It's Showtime with Rikki Lee
By Rikki Lee Travolta
It's Showtime with Rikki LeeAug 23, 2023
An interview with Broadway & TV Star Andy Mientus playing in Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas
On this episode of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee, host Rikki Lee Travolta is joined by Broadway and television star Andy Mientus.
Andy is starring in “Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas” produced by The Jim Henson Company and iTheatrics at the historic Studebaker Theatre in the heart of Chicago.
Andy has starred on Broadway in “Spring Awakening” and “Les Misérables” and the national tour of “Wicked.” He was seen in key roles in the television hit “Smash” with Jeremy Jordan and Katherine McPhee and as supervillain The Pied Piper in the CW’s “The Flash.”
In this interview, Andy discusses what it’s like starring in a Jim Henson entertainment production and the tremendous respect he has for working with the talented puppeteers. He also lavishes praise on his other talented costars and what it was like working with director and choreographer Christopher Gattelli who won a Tony Award for “Newsies”. Another topic of discussion is the incredible score by Oscar and Grammy-winning composer Paul Williams – who was intimately involved in the rehearsal process for this production.
“Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas” is an absolute treasure that children and adults will love. To make plans to see this wonderful holiday musical at the historic Studebaker Theatre through December 31`, 2023, call the Fine Arts Building Box Office at (312) 753-3210 extension 102 or go online to www.FineArtsBuilding.com.
Steel Beam Theatre - Light Parade Viewing Party & Open House
It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee serves as a backstage pass to an array of fascinating avenues within the entertainment universe. One of the areas of focus is the world theatre. Chicago is known for its great theatre. There are phenomenal theatrical options both in the city and in the suburbs. One wonderful little gem of a theatre in Chicago’s western suburbs is Steel Beam Theatre in lovely St. Charles Illinois.
Steel Beam has been providing top-rate professional entertainment for over two decades. Steel Beam Theatre is among a number of organizations that have been hindered in receiving grants due to a document processing error. Although it is expected to be rectified, it leaves the affected organizations like Steel Beam Theatre without the funding they need to survive.
It would be so tragic for theatre companies like Steel Beam to claw and scratch to successfully survive COVID, only to be taken down by a clerical error or computer glitch. Let’s not let the happen.
This weekend, St. Charles celebrates the famous Electric Christmas Parade also known as the St. Charles Light Parade down Main Street on Saturday. It just so happens that Steel Beam Theatre offers a fantastic view of Main Street – so Steel Beam is opening its doors as a free venue for all to watch the festivities in a safe and warm environment. In fact, it’s going to be an event all unto itself.
This Saturday, November 25 from 3 PM to 9 PM members of the Board of Directors will be on hand to discuss the theatre company and its 2023-2024 season. There will be refreshments and live entertainment throughout the day. You’ll be able to enjoy the parade and also find out how you can show your support for the arts ranging from making donations to buying season ticket subscriptions to getting your company to sponsor a show.
On this episode of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee, host Rikki Lee Travolta and Steel Beam Theatre’s managing director Catie Early discuss the upcoming Open House and Light Parade Viewing Party and all the fantastic reasons to show up and show your support.
Steel Beam Theatre is located at 111 W. Main Street in downtown St. Charles. For more details on the Light Parade Open House and the exciting 2023-2024 Steel Beam Theatre season visit www.SteelBeamTheatre.com.
An Interview with Jessica Fisch, Director of Marriott Theatre’s Hit “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”
On a new episode of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee, host Rikki Lee Travolta welcomes theatrical director Jessica Fisch to discuss Marriott Theatre’s smash hit production of “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”.
“Beautiful” marks the Marriott Theatre debut for Fisch, who has wowed audiences with her work at Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre, Royal George, Northwestern University, Writer’s Theatre, Northlight Theatre, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Windy City Playhouse.
During the interview, Travolta guides Fisch through a discussion of her background as a director and her general approach to the art. Special attention is given to the year of pre-production work with her design partners that went into creating the look and feel of "Beautiful".
People interested in how things work behind the scenes will be fascinated by Fisch’s search for the perfect leading lady to play Carole King. The actress not only has to look the part, act the part, and sing the part, she also has to be a skilled pianist. Fisch found the ideal star in Kaitlyn Davis, who previously played the title role in the First National Tour.
The Jessica Fisch-helmed crowd-pleaser “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” is captivating audiences at Marriott Theatre through December 31, 2023. For ticket information to “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” visit www.MarriottTheatre.com or call the box office at (847) 634-0200.
It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee is your backstage pass to the world of entertainment.
Award-winning director Regina Belt-Daniels discusses It’s a Wonderful Life at Elgin Theatre Company
In 2022, noted director Regina Belt-Daniels won the Life and Times Heartstrings Award for her brilliant direction of I Hate Hamlet at Elgin Theatre Company in the far suburbs of Chicago. That production starred Rikki Lee Travolta.
Returning to Elgin to direct the company’s production of It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, Gina joins It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee to discuss her new production that runs November 10 through November 19, 2023 at Elgin Art Showcase.
On this episode soaked in seasonal cheer, host Rikki Lee and his guest Gina discuss the history and virtues of the classic It’s a Wonderful Life film and the special differences that make this live radio play production so worth seeing.
The cast of local stars includes John Mayhall, Jim Pierce, William Athow, Gordy Whiting, Audrey Gniech, Brian Rabinowitz, Paul Lockwood, Dwight Brown, Jami Johnson, Devon Ortiz, Shirley May Byrnes, Sebastian Rus, Teagan Nauman, and Rhys Read. Sign language interpretation by Andrew Ross. For ticket information to Elgin Theatre Company’s production of It’s a Wonderful Life from producer Richard Greiger go to www.Elgin-Theatre.org or call Elgin Theatre Company at (847) 741-0532.
An interview with Jesse Borrego of Fame and Blood In Blood Out
On a classic episode of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee, host Rikki Lee Travolta gets nostalgic about one of his childhood heroes – the great actor, singer, and dancer Jesse Borrego.
Jesse burst to fame as the fiery Jesse Velasquez on the hit television series FAME in the 1980s. A young Rikki Lee Travolta was fascinated by how Jesse combined classic dance skills with inherent masculinity and sexuality.
In fact, those who saw Rikki Lee in Grease and Bye Bye Birdie might recognize the Jesse Borrego influence in the way he would lower his center of gravity to his pelvis to achieve an inherent seductive sensuality,
In their discussion, Rikki Lee and Jesse run through the star’s historic career starring not only on FAME but also in the groundbreaking cult classic film Blood In Blood Out. It probably comes as no surprise, it’s one of Rikki Lee’s favorites.
Sit back, relax and take a trip back to Rikki Lee Travolta Land circa 2021 as he gets the chance to talk to one of the biggest influences in the development his own trademark musical theater style of emotional vocals and sensual hips.
An interview with Singer/Songwriter Susannah B - Vienna
Singer/songwriter Susannah B has music in her blood. She is the daughter of the late Broadway composer and lyricist Carol Hall, whose credits include the 1978 classic The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and its 1994 Broadway sequel The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public.
As a Broadway Baby, Susannah B grew up immersed in the arts. She excelled in many areas, but music is the one focus that truly resonated with her as an artist.
After experimenting with different music styles, Susannah B eventually found her own sound – a sultry jazz-inspired approach to pop with a contemporary edge. The recording artist has just released her newest single, a tempo-adjusted cover of the Billy Joel hit “Vienna.”
On a new episode of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee, Susannah B joins host Rikki Lee Travolta to discuss the new single “Vienna” which will also be featured on a new album from the artist – POV – coming in 2024.
Arrangements for the Susannah B cover of “Vienna” are by Michael Farrell, who is known for his work with Alanis Morrisette, Macy Gray, and Morrissey. He is also the associate music director for American Idol, with past credits including America’s Got Talent. He collaborated with Alanis Morrisette on music for the Broadway musical Jagged Little Pill – which earned 15 Tony Award nominations.
Susannah B also serves as executive producer for the film Gonzo Girl starring Willem Dafoe and Camilla Morrone. It marks the directorial debut for revered actress Patricia Arquette who also appears in the film.
For additional information on Susannah B and the single “Vienna”, visit www.SusannahB.com.
An interview with Kaity Paschetto
Kaity Paschetto earned rave reviews for her performance as Morticia Addams in the big-budget musical comedy The Addams Family at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre - one of Chicago's top theatrical institutions.
Susan Lillis of Splash Magazine called Paschetto “stunning” and “mesmerizing”. Alan Bresloff of Around the Town echoes the sentiment saying, “the sultry and sexy Morticia is played to perfection by Kaity Paschetto (WOW!)”
On a new episode of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee, host Rikki Lee Travolta sits down with Paschetto to discuss her recent role in The Addams Family, her next project choreographing A Christmas Carol, and her background as an actress moving from a small town to New York where she couldn’t get a break, and then to Chicago where her career has blossomed. Sometimes it’s about being in the right place.
Be sure to read Travolta’s own review of The Addams Family in It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee’s sister publication Life and Times – your guilty pleasure for entertainment news, views, and reviews. (www.LifeandTimes.biz)
An interview with Quiet Riot guitar virtuoso Alex Grossi
On a new, enticing episode of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee, Quiet Riot axe man Alex Grossi joins host Rikki Lee Travolta to discuss his time playing alongside Kevin DuBrow and Frankie Banali with the first heavy metal band to score a Billboard #1 Album.
Grossi has been hammering out the notes of Quiet Riot’s biggest hits for 20 years, thrilling audiences with his dizzying display of guitar wizardry. His licks and riffs are the stuff of legends, as displayed on such albums as Rehab, Quiet Riot 10, Road Rage, and Hollywood Cowboys. He can currently be heard alongside DuBrow, Banali, and Rudy Sarzo on the single "I Can’t Hold On."
In this half-hour discussion of all things music and heavy metal, Grossi and Travolta enjoy a thought-provoking discussion on the modern trend of bands playing to recorded tracks during “live” appearances. It’s a topic that causes Grossi to joke that in today’s age, Milli Vanilli wouldn’t have had to give their Grammy Award back – as they did in 1990 when it was discovered they didn’t sing on their award-winning album Girl You Know It’s True.
Also included in the interview, Grossi and Travolta talk all things Hookers & Blow – the supergroup the guitar virtuoso founded with Dizzy Reed of Guns N’ Roses. The revolving band lineup has also included members of Type O-Negative, W.A.S.P., Enuff Z Nuff, and LA Guns.
It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee is a top-rated weekly interview program that provides a behind-the-scenes look into the world of entertainment featuring platinum-selling recording artists, Hollywood A-Listers, Broadway headliners, and notable up-and-comers.
In addition to hosting the popular radio show and podcast, Travolta is a celebrity publicist for such stars as Steven Adler of Guns N’ Roses fame. He previously worked on campaigns for such artists as Janet Jackson, Sting, Bryan Adams, Extreme, Diamond Rexx, The Zeros, and Crowbar.
For more information on Alex Grossi and Quiet Riot visit www.QuietRiot.band
An interview with Quiet Riot's iconic bassist Rudy Sarzo
On a new episode of radio show and podcast It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee, legendary Quiet Riot bass player Rudy Sarzo shares about his experiences playing with late guitar master Randy Rhoads and what it's like being back in the fold with the iconic band again.
During the interview, Sarzo relates what it is about heavy metal and rock n’ roll that has seen him embrace a career that includes playing with Quiet Riot, Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake, Dio, Blue Oyster Cult, Geoff Tate, Yngwie Malmsteen, Devil City Angels, and the Guess Who.
Sarzo was the man on the bass throughout the peak of Quiet Riot’s fame. He was named 1983 Top Bassist by readers of Circus Magazine for his mastery of the instrument and for putting on phenomenal stage shows.
Quiet Riot’s album Metal Health was the first heavy metal album to reach number one on the Billboard charts. It spawned the hits “Metal Health (Bang Your Head)” and “Cum on Feel the Noize” and opened the door for the worldwide popularity of hair metal.
Hosted by showbiz personality and celebrity publicist Rikki Lee Travolta, the weekly interview program provides a behind-the scenes look into the world of entertainment.
An interview with Costume Designer Patty Halajian
The world of theater involves people with many diverse talents coming together to create art. One of the most important things about a stage production or a film, or a television show is the costuming. What the characters wear is part of the story, part of the characterization. How those costumes are brought to fruition – either by sewing them, or buying them, or renting them – is the job of the costume designer.
On this episode of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee, host Rikki Lee Travolta sits down with acclaimed theatrical costume designer Patty Halajian. Patty has worked as a costume designer and in other wardrobe capacities for such renowned institutions as Marriott Theatre, Skokie Theatre, Music Theater Works, Citadel Theatre, and College of Lake County. Some of the famous stars she has helped make magnificent include Diana Ross, Penn and Teller, Natalie Cole, Meat Loaf, Smokey Robinson, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Muse, and The Chippendales Dancers.
It's a fun and interesting interview that will give you new insight into what happens behind the scenes to make stars look beautiful on stage.
Super Brick is a band that combines multiple influences ranging from Memphis Blues to jazz to create an alternative rock sound that is taking the greater Chicagoland area by storm.
Based out of Rockford, IL and thrilling audiences throughout the Midwest, Super Brick consists of guitarist Kyle Roberts, drummer Gabriel Brown, and singer and bass player Bethany Fichthorn.
On this episode of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee the trio sit down with host Rikki Lee Travolta to talk about their unique sound and their ability to adapt their set list to fit any crowd.
Hear about Super Brick’s upcoming shows and get a sneak peek at their song Happy Ending – it could very well be one of the tracks the band lays down when they enter the studio to record their second album.
For more details on the killer band Super Brick visit www.SuperBrickMusic.com
An interview with Shutter Speed playwright April Noel
Writer and actress April Noel is the featured guest on this exciting episode of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee. She is on hand to promote the September 17th premiere stage reading of Shutter Speed – her newest full-length dramatic play. As host Rikki Lee Travolta points out in the interview, the talented writer has multiple stage plays and film scripts to her credit.
Shutter Speed is a heartfelt story that embraces the themes of family, love, passion, and friendship. The story about the complex relationships between a father, his daughter, and his older brother as they relate to the world of photography were inspired by the author’s inheriting her father’s 1972 Cannon 35mm camera and her subsequent embrace of the dark room.
The production features a cast of talented performers from throughout the greater Chicagoland area including Paul Lockwood, Travis Greuel, Steve Connell, Abby White, Chelsea Smith, Samuel J Howard, and Katelin Stack.
The stage reading of the sizzling new drama takes place at Steel Beam Theatre located at 111 W. Main Street in St. Charles, IL. Curtain is at 2 PM with tickets only $5.
For ticket information visit https://steelbeamtheatre.thundertix.com/events/216555 or call the box office at (630) 587-8521. Tickets are also available at the door. There is ample free parking in the area.
The goal of the stage reading is to further develop the script and raise the funds for a fully staged run in 2024. Those unable to attend on September 17 at 2 PM at Steel Beam Theatre can still contribute via GoFundMe at https://gofund.me/01e196d7.
An interview with James Patrick Heatherly - author of Sherlock Holmes: The Coronet Conspiracy
Author James Patrick Heatherly is the guest on this week’s episode of radio show and podcast It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee to promote his new book Sherlock Holmes: The Coronet Conspiracy.
The shutdown of the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic inspired a lot of people to embark on a lot of new hobbies. In the case of James Patrick Heatherly, he decided to write his first fiction novel.
What Heatherly ended up writing is not just any debut novel, Sherlock Holmes: The Coronet Conspiracy is part of a four-book series being released by MX Publishing. It is tagged as Book One in the Sinister House Series.
Set in 1888 Sherlock Holmes: The Coronet Conspiracy includes all the classic elements of the most successful novels about the world’s most famous detective. There’s murder, coded messages, and mistaken identity in a case that even Scottland Yard knows only the great Sherlock Holmes and his trusted colleague Dr. John Watson can solve.
Heatherly is also known to Chicago audiences for his work in film, television, and stage. He holds a BA in English and an MBA in Marketing and taught at DePaul University for over 35 years.
An interview with Tony Calzaretta - Performer, Director, Choreographer
Tony Calzaretta has been a part of Chicagoland theater for decades. He’s an incredibly talented performer who balances a successful law career with his enjoyment for being on stage.
After a start in musical theater as a child, as an adult, Calzaretta became a favorite of Chicago audiences for years as a regular at Pheasant Run Dinner Theatre in St. Charles, IL. Over the ensuing years, he has achieved an impressive resume as a musical theater actor, director, and choreographer. His credits include such musicals as Guys and Dolls, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Brigadoon, Forever Plaid, Dracula: The Musical, The Pajama Game, Kiss Me Kate, and 42nd Street.
In this half-hour interview, host Rikki Lee Travolta guides Calzaretta through a discussion on his background in theater, including the influences his parents had on getting him involved in the arts at a young age. During the interview, Calzaretta also paints a verbal picture of his approach to theater that listeners will be excited to hear.
