Grammy-nominated alumni return to IU to create a season-opening new musical
Indiana University's Department of Theatre and Drama opens the IU 2011-2012 academic year with four workshop performances of the new musical Happily Ever Chloe, by Michael Heitzman (BA '87 Telecommunications with a Theatre and Drama minor) and Ilene Reid (BS '86 School of Business).
Happily Ever Chloe will be performed at IU Theatre Aug. 25-28 as the fifth installment of Premiere Musicals: Developing New Musical Theatre at IU.
Adopted Asian-American Chloe Ellsworth finally finishes college and returns home to her family farm in Middle Valley, Ind. Just as she's about to settle into her new life, her royal birth family lands on her doorstep and demands that she return with them immediately to her native country -- to take her place on the throne. Throughout her fairy-tale journey, Chloe resolves a lifelong quest to discover who she really is.
As the first installment of a two-year project, the workshop performances will reflect the earliest development of the script and score for Happily Ever Chloe and will take place with minimal scenic design. Lighting designers Lee Burckes and Patrick French and costumes by third-year M.F.A. costume design student Jason Orlenko will fill out the workshop design.
In the fall of 2012, Happily Ever Chloe will return after further development in a more extensive production.
Heitzman and Reid are the Grammy-nominated songwriters of "Throw That Girl Around" from the Broadway musical Swing! Their musical Bingo (the winning musical) was honored with the 2007 Bay Area Critics Association Award for Best Musical and had a successful Off-Broadway run; it continues to be produced nationally and internationally.
The creative team's critically acclaimed musical Vices: A Love Story was produced at the Caldwell Theatre, where it was nominated for eight 2010 Carbonell Awards, including Best New Work and Best Musical. It is currently running at Theatre Aspen. Variety called Vices "a minor miracle . . . a sensual celebration."
Heitzman and Reid are currently developing an original score for the upcoming Broadway musical Genius based on the book by Patrick Dennis.
In addition to having several TV and film scripts in development, Heitzman and Reid wrote for the NBC series "Just Deal." Their sitcom "Scott Free," developed with Barbra Streisand's production company, Barwood Films, and Kelsey Grammer's production company, Grammnet, was purchased by Paramount Pictures. Both are members of The Dramatists Guild, BMI and the Writers Guild of America, East.
Emmy Award-winner George Pinney directs and choreographs Happily Ever Chloe with musical direction by Terry LaBolt, the same winning musical team that recently brought to life IU productions of The Music Man, Anything Goes and Rent. Rehearsal pianist and musical collaborator Jay Ivey will also musically direct Hair, the opening production of the 2011-2012 IU Theatre season.
The ensemble cast includes IU senior Stephanie Cohen in the title role of Chloe Ellsworth. Joining Cohen is a group of performers who appeared in this past summer's production of The Music Man: Jamie Anderson, Francesca Arostegui, Matthew Birdsong, Cosmo Clemens, Taylor Crousore, Evan Mayer and CJ Pawlikowski. Also from the summer Indiana Festival Theatre season is Henry A. McDaniel III (The Comedy of Errors and Ah, Wilderness!), and rounding out the cast are Chloe Williamson (Rent), Aaron Densley (Rent), and Charnette Batey (Oklahoma!).
Happily Ever Chloe plays Aug. 25-28 at IU Theatre on the corner of Seventh Street and Jordan Avenue on the IU Bloomington campus. For tickets and more information about the show, including biographies of the cast and creative team and information about the upcoming 2011-2012 IU Theatre season, visit theatre.indiana.edu.
If you go
Happily Ever Chloe, book, music and lyrics by IU alumni Michael Heitzman and Ilene Reid, is directed by George Pinney with musical direction by Terry LaBolt. Opens Thursday, Aug. 25, through Saturday, Aug. 27, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 28, at 2 p.m. All performances take place at IU Theatre at 275 N. Jordan Ave. No photography or recording of any kind is permitted during performances. Regular admission is $15 for adults, $10 for any student and those 18 years of age and younger.