Evanston, IL – Music Theater Works (formerly Light Opera Works) presents the Leonard Bernstein classic, CANDIDE, based on Voltaire’s satire on the follies of the human race, at Cahn Auditorium in Evanston, June 3 through 11. A 24-piece orchestra accompanies the well-known songs “Glitter and Be Gay,” “The Best of All Possible Worlds” and “Make Our Garden Grow.”
CANDIDE is directed by Music Theater Works artistic director Rudy Hogenmiller, conducted by music director Roger L. Bingaman and choreographed by Clayton Cross.
The cast includes Gary Alexander (Voltaire/Pangloss), Ben Barker (Candide), Cecilia Iole (Cunegonde), Emily Barnash (The Old Woman), Billy Dawson (Maximilian), Abby Murray Vachon (Paquette) and Russell Alan Rowe (Martin).
The design/production team is Adam Veness (scenic and technical director), Alexa Weinzierl (costumes), Andrew H. Meyers (lighting), Aaron Quick (sound), Mary Zanger (stage manager) and Katie Beeks (production manager).
CANDIDE is sponsored by The Pauls Foundation, with additional support from the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation. The opening night reception is sponsored by Prairie Moon Restaurant in Evanston.
CANDIDE is Music Theater Works’ first production of 2017. The season will continue with GYPSY (August 19-27), the concert performance DUKE ELLINGTON’S GREATEST HITS (October 6-15) and PETER PAN (December 23-January 1, 2018).
Discounted season ticket packages are still available.
Ticket prices for CANDIDE begin at $34. Ages 25 and younger are half price. To order tickets, or for more information, call the Music Theater Works box office at (847) 920-5360 or order online 24 hours a day at www.MusicTheaterWorks.com.
Director/Music Director/Choreographer Biographies
RUDY HOGENMILLER (Director), artistic director of Music Theater Works, has directed and choreographed many productions for the company including DIE FLEDERMAUS, LET ME ENTERTAIN YOU: JULE STYNE’S GREATEST HITS, MAME, MY FAIR LADY, GUYS AND DOLLS, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE FANTASTICKS, THE MERRY WIDOW, COLE PORTER’S GREATEST HITS, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, H.M.S. PINAFORE, OLIVER!, MAN OF LA MANCHA, CAMELOT, BRIGADOON, HELLO, DOLLY!, THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, KISS ME, KATE, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE MIKADO and THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Hogenmiller was seen on stage in 2014 as Mr. Applegate in DAMN YANKEES, and as the Emcee in CABARET in 2013. He has been recognized with six Joseph Jefferson Awards and 17 nominations for best direction and choreography in Chicago, and has been a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers for more than 35 years.
ROGER L. BINGAMAN (Music Director and Conductor) conducts the 24-piece orchestra. Bingaman made his first appearance on the Music Theater Works podium in 1997, conducting THE MERRY WIDOW. Since then he has conducted many productions, including DIE FLEDERMAUS, MAME, MY FAIR LADY, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE FANTASTICKS, CABARET, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, H.M.S. PINAFORE, OLIVER!, CAMELOT, THE STUDENT PRINCE, BRIGADOON, HELLO, DOLLY! CAROUSEL, and THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD, as well as THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, THE MUSIC MAN, IOLANTHE, GIGI, OKLAHOMA!, BITTER SWEET, KISS ME, KATE, 110 IN THE SHADE, NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY and BEAUTIFUL HELEN OF TROY. Bingaman has been director of the apprentice program and chorus master for the Sarasota Opera since 1998.
CLAYTON CROSS (Choreographer) choreographed MAME, MY FAIR LADY and GUYS AND DOLLS at Music Theater Works, where also played the Mute in THE FANTASTICKS and was a featured dancer in DAMN YANKEES. Cross served for five years as artistic advisor, board member and choreographer for Renegade Dance Architects, and continues to consult and contribute choreography to the Capitol One Bowl’s ALL AMERICAN HALFTIME SHOW. He is a master teacher for M.A. Dance, a Texas-based traveling convention circuit, where he has worked and judged for the past 17 years. Throughout his 20-year career as a dancer, Cross has worked with Robert Battle, Fernando Bujones, Frank Chaves, Paul Taylor ,and Ann Reinking. He was featured in EVERY DANCER HAS A STORY, a PBS special about the River North Chicago Dance Company, where he was a company member for nine seasons and toured nationally and internationally. Originally from Midland, Texas, Cross received his early training from La Petite Dance Company, Coleman Academy, and the Midland Community Theatre. He holds a BFA in ballet and modern dance from Texas Christian University.
GARY ALEXANDER (Voltaire/Pangloss) has appeared in eight Music Theater Works productions including CARNIVAL!, THE STUDENT PRINCE and 2004’s CANDIDE (as Maximilian). Recent engagements include THE BOOK CLUB PLAY at 16th Street Theater, 15 productions for ShawChicago, most recently MISALLIANCE and JEEVES INTERVENES, and A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Drury Lane Oakbrook. He has performed in several shows for The Shakespeare Project of Chicago (where he created and directed SPOOKY SHAKES for the Chicago Cultural Mile Association). At the Ravinia Festival he was seen in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, ANYONE CAN WHISTLE and the revue THE MUSIC OF RODGERS AND HART. Other credits include BINKY RUDICH at the Goodman Theater, VIKINGS and MIRANDOLINA at Noble Fool, and appearances at Piven Theatre, Rising Moon and Stage Left. TV and film credits include CHICAGO FIRE and THE PRINCE AND ME 2.
