Fri, 08/21/2020 - 7:00pm to Sun, 08/23/2020 - 9:00pm

Porchlight Music Theatre announces a new three-day celebration in honor of its 25th Anniversary, PorchlightPalooza, Friday, Aug. 21 - Sunday, Aug. 23. PorchlightPalooza includes performances, shared memories and more with each night culminating in a virtual program celebrating a different theme building to the Sunday night interview with Broadway icon Joel Grey. PorchlightPalozza will be broadcast FREE on Porchlight’s Facebook page, YouTube Live, and its event page. 

“Due to COVID-19, our 2020 ICONS Gala, scheduled for March, had to be cancelled,” said Co-chair Donna La Pietra. “WIth PorchlightPalooza we are able to celebrate Porchlight’s 25 year history, see performances by Chicago's top music theatre artists, and share a fun conversation with Joel Grey.”  

Co-chair Deann Bayless continued, “We are hoping that everyone is as excited as we are to be part of PorchlightPalooza. This three-day virtual festival commemorates all that Porchlight is known for and includes so many surprise guests and performances. We hope you will join us and say ‘Happy Anniversary’ to Porchlight!”

In addition to star-studded interviews, unforgettable performances and original virtual content, there is also a raffle that features four prizes: a private tour for eight of Rick and Deann Bayless’ garden with drinks and snacks; a private tour for eight on the 65-acre grounds of Bill Kurtis and Donna LaPietra’s Mettawa home complete with wine and lunch, a Carribean vacation with two, round-trip economy airfare tickets and a three-night stay for two in an Ocean View Studio Suite at Rosewood Baha Mar with daily breakfast at Malam Indian Grill & Cellar and a Chicago Staycation! 

Raffle tickets go on sale Monday, Aug. 3 at 10 a.m. for $50/ticket and $100 for 3 tickets and will be available on the PorchlightPalooza event page. 

PorchlightPalooza schedule, as of July 9, includes:

Friday, Aug. 21 — 7 p.m. CDT

Celebrating Porchlight Music Theatre’s 25 year history as Chicago's home for music theatre–with songs from throughout the years and a kick-off from co-chairs Deann and Rick Bayless and Donna LaPietra and Bill Kurtis.

Saturday, Aug. 22 — 7 p.m. CDT

The second night of PorchlightPalooza celebrates Porchlight's commitment to showcasing emerging artists and nurturing young audiences, the presentation of the Luminary Award to Elaine Cohen and Arlen D. Rubin and more surprises!

Sunday, Aug. 23 — 7 p.m. CDT

Join the 2020 ICON Award recipient Broadway legend Joel Grey for an intimate conversation with Bill Kurtis Aug. 23 — 7 p.m. CDT, via ZOOM, featuring highlights from Grey’s career, performances from Porchlight favorite talents and surprise appearances from artists saluting Grey's influence on music theatre!

PorchlightPalooza’s premier sponsors are Allstate and Jean Klingenstein. More information on PorchlightPalooza events and how to donate to this 25th Anniversary celebration may be found at 


Joel Grey’s career on Broadway includes Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard (Roundabout Theatre Company), Anything Goes, Wicked, Chicago, George M! (Tony Award-nominee.) and Cabaret (Tony Award-winner). Grey’s Off-Broadway credits include The Normal Heart, in 1986, and co-directing the Tony Award-winning Broadway premiere in 2011. His film credits include “Cabaret” (Academy Award-winner), “Buffalo Bill and the Indians,” “Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins,” “Dancer in the Dark,” “The Seven Percent Solution” and “Man on a Swing.” Grey is an internationally exhibited photographer with four published books: “Pictures I Had to Take” (2003), “Looking Hard at Unexamined Things” (2006), “1.3—Images From My Phone” (2009) and “The Billboard Papers” (2013). His memoir, “Master of Ceremonies,” was released in 2016 (Flatiron Press). 


The saying “good things come in small packages” definitely defines Elaine Cohen Rubin. She first appeared on the stage at the age of three years old—singing, dancing and acting. By the time she headed to college, she had performed all the children’s leads in 12 Broadway musicals at the Starlight Theater in Kansas City. 

With a BA in Theatre from Northwestern University, Cohen won the role of “Elly” in Showboat at the Kennedy Center starring Mickey Rooney, and then “Gladys” in Skin of Our Teeth starring Sarah Miles. However, her height—she is only 4” 11”— limited the roles she could get as an actress.

Determined to keep performing, Cohen began working as a trade show model. In that role, she observed that entertainment and performers drew audiences on the trade show floor, but did nothing to promote or sell the exhibitors’ products. Seizing an opportunity, she developed a way to educate trade show attendees by melding marketing and entertainment. Her scripted “edu-tainment” live presentations on the show floor led to her founding of Live Marketing. In so doing, Cohen gave herself a platform so she could continue performing. Live Marketing became one of the world’s leading trade show and event marketing agencies and received over 750 awards for performances in 12 languages and 42 countries. In recognition of her accomplishments, Cohen received the Hazel Hayes Award, the industry’s top honor for lifetime achievement in “Changing The Industry.”

After 42 years, Cohen sold her business, and turned her energy to Chicago’s arts community. She served as board chair for the Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP) and earned the JUBA! Award for Extraordinary Service to the Field and induction into CHRP’s Founder’s Circle. Tap lessons are delivered in CHRP’s Elaine Cohen Michigan Avenue Tap Studio at the Fine Arts Building. Cohen also serves on the board for the Northwestern American Music Theatre Project, which brings together professional playwrights and Northwestern talent to workshop new musicals that are intended to move on to Broadway.

