The Music Theatre Company Presents at Ravinia Festival OSCAR & RICHARD & JOE: An Evening About Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ALLEGRO, Jan. 31

(left to right) composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II.  Photo courtesy of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization.

(left to right) composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II. Photo courtesy of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization.

 The Music Theatre Company joins forces with The Ravinia Festival for a special one night engagement of OSCAR & RICHARD & JOE: An Evening About Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Allegro on Saturday, January 31 at 8:30 pm at Ravinia Festivals Bennett Gordon Hall, 200 Ravinia Park Rd., Highland Park, IL. Tickets for OSCAR & RICHARD & JOE are $10 and available by calling the Ravinia Festival Box Office at (847) 266-5100 or visiting www.ravinia.org.   

After the immense popularity of Oklahoma! and Carousel, legendary duo Rodgers & Hammerstein created a revolutionary new musical, Allegro. The show sharply divided critics, but Stephen Sondheim was an early admirer and has cited it as a major influence on his work. With music by Richard Rodgers, and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein IIAllegro tells the story of Joseph Taylor, Jr., a young doctor who takes a lucrative hospital job in the big city of Chicago but finds himself longing for the simpler, more personal practice he left back home.

Conceived by TMTC Founding Artistic Director Jessica Beth Redish and written by Scotty ArnoldOSCAR & RICHARD & JOE features direction by Redish and TMTC Co-Artistic Director Jess McLeod and music direction by TMTC Associate Artist Diana Lawrence. The evening will explore the context of Allegro through theatrical footnotes on its history and legacy and showcase key moments and songs from this rarely-produced gem.

OSCAR & RICHARD & JOE features Kevin Gudahl (Pacific Overtures, Donmar Warehouse; She Loves Me; Writers Theatre), Kate Loprest (Wicked, Broadway In Chicago; Anyone Can Whistle, Ravinia Festival), Johanna McKenzie Miller (A Little Night MusicSunday in the Park With George, Ravinia Festival) Michael Weber (Gypsy and Annie Get Your Gun, Ravinia Festival), Alex Weisman, (My Name is Asher LevThe History Boys, TimeLine Theatre Company), Kelli Harrington (The Light in the Piazza, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre), James Rank (Oklahoma!, Lyric Opera of Chicago; PIPPIN, The Music Theatre Company), Michael Ferraro (Cymbeline, First Folio Theatre), Matthew Keffer (The Wild Party, Bailiwick Chicago), Sarah Larson (The 48-Hour Musicals: Encore!, The Music Theatre Company), Chris Logan (A Kurt Weill Cabaret, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre), Patrick Martin (Merrily We Roll Along, The Music Theatre Company), Haley Jane Schafer (Flipside: The Patti Page Story National Tour) and Sean Thomas (Phantom of the Opera, Broadway).

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein, II (Book, Music and Lyrics, Allegro) After long and highly distinguished careers with other collaborators, Richard Rodgers (composer, 1902-79) and Oscar Hammerstein II (librettist/lyricist, 1895-1960) joined forces in 1943 to create the most consistently fruitful and successful partnership in the American musical theatre. Oklahoma!, the first Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, was also the first of a new genre, the musical play, blending Rodgers’ sophisticated style of musical comedy (which he had perfected in a twenty-five year partnership with lyricist Lorenz Hart) with Hammerstein’s innovations in operetta (conceived in collaboration with such composers as Sigmund Romberg, Vincent Youmans, Rudolf Friml and Jerome Kern). Oklahoma! was followed by Carousel (1945), Allegro (1947), South Pacific (1949), The King and I (1951), Me and Juliet (1953), Pipe Dream (1955), Flower Drum Song (1958) and The Sound of Music (1959). The team also wrote one movie musical, State Fair (1945; adapted to the stage, 1995), and one for television, Cinderella (1957). Collectively, their musicals have garnered dozens of awards including: Pulitzer Prizes; Tonys, Oscars, Emmys and Grammys; and Drama Desk, Drama Critics’ Circle, Outer Critics’ Circle, Laurence Olivier and Evening Standard Awards. 

