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Once On This Island’s child actors bring audiences together on tour

Posted on: December 17th, 2019 by B.I. C. No Comments

MiMi Crossland as Little Girl, Courtnee Carter as Ti Moune and the Company of the North American Tour of ONCE ON THIS ISLAND. Photo by Joan Marcus.


written by Elysa Gardner on behalf of Once on This Island

2017’s Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of Once on This Island entertained and inspired audience members of all ages with its tale of adventure and romance, kindness and joy. Among them was nine-year-old Mariama Diop, whose mom entered a lottery and scored seats so close to the stage that Mari, as she calls herself, was so close to the action that she was able to “reach out and touch the stage.”

Now Mari and eight-year-old MiMi Crossland are getting even closer to the action: The precociously gifted young performers are alternating the role of the Little Girl in this Island’s first national tour. The part marks Mari’s first professional production and MiMi’s national tour debut, and it’s taking them from their homes in New York City (Mari) and Upstate New York (MiMi) to cities across the country, accompanied by their mothers and a tutor, Carolyn Dunning.

The character shared by the girls serves an important function in the beloved musical, in which we are told the story of Ti Moune, an orphan saved by the gods from a hurricane to embark on another perilous journey as a young woman. “In the beginning, the story is being told to the Little Girl, and then we become Ti Moune when she’s young—we become part of the story,” MiMi explains. “One of the things we really have to do in the play is listen and act like we’re hearing this story for the first time. Our character is really interested in the story, but it’s hard work.”

The tutor, “Ms. Carolyn,” helps MiMi and Mari both with their responsibilities within the show and in juggling those with schoolwork. “She teaches us that focus is important, and when we’re having trouble we can ask her questions and think about how the character feels,” says Mari. MiMi admits, “It’s been busy, trying to balance school and practice at the same time, but it’s all been worth it, because the show is amazing.”

MiMi adds, “I feel like Ms. Carolyn’s teaching us stuff that maybe we wouldn’t have learned in our other schools, because we get one-on- one time with her, so we can learn more.” Mari’s mom, Laura Sorenson, has been impressed by the tutoring program: “They coordinate everything with the school, to make it easy for us. They speak with Mari’s teachers, make sure she gets chess time, French time, her assignments. They modify a little bit; you can’t do a science experiment on the road, because you don’t have a lab, but they find ways to make it work. (Carolyn) works very hard to ensure that when the girls go back to school, they’re where they need to be.”

Carolyn also teaches the girls about the cities they’re visiting in advance, says Mari, “so that when we were rehearsing in New York, we’d learn about Paducah (in Kentucky) and what it was like.” Once on location, the tutor takes the girls on field trips, and encourages good behavior through a star system. “When you get to 50 stars you earn a little treat,” Mari says. “At 100 stars, you might get cupcakes, or pumpkin-carving messages on Halloween week. It’s amazing. And she doesn’t take away stars, because she wants to encourage us, and that really boosts up our confidence.”

MiMi’s mom, Christine Casareale, notes, “This is MiMi’s first job, and I think the amount of work that is involved is more than most people see until well into their adulthood. Even though everyone is really great to them, they’re still expected to perform and act in a mature way.”

Mari and MiMi have also been inspired by Island’s celebration of racial and cultural diversity—and what it’s meant to the young fans who come to greet them at the stage door. “One of the little girls I met played Ti Moune in her school play,” says Mari. “She has my skin color, maybe a little darker, and she was inspired to make her own show, because she wants to be an actor when she grows up. And I want to support her and inspire her, and all the other girls and boys who are looking for support.”

Greeting audience members and signing autographs has also provided a “great opportunity to meet new people,” says Mari. “In Dayton, Ohio, there were two girls, one 11 and one 8, who saw the show and wanted to be friends with me,” Mari recalls. “We had several play dates and hung out together, and now one of them is my friend on one of the games I play.”

