Music Theater Works’ ‘THE PRODUCERS’ Takes Over ‘It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee’

Music Theater Works will be presenting its 150th production – THE PRODUCERS: A Mel Brooks Musical – at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts with a press opening on Friday, August 11th. Gearing up for the landmark event, director L. Walter Stearns, choreographer Darryl K. Clark, and Thomas M. Shea who plays the starring role “Max Bialystock” are featured on this week’s episode of radio show and podcast It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee.

“I am so honored to sit down with three such distinguished creative talents and really get to know their creative process and let audiences know what they can expect with Music Theater Works’ celebratory production of THE PRODUCERS,” says Rikki Lee Travolta, host of the popular interview program about all the entertainment industry.

Stearns is one of Chicago’s most celebrated directors. He has won numerous recognitions for the quality of his work including Jeff Awards, BroadwayWorld Awards, and After Dark Awards. He has directed over 40 musicals and has overseen the cultural and physical revival of Mercury Theater Chicago.

“Walter is well known as one of Chicago’s elite musical theater directors. What he shares about how approaches a project like THE PRODUCERS is something every aspiring director should hear,” raves Travolta, one of city’s most outspoken supporters of the performing arts.

Clark has over 30 years of as a dancer and choreographer and is an associate professor of Music Theater Dance at Southern Illinois University. This is a full-circle journey for Clark, who was involved in the first production of Music Theater Works under its original name Light Opera Works. That was H.M.S. Pinafore in 1981.

“Darryl has this amazing passion as both a person and an artist. When they hear Darryl talk, listeners are going to be salivating to see his big production numbers when THE PRODUCERS opens. It’s going to be a special show,” reflects Travolta.

Stearns previously directed a Jeff-nominated production of THE PRODUCERS, so he knows that the success of the show rests heavily on the performer playing Max Bialystock, the role Nathan Lane played on Broadway and in the 2005 film adaptation. For the Music Theater Works production, Stearns chose one of Chicago’s best character actors in musical theater.

Shae has appeared at Mercury Theater, Porchlight Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre, and is a favorite at Music Theater Works having just won rave reviews as “Charlemagne” in their recent smash hit mounting of Pippin. He, too, was on stage in the company’s first production many years ago. However, it is his reverence for the role he is currently playing that fascinates Travolta.

“Tom really demonstrates a respect for Nathan Lane who won a Tony Award on Broadway as Max, and also for Zero Mostel who created the character in the 1967 film that Brooks then adapted for Broadway decades later,” notes Travolta. “Yet it’s clear Tom is also bringing his own special quality to role. It’s going to be a hoot. I can’t wait to see him do it.”

THE PRODUCERS debuted on Broadway in 2001 and set the record for most Tony Awards received by a single production, winning 12 awards, including Best Musical.

After the press opening on August 11thThe Producers runs Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through August 20. For information visit

It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee airs every Friday at 3 PM CST on 101.5 FM out of Huntley, IL and streams in real-time at Current and past episodes of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee are always available as podcasts on Spotify, iHeartMediaGoogleApple, and all major apps.

Another great show to put on your calendar is THE PRINCESS STRIKES BACK. This hit touring comedy is coming to Chicago for two performances. I highly recommend you catch at least one!

What happens when you realize that all of your relationships have lived or died based on your partner’s ability to live up to your first teenage crush on a fictional movie character?

The Princess Strikes Back answers that question in a way everyone can relate to.

It will make you smile until your cheeks burn and laugh like you haven’t laughed in years.

THE PRINCESS STRIKES BACK is coming to Chicago’s North Shore at the historic Skokie Theatre on Friday August 11 and Friday August 18,

For tickets:

SKOKIE THEATRE Box Office: (847) 677-7761

Peace. Love. Trust.

Rikki Lee Travolta

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