Jessica Beth Redish (Conceiver/Co-Director, Choreographer, Oscar & Richard & Joe) is the Founding Artistic Director of The Music Theatre Company where she directed and choreographed the company’s productions of PIPPIN (Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination – Choreography), Merrily We Roll Along (Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination – Midsize Musical), Erikas Wall, The 9/11 Report, Saudade: dreams and longing and choreographed The Pajama Game and Mill Girls. Chicago area choreography credits include: Sweet Charity and She Loves Me (Writers Theatre), RENT at American Theater Company/About Face Theatre (dir. David Cromer), Season on The Line at The House Theatre of Chicago and various productions for First Stage in Milwaukee. NY Credits include: Movement Direction for the Off-Broadway production of Adding Machine (dir. David Cromer) and choreography for The Act at 54 Below. Recent national television work includes choreography for the PBS Special featuring the a cappella group “Gentleman’s Rule.” As Founding Artistic Director of The Music Theatre Company, Jessica has commissioned works by a variety of authors, including Billy Corgan, Josh Schmidt, David Simpatico and Michael Mahler. Jessica is an alumna of Northwestern University and a member of the Society of Directors and Choreographers.

Scotty Arnolds (Playwright, Oscar & Richard & Joe) other works include Tereshkova (part of The Music Theatre Company’s 48-Hour Musicals: Encore! and Autokorrekt), The Distant Land of My Father (San Jose Stage: Margaret Wingrove, Dir.), The Veterans Wife (Colony Theatre: Scott Guy, Dir.), Lost & Found (NYU: Susanna Gellert, Dir.), The Wonderful Visit (NYU: Daniel Goldstein, dir.), Mortality Play (Joe’s Pub: West Hyler, dir.; Yale Institute for Musical Theatre: Mark Brokaw, dir.), and That Time We Found a Sasquatch in the Woods (Musical Theatre Factory, Finger Lakes’ “The Pitch”). He has been an artist in residence at CAP 21, New York Stage and Film, and Space on Ryder Farm. He studied at the Academy for New Musical Theater in North Hollywood and attended the Tisch School of the Arts’ Graduate Musical Theatre Writing program at NYU.

Jess McLeod (Co-Director, Oscar & Richard & Joe) is the Co-Artistic Director of The Music Theatre Company, where her directing credits include The 48-Hour Musicals: Encore!, The Pajama Game, Fugitive Songs In Concert and the Young Artists’ Program productions of Mill Girls, Zanna, Don’t! and YAPbook ’11. Other Chicago credits include: Shawn Pfautsch’s Season on the Line (The House Theatre of Chicago), Emily Schwartz’s Funeral Wedding: The Alvin Play (Strange Tree Group), Kevin Coval’s L-Vis Live! (Victory Gardens), Bathsheba Doran’s Kin (Griffin Theatre), The Wedding Singer (Haven Theatre), and Venus (Steppenwolf/Northwestern). From 2005-08, McLeod served as Director of Programming for The New York Musical Theatre Festival, where she oversaw all curating and directed pop/musical theatre fusion concerts such as The Unauthorized Musicology of Ben Folds. She has also directed workshops of new plays and musicals for the Goodman Theatre, American Theater Company, The Music Theatre Company, and The American Music Theatre Project. M.F.A., Northwestern University.

Diana Lawrence (Music Director) is an Associate Artist at The Music Theatre Company, where she music directed The Last Five Years In Concert and music directed and performed in Fugitive Songs In Concert. Her TMTC credits as a writer include penning the book, music and lyrics for Postcards From Paris (recently reprised in The 48-Hour Musicals: Encore!) and the score for Mill Girls (book by Samantha Beach, commissioned by TMTC), as well as music directing and performing in Fugitive Songs In Concert. Diana’s multi-playwright collaborative musical, Next Stop, was performed in workshop at the Steppenwolf Garage in 2013. Diana has also composed music for The Second City and for Storycatchers Theatre, a youth development organization that devises original musicals with incarcerated youth. Diana has has shared the stage with artists including Nellie McKay and Dawn Upshaw, and has released three albums, both solo and with her band, Diana & the Dishes. As a music director and pianist, Diana has also worked with The Second City, the Chicago Children’s Choir, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Porchlight Music Theatre.

