‘Hamilton’s Michael Cervantes, Jessie Mueller, E. Faye Butler, Adam Jacobs, The Godinez family, Michael Mahler and Angela Ingersoll are just a few of the 20 Chicago theater stars performing live from their
homes to raise funds for Season of Concern, the emergency fund for Chicago theater artists
CHICAGO – Join WGN-TV’s “Around Town” correspondent Ana Belaval and a star-studded line-up of more than 20 top Chicago stage performers for Chicago Offstage! Live at Home, a virtual streaming event debuting live on Season of Concern’s new YouTube channel (https://tinyurl.com/soctube) on Sunday, April 19, at 6 p.m. CST.
Chicago Offstage! promises to be a one-of-a-kind live-streaming event where Chicago theater fans can gather online from the comfort and safety of their homes to watch a collection of A-list Chicago actors talking live with WGN-TV’s popular “Around Town” reporter, with special live music and comedy performances along the way.
Chicago Offstage! Live at Home is free to enjoy, and comes with the option to link to Season of Concern’s new website to make a donation in support of the emergency fund for Chicagoland’s theater community, including during the current Covid-19 pandemic. The show will stream live Sunday evening on Season of Concern’s new YouTube channel, where it will be archived right after for post-event viewing.
Still, there’s nothing like watching a virtual event in real time, thanks to the option of cheering on your favorite Chicago stage veterans in the comments feed as they perform live. Here’s the list of performers (at press time):
Faye Butler, one of Chicago’s greatest musical theater divas, and the multi-award-winning star of Porchlight Music Theatre’s 2019 smash hit musical Gypsy. An eight-time Jeff Award winner, she has credits across the country including Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, DC’s Arena Stage, California’s La Jolla Playhouse and multiple national tours.
Devin DeSantis and Stephen Schellhardt. DeSantis is one of Chicago’s top leading men, with credits including The Little Mermaid and the title role in The Who’s Tommy, both at Paramount Theatre, and Dr. Frederick Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein at Drury Lane Oakbrook. Schellhardt is a similarly talented, three-time Joseph Jefferson nominee and a Barrymore Award-winner for acting. He is now on faculty at Roosevelt University and Artistic Director for Boho Theatre.
Lorena Diaz Dwyer and Wendy Mateo, aka Dominizuelan, the popular Chicago Latinx sketch comedy power duo.
Angela Ingersoll, who thrilled Chicago audiences as Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow, earning her a Jeff Award, a Broadway World Award and L.A. Times Woman of the Year in the Theater Honors. She and her husband Michael also run the popular concert series Artists Lounge Live.
David Girolmo and Heidi Kettenring, a Chicago theater power couple if there ever was one. Girolmo received a Jeff Award for Phantom! and is a multiple nominee in both musical and play categories. Also a Jeff Award winner, Kettenring is fresh off Paramount Theatre’s world premiere musical The Secret of My Success.
The Godinez Family (Nancy Voigts, Henry Godinez, and their daughters Lucy and Gaby), are one the first families of Chicago theater. Godinez is Resident Artistic Associate at Goodman Theatre and one of the city’s top directors and performers. Voigts is a Chicago musical theater veteran and two-time Jeff Award recipient. Their daughter Lucy is a fast-rising musical theater performer most recently seen as Nancy in Oliver! at Marriott Theatre. Their daughter Gaby is a current Northwestern student, studying TV/Film, Theatre and Playwriting.
Cory Goodrich, a Jeff Award-winner for her roles as Mother in Drury Lane Oakbrook’s Ragtime, and June Carter Cash in Mercury Theatre’s Johnny Cash revue, Ring of Fire.
Sharriese Hamilton, whose credits include Wonderful Town at Goodman Theatre, 9 to 5 at Firebrand Theatre, Sister Act at Marriott Theatre and How to Succeed… at Porchlight Music Theatre. She recently returned from the Australian national tour of Come From Away.
Adam Jacobs, best known for originating the title role of Marius in the 2006 Broadway revival of Les Misérables and Aladdin in Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway. He recently moved to Chicago, where he was seen as William Shakespeare in Something Rotten at the Marriott.
James Earl Jones II, a three-time Jeff Award nominee for The Wiz at the Theater at the Center, Sondheim on Sondheim at Porchlight Music Theatre, and She Loves Me at Marriott Theatre Lincolnshire. He recently returned from the national tour of Come From Away.
Mark David Kaplan, recipient of three Joseph Jefferson Awards for his work in Les Misérables, Ragtime and Forbidden Broadway, the latter with which he toured internationally and performed off- Broadway. Kaplan also serves on the board of directors of Season of Concern.
Michelle Lauto, a Jeff Award-winning actress for her turn in Forbidden Broadway’s Spamilton: An American Parody, and member of the upcoming production of Be More Chill at the Apollo Theater opening (hopefully!) later this summer.
