Zachary Gipson, 25, a 2006 graduate of Chesterton High School, is returning to his region roots this weekend and bringing what promises to be a fantastic, funny and entertaining spoof of Broadway musicals to the stage to his hometown.
Gipson, who has been living in Chicago now for the past few years, is a familiar face to Northwest Indiana audiences who know his work, from set design and also cast in stage roles, for many of the popular summer run productions at Star Plaza Theatre, ranging from "Disney's High School Musical" in 2008 to "Annie" in 2010.
This weekend, he's proving he can still "do it all," by producing his first show, while also directing, choreographing, designing and playing in the show.
It's called "The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!)" and it opens tonight at 4th Steet Theater in Chesterton and will run until Sept. 1.
Gipson tells me he's "still going to school and living in Chicago, but stepped back into the region to experiment with producing."
Backed by Kokandy Productions, he says his new show is "a deft and daffy send-up of Broadway musicals that packs five shows into one."
"The show features one simple plot," he said.
"A young woman can't pay her rent. She's menaced by a cruel landlord, with her only hope being a dashing young suitor she believes will ride to her rescue, and with a helpful older friend, offer her wisdom and advice along the way."
Gipson said this story plays out, and is then rewritten in a total of five different scenarios, each one penned in the style of the most famous Broadway composers and lyricists of all time: Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Kander and Ebb, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jerry Herman.
For example, the Rodgers and Hammerstein segment, "Corn!" features not only an "Oklahoma!" inspired dream ballet, but also a "Sound of Music" slant. Then for the "In A Little Complex" portion of the show, it salutes the artistic works of Stephen Sondheim and is set in an apartment complex overseen by a tortured artist intent on slashing the throats of residents and using them to create his conceptual pieces. In "Dear Abby," it's Jerry Herman's penchant for showy star vehicles and life-affirming themes put in the spotlight and served up with aplomb, while "Aspects of Juanita" sends up the showiness and hype of Andrew Lloyd Webber's best-loved spectacles. Finally, the "Speakeasy" scene recreates the jazzy, boozy, sexy world inhabited most frequently by Kander and Ebb.
"The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!)" was created by the writing team of librettist Joanne Bogart and composer Eric Rockwell and ran Off-Broadway in 2003 and 2005 for 583 performances and also was performed in London's West End.
This Chesterton run of "The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!) stars Michele Craig, Lindsay Foreman, Kurt Gillins and Gipson for this cast of four, with Pam Spitzner featured on piano.
Performances are 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. The 4th Street Theater is located at 125 N. Fourth St. in Chesterton and all tickets are $18 and can be purchased by calling the 4th Street Theater box office at (219) 926-7875.