Fortunate Sons - Staged Concert Reading
Streaming February 19-20, 2021 | Tickets are free but reservations required
Music and Lyrics by Legendary Composer Paul Williams
The readings for Fortunate Sons are now finished
This first staged concert reading of Fortunate Sons, featuring music and lyrics by legendary Oscar and Grammy Award-winner Paul Williams, will be live streamed on Friday, February 19 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, February 20 at 7:30 p.m. This developmental reading is a rare insider’s look at the making of a new musical.
A maximum of 350 patrons per reading will be admitted. Tickets are free, but contributions are appreciated. You can make a contribution by clicking here
Fortunate Sons has a book by Eric R. Cohen and Marc Madnick and is set in 1969, centering on the turbulent times during the Vietnam War and the first draft lottery held since 1942.
MKE MaKEs Premiere
February 19-20, 2021
First Staged Concert Reading
Cabot Theatre, Broadway Theatre Center
Music and lyrics by Paul Williams
Book by Eric R. Cohen and Marc Madnick
Directed by Michael Unger
Produced by Marc Madnick
Cast & Creative Team Bios
Fortunate Sons Cast
Joey Chelius (RJ Willet) is a Milwaukee native and graduate of the 2018 BFA-Acting Class at UW – Stevens Point. Having lent his talents as an actor, director, guitarist, and teaching artist to various theater companies, schools, and non-profit organizations throughout Southeastern Wisconsin, Chelius is currently residing as an emerging professional resident actor at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. Recent credits include Jack Worthing in Being Earnest at Skylight, Fred Gailey in Miracle on 34th St. with the Forte Theatre Company, and the guitarist in Hedwig and the Angry Inch with All In Productions at the Next Act Theatre.
Chad Larget (Robert Willet) last performed with Skylight Music Theatre in Oklahoma! as Andrew Carnes. His other Skylight credits include Pasquale (Most Happy Fella), Erlanson (A Little Night Music), Dr. Blind (Die Fledermaus), Don Curzio (Marriage of Figaro), and Frederic (Pirates of Penzance). Larget made his Broadway debut in the 1997 revival production of Candide, directed by Harold Prince. Other recent Milwaukee area credits include Sewer Man in Dear World with Boulevard Theatre, Jay Austin in Only We Know Best with Milwaukee Metropolitan Voices, the Bank Chairman in Mary Poppins and Kodaly in She Loves Me, both at Sunset Playhouse. He has been a soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Racine Symphony Orchestra and a chorus member with the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Florentine Opera.
George Lorimer (Troy Willet) is making his Skylight Music Theatre debut. He is a graduate of the College of Wooster, receiving a BA in Theatre and Music and is a Milwaukee native. Previously, he has worked with local companies such as First Stage, Music Theatre of Madison, Outskirts Theatre Co., and Greendale Community Theatre as well as regionally with the Ohio Light Opera, The College Light Opera Company and Festival 56. Lorimer has also worked as a teaching artist with Forte Theatre Company, an assistant director with Milwaukee Chamber Theatre's 2019 Young Playwrights Festival, and a choral scholar with Trinity Episcopal Church in Wauwatosa.
Jamie Lynn Mercado (Beth Willet) was last seen with Skylight in the 2020 KidsWrites: Me, Myself, & I cast and in the ensemble of Newsies. Other credits include Dad’s Season Tickets at Northern Sky Theater, Matilda at First Stage and Songs For a New World at All In Productions.
Joseph Nolan (Wayne Willet) last appeared at Skylight in Pirates of Penzance and HMS Pinafore. Nolan has performed in numerous community and professional theaters throughout Southeastern Wisconsin and the Midwest. Favorite lead roles have included Dan in Next To Normal, Archibald Crain in The Secret Garden, Fredrick in A Little Night Music and Sky Masterson in Guys & Dolls.
Amanda Satchell (Claire Willet) is making her Skylight Music Theatre debut. A graduate of the University of Michigan's Musical Theatre program, she has performed in regional theaters like Paper Mill Playhouse as well as in New York at Joe's Pub and Carnegie Hall. Recent favorite roles include Donna Sheridan in Mamma Mia and Marian Paroo in The Music Man at Lake County Playhouse, and Miss Gardner in Carrie with Outskirts Theatre.
Stephanie Staszak (Abby Willet) was most recently seen at Skylight as Gwendolyn in the virtual filming of Being Earnest as well as Ensemble/Understudy in Oklahoma! and Newsies. Staszak has performed with other theatres such as Milwaukee Opera Theatre, All In Productions and In Tandem, and has done a handful of commercial and film work, including starring alongside four adorable puppets in the award-winning short film ANGELAAA in the 2017 Milwaukee Film Festival.
Denzel Taylor (Willy Taylor) is a Wisconsin native making his Skylight Music Theatre debut. Taylor is an alum of the University of Wisconsin - Madison and the First Wave - Hip Hop and Urban Arts scholarship program. In February of 2020, he completed an Education residency with Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s Emerging Professional Resident program, teaching literacy and social-emotional learning through theater practices. Taylor has additionally taught in residency with Theater Lila at Madison’s Capital High School and with First Wave as a co-facilitator of their summer programming. His acting credits include Sheep and John Arable in Charlotte’s Web and Mr. Salt in Willy Wonka with Children’s Theater of Madison, Mayor in Romeo and Juliet with Theater Lila, and Lucentio in Taming of the Shrew with Madison Shakespeare Company.
