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Chicago’s Leading Jazz Instrumentalists Join Broadway and West End Talent for North American Premier

Top talents from The Green Mill, Jazz Showcase and Chicago Jazz Festival stages join Broadway and West End artists for Lyric Opera’s North American premiere of Timothy Sheader’s Olivier Award-winning production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar,presented from April 27 to May 20, 2018 at the Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago (press opening April 28).

The Jesus Christ Superstar rhythm section features well-known Chicago musicians and recording artists, including The Green Mill regular Pete Benson(keyboard), pianist, conductor and composer Jo Ann Daugherty (keyboard), in-demand studio player and composer Kraig McCreary (guitar), rock, jazz and experimental music veteran Steve Roberts (guitar), versatile percussionist Bob Rummage (drums), and seasoned rhythm-and-blues artist Chuck Webb(bass). Outside the jazz arena, these musicians have been heard alongside such renowned vocalists as Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton, Melissa Etheridge, and more. Rounding out the Chicago-driven musical talent for Jesus Christ Superstar are 31 members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra. Joining lead cast members Heath Saunders (Jesus), Ryan Shaw (Judas), Jo Lampert (Mary Magdalene), Michael Cunio (Pilate), Mykal Kilgore (Simon Zealotes), Shaun Fleming (Herod), Joseph Anthony Byrd (Annas), Cavin Cornwall (Caiaphas) and Andrew Mueller (Peter) are Eric A. Lewis (Priest), Drew King (Priest), Antwayn Hopper (Priest), Candace Edwards (Soul Girl), Keirsten Hodgens (Soul Girl) and Sandy Redd (Soul Girl) and an ensemble of 33 artists, including 13 members of the Lyric Opera Chorus.

Single tickets for Jesus Christ Superstar start at $35 for the April 27 performance and start at $44 for all other performances. Tickets are on sale now, in person at the Lyric Opera House box office, or by calling 312-827-5600. To guarantee a front-row rock-concert experience, Lyric is also offering exclusive, $99 stage-front seating over the orchestra pit – the closest possible position to the stage – for the first time in the company's Broadway musical history.

Three-time Olivier Award winner Timothy Sheader directs the North American premiere of his acclaimed 2016 production from Regent’s Park Open-Air Theatre. Sheader will be joined in Chicago by the original creative team, including conductor Tom Deering, Olivier Award-winning choreographer Drew McOnie, Tony Award-nominated set & costume designer Tom Scutt, and Olivier Award-nominated lighting designer Lee Curran. The Chicago production will feature members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus. The Chicago production comprises 37 musicians and 48 cast members; the London performances comprised 11 musicians and 27 cast members.

Jesus Christ Superstar is an iconic rock opera that reinvented musical theater for the modern age. With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, this global blockbuster tells the story of the final weeks in the life of Jesus Christ, from the perspective of Judas Iscariot. As Christ’s followers grow more fervent, Judas must make his fateful choice between faith and betrayal. Filled with an exciting mix of musical styles that draw upon 1970s rock, gospel, folk and funk themes, this contemporary imagining of the biblical tale features high-energy dance and powerful storytelling.



One of Chicago’s premiere Hammond B3 players, Pete Benson has been in demand as both a pianist and organist for over 20 years. As a member of the long-running Saturday night staple, the Sabertooth Organ Quartet, Benson can be heard weekly at the famed Green Mill Lounge in Chicago’s Uptown area. Last year, Sabertooth celebrated its 25th anniversary playing every Saturday night at The Green Mill and its members were profiled for NPR’s Jazz Night in America. Voted one of the top jazz organists for DownBeat magazine’s Rising Star Critics Poll six years running, Benson has also been performing with long-time Chicago guitarist George Freeman in the George Freeman/Mike Allemana Organ Quartet. In honor of Freeman’s 91st birthday, they will resume their annual residency at The Green Mill along with legendary drummer Bernard Purdie. Born in Sycamore, Illinois, Benson developed a love for music at an early age. He began his studies on a piano designed by his grandfather, a piano and organ designer for Wurlitzer. He maintains a busy performance schedule and continues to be at the forefront of the Chicago jazz scene.


Pianist, conductor, musical director, recording artist, composer, and arranger Jo Ann Daugherty loves all kinds of music—whether sharing the stage with jazz luminaries such as Victor Goines, Conrad Herwig, John Abercrombie, Randy Brecker, and Howard Levy; conducting or playing keyboards in hit Broadway shows (Motown, Jersey Boys, Seussical, Dreamgirls, Billy Elliot); or music-directing and arranging PBS concert specials, she brings an infectious energy to each project. Other adventures include performing with the USO of Illinois, teaching jazz piano at Chicago’s Roosevelt University, leading her own group at the Chicago Jazz Festival, and jamming with amazing musicians in Madagascar. Based in Chicago, she is currently traveling all over the U.S to bring joy to people through music.


