June 30, 2016

Chicago’s Cole Porter Celebration

To celebrate the red-hot-and-blue songbook of musical theater legend Cole Porter on the 125th anniversary of his birth, the Grant Park Music Festival welcomes sought-after Broadway music director Kevin Stites and an all-star lineup of guest soloists.

One of Broadway’s most prolific composers, witty Indiana-born composer and lyricist Cole Porter wrote the words and music for dozens of familiar Broadway shows and movie musicals includingAnything GoesThe Gay Divorcee and Kiss Me Kate. Such timeless tunes as “Too Darn Hot,” “Night and Day,” “You’re the Top,” “Begin the Beguine,” “It’s De-Lovely” and “Let’s Misbehave” are guaranteed crowd-pleasers on their own.

“I love the wicked wit in his lyrics. His music seems perfectly molded to them, and stylistically it is wildly varied,” Stites says of Porter. “Pretty much the entire score of Kiss Me Kate, which is prominently featured in the second half of the concert, is among my favorites.”

This will be Stites’ fifth appearance with the Festival as a guest conductor—previous appearances include the Loesser, Gershwin, Bernstein, and last year’s Sondhiem programs—and he is thrilled to make his return to Millennium Park.

“It excites me to work with a great orchestra in an incredible venue,” said Stites, a graduate of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. “I feel like Chicago is my home, having started my career there. The fact that the Festival is free to the public is wonderful.”

Stites has since been conductor or music director for numerous Broadway and off-Broadway shows and TV specials, including A Tale of Two CitiesLes MisrablesTitanicThe Threepenny Opera, Fiddler on the RoofNineOklahoma! and On the Town. He was most recently music director of Roundabout Theater’s On the Twentieth Century with Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher, and looks forward to his next project, Austen’s Pride, a musical based on Jane Austen and the creation of her 18th-century tale of love and misunderstanding in class-conscious England, Pride and Prejudice.

He looks forward to reuniting with Broadway veterans Oklahoma!’s Kathy Voytko, Sunset Boulevard’s Karen Mason, The Phantom of the Opera’s Hugh Panaro, and Shrek the Musical’s Ben Crawford, who will all join the Grant Park Chorus as guest soloists.

Don’t miss this ode to a Broadway legend that’s sure to be a hit! Stites will conduct the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus in A Cole Porter Celebration on two nights of special 8PM performances, Friday and Saturday, July 8 and 9.