For MiMi, just observing a crowd during a performance can be just as rewarding. “You see people in the audience smiling, and you can tell they love it,” she says. “Because there are people who don’t get to see shows like this on Broadway, so it’s amazing that we get to travel all over and people get to see these shows that they wouldn’t have seen.”

And both girls feel that their show appeals to a particularly wide audience. Once on This Island “can help bring families together,” says Mari, “because it makes people who see it realize how lucky they are to have their families with them.” It’s served that very purpose, in fact, for Mari herself: “Before the show, my mom and I were great friends, best friends—but now I feel like we’re even closer. It’s amazing and inspiring.”

MiMi agrees. “I’m seeing families in the audience, and it brings them closer,” she says. “And that’s great.”

Moulin Rouge! The Musical to Premiere in Chicago in 2020

Posted on: September 19th, 2019 by B.I. C. No Comments

Broadway In Chicago announced today that the first North American tour of Moulin Rouge! The Musical will play Broadway In Chicago’s James M. Nederlander Theatre (24 W. Randolph) for a limited engagement Dec. 17, 2020 through Feb. 21, 2021.

“After ten years in development, the fantastic response to Moulin Rouge! The Musical in New York is mind blowing,” said producer Carmen Pavlovic, and continued, “We’re keen to share the enthusiasm for Moulin Rouge! The Musical across the country. It’s thrilling that a second company will be going out to audiences across North America just one year after the Broadway opening.”

Lou Raizin, President of Broadway In Chicago said, “It is most exciting that Chicagoans will be among the first to see this amazing show outside of New York.”

Directed by Alex Timbers (Tony Award®-nominated for Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Peter and the Starcatcher) Moulin Rouge! The Musical has a book by John Logan (Tony Award® for Red), choreography by Sonya Tayeh (Lucille Lortel Award and Obie Award for Kung Fu, and Emmy winner), and music supervision, orchestrations and arrangements by Justin Levine (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson).

The design team for Moulin Rouge! The Musical includes Tony Award® winner Derek McLane (sets), Tony Award® winner Catherine Zuber (costumes), two-time Tony Award® nominee Justin Townsend (lighting), Tony Award® winner Peter Hylenski (sound), Drama Desk Award winner David Brian Brown (wig and hair design) and Sarah Cimino (Make-up design). Casting is by Jim Carnahan and Stephen Kopel.

Enter a world of splendor and romance, of eye-popping excess, of glitz, grandeur and glory! A world where Bohemians and aristocrats rub elbows and revel in electrifying enchantment. Pop the champagne and prepare for the spectacular spectacular…Welcome to Moulin Rouge! The Musical.

Baz Luhrmann’s revolutionary film comes to life onstage, remixed in a new musical mash-up extravaganza. Moulin Rouge! The Musical is a theatrical celebration of truth, beauty, freedom, and — above all — love.  Moulin Rouge! The Musical is more than a musical; it is a state of mind.

“Spectacular! Euphoric! In Moulin Rouge! The Musical, life is beautiful,” raves Ben Brantley of The New York Times. “Moulin Rouge! The Musical is a fabulous new musical. The high begins the instant you walk into the theatre,” says Johnny Oleksinski of the NY Post. And Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly concludes that “it’s easy to believe that Moulin Rouge! The Musical could run for 50 years.”

The Moulin Rouge! The Musical original Broadway Cast Album, which debuted #1 on Billboard’s Cast Albums Chart, is now available at all digital and streaming providers by Baz Luhrmann’s label, House of Iona, and RCA Records. Click here to listen to the album. A physical edition of the album will be made available on October 25, 2019.

As in the film, Moulin Rouge! The Musical celebrates some of the greatest popular music of the last 50 years. The stage musical features many of the iconic songs from the movie and also includes recent hits released since the movie premiered 18 years ago.

Global Creatures (Carmen Pavlovic and Gerry Ryan OAM) serves as Lead Producer and Bill Damaschke is the executive producer. General management is by Foresight Theatrical.

