Chicago Shakespeare Theater premieres "The Emperor's New Clothes"

June 29, 2010 12:23:31 PM PDT
A familiar Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale comes to life at this week at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier.It's the world premier of a new family musical The Emperor's New Clothes. The musical by Alan Schmuckler (music and lyrics) and David Holstein (book) is a tuneful contemporary spin on the classic tale. Directed by Rachel Rockwell, this new adaptation adds a bright, sassy daughter for the monarch and populates his kingdom with a gaggle of comedic courtiers and sullen citizens. The Emperor and his high-spirited daughter, Sam, disagree on everything?especially fashion. Resentful of her father's obsession with stylish finery, Sam is convinced that there is something amiss with the seamstress and her son who have been commissioned to create a new wardrobe for the Emperor's birthday celebration. With the help of some colorful characters and not-so-colorful threads, the Emperor and his daughter come to see themselves?and appreciate each other?for the first time. The CST-commissioned work opens Wednesday and runs all summer.

The Emperor's New Clothes ranks with The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Pea and The Ugly Duckling among Hans Christian Andersen's most beloved stories, contributing to his legacy as the father of the modern fairy tale. Chicago Shakespeare Theater, chicagoshakes.com, Creative Producer Rick Boynton brought together the team of Schmuckler and Holstein to create an entertaining musical for the entire family, based on the iconic story.

CST welcomes back Schmuckler, a Chicago-based composer/lyricist, who collaborated with Michael Mahler on CST's original musical based on Aesop's Fables, How Can You Run with a Shell on Your Back? The production premiered in 2007 to critical acclaim, and has since been produced in Connecticut, Minnesota, Illinois and most recently at the National Alliance for Music Theatre's 21st Annual Festival of New Musicals in New York.

Holstein is currently writing for two television shows: Showtime's hit series Weeds and TeenNick's upcoming Gigantic. His plays have been produced in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sydney and Edinburgh. His new comedy The B-Team premiered at Dad's Garage Theatre in Atlanta in 2009. His one-act Anne Frankenstein: The Musical won audience and finalist awards at Sydney's 2008 Short and Sweet Festival.

Rockwell makes her directorial debut at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, where she has choreographed several productions, including The Merry Wives of Windsor (2004), Romeo and Juliet (2005) and Measure for Measure (2005). In addition to regional credits throughout the country, her Chicago-area directing and choreography credits include Jeff Award-winning productions at The Marriott Theatre, Apple Tree Theatre, Noble Fools Theatricals, and most recently, her staging of Drury Lane Oakbrook's critically acclaimed production of Ragtime.

The cast includes Jeff Award-winning actor and respected veteran of Chicago stages Dan Forston as the Emperor. Performing the role of the Emperor's daughter Sam is Megan Long, who was seen in last season's CST production of Short Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night's Dream and has created roles in musical productions at Light Opera Works, The Marriott Theatre, and Drury Lane Water Tower. The role of Mama Swindler is performed by musical theater veteran Anne Gunn, whose recent credits include Lyric Opera of Chicago's production of The Merry Widow and Light Opera Works' Side by Side by Sondheim. Alex Goodrich performs the role of Mama Swindler's son Kimberly, and has performed throughout Chicago, including CST Family and Short Shakespeare! productions, and is currently in CST's The Taming of the Shrew. Rounding out the cast is Jonathan Weir, who was seen in national tours of Jersey Boys and The Lion King, performing the role of Lord Vince and Ensemble members including musical theater veteran Mark David Kaplan, with George Andrew Wolff and Jarrod Zimmerman.

The design team for The Emperor's New Clothes includes: scenic designer Kevin Depinet; lighting designer Jesse Klug; costume designer Debbie Baer; sound designer James Savage; and wig and make-up designer Melissa Veal.

The Emperor's New Clothes is recommended for ages 5 and up, and runs June 30 through August 29, 2010 in the Courtyard Theater. Tickets are $18?$23 with special discounts available for groups of 10 or more. All patrons receive a 40% parking discount at Navy Pier garages. For further information and to purchase tickets, call the Chicago Shakespeare Theater Box Office at 312.595.5600, or visit the Theater's website at chicagoshakes.com


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