Favorite Performers to Return to The Mac-Haydn Theatre Stage

Posted May 12, 2009

Many of the audience's favorite performers will be returning to The Mac-Haydn Theatre stage for the 2009 season. Last year's top three stars will all be back to the theatre-in-the-round stage, joined by several others whose performances were especially enjoyed.

John Saunders was last summer's favorite, earning raves in two very different roles, that of the curmudgeonly Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, and the hefty, hilarious Edna Turnblatt in Hairspray. In the type of role he does so well, Saunders will play Uncle Willie, a slightly befuddled character adding to the comedy in Mac-Haydn's season opening show, High Society. He will then return to the international tour of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, but will be back in Chatham later in the season to direct Meet Me in St. Louis.

Running a close second in last summer's end-of-season voting was Karla Shook, who is currently with Funny Girl at the noted Westchester Broadway Dinner Theatre. Her Mac-Haydn summer will include the roles of Irene Molloy in Hello, Dolly!, and Madame de la Grande Bouche, the wardrobe, in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Fewer roles this summer will give Ms. Shook more time to devote to the SRO popular fund-raising Cabaret, and to directing Mac-Haydn Children's Theatre shows.

Monica M. Wemitt holds the distinction of being one of the very few actresses to ever perform as an understudy for Carol Channing, as Dolly Gallagher Levi. This summer she will make that title role completely her own in Hello, Dolly! Her rich voice and wonderful character creation will then go on to play Mrs. Potts in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. In the Disney international tour of that show she played The Wardrobe. Mr. Wemitt showed her voice and versatility as Carlotta in Phantom and Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music last summer.

Ms. Wemitt's co-star in Hello, Dolly! is another familiar Mac-Haydn face, Jim Kidd. He will join the rehearsals fresh from a special concert of Jeckyll & Hyde at Lincoln Center. Mr. Kidd's recent roles include Alfie Doolittle in My Fair Lady and Jud Fry in Oklahoma!

Ben Jacoby led the score in the title role of Phantom; his acting ability shone as Corny Collins in Hairspray and Rolf in The Sound of Music. He will be masked again for his first 2009 role, the Beast in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, where his rich baritone voice will again soar in "If I Can't Love Her." He will switch to a character leading role as Oscar in Sweet Charity, and also play The Boy Next Door in Meet Me in St. Louis.

Kelly Shook will be featured as Babette in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. She will also direct Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Colin Pritchard and Emily Thompson will play the leading roles of Bobby Child and Polly Baker in Crazy For You. Mr. Pritchard was the perfect foil to Edna's hilarity as Wilbur Turnblatt in Hairspray last summer; his tap dancing expertise shown as Cosmo in Singin' in the Rain in 2007. Mr. Thompson was an enjoyable Ado Annie in Oklahoma! and Lina Lamon in Singin' in the Rain two seasons ago.

The Mac-Haydn Theatre opens for its 41st season on May 28 with High Society, playing through June 7. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, an all-time Mac-Haydn favorite, runs June 11 though 21, followed by the popular Hello, Dolly! from June 25 through July 5. The Broadway family hit Disney's Beauty and the Beast will perform for three weeks, July 9 through 26. Sweet Charity plays July 30 through August 9, and Crazy For You will bring dazzling tap-dancing August 13 through 23. Meet Me in St. Louis will close the regular season, August 27 through September 6.

MHT II Productions will bring a blast from the past with the 1980's film and 1990's Broadway hit Footlose, September 11 through 20.

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