 Co-producers of the Broadway production include Aaron Lustbader, Hunter Arnold, Darren Bagert, Erica Lynn Schwartz/Matt Picheny/Stephanie Rosenberg, Adam Blanshay Productions/Nicolas & Charles Talar, Iris Smith, Aleri Entertainment, CJ ENM, Sophie Qi/Harmonia Holdings, AF Creative Media/International Theatre Fund, Baz & Co./Len Blavatnik, Endeavor Content, Tom & Pam Faludy, Gilad-Rogowsky/InStone Productions, John Gore Organization, Mehr-BB Entertainment GmbH, Spencer Ross, Nederlander Presentations/IPN, Eric Falkenstein/Suzanne Grant, Jennifer Fischer, Peter May/Sandy Robertson, Triptyk Studios, Carl Daikeler/Sandi Moran, Desantis-Baugh Productions, Red Mountain Theatre Company/42ND.CLUB, Candy Spelling/Tulchin Bartner, Roy Furman and Jujamcyn Theatres.

Released by 20th Century Fox, “Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge!” premiered at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. At the 74th Academy Awards, the film was nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture, and won two.

The Moulin Rouge of Paris is a dazzling and spectacular universe, the symbol of the Parisian way of celebrating since 1889. Starting life as a popular cabaret and dance hall, the venue became an iconic music hall in the Roaring Twenties, and then a theatre where numerous famous French and international artistes stepped out into the limelight.

Moulin Rouge! The Musical is currently playing on Broadway at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre where it opened to rave reviews on July 25, 2019 (previews began June 27).

Tickets are available now for groups of 20 or more by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710 or emailing [email protected].  Individual tickets for Moulin Rouge! The Musical will go on sale at a later date.  Moulin Rouge! The Musical will be part of Broadway In Chicago’s next season, on sale October 6.

THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA to hold Pre-Broadway World Premiere in Chicago

Posted on: September 17th, 2019 by B.I. C. No Comments

Broadway In Chicago is thrilled to announce the new musical The Devil Wears Prada will have its Pre-Broadway World Premiere at Broadway In Chicago’s James M. Nederlander Theatre (24 W. Randolph) from July 14, 2020 through August 16, 2020 prior to a Broadway engagement.

Andy, an ambitious young writer in New York City, lands a job at a prestigious magazine. Trying to survive under her stylish yet terrifying boss, she finds herself caught between the dreams she thought she wanted, and the cost of what that reality brings. A joyous, funny, and — of course — ultraglamorous story about navigating life’s runway to discover where you’re meant to be, The Devil Wears Prada is a new musical that gives the hit film a fabulously fresh makeover. Sometimes the best fashion statements are sung.

Strutting an all-star team, including music by Tony Award-winner Sir Elton John (Billy Elliot, Aida), lyrics by singer-songwriter Shaina Taub (Twelfth Night at The Public Theater), a book by Paul Rudnick (In & Out, Jeffrey), music supervision by Nadia DiGiallonardo (Waitress), and direction by Tony Award-winner Anna D. Shapiro (August: Osage County), The Devil Wears Prada models that getting want you want simply means chasing it down, even in four-inch heels.

The Devil Wears Prada is based on Lauren Weisberger’s best-selling 2003 novel and the 2006 blockbuster film from Fox 2000 Pictures.  The musical is produced by Kevin McCollum and Rocket Entertainment and presented by special arrangement with Buena Vista Theatrical.

Casting and additional creative team members for the Chicago production and future Broadway plans will be announced at a later time. For more information, visit


Tickets are available now for groups of 10 or more by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710 or emailing [email protected].  Individual tickets for The Devil Wears Prada will go on sale at a later date.  The Devil Wears Prada will be part of Broadway In Chicago’s next season, on sale October 6, 2019.

In “The Band’s Visit”, Playwright Itamar Moses Helps Strangers Tell the Truth

Posted on: August 20th, 2019 by B.I. C. No Comments

By Mark Blankenship

The company of The Band’s Visit North American Tour. Photo by Matthew Murphy


Sometimes, you can only be honest with strangers. “It’s much safer to talk about things with someone you don’t know and will never see again,” says playwright Itamar Moses. “They don’t know the story you’ve built up around yourself.”