The discussion also includes talk on Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, a vibrant and growing theater that Calzaretta serves on the board of directors for. Calzaretta and his fellow board members have worked hard to create a new era of excitement and excellence at the Arlington Heights-based theatre.
An Interview with Erica Stephan - Star of Porchlight's 'Cabaret' (original air date February 3, 2023)
Triple threat actress Erica Stephan is the talk of Chicago for her stunning interpretation of the iconic character Sally Bowles in Porchlight Music Theatre’s mounting of Cabaret.
On this episode of It's Showtime with Rikki Lee, Erica joins host Rikki Lee Travolta to talk about her starring role in Cabaret, how she developed her character, the background and training that got her to this point, and what the future might hold.
Reviews have raved about Stephan’s amazing performance as Sally Bowles under the direction of Michael Weber, the artistic director for Porchlight Music Theatre. Choreography is by Brenda Didier and vocal and musical direction is by Linda Madonia – both instrumental parts of Stephan’s performance.
The Chicago Tribune labels Stephan “a knockout”, PickInSix calls Stephan’s performance “breathtaking”, and Talkin’ Broadway endorses her talents as “terrific.” New City Stage raves “Stephan has undoubtedly set the bar for Sally Bowles.”
Skokie Theatre Managing Director Wayne Mell
Skokie Theatre is a gem of a performing arts company on Chicago’s North Shore. It has a historic outside façade and a fully renovated, state-of-the-art performance space inside.
The theatre puts on great shows. Sometimes they produce internally through MadKap Productions like their recent smash hit production of the rock musical HAIR and other times they bring in works from other companies that they know North Shore audiences are going to love too like the upcoming The Princess Strikes Back starring Victoria Montalbano.
On this episode of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee, Skokie Theatre managing director Wayne Mell joins host Rikki Lee Travolta to discuss the history of Skokie Theatre and MadKap Productions, the theatre's ties to the legend of Charlie Chaplin, and what’s coming up for the exciting performing arts organization including the mainstage musical A Chorus Line.
THE PRODUCERS: A Mel Brooks Musical presented by Music Theater Works
Music Theater Works will be presenting it’s 150th production – THE PRODUCERS: A Mel Brooks Musical – at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts with a press opening on Friday, August 11th.
Gearing up for the landmark event, director L. Walter Stearns, choreographer Darryl K. Clark, and Thomas M. Shea who plays the starring role “Max Bialystock” sit down with host Rikki Lee Travolta on this week’s episode of radio show and podcast It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee.
Sterns is one of Chicago’s most celebrated directors. He has won numerous recognitions for the quality of his work including Jeff Awards, BroadwayWorld Awards, and After Dark Awards. He has directed over 40 musicals and has overseen the cultural and physical revival of Mercury Theater Chicago.
Clark has over 30 years of as a dancer and choreographer and is an associate professor of Music Theater Dance at Southern Illinois University. This is a full-circle journey for Clark, who was involved in the first production of Music Theater Works under its original name Light Opera Works. That was H.M.S. Pinafore in 1981.
Shae has appeared at Mercury Theater, Porchlight Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre, and is a favorite at Music Theater Works having just won rave reviews as “Charlemagne” in their recent smash hit mounting of Pippin. He, too, was on stage in the company’s first production many years ago. However, it is his reverence for the role he is currently playing that will fascinate audiences.
An interview with Ron Onesti of Onesti Entertainment & JCCIA
Ron Onesti is proud of his Italian heritage, as evidenced by his position as President of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans. He is also proud of his growing entertainment empire of Chicago-area restaurants and concert venues.
On this episode of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee, the president of Onesti Entertainment talks to host Rikki Lee Travolta about his many entertainment ventures including the Arcada Theatre and the Des Plaines Theatre, as well as his experiences growing up in a heavily Italian community on Taylor Street in Chicago where he learned the art of Italian cooking.
Onesti is also the owner and executive chef of Club Arcada Speakeasy and Restaurant, Bourbon ‘N Brass Speakeasy, Rock ‘N Za Pizza Experience, Rock ‘N Ravioli Italian Restaurant, and Des Pizza.
For more information on the life and times of Rikki Lee Travolta visit www.LifeandTimes.biz - your guilty pleasure for entertainment news, views, and reviews.
Tim Paul of Piano Trends Music Co., Raue Center for the Arts, and NAMM Talks Lifting Spirits Through Music
In this episode of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee, host Rikki Lee Travolta visits with one of the treasures of Chicago’s suburban music scene: Tim Paul - musician, businessman, and creator of smiles.
Tim is the owner of Piano Trends Music Co., the board president of Raue Center for the Arts, and an annual presenter at the NAMM Show in Anaheim, California – one of the premier events of the music industry.
In addition, Tim and the staff at Piano Trends Music Co. regularly take to the internet with their message of hope and happiness with “Lifting Spirits Through Music”. Each day they livestream musical performances from the store – often times featuring guest artists. This celebration of the beauty of music is the source of smiles for viewers around the world.
TIME Magazine Next Generation Leader Daria Kolomiec Brings Stories of Ukrainian War to US Listeners
On this episode of the It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee radio show and podcast, host Rikki Lee Travolta sets fun and games aside to focus on real issues. Travolta's guest is 2022 TIME Magazine Next Generation Leader Daria Kolomiec – a Ukrainian DJ, producer, and activist who is using her prominence in the entertainment field to give a voice to life in her country since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.
It's a powerful interview about subjects of worldwide importance. Daria gives a vivid description of hearing the air raid sirens and running through the streets trying to find safety from the bombings, eventually huddling with strangers in the basement of a cafe because that was the closest thing to a bomb shelter that she could find access to.
From the confines of that dark basement in Kyiv, Daria started the Diary of WAR podcast – giving a first-person voice to how the war has changed the lives of each individual person in Ukraine.