Michael Ferraro (Ensemble) is making his debut with The Music Theatre Company. His Chicago credits include Cymbeline (First Folio Theatre) and Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre’s upcoming production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Regional: My Fair Lady (Actors Theatre of Indiana), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Music Man (Legacy Theatre, Atlanta). He has performed at Joe’s Pub in New York City under the direction of Sutton Foster and with Eden Espinosa at the Cabaret at the Columbia Club in Indianapolis. Michael recently received his B.F.A. in Musical Theatre from Ball State University.

Kevin Gudahl (Oscar Hammerstein II) is a multiple Jeff Award recipient, and last worked with The Music Theatre Company in a workshop of The 9/11 Report. Mr. Gudahl has appeared in over thirty productions with Chicago Shakespeare Theater including Elizabeth Rex, The Comedy of Errors, Julius Caesar, A Flea in Her Ear, Much Ado About Nothing, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, Timon of Athens, and the title roles in Macbeth and Antony & Cleopatra. Other Chicago credits include lead roles in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, My Fair Lady and School for Wives at the Court Theatre; King Lear and The House of Martin Guerre at the Goodman Theatre; and 1776 and The King and I at The Marriott Theatre. Additional Chicago credits include shows at Writers Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, Victory Gardens Theater, and Drury Lane Oakbrook. International stage appearances include: Pacific Overtures (Donmar Warehouse); both parts of Henry IV at the Swan Theatre for the Royal Shakespeare Company; and five seasons with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada. Film credits include: While You Were Sleeping, Home Alone IIIThe Poker House and Baby on Board. Television credits include: Chicago Code (Fox), Early Edition (CBS), Crime Story (NBC), and Boss (Starz).

Kelli Harrington (Jennie & Others) is delighted to work with The Music Theatre Company again after playing Leona Samish in TMTC’s production of Do I Hear a Waltz?. A two-time Non-Equity Jeff Award winner, Kelli was most recently seen as the Beggar Woman in Porchlight Music Theatre’s Sweeney Todd. She has performed locally with TimeLine Theatre, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, Court Theatre, Marriott Lincolnshire, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and Light Opera Works. Kelli is a faculty member at The Chicago Academy for the Arts, where she has taught musical theatre voice for 15 years. 

Matthew Keffer (Joe & Others) has appeared at The Music Theatre Company in The 48-Hour Musicals: Encore!The 48-Hour Musicals: Autokorrekt, and The 48-Hour Musicals: Forget Me (Not) and Lucky Stiff In Concert. Recent Chicago credits include The Wild Party (Bailiwick Chicago), Juno (TimeLine Theatre Company), CymbelineThe Rainmaker (First Folio Theatre), and Aspects of Love (Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre).

Sarah Larson (Ensemble) appeared as a dancer in Pretty Persephone by Billy Corgan in The 48-Hour Musicals: Encore! at The Music Theatre Company. Other Chicago credits include Patty Andrews in A Musical Tribute to the Andrews Sisters and The Mistress and Clara Understudy in Passion at Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre. Favorite roles have included Marian Paroo in The Music Man and Karen Brown in Unnecessary Farce (Timber Lake Playhouse), Maria in The Sound of Music (Viterbo University) and Lula in Dutchman (Viterbo).

Chris Logan (Ensemble) was last seen at The Music Theatre Company in The Pajama GameThe 48-Hour Musicals: Autokorrekt, and working alongside Jessica Beth Redish as she developed Saudade: dreams and longing. Other credits include extensive work with Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, including A Kurt Weill Cabaret and Passion (Outstanding Musical, Non-Equity Jeff Award). He has also worked with The Marriott Theatre, The Paramount Theatre, BoHo Theatre and Bailiwick Chicago (upcoming). He is also currently music directing and choreographing Sherlock Holmes and The Case of the Christmas Goose (Raven Theatre) and will choreograph A Marvin Hamlisch Songbook (Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre) next summer. He was named one of the “Hot New Faces of Chicago Theatre, Class of 2012” by Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune.

