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New speaker added to Broadway Talkback Series

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November 12, 2020
BENTON HARBOR, MI – The Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College has added a new featured performance and speaker to its Broadway Talkback Series. On Saturday, November 28, director Laurence Connor will go live – via Zoom – with Mendel Center patrons to discuss Les Misérables at 2 pm, following an exclusive watch party of the performance on BroadwayHD at 11 am.
Connor’s credits and awards include Theatre: Joseph…Dreamcoat (London Palladium), Chess (ENO West End), School of Rock (Broadway, West End, U.S. tour), Les Misérables (Broadway, West End, worldwide, U.S. tour), Miss Saigon (West End, U.S and U.K. tours, worldwide), Jesus Christ Superstar (U.K. arena tour, Australia), the entirely new stage production of The Phantom of the Opera (U.S., U.K. tours), Oliver! (U.K. tour). Concerts: The Phantom of the Opera 25th anniversary (Royal Albert Hall, worldwide cinema streaming, DVD), Les Misérables 25th anniversary (O2 Arena, worldwide cinema streaming, DVD), Miss Saigon 25th anniversary (cinema release, DVD). Awards: Miss Saigon West End (Best Direction – WhatsOnStage, Broadway World awards), Miss Saigon Australia (Best Director of a Musical – Green Room Awards), Les Misérables Korea (Best Director of a Musical).
The Broadway Talkback Series features nationally and internationally recognized Broadway directors, writers, choreographers, and actors from well-known performances in online interviews and Q&A events. The series has been developed by The Mendel Center and is a unique opportunity not offered through any other venue.
Each 40-minute live Zoom talk, hosted by a local musical theater expert, begins with a 20-minute moderated discussion followed by a 20-minute Q&A session where patrons can ask questions of the guest.
The Broadway Talkback Series is packaged with a three-month subscription to BroadwayHD, a collection of more than 300 Broadway and performing arts productions streaming on demand. The subscription allows Mendel Center patrons the opportunity to join a scheduled watch party during which time they can chat online with others about the show. Immediately following each watch party, a Talkback with a creative from that performance will begin.
If patrons are unable to join the watch party, they can view the featured performance any time before or after the Talkback, and log into the Talkback session at its start time.
Other upcoming installments of the Broadway Talkback Series:
The Wind in the Willows (family friendly)
Sunday, November 15
Watch party, 9:45 am
Talkback session, 12 pm with George Stiles & Anthony Drewe, composer & lyricist
Stiles and Drewe are a multi award-winning musical theatre writing partnership whose shows have been seen all over the world. Their scores include the international smash-hit Cameron Mackintosh/Disney production of Mary Poppins, the Olivier Award-winning Honk!, and the recent West End productions of Half A Sixpence and The Wind in the Willows. Their other shows are Soho Cinders, Betty Blue Eyes, Travels With My Aunt, Peter Pan - A Musical Adventure, Just So and Tutankhamun.
Into the Woods
Saturday, November 21
Watch party, 4:20 pm
Talkback session, 7 pm with James Lapine, co-author
James Lapine is a playwright, director, and Theater Hall of Fame inductee who has been nominated for twelve Tony Awards, winning three times, along with receiving five Drama Desk Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. He has written the book for and directed Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Passion, and the multi-media revue Sondheim on Sondheim. With William Finn he collaborated on A New Brain, Muscle, Little Miss Sunshine, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. He has written five plays and directed many Broadway and off-Broadway productions, as well as four films. His HBO documentary Six by Sondheim won a Peabody Award and Emmy nomination for direction.
Peter Pan (family friendly)
Sunday, December 6
Watch party, 5:10 pm
Talkback session, 7 pm with Cathy Rigby, starring role of Peter Pan
During her gymnastics career, Cathy Rigby won numerous international medals- including eight gold. When Cathy retired from the sport, she joined ABC Sports for 18 years, providing expert commentary on the sport of gymnastics around the world. After seven years of intense voice and theatrical training, she embarked on a new career in performing arts. National and regional tour credits include: Annie Get Your Gun, Meet Me in St. Louis, South Pacific, Paint Your Wagon, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Silvia, and Steel Magnolias. On Broadway, she starred as the title role in Peter Pan in 1991 and 1998, and in Seussical the Musical as Cat-In-The-Hat in 2002. Cathy has been honored with the National Broadway Theatre Award, “Ovation” Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2004 Distinguished Lifetime Service Award from The League of American Theatres and Producers.