Michael Mahler, the award-winning composer/lyricist of The Secret of My Success, Miracle, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, October Sky, Something in the Game, Hero, The Man who Murdered Sherlock Holmes, Wonderland: Alice’s Rock & Roll Adventure and more.
Jessie Mueller, the Evanston-born, Chicago-trained, and current Broadway star, recently Tony and Grammy nominated and Drama Desk award winner as Julie Jordan in Broadway revival of Carousel. She originated the role of Jenna Hunterson in composer-lyricist Sara Bareilles’s hit Broadway musical Waitress, which also earned her nominated for a Tony, Drama Desk and Grammy award. Mueller won all three awards for her starring role as Carole King in Beautiful – The Carol King Musical.
Samantha Pauly, one of the Chicago mega-talents who starred in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s critically acclaimed musical Six, and went on to perform the role of Katherine Howard in Six on Broadway.
Alexis Roston and Kelvin Roston Jr. Alexis is a Jeff Award winner for her performance as Billie Holiday in Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar & Grill at Porchlight Music Theatre. Kelvin was last seen in Day of Absence, Congo Square Theatre Co. and before that, as King in King Headley II and Oedipus in Oedipus Rex at Court Theatre.
Bethany Thomas, winner of a Joseph Jefferson Award, an After Dark Award, and a Black Theatre Alliance Award, and a powerhouse Chicago musical theater star with credits at virtually every major Chicago stage.
Honey West, the Chicago LGBT Hall of Famer, two-time After Dark Award-winning entertainer and a hit on the cabaret circuit since her debut in the 1990 one-woman show, A Taste of Honey.
Ana Belaval, the evening’s host, joined WGN-TV in June 2005 and is a four-time Emmy Award winner. She is currently a feature reporter on the WGN Morning News, covering the “Around Town” segment, which focuses on various people, places and things of interest in and around the Chicago area, including Chicago’s vibrant theater scene. This month, Belaval was also going to premiere Reporting Live: I’m Ana Belaval. Sadly, like so many Chicago theater productions impacted by Covid-19, Belaval was forced to postpone the planned premiere of her one-woman show until later this year.
Behind the scenes, Christopher Pazdernik, casting and company manager for Porchlight Music Theatre, is the creative producer of Chicago Offstage! Live at Home. Derek Fawcett, a Chicago-based singer, songwriter, actor and educator, is technical director.
About Season of Concern Chicago: The short-term emergency fund for Chicago’s theater community
Season of Concern Chicago is dedicated to providing financial assistance to Chicagoland theater practitioners, impacted by illness, injury or circumstance that prevents them from working.
Season of Concern provides direct, short-term emergency financial assistance to Chicago-area actors, directors, designers, technicians, playwrights—anyone working in the theater—through its own Biscotto-Miller Fund. Season of Concern supports members of Actors’ Equity Association, as well as Non-Equity theater makers. If your name appears in a local theater program, you’re eligible to apply for short-term financial assistance.
Season of Concern also provides sustaining support to the Chicago office of The Actors Fund, the national human services organization for entertainment and performing arts professionals in theater, film, music, opera, television and dance with a broad spectrum of social, health, employment and housing programs. Last year alone, Season of Concern Chicago donated more than $100,000 to the Chicago office of The Actors Fund.
Season of Concern was founded in 1987 as the Chicago theater community’s response to the advent of the AIDS crisis and has consistently worked to support those afflicted with AIDS-related illnesses ever since, collecting over $3 million through audience donations.
Season of Concern relies on fundraising and donations to complete its mission, including its well-known holiday season fundraising campaign in which Chicago theater artists at participating theaters volunteer to make an appeal and pass a donation bucket through the audience after each show.
Season of Concern continues to provide critical funding to over 25 Chicago-based direct care HIV/AIDS organizations, but has expanded its mission more recently to support the greater health needs of the Chicagoland theater community. Following a two-year strategic planning initiative, Season of Concern’s updated mission statement is to provide financial assistance to those in our community impacted by illness, injury or circumstance. Its vision is to work toward a future where no member of the Chicagoland Theatre community struggles alone.
To bring new attention to its expanded mission, last month Season of Concern launched new branding, an all-new look and feel for its logo and collateral materials, and an enhanced website, seasonofconcern.org, which has been updated and redesigned for faster navigation to the information Chicago theater artists need. To link directly to guidelines for medical assistance, visit our new Get Help and Apply Now pages.
Season of Concern Chicago, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is led by managing director Michael Ryczek newly elected board president Luther Goins, and a dedicated board of directors: Melissa Carsten, Mike Chechuga, Martin (Marty) Grochala, Charls Sedgwick Hall, Mark David Kaplan, Doug MacKechnie, Billy Mayer, Marcelle McVay, Rondi Reed, Jane Nicholl Sahlins, Steve Scott, Leslie Shook and Richard Turner.
For the latest updates, please follow Season of Concern on social media: