Porchlight Music Theatre’s 25th Anniversary Mainstage season continues with Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies, January 24 – March 6, 2020 at The Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St. Featuring music by Duke Ellington, concept by Donald McKayle, direction and choreography by Brenda Didier and Florence Walker Harris, and music direction by Jermaine Hill. The regular run performance schedule is Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 3:30 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. with weekday matinees Thursday, Feb. 6 and 13 at 1:30 p.m. and added performances Tuesday, March 3 – Thursday, March 5 at 7:30 p.m. and Friday, March 6 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $39 - $66 and are available at PorchlightMusicTheatre.org or by calling the Porchlight Music Theatre box office, 773.777.9884. (Please note: complete performance schedule is available at the end of this release.)
A celebration of the artist many consider one of the most important composers in the history of American music, this stylish salute to “the Duke,” Duke Ellington, will transport audiences on a high-stepping, dynamic journey through the life and times of this great showman. From his early days at Harlem’s legendary Cotton Club through growing successes at Carnegie Hall, on Broadway, in Hollywood and around the world, this elegant, Tony Award-nominated entertainment features a treasure trove of Ellington’s biggest hits, including "Mood Indigo,” "Take the "A" Train,” "I'm Beginning to See the Light,” "Hit Me With a Hot Note and Watch Me Bounce,” "Perdido,” “It Don’t Mean a Thing,” "In a Sentimental Mood,” "Satin Doll” among many others.
The cast of Porchlight Music Theatre’s Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies includes: Lydia Burke+, “The Danseuse;” Donterrio Johnson^, “The Jazzbo;” Molly Kral+,“The Soubrette;” Donica Lynn+, “The Chanteuse;” John Marshall, Jr^,“The Hipster;” Lorenzo Rush Jr^, “The Raconteur;” Eustace J. Williams^,“The Danseur” with Shantel Cribbs +, Madison Piner+, Jenna Schoppe+ and Terri K. Woodall+;“Sophisticated Ladies” and Chuckie Benson^, Tristan Bruns^, Kaimana Neil^ and Joey Stone^;“Sophisticated Gentlemen” and Ariel Dorsey+, “swing/Sophisticated Lady.”
The Sophisticated Ladies band includes Jermaine Hill^, conductor/keyboard; Marcel Bonfim^, bass; Jonathan Golko^, reeds 2; bass; Darius Hampton^, reeds 1; Justin Kono^, percussion; Stephanie Lebens+, trombone and Sam Wolsk^, trumpet.
Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies’ production team includes: Brenda Didier+ and Florence Walker Harris+, co-director and co-choreographer; Jermaine Hill^, music director; Angela Weber Miller+, scenic designer; Denise Karczewski+, lighting designer; Robert Hornbostel^, sound designer; Caitlin McCarthy+, properties designer; Theresa Ham+, costume designer; Kevin Barthel^, wig designer; Matthew McMullen^, stage manager; Jackie Robinson+, assistant stage manager; Mary Zanger+, assistant stage manager; Joaquin Gomez^, assistant stage; Sean Michael Mohler^, assistant stage manager; Austin Kopsa^, assistant stage manager swing; Samantha Treible+, wardrobe supervisor; Rachel West+, master electrician; Matthew Chase^, sound design assistant; Jamie Davis+, soundboard engineer and Catherine Allen+, production manager.
Cast and crew key:
^ he/him/his + she/her/hers * they/them/theirs
ABOUT BRENDA DIDIER, director and choreographer
Brenda Didierreturns to Porchlight where she recently directed A Chorus Line and has directed and choreographed Billy Elliot, The Musical, In The Heights and Dreamgirls among others. Didier is a multiple Jeff Award recipient in both direction and choreography, and the recipient of After Dark Awards, BroadwayWorld awards and the National Youth Theatre award. She is the proud owner and artistic director of the Lincolnshire Academy of Dance, celebrating its 20th season. Other credits include work at the Goodman, Chicago Shakespeare, Second City, Marriott Theatre, The Paramount, Theatre at the Center, BoHo, Mercury Theatre Chicago, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, Stage Left, Six Flags Great America, Busch Gardens Virginia, Cirque Shanghai at Navy Pier, T-Mobile’s national commercial “Home for the Holidays,” The Kenny Rogers Christmas Tour and the University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin and Carthage College.
