Mercury Theater Chicago Announces Casting for Rare Revival of "Barnum" Musical
by Hedy Weiss
The Mercury Theater Chicago, 3745 N. Southport, which inaugurated its first subscription season this winter with "A Grand Night for Singing: The Songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein" (running through March 10), has announced the high-profile cast for its upcoming production of the rarely revived circus-themed musical, "Barnum," running March 27-June 16.
Leading the way as showman P.T. Barnum will be Gene Weygandt, the Chicago veteran with a long list of Broadway, TV, and film credits, including the role of Jean Shepherd in "A Christmas Story: The Musical." Cory Goodrich will costar as his wife Charity, and Summer Naomi Smart will play Barnum's love interest, "'Swedish Nightingale" Jenny Lind. The Mercury's production -- the first major Chicago revival of the show in more than 20 years -- will be helmed by Jeff Award winners L. Walter Stearns (director), Eugene Dizon (musical director), Brenda Didier and Andrew Waters (co-choreographers) and Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi of the Actor's Gymnasium (circus director).
Along with capturing that unique impresario, Phineas Taylor Barnum, the musical looks at the tale of the American Museum, the smallest man, the oldest woman, the largest elephant and more, with acrobatics, variety acts and whimsical magic and puppetry all part of the storytelling.The Mercury Theater cast also will feature Kevin McKillip as "the Ringmaster" and Christian Libonati as the world's smallest man, "General Tom Thumb." The circus performers are Karissa Barney, Nathan Drackett, Kris Hyland, Taylor Krasne-Wilton, Jeremy Sonkin, Ryan Westwood and J. Tyler Whitmer. (NOTE: Bethany Thomas, initially cast as the oldest woman alive in "Barnum," will instead be seen in the Marriott Theatre production of "South Pacific.")
With a score by Cy Coleman and Michael Stewart, and a book by Mark Bramble, "Barnum" was originally produced on Broadway in 1980.
For tickets ($25-$59), call (773) 325-1700 or visit www.MercuryTheaterChicago.com.