The Crusader Newspaper Group

Local theater brings Mary Poppins and the great Kahil El’Zabar

By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, Chicago Crusader

NightBlue Performing Arts Company is pleased to present the Chicago Non-Equity premiere of Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins, a musical based on the stories of P.L. Travers and the Walt Disney Film, with original music and lyrics by the Academy Award-winning team of Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, book by Julian Fellowes, new songs and additional music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe and co-created by Cameron Mackintosh. Mary Poppins will run through March 27 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.

This intimate new production of Mary Poppins is directed by NightBlue’s Jeff-nominated Artistic Director David E. Walters (Spamalot), joined by critically acclaimed music director Austin Cook (Million Dollar Quarter, Sondheim on Sondheim) and by five-time Jeff Award-winning choreographer Kevin Bellie.

Tickets are available at online or by calling (773) 327-5252. For additional information, visit

Jeffrey Mumford  
Jeffrey Mumford

Mary Poppins is the story of the Banks family who live in a big house in London on Cherry Lane. Things are not going well for the family. The children, Jane and Michael, are out of control and are in need of a new nanny. They have their own ideas about what sort of caretaker they should have, while their parents – in particular Mr. Banks – are insistent on someone strict for the job. When a mysterious young woman named Mary Poppins appears at their doorstep, the family finds that she’s the answer to their prayers, but in the most peculiar way. Mary Poppins takes the children on many magical and memorable adventures, but Jane and Michael aren’t the only ones she has a profound effect upon. Even grown-ups can learn a lesson or two from the nanny who advises that “anything can happen if you let it!”

Director David E. Walters says: “Many folks think of the magic and magnificence of Mary Poppins on the big stage. At NightBlue, we are excited to tell you an intimate story of a family that discovers what is most important in life with the aid of a determined nanny. Oh, and don’t worry, we’ll sprinkle plenty of fairy-dust over this tale. Appropriate for any age, our Mary Poppins will help families want to make time for dinner together!”

Mai Dang Lao at Sideshow Theater

Sideshow Theater’s Mai Dang Lao is the world premiere of David Jacobi’s chilling new drama, which is directed by artistic associate Marti Lyons. It plays through April 10 at Victory Gardens Richard Christiansen Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave.   Tickets are currently available online, by calling (773) 871-3000 or in person at the Victory Gardens Box Office.

Mai Dang Lao features Sideshow company members Matt Fletcher and Andrew Goetten, with LaNisa Renee Frederick, Tyler Meredith, Jim Poole and Sarah Price.

There’s a correct order to everything when you work in the fast food industry. That’s why Sophie’s such a problem for her bosses: her attitude and aloofness threaten the food chain. But when a phone call from the local police warns of a crime committed in the restaurant, Sophie’s coworkers are given permission to restore proper balance and set things in their place. A mordant and terrifying world premiere based on true events, Mai Dang Lao examines the ways we all get trapped, and what we’re capable of doing when someone lets us.

Fulcrum Point celebrates African-American artists with Proclamation! The Black Composer Speaks at Promontory, in one performance only, Friday, April 29.

Featuring world premieres from Kahil El’Zabar and Jeffrey Mumford, a minimalist take on Funk, abstract expressionism, and improvisation. Tickets are currently on sale.

Fulcrum Point New Music Project, Chicago’s leader in New Art Music led by Stephen Burns, proudly presents “Proclamation! The Black Composer Speaks,” a dynamic concert program showcasing the broad spectrum of new art music from the African-American perspective at the Promontory Chicago, 5311 S. Lake Park Ave., on April 29 at 7:30 p.m.

Based on the award-winning treatise of the same name by symphonic jazz composer David Baker, the double bill incorporates music by three generations of African-American composers. A highlight of the evening is the World Premiere of a dramatic, improvisatory set in the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) tradition by the internationally acclaimed percussionist Kahil El’Zabar and his quartet featuring Robert Baabe Irving III (Miles Davis’ music director/pianist), Dennis Winslett, and Harrison Bankhead alongside members of Fulcrum Point. The program also includes Alvin Singleton’s striking “In Our Own House” and Jessie Montgomery’s funky “Voodoo Dolz” for string quartet.

The cornerstone of the program is the world premiere of composer Jeffrey Mumford’s concerto for solo piano and ensemble, “becoming…,” with Winston Choi as piano soloist. Commissioned by Fulcrum Point with support from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and New Music USA, “becoming…” is an abstract expression of Mumford’s personal experience with the majesty and beauty of light, clouds, and atmosphere from childhood memories. Photographic projections will complement the music to enhance the accessibility of the presentation.

“‘Proclamation! The Black Com- poser Speaks’ demonstrates our ongoing commitment to championing diversity in new art music,” says Fulcrum Point Artistic Director Stephen Burns. “Throughout our 18-year history we have performed music by Fela Kuti, Duke Ellington, Tania León, Hannibal Lokumbe, Anthony Davis, and Lester Bowie in addition to masters and iconoclasts like John Cage, John Corigliano, Frank Zappa, Zhou Long, Paul Moravec, and Param Vir. Thank you for your spirit of adventure.”

Tickets are $35/25/15 and are available at or by calling 312-801-2100.

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