Frankie Zabilka (Cliff Willet) was recently seen in the Los Angeles premiere of a new musical called Glass Ceilings. Before heading to LA, he performed near Chicago in roles such as Frank Abagnale Jr. in Catch Me If You Can, Huck Finn in Big River, and Leo Bloom in The Producers at the Erica Heilmann Theatre. He also spent a summer in Kansas City playing Motel Kamzoil in Fiddler on the Roof with Western Playhouse. Zabilka is a proud graduate of Ball State University.
Fortunate Sons Creative Team
Paul Williams (Music and Lyrics) A lyricist and composer, Paul Williams has won an Oscar Award, three Grammy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, and induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. “The Rainbow Connection” and “Evergreen” grace the American Film Institute’s List of Top Movie Songs of All Time. His hits have remained wonderfully diverse, from “We’ve Only Just Begun” and “You and Me Against the World,” to “Beyond” and “Touch” on Daft Punk’s chart-topping, Album of the Year Random Access Memories. Williams’ songs have also been recorded by such diverse musical icons as Ray Charles, David Bowie, Tony Bennett, The Carpenters, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Ross, Willie Nelson, and Gonzo. His song scores include The Muppet Movie and The Muppet Christmas Carol, Bugsy Malone, Ishtar, Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas, and Phantom of the Paradise. Writing with Gustavo Santaolalla for the animated film, The Book of Life, Williams received a World Soundtrack Award for their “Apology Song”. His career, life, and work in recovery have been chronicled in the acclaimed documentary, Paul Williams Still Alive. He has also acted in dozens of films and on television, most recently with Billy Bob Thornton on Goliath. As President and Chairman of the Board of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Paul Williams is also a leading spokesman for music creators in the digital age.
Eric R. Cohen (Book) is a graduate of New York’s School of Visual Arts. His screenplay, Liberty Smith written with Marc Madnick, has been optioned for every medium but has found its biggest success on the stage as a theatrical musical. It was selected for The National Alliance of Musical Theatre Festival, The New York Musical Theatre Festival, and received its world premiere production in 2011 at Ford’s Theatre. It was nominated for six Helen Hayes Awards and went on to become one of the most successful musicals ever produced at this historic landmark. In addition to Fortunate Sons, his current writing projects include a screenplay, Video Nation, a comedic look at the early years of the home video revolution for Plausible Films.
Marc Madnick (Producer/Book) was the co-founder and chief executive officer of Final Draft, Inc. from 1991 to 2016 Final Draft is the most widely used screenwriting software in film, television and theater today. In 2013 Madnick was presented with the Primetime Engineering Emmy Award for contributions to the television development process. A produced playwright, Madnick saw his musical, Liberty Smith premiere at the historic Washington D.C. Ford's Theatre in the spring of 2011.
Michael Unger (Director) joined Skylight as Artistic Director in fall, 2019 and has directed KidsWrites, virtual productions, and launched new works initiatives bringing famed songwriters such as Paul Williams and Dennis DeYoung to Skylight, as well as supporting new composers through an upcoming festival of BIPOC writers. Unger is also the Producing Artistic Director of NewArts, started in response to the Sandy Hook tragedy. For NewArts, he has directed a dozen musicals involving 600 local children. Previously, he was Associate Artistic Director of Off-Broadway’s York Theatre. He’s directed many benefit concerts, including for Sandy Hook and Parkland. Selected world premieres include The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Caligula, and A ROCKIN’ Midsummer Night’s Dream, which is featured in the documentary film, Midsummer in Newtown. He’s directed fifteen operas, two of which are available on DVD.
Eric Svejcar (Music Director) is a composer/pianist/arranger living in Brooklyn NY. Composing credits include Caligula: an Ancient Glam Epic, A ROCKIN’ Midsummer Night’s Dream (both directed by Michael Unger) and the acclaimed musical podcast series Loveville High. On Broadway he conducted the Roundabout/Deaf West production of Big River and played first keyboard for The Little Mermaid. With playwright/lyricist David Zellnik he adapted Disney’s Peter Pan Jr. which has been performed thousands of times around the world. Off-Broadway he arranged and performed in the Zipper Theatre production of Jacques Brel Is Alive And Well… and orchestrated Evil Dead, The Musical. As a pianist he has performed in concert with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and pre-pandemic was one of Broadway’s most active audition pianists.
Megan Harris (Stage Manager) is a stage manager who, originally from Wisconsin, went to NYC to pursue her degree, but is now happy to be back in her home state. She is excited to be joining the Skylight team and cannot wait to share such an amazing project. Previous credits include: Production Assistant for Sweat on Broadway; Production Assistant for Shadowlands Off Broadway; Assistant Stage Manager for Gretel and Escape from Peligro Island at First Stage Children's Theatre.