Amazing Journey

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     August 20, 2003 :
Workshops, Awards, and Promotions

Backstage West
By Jonathan Abaranel

Arthur Kopit was here, and Sherman Yellen and Dorothy Parker (in absentia) and Wally Harper and Karen Mason, among others. Sort of a gathering of the musical theatre clan as Theatre Building Chicago presented Stages 2003, Aug. 8-10, the 10th anniversary edition of its annual festival of new musicals in workshop form. Among the eight new works showcased were: You Might As Well Live, book and music by Norman Mathews with lyrics by Dorothy Parker, starring Mason; Lewis and Clark by Kopit and Donald Alan Siegal (music and lyrics); and This Fair World, with book and lyrics by Yellen and music by Harper. The program is under the artistic direction of John Sparks. John Weidman and Stephen Sondheim also were in town for the final performances of Bounce, which closed its world premiere run at the Goodman Theatre on Aug. 10.

Since 2001, the venerable Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Ill. -- summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, among other things -- slowly has been encompassing more and more theatre-related programs under youthful CEO Welz Kauffman. In addition to concert stagings of musicals, Ravinia workshops one new show a year within its Steans Institute. This year, Ravinia is upping the ante by bringing in David Hyde Pierce, Judy Blazer, Michael Cerveris, and Mary Testa to star in, and Lonny Price to direct, the two-day workshop of Doll by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie. Doll may be familiar to industry folk in New York, as it's already received several workshops and picked up the Richard Rodgers, Edward Kleban, and Jonathan Larson awards.

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