CHICAGO – Kokandy Productions is pleased to celebrate its fifth anniversary with an expanded season featuring four fully produced musicals, including two Chicago premieres and two guest directors. The 2017/18 Season will also include numerous readings and workshops – adding fresh voices to Kokandy’s “New Works Initiative” and emphasizing the company’s commitment to becoming an increasingly relevant part of Chicagoland’s musical theater and new work development communities. The new season also marks Kokandy’s transition to a not-for-profit organization.
Kokandy’s fifth season will launch in winter 2017 with a revival of the Tony Award-winning Best Musical THE WIZ, directed by guest director Lili-Anne Brown. In this urban retelling of the movie classic The Wizard of Oz by William F. Brown and Charlie Smalls, Brown puts the focus on “what it means to live with intelligence, compassion and courage in today’s tough cities.”
Following The Wiz is Kokandy’s “Summer Series,” kicking off with the Chicago premiere of Michael John LaChiusa’s LITTLE FISH, an oblique parable for urban life after the attacks of September 11th, directed by Co-Artistic Director Allison Hendrix. Summer 2017 closes with the Chicago premiere of BONNIE & CLYDE from the creative team of Frank Wildhorn, Ivan Menchell and Don Black. NYC-based guest director David Alpert directs this story of two small-town nobodies searching for meaning at the height of the Great Depression.
Kokandys’ fifth season will conclude in Spring 2018 with a soon-to-be-announced production directed by Co-Artistic Director John D. Glover. The full 2017/18 season will be produced at Kokandy’s resident home, Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago. Season subscription and single tickets will go on sale at a later date.
Comments Co-Artistic Allison Hendrix, “As we reflected on the past, present and future of the company, we sought out stories for our season that explore what it has meant – and now means – to live in America, with a particularly focus on life in the ongoing wake of national distress and tragedy. The Great Depression, the attacks of September 11th, the current climate of violence and unrest – these moments define us as individuals and as a nation. Each of our shows allows us to explore the danger and the joy of being human; in every moment, we have a choice to fight, to flee, to celebrate, to rage, to love. All of our characters in this season face such choices, and we will spend this year discovering how they succeed and fail at moving forward.”
Kokandy Productions’ 2017-18 Line-Up Includes:
Book by William F. Brown, Music and Lyrics by Charlie Smalls
Directed by Lili-Anne Brown
Musical theater classic The Wiz is an urbanized retelling of L. Frank Baum’s Classic 1900 children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, in the context of 20th century African American culture. Follow the yellow brick road with a dazzling mix of rock, gospel and soul. The 1975 Broadway production of The Wiz won seven Tony Awards including Best Musical.
LITTLE FISH – Chicago Premiere!
Book, Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
Directed by Co-Artistic Director Allison Hendrix
Loosely based on Deborah Eisenberg’s short stories Days and Flotsam, Little Fish has been described as an urban parable for life after the events of September 11th. Thirtysomething writer Charlotte decides to give up smoking, and begins swimming to compensate for the lack of nicotine. With the help of her friends Kathy and Marco, Charlotte moves forward and backward in time, only to discover that she has spent her life running away. LaChiusa (The Wild Party) has said that “giving up smoking is a metaphor for the crises that force people to reconsider who they are and what is important.” The eclectic score includes Latin, jazz, rock, and what has been described as “pure urban noise,” a reflection of urban life, and the chaos within Charlotte’s mind.
Little Fish premiered off-Broadway at the Second Stage Theatre in 2003.
BONNIE & CLYDE – Chicago Premiere!
Book by Ivan Menchel, Music by Frank Wildhorn, Lyrics by Don Black
Directed by David Alpert
Bonnie & Clyde centers on real-life Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, the ill-fated lovers and outlaws whose story has been infamous since they achieved folk hero status at the height of the Great Depression. Fearless, shameless and alluring, the Tony Award-nominated musical from the legendary Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde, Civil War, Dracula) is the electrifying story of love, adventure and crime that captured the attention of an entire country, with a non-traditional score featuring blues, gospel and rockabilly music.
The world premiere of Bonnie & Clyde was presented at La Jolla Playhouse in 2009, and transferred to Broadway in 2011. There, it was nominated for three Outer Critics Circle Awards and five Drama Desk Awards (both including Best New Musical), as well as two 2012 Tony Awards nominations.
TO BE ANNOUNCED
Directed by Co-Artistic Director John D. Glover
About the Directors
Lili-Anne Brown (The Wiz) a native Chicagoan, works as a director, actor and educator, and has performed in, directed and produced many award-winning shows, both local and regional. She received the Joseph Jefferson Award in 2014 for her direction of Ahrens & Flaherty’s Dessa Rose, and a BTA Award in 2011 for her direction of Passing Strange. She is the former Artistic Director of Bailiwick Chicago, an Artistic Associate of Timber Lake Playhouse and a graduate of Northwestern University and St. Ignatius College Prep. She is a member of Actors’ Equity, SAG-AFTRA, and an Associate of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SDC).
