BLUES IN THE NIGHT, WILL HEAT UP MILWAUKEE REP’S STACKNER CABARET THIS FALL

The universal language of the blues speaks eloquently in this scorching, Tony-nominated musical! The twenty-six hot, torchy numbers that tell the sweet, sexy and sorrowful stories of four colorful inhabitants of a 1930s Chicago saloon, will leave audiences energized, inspired and ready to wail. This dynamite revue features blues classics from Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Bessie Smith and many more, packed into a larger-than-life score that’ll bring down the house! The play was conceived and originally directed by Sheldon Epps with original Vocal Arrangements and Musical Direction by Chapman Roberts and Orchestrations and Additional Vocal Arrangements by Sy Johnson. The show will be directed by Megan O’Brien, who returns to The Rep after having directed The Bomb-itty of Errors during the 2010/11 Season, and will feature a group of talented actor/singer/musicians: Carl Clemons-Hopkins (The Man/Tenor Sax/Bass), Zonya Love (The Lady), Halle Morse (The Girl/Percussion/Washboard) and Lili Thomas(The Woman/Trumpet/Trombone). Associate Artist Dan Kazemi is the Music Director for this production and will provide piano and clarinet accompaniment. Patrick Morrow, a frequent Rep collaborator, also joins the cast in the orchestra and will be playing drums, percussion, guitar and bass. Blues in the Night runs in the Stackner Cabaret from October 19 – December 23, and opens Sunday, October 21.

 

Blues in the Night is a great celebration of singers and dancers kicking back and doing what they do at their very best,” says Artistic Director Mark Clements. “Our take on the piece – utilizing actor/singer/musicians as the cast – will hopefully prove original and innovative. This will definitely be one of those shows where we lift the roof off the Stackner Cabaret!”

 

“One of the most exciting things about this cast is that they are so multi-talented,” added Director Megan O’Brien. “They are great singers and actors and they also play instruments – but above all, they are storytellers. They are able to accurately portray the stories of the blues music in the show while giving the stories new life. I’m looking forward to the rehearsal process and I can’t wait to see what they bring to the table!”

 

Blues in the Night was originally staged at the Off-Broadway Playhouse 46 by Sheldon Epps and Gregory Hines (under the supervision of Norman René). The show ran March 26 to May 11, 1980 for 51 performances. Blues in the Night later reopened on Broadway at the Rialto Theatre on June 2, 1982 and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Musical.

 

THE CAST

Carl Clemons-Hopkins (The Man/Tenor Sax/Bass), will be making his Rep debut; regional credits include the world premiere of Eclectic Society and My Way at Walnut Street Theatre; Pericles (Georgia Shakespeare) and Avenue X, Rent and Little Shop of Horrors (11th Hour Theatre Company), among others; Zonya Love (The Lady), just returning from Lyon, France, where she performed as a solo gospel artist for the Absolute Gospel Festival, is also making her Rep debut; credits include Celie in The Color Purple and the first national tour of Avenue Q as the understudy for Gary Coleman, Dessa in This One Girl’s Story, Hattie in Kiss Me Kate and Lucy Van Pelt in You’re a Good Man Charlie BrownHalle Morse (The Girl/Percussion/Washboard), making her Rep debut, comes directly from the Broadway company of Mamma Mia!where she performed the role of Lisa for three years; other credits include Rent(Pioneer Theatre Company), Hairspray (Sacramento Music Circus) and Hello, Dolly!(North Carolina Theatre), among others; Lili Thomas (The Woman/Trumpet/Trombone), is happy to return to The Rep after appearing in Cabaretin the 2010/11 Season; regional favorites include Mimi in Rent, Fastrada in Pippin, Marcy Park in 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Gigi in Miss Saigon and Tuptim in The King and I; New York credits include Reefer MadnessSounds of PlaidRadiant Baby and Metropolis, the world premiere of Aaron Jay Kernis’ Garden of Light (Disney Millennium Symphonies) with the New York Philharmonic; Dan Kazemi (Musical Director/Piano/Clarinet – see bio below) and Patrick Morrow(Drums/Percussion/Guitar/Bass), was most recently seen at the Stackner Cabaret inAlways . . . Patsy Cline and was just seen in the Quadracci Powerhouse playing percussion in Assassins; other Rep credits include Next to Normal and Cabaret.

