Headlining performances from Gregg Edelman, Heather Headley, Brian d’Arcy James, Kate Shindle, Janette Zilioli, and Willis White were just the beginning of the sparkle of Starry Starry Night, a one-night, star-studded event benefiting the Northwestern University music theatre program.
Dominic Missimi (back) is surrounded by family members, including (from left to right) his brother, Monsignor Anthony Missimi, daughters Emmi and Angela and his wife Nancy Missimi, a prominent Chicago-area costume designer.
The show honored Dominic Missimi, emeritus professor in service in theatre, as he retires after 30 years of teaching and directing on-campus theatre productions.
(Listen to his remarks.)
The benefit performance—featuring talented alumni and Chicago theatre professionals—gave a nearly $350,000 kick-start to the Dominic Missimi Fund for Music Theatre. The fund will be used to support programming and needs particular to music theatre students at Northwestern, including a music theatre media library and support for visiting artist programming.
Among the highlights of the show:
» A lively opening of “Dominic Tonight” (based on “Comedy Tonight” from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, with new lyrics from Northwestern’s Kingsley Day) performed by alumnus Bernie Yvon and students from the Department of Theatre.
» A trio performance by alumni Heather Headley, Brian d’Arcy James, and Kate Shindle of “A Step Too Far” from Aida.
» A panel of opera performers singing revised lyrics to “Remember” from A Little Night Music to poke fun at Missimi’s signature style. The singers were (from left, below): Robert Heitzinger, Kurt Hansen, Marie Michuda, Terri Brancaccio, and Melissa Foster.
» A surprise visit from alumnus Willis White, who sang “Run and Tell That” from Hairspray.
» “Glitter and Be Gay”—a notoriously difficult aria from Leonard Bernstein’s Candide—performed by Janette Zilioli.
» Solo and backup performances by Northwestern students, including Nate Lewellyn’s solo of “Time” from the American Theatre Project’s production of Was, and a skit borrowed from the 2010 Waa-Mu Show, “Conqueror’s Lament,” performed by Britt Banaszynski, RB Embleton, and Ben Hoffman and a troupe of dancers.