Allison Hendrix (Little Fish) is the Co-Artistic Director and a founding member of Kokandy Productions and serves as director and dramaturg of Kokandy’s New Works Initiative. Previous Kokandy credits include: Loving Repeating (Jeff Nomination – Direction) Assassins (“Lynette ‘Squeaky’ Fromme”), The Last Five Years (“Cathy,” Jeff Nomination – Principal Actress in a Musical) and The Great American Trailer Park Musical (Music Director). Other credits include: “Amy” in Company (Writers Theatre), “The Baker’s Wife” in Into the Woods (The Hypocrites), “Jimmi” and Music Director in Cities of Light (Piven Theatre Workshop), Associate Music Director/Conductor for Floyd Collins (Boho Theatre), Music Director for Zanna, Don’t (Bailiwick), Director of The Inevitable Heat Death of the Universe (The Ruckus), Music Director of The Full Monty (Village Players Theater), and Music Director and recipient of NIETF Award for Best Vocal Direction for Floyd Collins (Towle Theatre). Allison also works as a vocal coach and accompanist for the Music Theatre program at Northwestern University. allisonhendrix.com
David Alpert (Bonnie & Clyde) is a New York City based director. Broadway: IF/THEN, The Trip to Bountiful, The Best Man, Guys & Dolls. Also: Talley’s Folly (Roundabout), Old Friends (Signature), Kushner’s The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide… (world oremiere, Guthrie), Flashdance (1st National). New York: A Little Night Music (NYU Steinhardt), Death Note (Music by Frank Wildhorn), A Scythe of Time (by Alan Harris & Mark Swanson, NYMF), Tonya & Nancy (by Elizabeth Searle & Michael Teoli, NYMF), The Moon & The Sea (by Creighton Irons), Barnyard Follies (by Sam Carner), Rails (by Tom Kelly & Tom Kenton, NYMF), The Wonderful Mr. & Mrs. O’Leary (by Matte O’Brien), Joseph…, The Four of Us, Do Me A Little (NY International Fringe Festival), Everything is Fine (ASCAP/Stephen Schwartz), Here Today (Theatre Row), 8Minute Musicals (NYMF), Cocaine: The Band: The Musical starring Tony-Award winner Lena Hall (NYMF). Selected regional: Vayne & Sonya…(Farmers Alley Theatre), Baby with the Bathwater (Western Michigan University, Guest Artist), Urineown, Little Shop of Horrors, 1776 (Guthrie). Every year, David proudly presents the “Living for Today” concert series, which brings together Broadway performers for a night of music to benefit Gilana’s Fund, a non-profit organization that supports educational programming celebrating acceptance. The concert has attracted such stars as Idina Menzel, Vanessa Williams, Jim Dale, Alice Ripley, LaChanze, Tituss Burgess, Lena Hall, and Candice Bergen. The Fund was created in 2007 after David’s sister Gilana passed away at the age of 26, and to date Gilana’s Fund has raised nearly $50,000. David holds a B.A. in Directing, as well as a B.A. in Stage Management from Western Michigan University, where upon graduation he was awarded both of the Department’s top honors: the Presidential Scholar, and the Conspicuous Achievement in Theatre Award. David is the Artistic Director of Headline Programming for BroadwayCon, a convention for thousands of Broadway fans held in New York City. www.david-alpert.com
John D. Glover (Production TBD) most recently directed Kokandy’s The Full Monty (Jeff Award nomination Best Musical) and is thrilled to be back at it with Tomorrow Morning. For six years, John was responsible for the artistic and fiscal direction of the Theater Company of Purdue University and has directed regionally in Ohio and Indiana, including directing the grand opening production of the Theatre at the Center in Munster. John is the recipient of several Northern Indiana Excellence in Theater Foundation awards (NIETF), including Best Direction of a Musical for Pump Boys and Dinettes (Purdue Theater Company) and Best Direction of a Musical for Floyd Collins (Towle Theater), as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award in Regional Theater. In the “real world,” John is the Chief Operations Officer of a not-for-profit, faith-based senior living ministry.
About Kokandy Productions
Founded in 2010, Kokandy Productions seeks to leverage the heightened reality of musical theater to tell complex and challenging stories, with a focus on contributing to the development of Chicago-based musical theater artists, and raising the profile of Chicago’s non-Equity musical theater community.
The company’s artistic staff is comprised of John D. Glover (Co-Artistic Director), Allison Hendrix (Co-Artistic Director), Scot T. Kokandy (Executive Producer) and Kory Danielson (Resident Music Director).
For additional information, visit www.kokandyproductions.com.