CREATIVE TEAM

The Creative Team for Blues in the Night includes: Dan Kazemi (Musical Director), a Rep Associate Artist, is a Philadelphia-based composer, actor, music director and educator, and was Musical Director for The Rep’s recent productions of Assassins, Always . . . Patsy Cline, Next to Normal and Cabaret; he most recently orchestrated and musically directed the world premiere musical, Tulipomania, at the Arden Theatre Company and musically directed Tick, Tick . . . Boom!, Austentations, The PhillyRocks! concerts, The World Goes Round (Barrymore nomination), Reefer Madness, Little Shop of Horrors, Rooms and The Great American Trailer Park Musical for 11th Hour Theatre Company; Kazemi is also the composer of a new musical, The Tapioca Miracle (thetapiocamiracle.com); Megan Truscott (Scenic Designer), a Chicago-based scenic designer, is a graduate from The Theatre School at DePaul University where recent credits include The Death of Gaia Divine (director John Jenkins) and Medea (director Damon Kiely); she also assisted on the showsSweeney Todd and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (designer Kevin Depinet); Holly Payne (Costume Designer), is The Rep’s Costume Director and has designed many shows there; favorites include LombardiThe Bomb-itty of Errors andSpeaking in Tongues; other credits include Skylight Music Theatre, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Renaissance Theaterworks, Milwaukee Shakespeare, University of Tulsa and American Players Theatre, to name a few; Craig Gottschalk (Lighting Designer), The Rep’s Lighting & Sound Director, is happy to return to the Stackner Cabaret after having previously designed Always . . . Patsy ClineThe Bomb-itty of ErrorsNobody Lonesome for Me and Route 66; other lighting credits include: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels; Ivey award-winning Kiss of the Spiderwoman; ‘Best in Twin Cities’ award-winning Jerry Springer – The Opera for Minneapolis Musical Theatre; King Learfor Minnesota Shakespeare Project; Into the Woods and Wizard of Oz for Minnetonka Center for the Arts and 1940’s Radio Hour and 3-Way for 8-Ball Theatre; Barry G. Funderburg (Sound Designer), returns to The Rep for his 60th production; memorable productions include Othello, In the Next Room, The 39 Steps, The Cherry Orchard, Pride and Prejudice, ArmadaleMary StuartWork Song and Angels in America: Millennium Approaches; Off-Broadway, Barry designed the critically-acclaimed New York premiere of Wittenberg at The Pearl Theatre Company; other regional theater credits include Fake, Carter’s Way and Mother Courage and Her Children at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and productions at Utah Shakespeare Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, City Theatre (Pittsburgh), CenterStage (Baltimore), Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Peninsula Players, American Players Theatre, LA Theatre Works and Indiana Repertory Theatre; Kat Borrelli (Choreographer), choreographing her first show at The Rep, recently graduated from The University of the Arts with a BFA in Musical Theatre; favorite credits include: The Marvelous Wonderettes (Betty Jean/11th Hour Theatre Company); The Adding Machine (Mrs. Zero); The Realm of the Unreal (world premiere/Choreographer) and next up is Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson with 11th Hour Theatre Company; Sandy Ernst, (Casting Director), is The Rep’s Associate Artistic Director and Casting Director; Stephanie Klapper (New York Casting Director), cast AssassinsBlues in the Night and The Mountaintop this season for The Rep; other past Rep credits include: Cabaret, Next to Normal, Assassins, The Bomb-itty of Errors, From My Hometown, Fire on the Bayou, Grafton City Blues and The Night is a Child; selected Broadway credits include A Christmas Story, the Musical!, Dividing the Estate and Bells are RingingLaura F. Wendt(Stage Manager), now in her seventh season with The Rep, just finished assistant stage managing for AssassinsMarissa Robinson (Stage Management Intern), joins The Rep this season and is a recent graduate of Emerson College in Boston andMaggie Ellsworth (Assistant Director), is a Directing Intern for the 2012/13 Season; Rep credits this season include Gutenberg! The Musical! and The Mountaintop.