Cohen’s other board service includes The League Of Chicago Theatres, “Free For All,” which supports free programs to the public in the arts, and the Washington Square Park Advisory Council for which she serves as program coordinator.

Most recently she and her husband Arlen have begun sponsoring the New Faces Sing Broadway series for Porchlight Music Theatre. This program features a company of 10 up and coming new Chicago artists. Talent and casting agents are invited so that this is not only a showcase for the new talent, but also an opportunity for them to get representation, and cast in upcoming shows. As Cohen says, “I can’t wait to say I knew them when!”

Cohen also finds time for another passion of hers, investigating and then investing in Broadway shows. To date she has invested in An American in Paris, Glass Menagerie, On Your Feet and Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.


Arlen D. Rubin graduated from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana with a BS in accountancy and became a CPA in 1967. Prior to graduating from the Champaign campus, he spent three years at the Navy Pier campus (which at the time offered no degrees).

Rubin started his career in 1966 as a staff accountant with Seidman & Seidman (now BDO Seidman) and in 1970 changed positions to the accounting firm Alexander Grant & Company (now Grant Thornton). He remained at Alexander Grant as an audit manager until 1976. He undertook accounting consulting work for a short period while waiting to be approved by the Security and Exchange Commission to begin a new career as an independent floor trader at the Chicago Board Options Exchange. Rubin became a member of the Chicago Board of Trade in 1983 where he worked until 1990. He subsequently worked at Live Marketing until its sale.

For six years, from 1966 until 1972, Rubin was proud to serve in the US Army Reserve from which he received an honorable discharge.

Rubin has served for seven years as a trustee of Columbia College Chicago. Columbia’s first ever, brand new student union building, the result of a board capital campaign, opened in September 2019. The new facility includes “The Rubin Lounge.” Rubin established The Arlen and Elaine Cohen Rubin Scholarship in the Arts for a graduate of the Chicago High School for the Arts who plans to attend Columbia College. 

Rubin and his wife Elaine Cohen Rubin have been married for 47 years. He is a lifelong Chicagoan and they have been city dwellers for the past 33 years.


As the home for music theatre in Chicago now in its 25th season, Porchlight Music Theatre is nationally recognized for reimagining classic productions, developing new works and showcasing musical theatre’s noted Chicago veterans and rising stars. Porchlight elevates the genre by providing intimate and powerful theatrical experiences of music theatre through the lens of the “Chicago Style.” The 2017–2018 year marked a milestone for Porchlight as the company became an Artist In-Residence at the historic Ruth Page Center for the Arts in Chicago’s Gold Coast. Porchlight’s rich history includes the staging of more than 70 productions with 15 Chicago premieres and five world premieres. Through Porchlight’s “Off the Porch” new works program, the musicals of the next generation are developed and given a first audience. Porchlight's education programming serves schools, young artists, hobbyists and emerging professionals. Its musical theatre summer camps return for the fourth smash year in 2020 developing skills in young performers and offering scholarships to qualifying students. The company’s many accolades include 30 Black Theatre Alliance nominations and 12 awards, as well as a total of 167 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations resulting in 42 Jeff Awards including five consecutive Best Production awards for The Scottsboro Boys (2017), Dreamgirls (2016), Sondheim on Sondheim (2015), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (2014) and A Class Act (2013).


Premier Sponsors: 

  • Allstate
  • Jean Klingenstein

Official Sponsors: Bayless Family Foundation, Elaine Cohen and Arlen D. Rubin, Michelle and Steve Cucchiaro, Elegant Event Lighting, Sondra Berman Epstein, Rhona & Julian Frazin, Tony Gibson and Tom Perry, William Gilmer and John Blackburn, Great Lakes Milk Products, Inc., Brenda and James Grusecki, Joe Higgins and Scott Hoesman, Jim Jensen, Jonathan D. Klein & Susan E. Cohn, Kurtis Productions, Chuck and Diane Laff, Alan Matsumura and Laura Erickson, Corinne and Bill McClintic, Genevieve and Daniel Ratner Foundation, Ryan and Spaeth, Inc., Brian Troy and Susan and Bob Wislow

The 2019 – 2020 25th Anniversary Season is dedicated to the memory of long-time Board Member George K. “Kim” Sargent. 

The Bayless Family Foundation is a 2019 – 2020 25th Anniversary Season Sponsor.

Porchlight Music Theatre is partially supported by generous contributions from the Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation, Actors’ Equity Foundation, Allstate, Bayless Family Foundation, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, Chapman | Spingola, Attorneys at Law, the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Elegant Event Lighting, Elevate Energy, James P. and Brenda S. Grusecki Family Foundation, Hearty Boys, Hopsmith, A.L. and Jennie L. Luria Foundation, the MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at the Prince Foundation, the Pritzker Traubert Foundation, Daniel and Genevieve Ratner Foundation, The Saints, Dr. Scholl Foundation, the Stuart Family Foundation, the Topfer Family Foundation and Walton Street Kitchen. The season program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, a state agency, and by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events. 

RIGHT: ICON Award-recipient Joel Grey

LEFT: (L to R) Luminary Award Co-recipients Arlen D. Rubin and Elaine Cohen Rubin. Photo by Patrick Rubin