Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Lately

My Favorite Things: Zach Sorrow

Zach Sorrow is currently setting Liesl's heart aflutter as Rolf in Lyric's acclaimed production of The Sound of Music. But this Northwestern University grad does a lot more than just deliver telegrams—see him in his a capella group "The Freshman Fifteen" and find out why he tries to fall in love five times a day.

Zach Sorrow is currently setting Liesl's heart aflutter as Rolf in Lyric's acclaimed production of The Sound of Music. But this Northwestern University grad does a lot more than just deliver telegrams—he loves American Beauty, Arrested Development, and a capella (check him out singing in The Freshman Fifteen at Northwestern University)!


American Beauty: It's a story about taking your life into your own hands, turning off the autopilot, and discovering what actually makes you happy. Kevin Spacey is brilliant.


Books & Authors 

I've always considered The Giving Tree to be the greatest book ever written. Even after countless revisits I feel like I always learn something new. I've even got this on my laptop:

I also just finished reading David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. It's a crazy book, it's really long, but it's totally worth the effort.

TV shows 

The first two that come to mind right now are Breaking Bad and True Detective, both of which are a must for anyone interested in a well-acted drama. I'm also a huge fan of Arrested Development (including and especially the fourth season!) and Game of Thrones.




Justin Timberlake. He's got such a cool mix of styles, and he always looks like he's having the best time wherever he's performing. I'm also a big fan of Glen Hansard; everything he sings is brutally honest, and his voice always takes me to those emotional, vulnerable places.



Pop songs

"Iris" by The Goo Goo Dolls, "To Build a Home" by The Cinematic Orchestra, and "Home" by Marc Broussard. To name a few.





Sweeney Todd has to be my all-time favorite, and it only helps that the first production I ever saw was with Brian Stokes Mitchell and Christine Baranski at the Kennedy Center in DC. Amazing.



 I'm a sucker for a good burrito, but it's pretty much always gotta have guac. That's where they get you.


Have you ever tried Hoegaarden? Awesome Belgian wheat ale. So choice.


In my spare time, you'll likely find me playing Titanfall or Skyrim on Xbox, but my roommate never has trouble convincing me to actually go outside to throw the football around.


 I'm a pretty big tech and video game nerd, so I'm usually up to date on Gizmodo or Kotaku.

Vacation spot 

I would always say yes to visiting Disney World, and I have no regrets about it.


I'm a dog person, and my parents will begrudgingly agree that whenever I visit home (in New York) I am often more excited to see Daisy, our Jack Russell, than I am to see them. Truth be told, Daisy has never been very good at using the phone, so my parents are pretty understanding about it.

Childhood toy 

Anybody ever have a Perplexus? Oh. Man.

Superhero or superhero power 

To fly! I don't care if it's not original, I couldn't pass this one up.


I had an acting teacher who once said, "If you're not falling in love five times a day you're not really living." I've always liked that; it helps me keep a positive attitude no matter what's happening.

Guilty pleasure 

Even after graduating last year, I'm still a big fan of a cappella. I was in Freshman Fifteen, an all-male group from Northwestern, and they've always been my favorite group of guys, both for the music and because they were always the most fun to hang with. Here's a video of me singing with them from my freshman year:


Anything else? 


Photo credits:

  • Zach Sorrow portrait (credit Xanthe Elbrick)
  • Zach Sorrow and Betsy Farrar in The Sound of Music (credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago)
  • The Giving Tree decal (courtesy
  • Infinite Jest cover (courtesy
  • Walt Disney World (courtesy Walt Disney World Resorts)
  • Perplexus toy (courtesy
(Lyric Opera of Chicago does not own copyrights to any of the above videos.)


Have you heard? THE SOUND OF MUSIC is a hit!

The reviews are in…and they are spectacular! Critics are raving about Lyric's new production of  The Sound of Music. Here's a sampling of what they are saying about the fantastic cast, lavish sets, and gorgeous music.