Bringing 'The Pajama Game' to Life with the cast and creatives of Summer Place Theatre
The Pajama Game won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1955 and then claimed the Award for Best Revival over half a century later. That is a testament to the popularity of the lively score by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross and the fun and entertaining script and energetic dance numbers.
Summer Place Theatre in Naperville, IL is presenting The Pajama Game Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through June 25th.
Featured on this episode of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee, host Rikki Lee Travolta is joined by cast members Bob Bullen, Jason Peck, and Christina Peck and Vocal Director and Producer Ted Waltmire.
Amber Mak - Director/Choreographer of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story at Marriott Theatre
Amber Mak, one of Chicago’s most sought-after and respected musical theatre directors, discusses the upcoming production of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story at Marriott Theater. The award-winning regional theater is known for the top-level talent it secures for each of its productions.
Mak is both directing and choreographing this premier of an original interpretation of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story derived from the best elements of the varied scripts that have been performed to date including Broadway, Australia, and West End. It details the life of one of the most influential musicians to pioneer rock n’ roll.
The singer/songwriter was responsible for some of his era’s biggest hits including Peggy Sue, That’ll Be the Day, Not Fade Away, Rave On, and Oh Boy. Tragically, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper all died in a fiery plane crash on the way to a concert appearance together at the height of their careers on February 3, 1959. Holly was only 22 years old.
In the It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee interview, Mak and host Rikki Lee Travolta discuss the extensive research the director/choreographer undertook to do justice to the life story of one of rock’s earliest and most influential stars. The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, and Bruce Springsteen all credit Holly with being a key influence on their approach to music.
Mak’s recent directorial and choreography credits include The Sound of Music, Rock of Ages, Hairspray, and The Wizard of Oz at Paramount Theatre and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. She also has multiple creative choreographer and assistant director credits with Drury Lane Theatre and an impressive slew of regional performing experience. She has received Jeff Award nominations as a director and as a choreographer.
Music Theater Works Artistic Director Kyle A. Dougan discussing new Pippin
Music Theater Works producing artistic director Kyle A. Dougan guests on It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee to discuss the company’s new, innovative mounting of the Broadway gem Pippin.
Music Theatre Works is a resident professional, not-for-profit music theatre company operating out of the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, IL just outside of Chicago. Dougan it the ultimate full-circle theatrical success story. He began his career as an intern with the company fresh out of college and returned to head the company as producing artistic director in 2018.
The Pippin revival has been creatively reimagined into a 1990s setting and features music direction by Justin Akira Kono and choreography by Mollyanne Nunn and Kaitlyn Pasquinelli.
Steel Beam Theatre Managing Director Catie Early
Let’s face it. If you live in the suburbs of Chicago or even just the outskirts, the prospect of traveling into the heart of the city can be daunting. Even those who love the brilliant theater that you can only experience downtown are sometimes wary of making the trip because of things like distance, traffic, and parking. Steel Beam Theatre in St. Charles has the solution – importing smash theater from the city into the suburbs. Steel Beam is always providing new and exciting entertainment options – attracting audiences from the suburbs and the city. This weekend St. Charles is offering the first stop on the tour of the award-winning hit one-woman romantic comedy The Princess Strikes Back, along with the comic stylings of Any Suggestions? Improv – one of the funniest improv troupes in the Chicagoland area. Steel Beam Theatre’s Managing Director Catie Early joins host Rikki Lee Travolta on this episode to discuss all the great shows coming to this suburban Chicago theatre including Star Wars Comedy Weekend.
Victoria Montalbano's 'The Princess Strikes Back' part of Star Wars Comedy Weekend
The Princess Strikes Back is an incredible one-woman show starring Victoria Montalbano that deals with love, relationships, and the maturing process – all linked together with creative and entertaining Star Wars references.
May is Star Wars Month. To celebrate, Steel Beam Theatre in St. Charles, IL is bringing the hit touring theatrical comedy The Princess Strikes Back to the suburbs as a part of Star Wars Comedy Weekend May 19 through 21st. Bringing professional theatre to the Chicago suburbs.
In this episode of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee, host Rikki Lee Travolta sits down with the multi-talented Victoria Montalbano to discuss all the great fun that audiences will have at upcoming performances of The Princess Strikes Back at Steel Beam Theatre and then around the country.
To make plans to see The Princess Strikes Back at Steel Beam Theatre visit www.SteelBeamTheatre.com.
Felicity Nicole - author of the highly anticipated memoir Pieces of Me
Everyone has a story to tell. Some are happy. Some are sad. Some are inspirational. And, some incorporate all those elements.
Felicity Nicole has lived a harrowing life going from a dysfunctional childhood into a toxic marriage, but she is a survivor. She faced her demons and proved that there is no point of no return and that you can survive, recover, and thrive. On this episode of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee, host Rikki Lee Travolta sits down with Felicity to discuss her highly anticipated memoir Pieces of Me.
For more information on Felicity Nicole including Pieces of Me visit www.SheIsYouMag.com.
Susannah B - Celebrated Singer/Songwriter and Broadway Baby
On this episode of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee, host Rikki Lee Travolta is joined by singer/songwriter Susannah B who has had success in multiple musical genres. Her album Girl Gone Wilder! was named one of the best jazz releases of 2020 by LA Jazz Scene. She has also had success with pop, rock, and funk.
A celebrated vocalist and songwriter, Susannah B comes by her musical talents naturally. She is the daughter of Broadway composer and lyricist Carol Hall whose credits include The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and Free To Be You & Me.