Kinky Boots
Saturday, December 12
Watch party, 4:50 pm
Talkback session, 7 pm with Jerry Mitchell, choreographer
Jerry Mitchell received the Tony Award for Best Choreography twice, initially for the revival of La Cage aux Folles and thereafter for the Tony Award-winning Best Musical, Kinky Boots, for which he was also nominated as Director. Jerry was most recently represented on Broadway as Director/Choreographer of Pretty Woman, now playing on the West End and in Hamburg. He directed the Gloria Estefan Broadway musical, On Your Feet! and its international tour, recently presented in London’s Coliseum Theatre and was nominated for an Olivier Award for his choreography in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, which he also directed and co-produced in London. In the 35 preceding years, Jerry has been involved with more than 50 Broadway, West End and touring productions.
A closer look at BroadwayHD
Enjoy musicals such as An American in Paris, Billy Elliot, Jekyll & Hyde, Kinky Boots, Kiss Me Kate, and Memphis, concert events such as Les Miserables in Concert and The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall, classics such as The King and I, Oklahoma, and Gypsy, plays such as Driving Miss Daisy, Ann and Death of a Salesman, and 10 astounding productions from Cirque du Soleil.
In addition to Broadway, a huge range of performing arts are featured including ballet (Swan Lake, Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and more), BBC’s Proms concerts, Disney’s Broadway hits live in concert, Riverdance, Live from Lincoln Center concerts featuring Broadway favorites Sutton Foster and Stephanie J. Block, documentaries such as Carole King: Natural Woman, and The Making of West Side Story, the Nunsense collection of seven side-splitting musicals, and much more.
High definition (HD) cameras capture the excitement of a Broadway performance in front of an audience and deliver the best angles, video quality, and audio quality right to your living room. With a catalog of over 300 shows from Broadway, the West End, and beyond, there’s something for everyone.
  • The Broadway HD 3-month subscription is $25 through this special Mendel Center series. A portion of the subscription fee directly benefits The Mendel Center.
  • The entire Broadway Talkback series is free with registration. For those who wish to make a donation to support The Mendel Center’s presentation of this series, a $10 donation option is available at checkout.
  • For those who already subscribe to Broadway HD, their subscription can be extended by 3 months for $25.
Series passes are available now at, or by calling 269-927-8700, option 1. Temporary box office hours are Mondays and Wednesdays, 10 am to 6 pm. Online access code will be provided at time of registration.
About The Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College
The Mendel Center raised the curtain on its first Mainstage season performance in the fall of 1992. Since that time, it has presented Mainstage season performances to more than half a million patrons in the 1,559-seat Mendel Center Mainstage Theatre. Newly renovated Grand Upton Hall, first opened in 1979, is a 13,700-square-foot venue serving the community as the host site for meetings, banquets, trade shows, weddings, and other celebrations. The 229-seat Hanson Theatre is home to the Lake Michigan College Visual & Performing Arts Departments as well as a variety of Mendel Center and community events.
The Mendel Center is 30 minutes from Niles and 40 minutes from the Kalamazoo and South Bend areas. It is located on the Lake Michigan College campus at 2755 E. Napier Avenue, Benton Harbor, Michigan, one mile east of I-94 (Exit 30) and one mile west of the US 31 Bypass (exit 24). Its GPS mapping address is 1100 Yore Avenue, Benton Harbor, MI.
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Mendel Center Season Sponsors
Stage Side: The Boulevard Inn & Bistro, Honor Credit Union, The Inn at Harbor Shores, Kruggel Lawton CPAs, Meijer, Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council, Spectrum Health Lakeland, TCF Bank, TPC Technologies.
Platinum: B&L Information Systems, Berrien Community Foundation, Citadel Dance and Music Center, Hungerford Nichols CPAs + Advisors, Insurance Management Services, Pier 33, Siena Heights University
Gold: Beaudoin Electrical Construction, Inc., Hanson Group, Holt Bosse, Horizon Bank, Metzger Insurance Agency, Silver Beach Pizza, Southshore Concert Band, Studio 807.