The reviews are in…and they are spectacular! Critics are raving about Lyric's new production of The Sound of Music. Here's a sampling of what they are saying:

The larger-than-life production

"The Lyric Opera of Chicago finds a sweet Alpine spot with director Marc Bruni's admirably lively new production of 'The Sound of Music,' a lavish yet accessible and family-oriented affair that features…gorgeous picture-book design from Michael Yeargan…" - Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

"Lyric’s extraordinary production, elegantly directed by Marc Bruni, takes all the great qualities of the show to present a grand scale, stunning production the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time." - Betty Mohr, Le Bon Travel and Culture 

The Sound of Music "make[s] full use of the Civic Opera House's grand stage, from towering tableaus of the abbey to the irresistible moment when all seven of the von Trapp children ride onstage on matching but custom-sized bicycles—talk about commitment to a production aesthetic." - Kris Vire, Time Out Chicago

"Lyric Opera of Chicago's 'The Sound of Music' is every bit the grand production you'd expect from one of the country's leading opera companies." - Barbara Vitello, Daily Herald

The beloved story

"It's remarkable how such a well-known story can still generate chuckles and gasps, even upon the umpteenth viewing" - Elizabeth Diffin, Chicago Parent 

The fantastic cast

"I can't recall a revival so perfectly cast." - Roy Leonard, Chicago Now

"…pert-yet-powerful [Jenn] Gambatese…makes this role her own. She has a broad smile that matches her captivating performance that leaves the heart warmed and the spirited lifted with her every song note." - Phil Potempa, Northwest Indiana Times

"…tying it together, providing that intangible element allowing this 'Music' to really sing, is Gambatese’s brilliant portrayal of Maria." - Barry Reszel, Make It Better

"Billy Zane…has just the right tone for the stern Captain whose militaristic demeanor melts away when he realizes that Maria has brought back music into his life" - Roy Leonard, Chicago Now

"…the seven von Trapp children—pros beyond their years—are the production's greatest delight…" - Deanna Isaacs, Chicago Reader

"Beautifully majestic…Christine Brewer as the Mother Abbess. Her operatic 'Climb Ev'ry Mountain' will bring tears to your eyes." - Dean Richards, WGN-TV

Elizabeth Futral "moved with the studied grace of one who is accustomed to having all eyes on her in the room.…This soprano is also a bitingly clever actor, one who knows how to fling a casual aside to the back of the house." - Nancy Malitz, Chicago on the Aisle

Edward Hibbert "is superb as character man/comic relief/realist/impresario Max Detweiler, showing he is a true pro in every sense of the word." - Paul W. Thompson, Broadway World

"Betsy Farrar is a lovely, believable Liesl … 'Sixteen Going on Seventeen' [is] beautifully sung and danced with a charming Zach Sorrow as Rolf, thankfully avoiding the angry young man syndrome found in most portrayals" - Colin Douglas, Chicago Theatre Review

The beautiful music

"…Richard Rodgers himself couldn't imagine a more ideal way of hearing his score…" - Kris Vire, Time Out Chicago

"The Lyric Orchestra, under the masterful conductor Rob Fisher, does justice to Richard Rodgers fabulous score." - Tom Williams, Chicago Critic

"…probably the best chorus of Nonnberg nuns the world has ever heard" - Paul W. Thompson, Broadway World

Don't miss it!

"The sound of stage show we've had in Chicago in years." - Dean Richards, WGN-TV

"In the Lyric Opera’s capable hands, The Sound of Music has retained its appeal for audiences of all ages. The hills are alive, indeed." - Elizabeth Diffin, Chicago Parent 

"…fans of the film and stage show—especially those introducing their children to it—will find it faithful, beautiful, and bigger than they're ever likely to see it again." - Deanna Isaacs, Chicago Reader

"Who knew that the Lyric would do more than just revive the musical but give it the definitive production that the stage show has always deserved." - Michael J. Roberts, Showbiz Chicago

 "This production is absolutely wonderful." - Andrew Patner, WFMT

Photo credit: 

  • Maria and the von Trapp children perform "The Lonely Goatherd" in The Sound of Music. Top row: Isabelle Roberts, Julia Schweizer, Brady Tutton. Middle row: KyLee Hennes, Jenn Gambatese, Nicole Scimeca. Bottom: Michael Harp. (credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago)


Chorus Master Michael Black preps nuns and kids for THE SOUND OF MUSIC

Lyric's Chorus Master Michael Black has been preparing the chorus of nuns and the von Trapp children (14 total, including main cast and understudies!) for the upcoming production of The Sound of Music—no easy feat! He talks about the power of an opera chorus, his favorite parts of the show, and when he met Joakim Noah during rehearsal. 

Lyric's Chorus Master Michael Black has been preparing the chorus of nuns and the von Trapp children (14 total, including main cast and understudies!) for the upcoming production of The Sound of Music—no easy feat!

As Lyric's chorus master since 2013 (after filling in as interim chorus master during the 2011/12 season), Black comes into The Sound of Music with a wealth of experience in the operatic world from his work with Opera Australia. He's a long-time admirer of Rodgers and Hammerstein's beloved musical. "This is my first time working on The Sound of Music, although I must have watched the movie at least a dozen times whilst growing up and am very familiar with the original Broadway cast recording, so it almost feels as though I know it as well as La Traviata or Madama Butterfly!" he says. "There's not a note of it that was unfamiliar to me when it came to preparing the music for this production."