KEY BIOGRAPHIES

Sheldon Epps, (Playwright), Artistic Director of the renowned Pasadena Playhouse, conceived and directed the Duke Ellington musical Play On! which received three Tony Award nominations and was produced at Seattle Repertory Theatre and the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, where it received four Jefferson Awards including Best Musical. He also conceived and directed the highly acclaimed musical revue Blues in the Night. The Broadway production was nominated for a Tony Award as Best Musical of the Year, and the London production, which he also directed, was nominated for two Laurence Olivier Awards and ran for over a year on the West End. Mr. Epps was a co-founder and the Associate Artistic Director of the Off-Broadway theater The Production Company. He has directed plays and musicals for many of the country’s major theaters including the Guthrie, the Old Globe Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, Crossroads Theatre, Cleveland Play House, Arizona Theatre Company, Goodspeed Opera House, Coconut Grove Playhouse, Walnut Street Theatre, George Street Playhouse and Asolo State Theatre. For television he has directed episodes of FrasierFriendsEverybody Loves Raymond, Joey, Veronica’s ClosetEvening Shade and Sister, Sister. He is currently a member of the executive board of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. Mr. Epps is a two-time recipient of the Theatre Communications Group/Pew Charitable Trust National Theatre Artists Residency Grant, which supported his four-year tenure at the Old Globe Theatre as Associate Artistic Director. Mr. Epps was pleased to join the Pasadena Playhouse as Artistic Director in 1997. His directing credits there include As Bees in Honey DrownBluePlay On!,Les Liaisons Dangereuses, The Importance of Being EarnestThe Old SettlerThe Real ThingOn Borrowed TimeMr. Rickey Calls a MeetingBlues in the Night, andPurlie, a co-production with the Goodman Theatre. He directed the world premiere ofBlue at Arena Stage Theatre, which was also produced Off-Broadway at the Roundabout Theatre. Following its record-breaking engagement in Pasadena, Bluebegan a national tour co-produced by the Pasadena Playhouse.

Megan Nicole O’Brien, (Director), returns to The Rep after directing The Bomb-itty of Errors in the 2010/11 Season. Other credits include: Little Shop of Horrors (11th Hour Theatre Company/Theatre Horizon); Reefer Madness and The Great American Trailer Park Musical (11th Hour/Montgomery Theater, Barrymore Nomination); Rooms, Avenue X (Barrymore Nomination), The Bomb-itty of Errors (Barrymore Nomination) and Tick, Tick . . . Boom, (11th Hour); John & Jen (Act II Playhouse); High Fidelityand Adding Machine: A Musical (University of the Arts) and The Irish . . . and How They Got That Way (Walnut Street Theatre).

TICKETS

Tickets for Blues in the Night start at $35.00. Single Tickets for all of Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s 2012/13 productions are now on sale and can be purchased online 24/7 at www.MilwaukeeRep.com, through The Rep’s Ticket Office by calling414-224-9490 or in person at 108 E. Wells Street. Group tickets are also available for purchase by calling Patron Relations Manager Christine Yundem at 414-290-5340.

To learn more about The Rep or its productions, please visitwww.MilwaukeeRep.com.

SPECIAL PROGRAMS AND EVENTS

  • ·         Audio-Description Performance – On Sunday, October 28 at 7:00 p.m. there will be an Audio-Described Performance for patrons who are blind or have low vision.