The Chicago Theatre Workshop (CTW), a new theater company headquartered in the Edgewater neighborhood, has arrived on the scene with a mission “to produce work that challenges our perception of art and music.” And it is getting things off to an impressive start by way of a benefit on Aug. 20 to be headlined by Tony Award-winning Broadway actress-singer LaChanze, and that also will offer attendees a chance to participate in an auction for a coveted pair of tickets to the Chicago production of Lin Manuel Miranda’s hit musical, “Hamilton.”
Among several resident companies at the The Edge Theatre, 5451 N. Broadway (an exceptionally handsome and comfortable new 114-seat venue in Edgewater), CTW has been designed to serve as an incubator for emerging talents and their work, and to help provide the resources needed for commercial success. These artists’ work also will be showcased for a global audience through a digital platform on which select productions will be made available for streaming.
The CTW benefit, to be held at The Edge Theatre, will include a sneak peek of the workshop’s upcoming season featuring performances by Chicago actors Nate Lewellyn, Charissa Armon, Jake Bradley, David Gordon Johnson, Elisa Carlson, Taylor Dalton, Felipe Carrasco and 11-year-old Chayce Davis.
They will be performing pieces from the company’s first season which is to kick off with “Wicked City” (Oct. 6-30), a film noir musical from Chad Beguelin and Matthew Sklar, the team behind “Gotta Dance” and “Elf.” Also part of the season will be a new musical, “Creatives” (Feb. 10-March 5, 2017), a pop-opera that follows a nonfiction writing seminar upended by the arrival of a best-selling author, featuring a book by Irvine Welsh (author of “Trainspotting”) and Don De Grazia, and music from Simple Minds, Oasis, New Order and Happy Mondays, with original music by Laurence Mark Wythe. The closing show will be the Chicago premiere of “Little Miss Sunshine” (May 11-June 4, 2017) – a musical adaptation by James Lapine and William Finn of the Oscar-winning film about one family’s zany journey to a children’s beauty pageant.
LaChanze, whose credits include “The Color Purple” (for which she received the 2006 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical), “Once on This Island,” “Ragtime,” and many others, will be making her first solo appearance in Chicago as part of this benefit. Her set, “still in the works,” is expected to include some Diana Ross hits, a jazz sequence, and a medley of show tunes. It will be followed by a mix-and-mingle with the audience and a special finale with the Senn High School Choir of Edgewater.
In addition to performances, the benefit, which starts at 6:30 p.m., will include a cocktail reception and the auction, featuring prizes from local and national vendors, as well as that premium house seat ticket package to “Hamilton,” courtesy of the musical’s producer, Jeffrey Seller.
To purchase tickets to the benefit (still available at the $125 and $150 levels), visit http://www.chicagotheatreworkshop.org.