Chicago Humanities Festival presents A Night at the Tonys – A remarkable journey of Tony Award winning musicals

On November 3rd, the Chicago Humanities Festival, with support from Porchlight Music Theatre, presented a talent filled performance to a sold out crowd when they presented, A Night at the Tonys, at the Francis W. Parker School. Beginning in 1949, and going all the way to 2014, this group of amazing performers sang their way through every winner of the Best Musical Tony. Created by Rob Lindley and Doug Peck, A Night at the Tonys featured Tony Award nominees and winners, as well as many of Chicago's top performers. This was a truly remarkable night that highlighted each musical and performer incredible talent that was generously underwritten by a gift from Greta Wiley Flory, in memory of her late husband Bill. It took a lot of time and talent to put on this show, and the full audience agreed it was astonishing!

  

L to R: Megan Murphy, Emily Rogers, Rebecca Finnegan, and Bethany Thomas perform Big Spender from Fosse


While celebrating its 25th year, the Chicago Humanities Festival’s season’s theme is Journeys, which played perfectly into A Night at the Tonys. A Night at the Tonys celebrated 66 years of Tony Award winning musicals that won the Tony for Best Musical. This ranged from the classics South Pacific, Sound of Music, and Fiddler on the Roof, to the edgy winners like Rent, Avenue Q, and Spring Awakening. Being a self-proclaimed “musical theatre geek,” this show was an amazing look back at the history of musicals. Hilariously emceed by Rob Lindley, A Night at the Tonys showcased some of Chicago’s finest talent, as well as brought in Broadway and Tony Award alums to sing the songs that nominated them. The cabaret featured two-time Tony Award-nominees André De Shields (Ain’t Misbehavin’; The Wiz; The Full Monty) and Ernestine Jackson (Raisin; Guys and Dolls; Hello Dolly!), Broadway alum Karen Mason (Sunset Boulevard; Mamma Mia!), and Tony Award-winner Jessie Mueller (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical; On a Clear Day You Can See Forever). Chicago-based performers included: Adrian Aguilar, Allison Bazarko, Devin DeSantis, Rebecca Finnegan, James Earl Jones II, Tammy Mader, Beckie Menzie, Tom Michael, Christine Mild, Meghan Murphy, Andrea Prestinario, Emily Rogers, Anne Sheridan Smith, Travis Taylor, and Bethany Thomas, all skillfully accompanied by Doug Peck.

 

  

Karen Mason sings As If We Never Said Goodbye from Sunset Boulevard

The amount of talent and incredible singing that was presented on stage was outstanding and brought the show to a level of excellence that I haven’t seen on stage in many years. Each performer brought their own style to timeless songs while also filling the stage with wonderful energy. I personally am a fan of the more contemporary musical, but after attending this show, I went home and bought songs from the Golden Age of theater. I was particularly blown away to see Jessie Mueller, an Evanston native, and André De Shields perform on the Diane and David B Heller Auditorium stage. Having been fans of both for many years, it was a real treat to listen to them sing and watch them perform, especially when Jessie sang an impromptu song from Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. While the show was star-studded, it also emphasized the talent of Chicago’s local performers. One of my favorite moments of the night was listening to Meghan Murphy sing “There’s A Fine, Fine Line” from Avenue Q. It’s a heartbreaking, yet slightly comical song that Murphy performed exceptionally well. All the singers and musicians put on an incredible show that would be a mistake to miss the next time the Chicago Humanities Festival presents a cabaret style review. To learn more about Chicago Humanities Festival and their upcoming shows please visit: http:// chicagohumanities.org/

Photo Credit: Michael Brosilow

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