That curious freedom shapes The Band’s Visit, the new Broadway musical about a group of Egyptian musicians who get lost on their way to a concert in Israel. Stranded in a small town, they pass the time with the locals, eating at their tables and sleeping in their spare rooms.

To Moses, who wrote the musical’s book, that’s a perfect catalyst for drama. “Everything that happens is only possible because these two groups of people don’t know each other,” he says.

Take Iris, an Israeli wife and mother who finds her own birthday party crashed by musicians her husband brings home. After years of mute frustration with her marriage, she suddenly reveals everything. “The eyes of these strangers on her life make it impossible to ignore what she’s been trying to suppress,” Moses says.

The same is true for characters who confess their dreams, regrets, and loves. Ironically, they may be even more honest with each other because they don’t share a language. The Egyptians speak Arabic and the Israelis speak Hebrew, but when they talk to each other, they use halting, tentative English.

“When you don’t have unlimited language as a tool, you really have to get to the point right away,” Moses says. “People aren’t going to talk around the truth, because they don’t have the words.”

Naturally, the limited vocabulary affected Moses’ playwriting. “But I never lamented it as a limitation,” he says. “I really enjoyed the tension between the simplicity of the language and the depth of the emotion. Sometimes there’s nothing better than having a constraint.”

Play BIC-GO at the Summer Concert to win tickets!

Posted on: August 5th, 2019 by B.I. C. No Comments

Here’s your chance to win tickets to a show by playing Broadway In Chicago Summer Concert BIC-GO on social media!

Join us in Millennium Park at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion August 12 at 6:15 pm for an evening of music and fun. This year’s Broadway In Chicago FREE Summer Concert in Millennium Park will include selections from HAMILTON, COME FROM AWAY, THE BAND’S VISIT, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERAMEAN GIRLS, ONCE ON THIS ISLAND, SUMMER: THE DONNA SUMMER MUSICAL, MY FAIR LADY, DEAR EVAN HANSEN, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR and FROZEN, as well as a special guest appearance from The Caesar from TEATRO ZINZANNI!

Beginning today, you have the opportunity to be entered to win a pair of tickets to one of our upcoming productions of your choice that is featured in the summer concert by playing BIC-GO on social media – just like BINGO! Post your photos on Twitter or Instagram of any of the items on the BIC-GO board using #BICconcert and tag Broadway in Chicago @broadwaychicago on Twitter or @broadwayinchicago on Instagram. You have up until August 18 to finish your BIC-GO card; the more rows you complete, the more you will be entered to win! Don’t forget about that free space – and be creative with your entries as some squares are open to interpretation. You can find the full rules below. Good luck and have fun snapping pictures!

Competition Description

The Broadway In Chicago BIC-GO Bingo Competition (“Competition”) will be conducted exclusively online. One (1) winner will be awarded one (1) pair of tickets (date to be at Broadway In Chicago’s discretion) to see an upcoming Broadway In Chicago production (“Prize”). Competition is being conducted by Broadway In Chicago (“Company”) 17 N State St, Suite 810, Chicago, Illinois 60602.

How to Enter

You may enter the Competition by following the instructions on the Bingo card to share photos on Twitter and/or Instagram. The Bingo card with instructions is attached hereto and made a part hereof.

You may only submit photos you have taken yourself.

You may enter as many times as you like until the BIC-GO card is complete for a total of 12 entries. Only entries that collectively comprise a “BIC-GO,” as detailed on the Bingo card, will be considered eligible.

All entries must be received no later than August 18 at 11:59pm Central Time.

Company will select winners by random drawing from among all eligible entries received. Drawing will take place on or about August 20, 2019. Winners will be notified by direct message and/or email.

All decisions made by Company regarding any aspect of this Sweepstakes are final.