BEN BARKER (Candide) is making his Music Theater Works debut. A graduate of Northwestern University, he has been seen at Marriott Theatre in SPRING AWAKENING (Moritz) and OCTOBER SKY (O’Dell), Paramount Theatre in LES MISERABLES, Porchlight Music Theatre in SWEENEY TODD and Writers Theatre in ARCADIA. Regional credits include Montana Shakespeare in the Parks’ A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, THE COMEDY OF ERRORS and RICHARD III and the Palace Theater in the Dells’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. benjaminjonesbarker.com
CECILIA IOLE (Cunegonde) is making her Music Theater Works debut. She was recently seen as Johanna in Paramount Theatre’s SWEENEY TODD. Regional credits include THE LITTLE MERMAID (Ariel), LES MISERABLES (Cosette), and TITANIC: THE MUSICAL (Caroline) at Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre. Other Chicago credits include THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE (Olive) at Steel Beam Theatre and A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Ghost of Christmas Past) at Quest Theatre Ensemble. ceciliaiole.com
EMILY BARNASH (The Old Woman) returns to Music Theater Works after appearing last season in LET ME ENTERTAIN YOU: JULE STYNE’S GREATEST HITS and DIE FLEDERMAUS (Rosalinda cover). She will be back as Mazeppa in GYPSY this August. With the Northwestern University Opera Theatre, she performed the title role in SUSANNAH and Mrs. Patrick DeRocher in DEAD MAN WALKING. Other roles include Béatrice in BÈATRICE ET BÈNÈDICT, Madeline/Isabel in THE FACE ON THE BARROOM FLOOR, Countess Almaviva in LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, Suor Angelica in SUOR ANGELICA, Arminda in LA FINTA GIARDINIERA, Dido in DIDO AND AENEAS, Lady Billows in ALBERT HERRING, Kate Pinkerton in MADAMA BUTTERFLY and Miss Pinkerton in THE OLD MAID AND THE THIEF. Musical theater roles include the Witch in INTO THE WOODS, Susan in [TITLE OF SHOW], Penelope Pennywise in URINETOWN and Lily Vanessi in KISS ME, KATE. Emily was a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Wisconsin District (2015) and received an Encouragement Award at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Florida District (2017). Originally from St. Petersburg, Florida, she completed her B.M. in vocal performance at DePauw University and her M.M. in vocal performance at Northwestern University. She currently studies with Alexandra LoBianco.
BILLY DAWSON (Maximilian) returns to Music Theatre Works, where he was seen in DAMN YANKEES (Rocky), FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (Fydeka), and THE MERRY WIDOW (understudy Brioche and Bogdanovitch). Other regional credits include THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA and THE LAST FIVE YEARS (Three Rivers Music Theatre), WOZZECK, TOSCA (Lyric Opera of Chicago), A NEW BRAIN (Brown Paper Box Co.), THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW and YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (Fort Wayne Civic Theatre), as well as concerts and cabarets with Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Chicago Artists Chorale and Harbor Country Opera. In addition to performing, he is co-founder of Three Rivers Music Theatre, and is an on-air personality for The CW. billydawson.net @dawsonbilly
ABBY MURRAY VACHON (Paquette) is making her Music Theater Works debut. Her credits include SWEENEY TODD at the Paramount Theatre and performing with Leslie Uggams in AN EVENING WITH LESLIE UGGAMS at Dayton, Ohio’s Victoria Theatre. At the Round Barn Theatre at Amish Acres she was Annie Sullivan in THE MIRACLE WORKER, Natalie in ALL SHOOK UP, Hodel in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF and Hilda in PLAIN AND FANCY. She played Fantine in LES MISÉRABLES with Pitch In Productions and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Wright State University. abbymurrayvachon.com
RUSSELL ALAN ROWE (Martin) returns to Music Theater Works where he appeared in MAME (M. Lindsay Woolsey), MY FAIR LADY (George, Lord Boxington), SOUTH PACIFIC (Cmdr. Harbison), THE MERRY WIDOW (Kromov), FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (Constable) and ANNIE GET YOUR GUN (Mac/Buffalo Bill understudy.). Favorite Chicago roles include Robert Danvers in THERE’S A GIRL IN MY SOUP at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre and the Man in Christopher Durang’s LAUGHING WILD with Bailiwick Chicago. Other Chicago credits include PARADE (Governor Slaton/Luther Rosser), AMADEUS (Strack), FLOYD COLLINS (Lee Collins) and THE RAINMAKER (Sheriff Thomas), all with Bohemian Theatre Ensemble. Russell was seen in Porchlight Music Theatre’s ANYONE CAN WHISTLE in concert, and StageLeft’s BLUE/WHITNEY. Russell also works frequently as a professional pianist with The Russell Alan Rowe Trio, and can be seen featured in several local and regional television commercials.
Music Theater Works (formerly Light Opera Works) is a resident professional not-for-profit theater in Evanston, founded in 1980. The company’s mission is to produce and present musical theater from a variety of world traditions. All productions are presented in English, with foreign works done in carefully edited modern translations. Maximum scholarship is employed to preserve the original vocal and orchestral material as well as the spirit of the original text whenever possible. Audiences know that at Music Theater Works they will experience repertoire often unavailable on the stages of commercial theaters and opera houses, in modern productions with professional artists and full orchestra.