Susannah B’s upcoming new album POV, is produced in partnership with keyboardist Mike Farrell who also works closely with Alanis Morrisette whose album Jagged Little Pill was adapted into a Broadway smash musical. The Susannah B POV album also features the talents of drummer Victor Indrizzo, bass player Sean Hurley, and guitarist Dave Levita. Guest artists on POV include saxophonist Sal Lozano, known for work with Lady Gaga and Frank Sinatra.
Tony-nominated Broadway and Film Star Adam Pascal
Most people are aware of Adam Pascal from his Tony-nominated performance as Roger in the Jonathan Larson musical RENT and his reprisal of the role in the 2005 film adaptation by director Chris Columbus. Broadway fans will also recognize Adam from his starring roles in Aida, Cabaret, Chicago, Disaster!, Memphis, Something Rotten, and Pretty Woman.
In the 1990s, Rikki Lee Travolta had seven callbacks to replace Adam in the Broadway cast of RENT. On one of those trips to New York, Rikki Lee got the chance to see Adam perform the role. Getting to see Adam perform live was an amazing experience for Rikki Lee – sparking a career long admiration for the Broadway and film star.
In this classic episode of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee, Adam sits down with Rikki Lee to discuss his career. (original air date January 2021)
Tony-nominated Broadway Icon Robert Cuccioli
Host Rikki Lee Travolta was 25 when he first heard the Broadway cast recording of Jekyll & Hyde featuring the iconic Robert Cuccioli in the dual lead roles. Complimenting him on the recording are the stunning Linda Eder and the equally gifted Christiane Noll. Cuccioli has been one of Travolta’s idols ever since.
In this episode of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee that originally aired in February 2021, the Tony-nominated star discusses how he got his start in theater, his Broadway debut as Javert in Les Misérables, his work as a director, and of course the process for developing the characters of Dr. Henry Jekyll and Mr. Edward Hyde.
Chicago - The Play, Elgin Theatre Company
The musical Chicago is known throughout the world. It has won Tony awards on Broadway and Academy Awards for its film adaptation starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger, and Richard Gere. Now, writer/director Julie Price brings a new adaptation of the story to life for Elgin Theatre Company: Chicago – The Play.
In this episode of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee, host Rikki Lee Travolta is joined by the stars of Chicago – The Play: Jocelyn Adamski who plays Roxie Hart, William Athow who plays Billy Flynn, and Joshua Dizon who plays Jake Callahan.
Award-winning TV Executive Anthony Sparks
Chicago is known as a theater town, but it has also given birth to some of Hollywood’s most important and creative players. Anthony Sparks is a highly respected television writer and producer who got his start in theater in Chicago, then went on to five years in the cast of Broadway’s STOMP. Now Anthony is the executive producer and writer of NBC Peacock’s Bel Air. His other credits include OWN's Queen Sugar, Hulu’s Mike, JJ Abrams' Undercovers, and NBC’s The Blacklist. Anthony joins It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee to discuss his journey, accomplishments, and the importance of diversity in the entertainment industry.
REVIEW: Redtwist’s Dramatic and Vibrant ‘Babel’ Tells Haunting Tale of Dystopian Society
Check out this latest Theatre Review from It's Showtime with Rikki Lee's sister publication The Life and Times of Rikki Lee Travolta (www.LifeandTimes.biz)
In its second production of the 2023 theatrical season, Redtwist Theatre presents the biting dramatic play Babel by Jacqueline Goldfinger. It is the Chicago premier for the playwright, and what a premier it is.
As a script, Babel has a lot going for it. It tackles questioning the ideals of when eugenics is appropriate for the betterment of society and when government interest in our bodies steps over the line.
Redtwist Theatre is a part of Chicago’s vitally important storefront theatre community. They’ve been doing quality work since 1994 (originally under the name Actors Workshop Theatre). Having won seven Non-Equity Jeff Awards, Redtwist Theatre continues to grow on strong footing under the leadership of new artistic director Dusty Brown in Chicago’s historic Bryn Mawr district.
Babel is directed by Rinska Carrasco-Prestinary and stars Monique Marshau, Shannon Leigh Webber, Soleil Pérez, and Michael Sherwin. This episode is also available as a LifeandTimes.biz blog post: https://lifeandtimes.biz/2023/04/03/redtwists-dramatic-and-vibrant-babel-tells-haunting-tale-of-dystopian-society/
REVIEW: All Chaos Breaks out in Hilarious Skokie Theatre ‘Rumors’
Check out this latest Theatre Review from It's Showtime with Rikki Lee's sister publication The Life and Times of Rikki Lee Travolta (www.LifeandTimes.biz) There is a reason that theaters put on Neil Simon plays. As long as you arm yourself with a quality director and a capable cast, putting on a Neil Simon comedy is money in the bank. That is certainly the case with Rumors being presented now by MadKap Productions at Skokie Theatre in Chicago’s near north suburbs.
Director Wayne Mell, managing director of Skokie Theatre and one of the founders of MadKap Productions, has done a fine job making this cruiser ready for voyage. He has a keen grasp for effective blocking in a petite space, as well as for guiding his actors in character development and line delivery.
This episode is also available as a blog post: https://lifeandtimes.biz/2023/04/02/all-chaos-breaks-out-in-hilarious-skokie-theatre-rumors/
TV/Film Actress and PR Guru Laura Orrico
Host Rikki Lee Travolta welcomes TV and film actress Laura Orrico who also serves as president of Laura Orrico Public Relations, one of the top PR agencies in Chicago.
Orrico is a highly recognizable Chicago-based actress who has appeared on such television hits as Kevin Can Wait, CSI: Miami, King of Queens, and That 70’s Show. She can currently be seen in the film God’s Fool on Amazon. She is a frequent guest of top-rated WGN Morning News, where she lends her talents for sketch comedy developed during her studies with legendary Second City.
