Tony Award Winner Donna McKechnie Headlines
And Dean Richards Hosts
Simply Sensational: Legends
An All-Star Annual Benefit for Pride Films and Plays
October 20 at Stage 773
Pride Films and Plays annual fall benefit Simply Sensational: Legends will reach new heights this year when Tony Award Winner Donna McKechnie headlines the event on October 20. She will be joined on stage by other musical guests American Idol Finalist Devin Velez, Colte Julian from Million Dollar Quartet, and Ryan Lanning from Bailiwick Chicago’s The Wild Party. WGN’s Dean Richards serves again as the emcee, which features a preshow reception at 6 pm, the performance at 7, and a post show champagne toast with Ms. McKechnie.
McKechnie created the role of Cassie in the original production of A Chorus Line, and her breathtaking song and dance number “The Music and the Mirror” are part of American musical theater lore. (A full bio of McKechnie is below).
The full line up of talent includes spoken word performers CC Carter and Kimberly Dark, a dance from The Chicago Academy for the Arts Repertory Dance Company, Randy Duncan, Artistic Director, and excerpts from PFP productions of The Submission by Jeff Talbott, The Book or Merman by Leo Schwartz, and Topher Payne’s comedy Angry Fags which will be included in Steppenwolf Theater’s Garage Rep in 2015. Musical Director for the evening is Jeff Award Winner Robert Ollis.
VIP Tickets for Simply Sensational are $100 for the center section of Stage 773’s Thrust Stage. For VIP ticket holders, the evening will begin at 6 p.m. with a pre-show cabaret reception featuring an appetizer buffet and cash bar at Cooper’s, 1232 West Belmont. Members of Pride Films and Plays Artistic Ensemble will perform cabaret style songs to provide entertainment during the pre-show.
General Admission side seating is $75. Admission at either the VIP or General Admission level includes one free cocktail from Stage 773’s bar.
The program will be performed at 7 pm in the thrust space of Stage 773, 1225 West Belmont, on Monday, October 20, 2014.
And tickets to a post performance reception with Ms. McKechnie, including post show chocolates and champagne, can be purchase for an additional $25.
There will also be a raffle for terrific fabulous door prizes, including airline tickets, theater tickets, hotel stays, dinners and more.
About Devin Velez
Devin Velez, of Colombian and Puerto Rican descent, was born in Chicago, in April of 1994. Long before appearing on and finishing as the #8 Finalist on Season 12 of American Idol, he performed his first solo in a talent show at the age of three years old. Growing up listening to artists such as Stevie Wonder, Smokie Norful, Josh Groban, Frank Sinatra, Christina Aguilera, and his mom (a singer herself), made it easy for him to tap into the diverse musical genres required of him in a competition such as Idol. He confidently performed themes such as Country, Pop, R&B, Ballads and music by The Beatles. It was during his bilingual performance of “Somos Novios/It’s Impossible” by Armando Manzanero/Perry Como that he instantaneously captured the hearts of the judges. From receiving a standing ovation by Randy Jackson to witnessing Mariah Carey cry when he was voted off, it was clear to see that they, too, had become “Devineers”.
After Idol, he was on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “The Kelly and Michael Show,” “Ryan Seacrest Live,” “Entertainment Weekly with Michael Slezak,” and FOX TV News. He went on to perform in the Amercian Idol Live summer tour of 2013, which featured 30 domestic cities as well as two in Canada. Devin still lives and breathes music. He continues to succeed in his career by working on his debut album and continually performing at various events. In the words of Keith Urban, a distinguished musician and American Idol judge, Devin was definitely “born to sing!”
About Donna McKechnie
Donna McKechnie, the Tony Award winning star of A CHORUS LINE, is regarded internationally as one of Broadway’s foremost dancing and singing leading ladies. Most recently she created the musical staging for a production of Six Dance Lessons In Six Weeks starring Leslie Caron at the Laguna Playhouse which has received a rave review from the Los Angeles Times. Donna is also co-starring in a new production called 4 Girls 4 with Maureen McGovern, Andrea McCardle and Faith Prince produced by Wayne Gmitter and John McDaniel.
Donna appeared at 54 Below, New York’s celebrated Supper Club, presenting SAME PLACE: ANOTHER TIME, her new musical show in which she received a glowing review from the New York Times. She then performed it in London at the Crazy Coqs and the recording of the show is produced by Jay Records and will be released in 2014. Last year she co-starred in Love, Loss And What I Wore At the Asolo Theatre in Sarasota, and before, in John Doyle’s Ten Cents A Dance at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, N.J., and the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Her Broadway shows include How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, (Nat’l Tour), The Education Of H*Y*M*A*N-K*A*P*L*A*N, Sondheim- A Musical Tribute (which she also choreographed), On The Town, Promises-Promises, Company and State Fair, for which she received the Fred Astaire Award for Best Female Dancer for the 1996 Season. She was also featured in Annie Warbucks and Love, Loss And What I Wore in New York productions. She has starred in numerous productions in London’s West End, including Promises-Promises, Company, No Way To Treat A Lady (which she also choreographed), Cole Porter’s Can-Can and Stephen Sondheim’s Follies. Bob Fosse invited Ms. McKechnie to play the lead in his last production, a National tour of Sweet Charity, for which she was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award. Donna’s regional credits include The Glass Menagerie, The Subject Was Roses (with River City Rep), Irma La Douce, Cabaret, The Imaginary Invalid, The Three Penny Opera, The Good-Bye Girl, Follies, Mack And Mabel, Annie Get Your Gun, Gypsy, I Do-I Do!, Misalliance, Stepping Out, Girl’s Room, And Inside The Music, (her one woman musical with text by Christopher Durang). The New York Times review of her cabaret show, Gypsy in My Soul, compared her to “legends Chita Rivera and Gwen Verdon as a brass- knuckled trouper with a heart of gold in a breezy, happy to be here celebration.”
Donna’s one woman musical, My Musical Comedy Life received unanimous raves from New York theatre critics, won a Mac Award Nomination for Best Female Singer and the Bistro Award for Outstanding Major Engagement. She also received a nomination for an Ovation Award for Best Featured Actress (Mack And Mabel) by the Los Angeles Theatre Alliance League. She made her Opera debut in 1996, guest starring in the San Francisco Opera’s production of Die Fledermaus.
Two seasons ago she opened the Adelaide Cabaret Festival and completed her first tour of Australia performing My Musical Comedy Life, also directed by Mr. Alexander. One of the highlights of her recent professional life was to choreograph the highly acclaimed Guys And Dolls at the Hollywood Bowl directed by Richard Jay-Alexander.
Donna has also performed extensively on the concert stage and with symphony orchestras. She has appeared as guest star in numerous television specials and dramatic series including HBO SHOWSTOPPERS, FAME, CHEERS, FAMILY TIES, HULLABALOO, TWIRL, and DARK SHADOWS. She also portrayed THE ROSE in the film THE LITTLE PRINCE. Donna was featured in the documentary film, EVERY LITTLE STEP and was also featured in the film, 36 SAINTS.
Ms. McKechnie’s memoir, TIME STEPS- My Musical Comedy Life, was published by Simon and Schuster.
For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit www.pridefilmsandplays.com.