On a new episode of the McHenry County-based entertainment news podcast “It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee,” host Rikki Lee Travolta is joined by Broadway and television star Andy Mientus, who currently is in Chicago performing in “Jim Henson’s Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas” at the Studebaker Theater.
The play is produced by The Jim Henson Company and iTheatrics, and is directed and choreographed by Christopher Gattelli, the Tony Award-winning choreographer of “Newsies.”
Mientus has starred on Broadway in “Spring Awakening” and “Les Misérables” and in the national tour of “Wicked.” He was seen in key roles in the TV hit “Smash” with Jeremy Jordan and Katharine McPhee, and as supervillain The Pied Piper in the CW’s “The Flash.”
In this interview, Mientus discusses what it’s like starring in a Jim Henson entertainment production, and the tremendous respect he has for working with the talented puppeteers, according to a news release. He also lavishes praise on his other talented costars, and expounds on what it was like working with Gattelli. Another topic of discussion is the score by Oscar and Grammy-winning composer Paul Williams – who was involved in the rehearsal process for this production.
“Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas” had its initial incarnation as a children’s book by Russell Hoban, originally published in 1971 by Parents’ Magazine Press. In 1977, Jim Henson directed a TV special adaptation of the story for Canadian Broadcast Corporation Television. It premiered in the U.S. on HBO in 1978, and then had subsequent showings on ABC and Nickelodeon in the 1990s.
In 2008, The Jim Henson Company entered into a partnership with iTheatrics to develop a stage musical based on the 1977 TV movie. The book was written by Timothy Allen McDonald and Gattelli. Williams, who had composed the songs for the TV special, wrote additional material to flesh out the show.
The new mounting of that theatrical adaptation is now making its Chicago debut at the Studebaker Theater in downtown Chicago at the Fine Arts Building at 410 S. Michigan Ave. To make plans to see the holiday musical, call the Fine Arts Building Box Office at 312-753-3210, ext. 102, or go online to www.FineArtsBuilding.com.
The entertainment news program is produced out of McHenry County, and available everywhere on all major podcast platforms. Host Rikki Lee Travolta is an award-winning entertainment personality. His stage and film credits include “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “West Side Story,” “The Lurker,” “The Sleight” and “Grease!” In addition, he is the publicist for such artists as Steven Adler of Guns N’ Roses fame.