The power of an opera chorus

Black approaches the preparations for this beloved Broadway musical with the same focus and discipline he brings to every mainstage opera. "With The Sound of Music, the chorus music is exclusively the nuns singing and therefore it has to be clean, precise, blended; all things you would expect of an opera chorus," he elaborates. "And the wonderful thing about the musicals here at Lyric is that we always offer 12 places in the chorus of the musical to members of the Regular Chorus who come to audition to be part of the production. So the sound you get is going to be the same wonderful sound you get when you come to hear one of the operas in the season."

Sound of Music's operatic connection

The original Broadway production of The Sound of Music also has a curious operatic connection, one that Black was quick to relay to the chorus for this production. "More experienced Lyric subscribers and opera lovers may remember the wonderful Tatiana Troyanos," he continues. "I love the fact that she began her professional stage career as a nun in the original Broadway production of The Sound of Music In our first ensemble music rehearsal, I spoke about this to the nuns to highlight the fact that the caliber of our work has to be this good."

Becoming a family

In addition to his work with the nuns, he reports that "working with the von Trapp children has been an absolute delight." Black was able to sit in on the audition process, so he met the actors three or four times before they were officially cast and got to know their individual personalities. "As you would expect," he adds, "each one of them is an amazingly talented individual, so to see them take all this individuality and then become an onstage family in a short space of time has been nothing short of miraculous."

An unexpected visitor

One of the highlights of the rehearsal process was in the second week, when Chicago Bulls star center Joakim Noah was in the building for a Sports Illustrated photo shoot. His changing room was next door to where Black and conductor Rob Fisher were just about to start a rehearsal von Trapp children and understudies.

Black quips, "I'm not entirely sure who was more excited meeting Joakim Noah, the kids or myself. I know I was certainly the first person in the rehearsal room to pull out their iPhone to ask to have a picture taken with him! Since moving to Chicago, I've seen three Bulls games and Joakim and Carlos Boozer are my favorites and so when Joakim walked into the room, it was unbelievable."

The children were able to perform "Do Re Mi" for Noah, and the professional athlete was even able to connect their two seemingly different worlds: "He listened to them sing and then spoke to them of the importance of teamwork, having a good coach and then being able to listen to the coach and then performing as a team, all things in common with both sport and opera or stage work."

His favorite things

When asked about his favorite part of the show, Black confesses to being "an old sentimental sucker. I always mist up when Captain von Trapp and Maria realize they're in love and in this production it's a very beautiful moment with Billy and Jenn." Unable to choose just one moment, he also notes that "Christine Brewer will bring the house down with 'Climb Ev'ry Mountain' and I'm getting goose bumps right now thinking about the reprise right at the end of the opera with the entire ensemble singing with her."

Finally, he can't help but put in a bid for the youngest von Trapp: "Little Gretl , as you would expect, steals every scene she's in."

Photo credits:

  • Michael Black (credit Kurt Sneddon)
  • Nuns in rehearsal (credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago)
  • Joakim Noah visits Lyric Opera (credit Carrie Krol / Lyric Opera of Chicago)
  • Nicole Scimeca (Gretl) in The Sound of Music (credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago)


The Buzz is Building for THE SOUND OF MUSIC

Lyric's new production of The Sound of Music opens on April 25, and the excitement around Chicago is reaching a fever pitch. The wonderful cast and crew of the show have been spotted all around town. Check out some highlights of the great media coverage so far. 

Lyric's new production of The Sound of Music opens on April 25, and the excitement around Chicago is reaching a fever pitch. The wonderful cast and crew of the show—Billy Zane, Jenn Gambatese, Christine Brewer, Edward Hibbert, Marc Bruni, and those delightful von Trapp children—have been spotted all around town. Even the Chicago Bulls All-Star Center Joakim Noah is in on the action!

Sports Illustrated 

Joakim Noah dropped by the Civic Opera House for a Sports Illustrated photo shoot and a quick visit to the von Trapp children's rehearsal for The Sound of Music. Lee Jenkins reports in the magazine's April 21 issue>>

Billy Zane on WGN Morning News


Jenn Gambatese on Windy City Live 


Marc Bruni on Chicago Sun-Times "Curtain Call"


Christine Brewer and Edward Hibbert on Chicago Tonight


 WCIU's You & Me This Morning

And here's a sampling of the  many print interviews about the show

Need more inside info? Check out our Insider's Guide to The Sound of Music !

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