In addition to her acting work, Orrico balances a career as the president of Laura Orrico Public Relations, a boutique PR agency representing clients from celebrities to big business. She was also recently elected Third Vice President of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans (JCCIA).
REVIEW: Edge of the Wood Gets Glitzy with Moss Hart Comedy ‘Light Up the Sky’
Check out this latest Theatre Review from It's Showtime with Rikki Lee's sister publication The Life and Times of Rikki Lee Travolta (www.LifeandTimes.biz) The Edge of the Wood Theatre cast for Moss Hart’s Light Up the Sky features a wealth of heavy hitting talents who have graced the stages of Victory Garden Theater, Marriott Theatre, Oil Lamp Theater, io Theater, and Goodman Theatre.
Light Up the Sky is not as well-known as some of Moss Hart’s creations, but with some truly great performances, Edge of the Wood makes it shine to its full potential. Directed by John Chambers. Starring Stephen Loch, Herb Metzler, Janet Rourke, and Molly Will. Don’t miss breakout performances by Michael Bayer and Dakotah Brown!
This episode is also available as a blog post: https://lifeandtimes.biz/2023/03/25/edge-of-the-wood-gets-glitzy-with-moss-hart-comedy-light-up-the-sky/
What You Need to Know About Achieving Your Best Voice – an Interview with Mary LeGere
When it comes to musical theater, there are many kinds of singers. There are the divas in the spotlight, but there are also the dancers in the chorus who must also prove their worth carrying a tune – which may not come as easy. Mary LeGere is an amazing vocal instructor who specializes her lessons to the needs of each individual’s talents and goals. Her students have appeared on Broadway and at such theatrical institutions as Druy Lane, Goodman Theatre, Marriott Theatre, Porchlight Music Theatre, and Paramount Theatre. She is also a master at preparing high school students for college auditions and college students for entrance into the professional world of theater.
When we watch a movie or sit in a theater for a live show, we often become so enthralled in the characters they are playing that we forget that the actors we watching are real people with lives outside of entertainment. One reality of many people’s lives is raising a family. For actors and actresses that can often mean putting their performance ambitions on hold while they tend to their children. So, what happens once the kids are in school? We resume our careers, or course.
In this new episode of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee, actress Aimee Kleiman discusses what it takes to resume a performing career after taking time off to start a family.
In the latest episode of IT’S SHOWTIME WITH RIKKI LEE hear creators Remy Partlow, Zachary Isrow, and Marianna Raho discuss the powerful new ensemble rock musical RAVEN’S STARS.
People with autism have been portrayed in the movies and on TV as either being without social skills and robust verbal abilities like in the film ‘Rain Man’ or as geniuses like in the television drama ‘The Good Doctor’ – but there are those in the middle. Inspired by the real-life story of Remy Partlow, ‘Raven’s Stars’ is a touching and poignant new musical premiering at Chicago’s Edge Theater about a autistic teen struggling to survive under the inadequate care of her mentally ill mother.
Alexandre Dumas' famous 'Camille' Takes the Stage
Camille is a French play in five acts written by Alexandre Dumas. Similar to Moulin Rouge!, the story follows a young lady suffering from consumption, who decides to lift herself from a life of poverty by serving as a courtesan to a wealthy Baron. The role requires an actress of both beauty and talent.
Join host Rikki Lee Travolta and guest Trace Gamache for a new episode of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee as they explore the upcoming production of Camille by Independent Players at Elgin Art Showcase. This stripped down interpretation of the famous work focuses on the depth of the characters and the brilliance of the text.
It’s an interview you don’t want to miss!
REVIEW: Searingly Powerful ‘Kelly Girls’ Examines Allegiances in Irish Tale
Check out this latest Theatre Review from It's Showtime with Rikki Lee's sister publication The Life and Times of Rikki Lee Travolta (www.LifeandTimes.biz)
Sometimes it is hard to contain my excitement to share a review of a new play. Such is the case with THE KELLY GIRLS – a searing new drama having its world premiere at THE FACTORY THEATER in Chicago.
When you pledge your allegiance to a cause – are you pledging your support of the ideas or of the leader? And, if those ideas or leaders change, what does that do to the oath you took? Furthermore, where should an allegiance to a cause come in the grand hierarchy in relation to one’s allegiance to family, friends, country and the truth?
The Kelly Girls from playwright and company member SHANNON O’NEILL is a powerhouse production marked by exquisitely talented actors, phenomenal direction by SPENSER DAVIS, and a text that will make you think. Moreso, it will make you feel. And that is the highest compliment I can give.
Starring AMBER WASHINGTON and BRITTNEY BROWN
Please take a moment to listen to the full review.
This episode is also available as a blog post: https://lifeandtimes.biz/2023/02/27/searingly-powerful-kelly-girls-examines-allegiances-in-irish-tale/
REVIEW: Strong Female Performances Fuel the Blaze of Remy Bumppo ‘Anna in the Tropics’
Check out this latest Theatre Review from It's Showtime with Rikki Lee's sister publication The Life and Times of Rikki Lee Travolta (www.LifeandTimes.biz)
ANNA IN THE TROPICS is a blazing drama that delves into the topics of love, dedication, traditions, and betrayal.
For a glimpse into Cuban American culture, make plans to see Chicago-based Remy Bumppo Theatre Company’s production of ANNA IN THE TROPICS by Pulitzer Prize winner NILO CRUZ. Directed by LAURA ALCALÁ BAKER. Featuring amazing performances by CHÁRIN ÁLVAREZ, ALIX RHODE, and KRYSTAL ORTIZ.
The play takes place in a cigar factory owned and operated by Cuban immigrants Santiago and Ofelia. In the tradition of their homeland, they and their workers roll cigars by hand – fueled and entertained by a lector.
Embark on a journey in which the themes of tradition and modernization battling it out for supremacy are juicy for development.
