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Gloria Estefan puts her story onstage in On Your Feet!
Pop star Gloria Estefan, the performer for whom the term "Latin crossover star" might as well have been invented, wants you On Your Feet! That's the title of the new Broadway-bound musical that tells the story of the Miami Sound Machine singer turned solo artist and her husband, Grammy-winning music producer Emilio Estefan, using music from Gloria's catalog of hits like "Conga," "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You," "Don't Wanna Lose You" and, of course, "Get On Your Feet." The show, with a book by Birdman Oscar winner Alexander Dinelaris and directed by Tony winner Jerry Mitchell, has a five-week tryout at Chicago's Oriental Theatre beginning next week before opening on Broadway in the fall. At a press conference last week, Gloria and Emilio introduced the actors who will be playing them onstage, Ana Villafañe and Josh Segarra. Earlier today, I spoke with Gloria about how the show came to life and how, exactly, the rhythm is going to get us. When you and Emilio started to think about telling your story, what made you think of a stage musical, as opposed to film or another medium? Well, I think as performers, especially live performers that have spent our lives touring the world, we're great lovers of the musical. They had invited us to do something for Vegas, for a place they were opening, and they wanted a unique and original musical. We kind of got the opportunity to synthesize the story we wanted to tell in that time, but things kept getting in the way, and I am very much a liste
American Theater Company's PJ Paparelli killed in car accident
PJ Paparelli, the artistic director of Chicago's American Theater Company, died this morning from injuries sustained in a car accident this week in Scotland, where he was on vacation, a spokesperson for the theater says. ATC issued the following brief statement: "American Theater Company mourns the loss of its leader and artistic director PJ Paparelli, 40, who passed away this morning from injuries due to a car accident in Scotland. The Theater sends its deepest condolences to his family, and requests all respect their privacy at this difficult time. Details on a Chicago memorial service are forthcoming." Paparelli could be a divisive figure in Chicago—the bulk of ATC's former ensemble defected not long after his 2007 arrival, citing artistic differences, to reform as American Blues Theater, and ATC has sometimes struggled financially during his tenure. But the work onstage has been ambitious and largely strong, and Paparelli's commitment to diversifying the ensemble he rebuilt and the voices his company represented was passionate; the current show at ATC, the moving, documentary-style The Project(s), was spearheaded, co-written and directed by Paparelli. Paparelli is the latest in a string of untimely deaths besetting the Chicago theater community this year, including the passings earlier this month of longtime Chicago Dramatists head Russ Tutterow and actress Erin Myers, both after battles with cancer.
Theater on the Lake lineup announced
As part of this week's rollout of the summer Night Out in the Parks schedule, the Chicago Park District quietly revealed the lineup of remounted productions for Theater on the Lake. The actual Theater on the Lake facility at Fullerton Avenue and Lake Shore Drive remains closed for renovations, so for the second year in a row, Theater on the Lake programming will be shunted to other CPD facilities, mainly the Berger Park Cultural Center. The schedule there includes two-week runs of four shows from the past season: Bailiwick Chicago's Murder Ballad, June 17–28 Theater Oobleck's Song About Himself, July 8–19 Jackalope Theatre's Four, July 22–August 2 Definition Theatre Company's A Doll's House, August 5–16 Additionally, Oracle Productions will stage its This House Believes the American Dream Is at the Expense of the American Negro at Washington Park Refectory (August 5–9) and Austin Town Hall (August 12–16) before an extended run at its own Lakeview home, August 21–September 20. The Theater on the Lake series is among more than 200 theater performances in park district facilities this summer, which also include Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Shakespeare's Greatest Hits, Barrel of Monkeys' That's Weird, Grandma and Collaboraction's Crime Scene Chicago: The Next Chapter. A complete schedule is on the Chicago Park District's website.
Goodman Theatre plans education-minded expansion
At a press event Tuesday morning, the Goodman Theatre announced plans to expand its facility into a new 7,800 square-foot space adjoined to the theater's second-floor lobby, above Petterino's restaurant. Named for a late board member, the Alice B. Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement will be a new home for established Goodman programs including the teen workshop PlayBuild Youth Intensive (formerly known as General Theater Studies), the senior-focused GeNarrations, and the Cindy Bandle Young Critics, which connects young women with writing mentors from the Association for Women Journalists. The theater said it's raised $11 million of a projected $15 million for the annex, which the Goodman is branding as "the Alice," including selling naming rights for a number of positions, rooms and sections of rooms. In conjunction with the expansion announcement, Goodman execs announced the completion of the $15 million "Endowing Excellence" campaign it began in 2011. Speaking at the announcement Tuesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel joked that he's not used to being able to use the adjective "exciting" next to the words "fiscal news."
2015 Non-Equity Jeff Award nominations
UPDATED Saturday, April 25: In a turn of events that underlines the arbitrary parameters of arts awards in general, the Hypocrites, who had led the nominations for the 2015 Non-Equity Joseph Jefferson Awards announced late on the night of Thursday, April 23, have removed themselves from the nominations due to professed confusion over the company's Equity status and eligibility. With the Hypocrites' 15 nominations withdrawn, the Jeff committee released a revised list of nominees that includes several new additions. Hypocrites founding artistic director Sean Graney, who officially returned to the company's leadership last fall after a three-year absence, took responsibility for the company's having submitted the past season's productions under the non-Equity wing; he reportedly reached out to the Jeff committee Friday morning. Both the Jeff committee and Graney were aware the Hypocrites had cast Equity actors, but both claim to have been under the impression the company was non-Equity and employing Equity actors under Guest Artist contracts, when in fact the Hypocrites had moved onto an Equity CAT-N contract, the entry-level tier under Equity's Chicago Area Theaters agreement. Graney issued the following statement Saturday afternoon: "As I only returned as Artistic Director in November, I recently found out that we have been operating as an Equity company under a CAT N agreement for our entire 2014/15 season. I had wrongfully assumed that all of our Equity contracts for the