Timber Lake Playhouse world-premiere musical includes live-stream performance on Dec. 11

Local News

Timber Lake Playhouse’s world premiere production of the holiday musical “What a Wonderful World” will run through Sunday, Dec. 12, with a special live-streamed performance on Saturday, Dec. 11.

“What a Wonderful World” is the magical tale of how Santa and Mrs. Claus try to retire, but in doing so, they must pass on the baton to the new Santa. When the magic sleigh bells choose a young New York ad exec for the iconic position, he declines the offer, putting the North pole, and the fate of Christmas in jeopardy of disappearing forever.

Jack Cahill-Lemme (Jack) and Anna Catherine Smith (Lucy) share a scene in Timber Lake Playhouse’s World Premiere production of “What a Wonderful World.”

The musical features a score of classic and contemporary pop hits made famous by artists including Louis Armstrong, Elvis Presley, Kelly Clarkson, R.E.M., Imagine Dragons, Kenny Chesney, The Romantics, Shawn Mendes, Hootie & The Blowfish, and Nancy Sinatra, among many others.

“Since COVID shutdown production at Timber Lake, we have been looking at how we can continue to bring our productions to our patrons as well as expand our audience base around the world,” said Timber Lake executive director Dan Danielowski. “Live-stream technology is a way to put TLP productions into your homes on your television, phone, or computer.” 

Recently, TLP in Mt. Carroll, Ill., has partnered with DePaul University in Chicago to create a pilot program to live stream the world premiere of What a Wonderful World. JoAnne Zielinski and Wendy Roderweiss from DePaul’s School of Cinematic Arts faculty will lead a team of professional crew members whose credits hail from TV shows such as “The Kominsky Method,” “Euphoria,” and “How to Get Away with Murder.”

“When Broadway shut down due to COVID-19, Timber Lake Playhouse saw their industry completely halted,” said JoAnne Zielinski, Associate Professor, DePaul University.  “No one knew the kind of impact it would create. Theatres scrambled to re-invent themselves and look for new opportunities to stay relevant.

JoAnne Zielinski, associate dean in the College of Computing and Digital Media, shares remarks during the presentation of “Merry Christmas from DePaul,” in 2019 at the Richard M. and Maggie C. Daley Building at DePaul’s Loop Campus. (DePaul University/Randall Spriggs)

“As a patron and supporter of Timber Lake, I felt a real calling to initiate a conversation about the possibilities of live streaming,” she said, noting that soon after, Zielinski connected with TLP’s artistic director, Paul Stancato, and the project was born. 

“When people cannot be with us in person for a show, live streaming allows our patrons to still be a part of it,” Stancato said. “We are thrilled to be working with DePaul’s School of Cinematic Arts and Broadway On Demand to bring What A Wonderful World to audiences across the country.”

The goal of the pilot is to create a sustainable framework for the playhouse to live stream all productions beginning in the summer of 2022 by hiring DePaul’s film students in paid internship positions.

“DePaul’s School of Cinematic Arts has been successfully live streaming high-end events through their Visiting Artist Series for a decade,” said Zielinski. “We train our film students in the medium of live streaming and these internships will give our students the practical, professional experience they need in live-event production.”

What a Wonderful World was developed by Lively McCabe Entertainment of New York City in partnership with BMG. It features a book by Jeremy Desmon, an award-winning musical theatre book writer and lyricist.

Arrangements and orchestrations are by Jesse Vargas, and the show is directed by TLP artistic director Paul Stancato. The live stream will be available through Broadway on Demand at $25 per ticket. A link is provided on the TLP website.

“Over the past year and a half, TLP audiences have grown to include theatre patrons from around the country,” said Danielowski. “To be able to live stream this show will allow those new audiences, as well as our TLP summer patrons who travel to warmer climates in the winter to see this incredible World Premiere event.”

Tickets for in-person shows are $30 for adults; $25 for seniors (60+), and $20 for students and military, available by calling the Box Office at (815) 244-2035 or online at www.timberlakeplayhouse.org.

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