Listen to the full review
This episode is also available as a blog post: https://lifeandtimes.biz/2023/02/26/strong-female-performances-fuel-the-blaze-of-remy-bumppo-anna-in-the-tropics/
REVIEW: 4 Chairs’ ‘Ride the Cyclone’ is a Mesmerizing Musical Theatre Hit!
There’s something to be said for being in the room when the magic happens. And that’s exactly the experience you’ll have at Lauren Berman / 4 Chairs Theatre’s masterful and full-filled staging of Ride the Cyclone now playing through February 25 at the John and Nancy Hughes Theater at Gorton Center in Chicago's Lake Forest neighborhood.
This episode is also available as a blog post: https://lifeandtimes.biz/2023/02/19/4-chairs-ride-the-cyclone-is-a-mesmerizing-musical-theatre-hit/
REVIEW: Citadel’s Powerful ‘The Christians’ Will Make You Question Your Own Beliefs
I love theater that makes you think about your own beliefs. Why do you believe the things you do?
Now playing at CITADEL THEATRE in Chicago’s Lake Forest community, LUCAS HNATH’s ‘THE CHRISTIANS’ stars Scott Phelps, Ellen Phelps, Frank Nall, Manny Sevilla, and Abby Chafe.
What if a Pastor says you don’t have to be Christian to go to Heaven? What if all people go to Heaven – even Hitler?
It’s a powerful and thought-provoking play.
Please take a moment to listen to the full review.
Listen to the full review
This episode is also available as a blog post: https://lifeandtimes.biz/2023/02/18/citadels-powerful-the-christians-will-make-you-question-your-own-beliefs/
Juliet & Romeo - a world premiere at MCC
You’ve heard of the play Romeo & Juliet but what about JULIET & ROMEO – Tune in to this episode of IT’S SHOWTIME WITH RIKKI LEE to hear an in-depth interview with writer/director JAY GELLER and star ISABELLA AGUILAR to discuss the upcoming WORLD PREMIERE of this original reimagination of Shakespeare’s classic with the GENDER POWER STRUCTURE REVERSED. It’s an incredible interview!
REVIEW: ‘Into the Woods’ is Paramount Theatre’s Best Musical Yet
STEPHEN SONDHEIM is regarded as one of the greatest musical theatre composers of our time. Paramount Theatre in Aurora just outside Chicago now brings INTO THE WOODS to life in what may be the company’s most dynamic and thrilling production to date.
The show is directed by JIM CORTI and TRENT STORK and stars NATALIE WEISS, LARRY YANDO, STEPHEN SCHELLHARDT, and SARAH BOCKEL along with a host of other phenomenal talents.
The story and music are well known, but the execution is what makes this production truly superior.
If you want a true Broadway experience without going to New York, make plans to see Into the Woods at Paramount Theatre.
Listen to the full review.
This episode is also available as a blog post: https://lifeandtimes.biz/2023/02/11/into-the-woods-is-paramount-theatres-best-musical-yet/
Playwright Diane Baia Hale
We talk a lot bout the wonderful actors and actresses who bring characters to life on stage and in the movies. But someone has to write those brilliant words they say. Enter – the playwright. The job of the writer is where theatre really begins – taking an idea and giving it structure. In this episode of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee, I am thrilled to be joined by award-winning playwright Diane Baia Hale. We’ll be discussing her writing process, as well as some of her superb plays including The Marble Muse about Louisa Lander and Nathaniel Hawthorne – which has gained multiple honors around the country.
REVIEW: TimeLine World Premiere of ‘Boulevard of Bold Dreams’ Brings Hattie McDaniel’s Oscar Story to Life
TIMELINE THEATRE COMPANY strives to explore today through the lens of the past, and the world premiere of LaDarrion Williams’ BOULEVARD OF BOLD DREAMS about Hattie McDaniel’s historic Oscar win for ‘Gone with the Wind’ in 1940 fits spectacularly well into that mission. It is a powerful look at the past, that will give you added insight into the present. You will be moved. You will be touched. You will be changed.
TimeLine Theatre Company has created something magical and utterly brilliant with ‘Boulevard of Bold Dreams’ by LADARRION WILLIAMS, directed by MALKIA STAMPLEY and starring CHARLES ANDREW GARDNER, MILDRED MARIE LANGFORD, and GABRIELLE LOTT-ROGERS. It is not to be missed.
Please take a moment to listen to the full review.
This episode is also available as a blog post: https://lifeandtimes.biz/2023/02/10/timeline-world-premiere-of-boulevard-of-bold-dreams-brings-hattie-mcdaniels-oscar-story-to-life/
REVIEW: There’s Only One Way to Describe Marriott’s ‘Big Fish’ – Beautiful
You won’t find a more beautiful musical theater production than BIG FISH now playing at MARRIOTT THEATRE and starring ALEXANDER GEMIGNANI and MICHAEL KUROWSKI under the direction of HENRY GODINEZ.
The Marriott Theatre production of Big Fish will make you feel emotions of wonder and joy and happiness, and it will also touch you in such a way that tears will stream down your cheeks.
You will go on an emotional journey that spans distances of miles, time and even logic without ever leaving your seat.
Listen to the full review.
This episode is also available as a blog post: https://lifeandtimes.biz/2023/02/04/theres-only-one-way-to-describe-marriotts-big-fish-beautiful/
Holly Sloan - Growing up an NBA Kid
The Chicago Bulls are one of the most beloved and storied franchises in professional basketball history. The man known as “The Original Bull” was Jerry Sloan. Sloan was a two-time NBA All-Star and then went on to a glorious coaching career with the Bulls and the Utah Jazz.
In this episode of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee, host Rikki Lee Travolta is joined by Jerry’s daughter Holly Sloan to talk about talk about what it was like growing up an NBA kid and what her famous father was like.