Kate Loprest (Emily & Others) performed solo at The Music Theatre Company in concert and last appeared at Ravinia Festival after performing in Anyone Can Whistle in 2005. A native of Deerfield, IL, she made her professional debut at 15 as Young Vi in Apple Tree Theatre’s Violet and spent a year in the Chicago company of Wicked after graduating from The University of Michigan’s Musical Theatre program. Broadway: The Drowsy Chaperone, Xanadu, Hairspray (Amber Von Tussle), Wonderland, First Date (Allison, Original Broadway Cast). Other recent credits: Little House on the Prairie (Nellie Olson, 1st National Tour); Showboat (Washington National Opera) Ellie; Single Girls Guide (Emma, Capital Repertory). TV: Boardwalk Empire (Corrine); Running Wilde; All My Children. Kate recently originated the role of Lucy Grant in the world premiere of Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s new musical Bright Star at San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre.

Patrick Martin (Charlie & Others) is a Chicago-based actor and musician from Marietta, GA. Credits with The Music Theatre Company include: Merrily We Roll Along, Fugitive Songs In Concert, Lucky Stiff In Concert, and The 48 Hour Musicals: Encore! Other Chicago credits include: South Pacific (The Marriott Theatre), How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (Porchlight Music Theatre), and It’s A Wonderful Life: A Radio Play (American Theater Company). Regional credits include: The Drowsy Chaperone and Promises, Promises (STAGES St. Louis). As a musician, Patrick performs regularly in a variety of settings including frequent appearances with Bethany Thomas at The Green Mill and other venues. Patrick is a proud graduate of the BFA Musical Theatre Program at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Johanna McKenzie Miller (Marjorie & Others) has worked with The Music Theatre Company on the readings of Summertime and The 9/11 Report, as well as Song in My Head, a concert and conversation featuring the music of Michael Mahler and Alan Schmuckler. At Ravinia Festival, she appeared as Anne Egerman in A Little Night Music, Celeste #1 in Sunday in the Park with George, Mrs. Schroeder in Anyone Can Whistle, and in the ensemble of Sweeney Todd and The Most Happy Fella. Other Chicago credits include various roles at The Marriott Theatre, The Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Drury Lane Oakbrook, and Million Dollar Quartet at the Mercury Theatre.

James Rank (Taylor & Others) was last seen at The Music Theatre Company as Charlemagne in PIPPIN and appeared at Ravinia Festival in Passion and A Little Night Music. Chicago credits include: Kromow in The Merry Widow and Cord Elam in Oklahoma! (Lyric Opera of Chicago), Morrell in A Minister’s Wife and Kodaly in She Loves Me (Writers Theatre), Fredrik in A Little Night Music (Indiana Repertory Theatre), Sam in The American Dreams Songbook (Next Theatre Company – Jeff Award, Oustanding Actor in a Revue), The Baron in Grand Hotel, Superman in Its A Bird, Its A PlaneIts Superman!, Aaron in Curtains, and Lt. Cable in South Pacific (Drury Lane Oakbrook), Billy Bigelow in Carousel, and The Phantom in Phantom (The Candlelight Dinner Theatre), Pangloss in Candide and El Gallo in The Fantasticks (Light Opera Works), and Passion and A Little Night Music (Chicago Shakespeare Theater). Regional credits include: A Little Night Music and Sunday in the Park with George (Peninsula Players Theatre), The Beggar’s Opera (Santa Fe Opera) and The Pirates of Penzance (Central City Opera). Jim has also appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, in a variety of concerts at Ravinia Festival, The Elgin Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Sinfonietta.

