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London’s 2017 Olivier-winning Production of "Jesus Christ Superstar" Premieres at Chicago Lyric Opera


What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s a-happening. The buzz right now is at Chicago Lyric Opera (20 North Wacker Drive) where the much-lauded house, soon to celebrate its 65th anniversary, is presenting the North American premiere of the Regent’s Park 2016 Olivier Award-winning production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, through May 20. The production also won the 2016 Evening Standard Radio 2 Audience Award for Best Musical [voted by listeners].

DJCSChicagoirecting is three-time Olivier Award winner Timothy Sheader (formerly Royal Shakespeare Company, now artistic director, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), who helmed the much-acclaimed London production presented outdoors in 2016 with an encore in summer 2017.  

The cast, all in modern dress [which is not to say there are some wild and colorful costumes choices], features a mix of Chicago, Broadway, and West End talent. Starring are Heath Saunders (American Repertory Theatre and Broadway, Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, Lennon as Jesus); three-time Grammy-nominated soul singer Ryan Shaw (Judas), tUnE-yArDs band vocalist Jo Lampert (Public Theatre’s Into the Fire) (Mary Magdalene); Diane Coffee a.k.a. Shaun Fleming (Herod); and Postmodern Jukebox band jazz crooner Michael Cunio (Broadway, Hairspray; Chicago, Jersey Boys) (Pilate).

Featured are Mykal Kilgore (Broadway, Motown, Hair; First National, Book of Mormon) (Simon Zealotes); Joseph Anthony Byrd (Chicago, Cabaret, Little Mermaid) (Annas);  Cavin Cornwall (reprising the role he created for the Regent’s Park productions) (Caiaphas); and Andrew Mueller (Peter and the Starcatcher) (Peter). The production features the Lyric’s orchestra and chorus, rock musicians, and a cast of 48 – twice that of the Regent’s Park production.  

Sheader has brought with him his London creative team: music director Tom Deering, Olivier-winning choreographer Drew McOnie, Tony-nominated set and costume designer Tom Scutt (King Charles III), and Olivier-nominated lighting designer Lee Curran.
The Chicago Lyric premiere of Jesus Christ Superstar is sponsored by the Negaunee Foundation and Mr. and Mrs. J. Christopher Reyes in association with The Really Useful Group Limited. Lyric is under the direction of Anthony Freud, with Sir Andrew Davis as music director and famed opera star Renée Fleming (on Broadway as Nellie Fowler in the Carousel revival) as creative consultant.

Tickets for Chicago Lyric Opera’s Jesus Christ Superstar are $47.50 to $130.50. For the ultimate front-row rock concert experience, Lyric is offering $20 seating in their gigantic orchestra pit for the first time in the company’s history. 

For tickets and more information, visit


In “The Seafarer,” Four Men Have A Devil of A Time With their Lives


The Seafarer
Irish Repertory Theatre the Francis J. Greenburger Mainstage
Written by Conor McPherson
Directed by Ciarán O’Reilly
Starring Matthew Broderick, Colin McPhillamy, Michael Mellamphy, Andy Murray, and Tim Ruddy

Through May 24, 2018

As one of Ireland’s most important contemporary dramatic voices, playwright Conor McPherson knows how to craft a simple yet sly story in “The Seafarer.” Making its off-Broadway return to New York at the Irish Rep through Ciarán O’Reilly’s well-directed production, the play shouldn’t be missed. Set in a beautifully ramshackle house in Baldoyle, a coastal suburb north of Dublin, McPherson’s set piece starts as an intimate look at middle aged men coping with the dismay of living out lives full of existential despair and actual pain. These are characters who haven’t exactly handled their jobs or families with much grace, but what seems to be naturalistic portraits turns into an oddly believable supernatural fantasy with a sinister underpinning.

The narrative revolves around a simple idea — what if what we think we know isn’t what’s really up. In this case, well-worn traumas working their way through a wretched Christmas Eve into Christmas day take a sinister turn. Without giving away the reveal, there’s a twist to the story that takes it from a look into painfully frustrating men interacting into an intriguing game of win or really lose. When the play transforms from this intimate look of lives struggling with last attempts at redemption to be a supernatural thriller of fate, it adds a layer of humor and anxiety that makes even more revealing.

Sharky (Andy Murray) has returned home to build a new, sober life after losing yet another job through both recklessness and sheer bad luck. He has to cope with his far more hopeless older brother, Richard (Colin McPhillamy) who had been blinded through a drunken accident a year ago. While Sharky tries to help him he doesn’t make it easy refusing to bathe or slow down his drunken excesses.

On this Christmas Eve, their old disreputable friend Ivan (Michael Mellamphy) has crashed in the house rather than be home with his family. The drinks flow as these old “friends” are joined by Nicky (Tim Ruddy) who brings along the mysterious Mr. Lockhart (Matthew Broderick) for an annual game of poker. This stranger turns out to be someone encountered in Sharky’s wretched past who ups the ante on the stakes in the game with possibly dire consequences.

All of the cast settles into their characters with ease and rough grace but it is Broderick, in his second appearance on the Irish Repertory Theatre’s main stage, who turns out to be the perfect sinister personality. Because of his seemingly innocent face and demeanor, he adds an unexpected grit to his character. Previously he had been in McPherson's "Shining City" in 2016, which was hailed by The New York Times as “his most assured and affecting stage performance in years.”

When "The Seafarer" premiered at London’s Royal National Theatre in 2006, it was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Play. When premiered on Broadway in December of 2007, it was nominated for four 2008 Tony Awards, including Best Play. And if this current version is any indication, this 46-year old playwright is poised for an ever brighter future.

See the Cinema of South-East Europe at SEEfest LA


The South East European Film Festival (SEEfest) returns to LA with a slate of features, shorts, and documentaries looking at the fluid borders of south east Europe. Formed in 2002, SEEfest aims to educate about and promote the cultural diversity of South East Europe.

The festival opens with a screening of Hawaii from director Jesús del Cerro, about a parent and child eluding the Secret Police of Communist Romania in pursuit of an inheritance. Director Cerro will also be taking part in the festival’s series of Coffee Talk lectures other producers and directors with films being screened.

Documentaries being shown include Roland Sejko’s The Awaiting, which tracks the tumultuous religious history of Albania. In Drifting Generation, directed by Stella Nicoletta Drossa, five young women, all daughters of Greek immigrant workers in Germany, return to Greece in the midst of its financial crisis.

One of the special screenings is the lavish period film, The Crown Prince, which tells the story of the crown prince Rudolf, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, whose life tragically ended in Mayerling in 1889.

To learn more, go to:

South East European Film Festival Los Angeles
April 26 - May 3, 2018

Various Locations

Rooftop Films Rings in Summer with Shorts & Docs

 Green-Wood Cemetary

The weather is finally starting to get ever so slightly warmer, which means the outdoor movie viewing season will soon be upon us. Rooftop Films announced the opening of their Summer series for May 19 at Green-Wood Cemetery (500 25th Street, Brooklyn, NY ). The opening night slate of films entitled This is What We Mean By Short Films, which includes a reception, live music, and an after-party. And on June 30 the same venue will host the Rooftop Film documentary slate, New York Non-Fiction.  The specific films to be shown will be announced at a later date.

To learn more, go to:

Rooftop Films

This is What We Mean By Short Films
May 19, 2018

New York Non-Fiction
June 30, 2018

Green-Wood Cemetery
500 25th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11232


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