Kraig McCreary is a world-class guitarist, fluent in many styles. He has performed with Bruce Hornsby, Dennis DeYoung, Dolly Parton, Heather Headley, Kenny G., Luther Vandross, Michael Bolton, Peabo Bryson, Ramsey Lewis, Tiny Tim, Willie Dixon, and many more artists. McCreary has been hired to play on thousands of recording sessions for films, commercials, and songwriters. As a composer, his musical creations can be heard on TV (Oprah, Dr. Oz), and his ever-expanding experience makes him a first call as a producer and session player. Musical theater credits include Rent, The Lion King, Tommy, The Book Of Mormon, Catch Me If You Can, Kinky Boots, Jersey Boys, The Last Ship, and In The Heights.


A veteran of the Chicago rock, jazz, and experimental music scene, guitarist Steve Roberts has recorded and performed with myriad local and touring artists. His work as co-founder/songwriter/electric guitarist for the bands Loud Thoughts and the post-punk/art rock D-Section has led to orchestral, new music, musical theater, and chamber music. Recent performances on guitar, banjo, and mandolin include: The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Godfather live soundtrack and Otello with Riccardo Muti (Carnegie Hall and recording); Melissa Etheridge in concert; Stewart Copeland and his Ben Hur live soundtrack; Steven Spielberg's Lincoln soundtrack; Fulcrum Point New Music Ensemble; Chicago Chamber Musicians; Contempo; The Rembrandt Chamber Players;The Pirate Queen (Broadway); Book of Mormon; Present Music in Milwaukee; and The Grant Park Symphony Orchestra. Some favorite performances include the U.S. premiere of Elevator Music on Mars by Tomi Raisanen; The World, Chicago, and New York premieres of Jacob TV's multimedia opera The News; Gnarly Buttons by John Adams (with numerous Midwest chamber groups); working with Sting and Rob Mathes on the pre-Broadway production of Sting's The Last Ship; Wozzeck with Lyric Opera of Chicago; pre-Broadway SpongeBob Musical; and subbing on the Chicago production of Hamilton.


Bob Rummage maintains a versatile schedule of performances with a variety of Chicago ensembles ranging from Swing Gitan to the Mark Colby Quartet to the eclectic styles of Howard Levy. He has performed with many internationally known musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, Nat Adderly, Benny Golson, Buddy DeFranco, Bela Fleck, and almost 30 years with Mississippi bluesman Mose Allison. Currently, he is performing with Petra Van Nuis' Recession 7, guitarist Andy Brown, the Mark Colby Quartet, Alfonso Ponticelli, and Howard Alden, plus subbing on the hit Broadway show Hamilton. His experience in the studio includes national television commercials as well as numerous CD recordings with artists such as Frank Mantooth, Steve Weist, Rob Parton, Colby/Caruso, and Bob Lark. Rummage is the director of percussion at Elmhurst College. He is a much sought-after clinician, having made appearances at various high schools and colleges including the University of Illinois, University of Kentucky, Emporia State University (Kansas), University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and Music For All.


Chuck Webb is a top electric and acoustic bassist who has toured the world many times performing with legendary artists such as Aretha Franklin, Ramsey Lewis, David Sanborn, Al DiMeola, Grover Washington Jr., Freddie Hubbard, and many others. As one of Chicago's top studio bassists, Webb has performed on hundreds of records, commercial jingles, and soundtracks. A graduate of University of Miami's Frost School of Music, Webb is a member of the National Federation of Musicians and the National Educators Association. A versatile writer and producer, in addition to his newly released solo CD, film scores, sample CD, jazz, and contemporary projects, Webb is also the creator of the critically-acclaimed educational music programs "Mind Games" and “Multiply This.” These CDs are being successfully utilized by school systems and individuals throughout the country as well as in Canada, Germany, and Australia. Organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts and the Congressional Black Caucus have featured Webb lecturing on the role of music in education. Webb is also on the faculty of Columbia College Chicago's music department, serving as coordinator of bass studies, bass instructor, ensemble director, and coordinator of the Contemporary, Urban and Popular Music ensemble program.

Lyric’s premiere of Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar generously made possible by Lead Sponsor The Negaunee Foundation and cosponsors an Anonymous Donor and Mr. and Mrs. J. Christopher Reyes. Major in-kind audio support provided by Shure Incorporated. Production by The Regent’s Park Theatre London. Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics by Tim Rice. In Association with The Really Useful Group Limited. Production by The Regent's Park Theatre London.

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