Haley Jane Schafer (Ensemble) is thrilled to be making her debut with The Music Theatre Company. She was most recently seen on tour as Patti Page in the National Tour of Flipside: the Patti Page Story. In the Chicagoland area, she was most recently seen as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde at Big Noise Theatre. She has also performed at the Little Theatre on the Square as Liesl in The Sound of Music, Margot in Legally Blonde, Mary Jane Wilkes in Big River, Lorraine in 42nd Street and in the ensemble of Little Shop of Horrors. Haley Jane is a recent graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma. 

Sean Thomas (Ned & Others) has appeared on Broadway and in the National Tours of Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables. Other credits include: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (The Promenade Theatre and National Tour), Three Tall Women (The Promenade Theatre) and The Threepenny Opera (The Lucille Lortel Theatre). Chicago credits include: Titanic (Griffin Theatre), The Christmas Schooner (The Mercury Theatre), Hot L Baltimore (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), A Christmas Carol (Drury Lane Oakbrook), Aspects of Love (Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre), Macbeth (Organic Theatre Company), Wreckage (Caffeine Theatre),The King and I (Porchlight Music Theatre), Elephants Graveyard (Red Tape Theatre), Inventing Van Gogh (Strange Bedfellows Theatre), Ruby Wilder (Tympanic Theatre) and Sandalwood (Tympanic Theatre/The Side Project Theatre Company). Sean is a proud Company Member of BoHo Theatre, where he has appeared in Amadeus, Veronica’s Room, Ghosts, Big River and Tartuffe.

Michael Weber (Richard Rodgers) created the role of Richard Clarke in The 9/11 Report, also conceived and directed by Jessica Beth Redish, at The Music Theatre Company. He was last seen on stage at Ravinia Festival as Charlie Davenport in Annie Get Your Gun and as Uncle Jocko/Mr. Goldstone in Gypsy (both starring Patti LuPone). Other acting credits include: The Sound of Music at Lyric Opera of Chicago, 42nd Street at The Paramount Theatre, Around the World in 80 Days at Cleveland Play House and The Winters Tale and Henry V at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Michael is the Artistic Director of Porchlight Music Theatre where, most recently, he has directed Sweeney Todd, Bells Are Ringing and Pal Joey. The recipient of two Joseph Jefferson Awards, he has written and directed the past eight Joseph Jefferson Awards ceremonies. Michael is a Central Region Board Member of Actors’ Equity Association and proud to serve as a pledge host on PBS station WTTW.

Alex Weisman (Gofer) is an Associate Artist at The Music Theatre Company where he last appeared in The 48-Hour Musicals in 2010 and 2012 and has served as Casting Director for numerous projects, most notably Merrily We Roll AlongPIPPIN, and The Pajama Game. He is an Associate Artist at TimeLine Theatre Company, where appeared in My Name is Asher LevThe Normal Heart and The History Boys, for which he received the Jeff Award for Supporting Actor. Other Chicago credits include Mary and A Christmas Carol (The Goodman Theatre), Short Shakes! A Midsummer Night’s DreamThe Madness Of George III and Julius Caesar (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Peter Pan (Lookingglass Theatre Company), Putting It Together (Porchlight Music Theatre), The Houdini Box (Chicago Children’s Theater), You Never Can Tell (Remy Bumppo Theatre Company), Spoon River Anthology (Provision Theater), The Rainmaker (Jeff Nomination) and Rough Crossing (First Folio Theatre), Dorian (The House Theatre of Chicago) and Ah! Wilderness (Eclipse Theatre Company, Jeff Nomination) as well as workshops and readings with Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Victory Gardens Theater. Upcoming projects include The Good Book at Court Theatre and the world premiere musical October Sky at The Marriott Theatre. He can sometimes be seen as paramedic “Alan Chout” on NBC’s Chicago Fire and Chicago PD. Film Credits include: Black BoxThe Mystery of LifeScrooge & Marley, and The Onion Talks. Alex is a regular performer with The Back Room Shakespeare Project, a Northwestern University graduate and a member of Actors’ Equity Association.

The Music Theatre Company explores the musical in the interest of expanding the canon of musical theatre through fully-staged productions, commissions of new works and musical experiments.  For additional information, visit www.themusictheatrecompany.org.

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