last Jam. His one-man show, Ghetto Superstar: The Man That I Am, debuted at the Public Theater and was nominated for both a 2005 Drama League Award and a GLAAD Media Award.

The Being Alive production team includes set designer Allen Moyer, costume designer Anita Yavich, Tony Award-winning lighting designer Kevin Adams, sound designer Rob Killenberger, choreographer AC Ciulla (Tony and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations for Footloose), music supervisor James Sampliner (Broadway's Legally Blonde, The Wedding Singer and Brooklyn: The Musical), and vocal director, arranger, and orchestrators Michael McElroy (Grammy nominated for "Great Joy! A Gospel Christmas") and Joseph Joubert (Grammy nominated for "Beautiful Star").

Philadelphia Theatre Company's dramaturg for Being Alive is Warren Hoffman.

Opening is Oct. 31. Performances will play Tuesday through Sunday. Tickets are $10-$63, with discounts for students, seniors and groups. Tickets are available by calling the PTC box office at (215) 985-0420 or visiting

Philadelphia Theatre Company's new Suzanne Roberts Theatre is located at Broad and Lombard Streets.

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