ABOUT FLORENCE WALKER HARRIS, director and choreographer
Florence Walker-Harris made her Porchlight Music Theatre debut with The Scottsboro Boys and Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies marks her Porchlight directorial debut. Walker-Harris is the artistic director at Studio One Dance Theatre and trained in a variety of dance disciplines including Classical Ballet, the modern technique of Lester Horton, Kather, the Dunham technique, Jazz (strongly influenced by Mr. Frank Hatchet,) traditional Haitian folklore, African, Tap and Hip-Hop. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Sociology & Black and Latino Studies from the State University College at Oneonta in New York, and a Masters degree in Human Services Administration from National Louis University.
ABOUT JERMAINE HILL, music director
Jermaine Hill is a Jeff Award-nominated music director, actor, singer and arranger. At Porchlight, most recently, he was the music director for the critically acclaimed Memphis. Other credits include Too Heavy for Your Pocket (TimeLine Theatre), The Music Man (Goodman Theatre), The Total Bent (Haven Theatre), Nell Gwynn (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), and Ragtime (Griffin Theatre). He has performed with Haven Theatre, Erasing the Distance, Onion Labs and appeared in an episode of Chicago Med. He is an assistant professor of theatre and music director at Columbia College Chicago, an ensemble member of Griffin Theatre and a graduate of Ithaca College and the New England Conservatory of Music.
ABOUT PORCHLIGHT MUSIC THEATRE AS RUTH PAGE ARTIST IN-RESIDENCE
Porchlight Music Theatre is proud to be a member of the vibrant Ruth Page Center for the Arts community and an Artist In-Residence. Central to the Ruth Page Center for the Arts’ programming is the Artists In-Residence program, which is designed to serve organizations looking for a home base while they grow or expand their artistic and organizational capabilities. The Center is committed to nurturing and assisting dance and other performing artists, allowing for exchange and collaborative relationships to develop within the artistic community. The Ruth Page Center for the Arts is a destination for quality performing arts, accessible to a wide community regardless of race, gender, age, education or disability. An incubator of artistic energy and excellence, the Ruth Page Center for the Arts carries forward the vision of its founder, legendary dance icon Ruth Page, to be a platform for developing great artists and connecting them with audiences and community.
ABOUT PORCHLIGHT MUSIC THEATRE
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. The School at Porchlight is Chicago’s center for music theatre training in the areas of performance, writing and appreciation including the launch of a youth summer “Make Your Own Musical” Camp in 2017. 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).
Porchlight Music Theatre’s 25th Anniversary Mainstage season continues with Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies, January 24 – March 6, 2020 at The Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn Street. Featuring music by Duke Ellington, concept by Donald McKayle, direction and choreography by Brenda Didier and Florence Walker Harris and music direction by Jermaine Hill. Previews are Friday, Jan. 24 and Saturday, Jan. 25 at 8 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 26 at 2 p.m. and Industry Night, Monday, Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m. Press Opening Night is Tuesday, Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m. The regular run performance schedule is Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 3:30 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. with weekday matinees Thursday, Feb. 6 and 13 at 1:30 p.m. and added performances Tuesday, March 3 – Thursday, March 5 at 7:30 p.m. and Friday, March 6 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $39 - $66 and are available at PorchlightMusicTheatre.org or by calling the Porchlight Music Theatre box office, 773.777.9884.
The 2019 – 2020 25th Anniversary Season is dedicated to the memory of long-time Board Member George K. “Kim” Sargent.
Allstate is the principal sponsor for community outreach for Sophisticated Ladies.
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, Harris 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, the Stuart Family Foundation, and the Topfer Family Foundation. 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.
Porchlight Music Theatre
Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies
Music by Duke Ellington
Concept by Donald McKayle
Direction & Choreography by Brenda Didier and Florence Walker Harris
Music Direction by Jermaine Hill
Jan. 24 – March 6, 2020
The Ruth Page Center for the Arts
1016 N. Dearborn Street, Chicago
The regular run performance schedule is
Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.
Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 3:30 and 8 p.m. and
Sundays at 2 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 6 and 13 and Thursday, March 5 at 1:30 p.m.
and additional performances
Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, March 3 at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 5 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, March 6 at 8 p.m.
Ticket Price: $39 – 66