Porchlight’s virtual series ‘Sondheim @ 90 Roundtable’


Porchlight Music Theatre’s 25th Anniversary season continues with a new free virtual series Sondheim @ 90 Roundtable with host Michael Weber, debuting Saturday, April 25 at 7 p.m. CST on Porchlight’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/PorchlightMusicTheatre.

The series, created and hosted by Porchlight Music Theatre Artistic Director Michael Weber, gathers talents from Chicago, Broadway and the world of theater to discuss Stephen Sondheim as an American icon while celebrating Sondheim’s 90th birthday year.

Throughout Sondheim’s storied career he has received an Academy Award, eight Tony Awards (more than any other composer), a special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, eight Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, a Laurence Olivier Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  President Barack Obama, when presenting Sondheim with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015, said Sondheim had “reinvented the American musical.”

Each “Sondheim @ 90 Roundtable” with Michael Weber episode focuses on a specific Sondheim musical with special guests presenting videos of Sondheim inspired performances, providing a lively discussion of that week’s work and sharing their views on Sondheim’s impact on the performing arts.

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Saturday, April 25 at 7 p.m. CST
West Side Story
Weber and his guests Gary Griffin (director of Broadway’s The Color Purple, The Apple Tree and Honeymoon in Vegas and London’s Pacific Overtures for which he received the Olivier Award), Mark Hoebeke (producing artistic director of Paper Mill Playhouse) and Diana Martinez (director at McAninch Arts Center at College of DuPage) discuss West Side Story, the musical retelling of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Sondheim’s Broadway debut as a lyricist.

Saturday, May 2 at 7 p.m. CST
Sunday in the Park with George
In the second episode, Weber is joined by Nick Bowling (founding artistic director of TimeLine Theatre Company and director of the Chicago premiere of Porchlight Music Theatre’s Sondheim on Sondheim for which he won the Jeff Award), David Cromer (MacArthur fellow and Tony Award winning director of The Band’s Visit) and Heidi Kettering (Jeff Award winner who has appeared in Sunday in the Park with George at Chicago Shakespeare and Sweeney Todd at Drury Lane). They will discuss Sunday in the Park with George,  music and lyrics by Sondheim and book by James Lapine, the production that was inspired by Georges Seurat’s painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.”

Saturday, May 9 at 7 p.m. CST
This week’s episode highlights Follies, music and lyrics by Sondheim and book by James Goldman was motivated by a New York Times article about a gathering of former showgirls from the Ziegfeld Follies. The Follies roundtable includes Weber and guests David H. Bell (multi-award-winning director whose credits include Broadway, Off Broadway, Carnegie Hall, The National Theatre, London’s West End and The Kennedy Center) ), Gary Griffin (director of Broadway’s The Color Purple, The Apple Tree and Honeymoon in Vegas and London’s Pacific Overtures for which he received the Olivier Award) and Hollis Resnik (multi-award-winning actor whose appearances include Torchlight’s Sunset Boulevard, Sweeney Todd, Follies, Into the Woods and A Little Night Music).

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Future episodes will be announced with updates found at PorchlightMusicTheater.org and its social media outlets. Future guests, scheduled to appear, include in alphabetical order: E. Faye Butler (starred as “Rose” in Porchlight Music Theatre’s Gypsy: A Musical Fable), Curt Dale Clark (artistic director of Maine State Music Theatre), Jim Corti (artistic director of Paramount Theatre), Robert Falls (artistic director of Goodman Theatre), David Girolmo (Broadway credits include War Paint and Candide and, regionally, leading roles in Sweeney Todd, Follies and Forum) James Earl Jones II (Jeff Award-nominee for Porchlight Music Theatre’s Sondheim by Sondheim), Sean Allan Krill (Broadway credits include Jagged Little Pill, Honeymoon in Vegas, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever and Mamma Mia) and more.