Photo by Chris Macke

Jenn Gambatese to play Carrie Pipperidge in Lyric’s new production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel

April 10 – May 3, 2015; opening night April 11


CHICAGO – Lyric Opera of Chicago announced today that Jenn Gambatese will portray Carrie Pipperidge in Lyric’s new production of Carousel, on stage April 10 through May 3, 2015 (opening night April 11). Gambatese returns to Lyric following her critically acclaimed performance as Maria in last year’s production of The Sound of Music, which just won 2014’s Best Special Theatrical Event at the Broadway World Chicago Awards.


Gambatese joins fellow Broadway stars Steven Pasquale and Laura Osnes, who portray Billy Bigelow and Julie Jordan, in this new production directed and choreographed by Tony, Emmy, and Olivier Award winner Rob Ashford.


“We could not be more delighted to welcome Jenn Gambatese to our Carousel cast as the irrepressible Carrie Pipperidge,” said Anthony Freud, Lyric’s general director. “She was unforgettable in her Lyric debut last season as Maria in The Sound of Music. We cannot wait to see her interpretation of this brilliant character.”


Gambatese starred as Maria in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of The Sound of Music in April and May 2014 opposite Billy Zane as Captain von Trapp. On Broadway she created the role of Jane/Disney’s Tarzan and starred with Cheyenne Jackson as Natalie/All Shook Up. Further Broadway performances include Marie Leroux/Is He Dead?, Penny Pingleton/Hairspray, multiple roles/A Year with Frog and Toad, and Urleen/Footloose. She starred as Glinda/Wicked for the musical’s first national tour. Among her favorite off-Broadway appearances have been Eliante in Classic Stage Company’s The School for Lies, and  Dora/Fiorello! and The Girl/Stairway to Paradise with the prestigious New York City Center “Encores!” series. Among her most important credits in regional theater are leading roles for three Connecticut companies: Chloe Haddock/Lips Together Teeth Apart at Westport Country Playhouse, Constance/We Have Always Lived in the Castle at Yale Repertory Theatre, and two musical-theater roles at the Goodspeed Opera House: Annie Oakley/Annie Get Your Gun and Carrie Pipperidge/Carousel. She studied at New York University, graduating magna cum laude with a double major in drama and sociology.


Previously announced cast members for Carousel are Steven Pasquale as carousel barker Billy Bigelow, Laura Osnes as his true love, millworker Julie Jordan, and Denyce Graves as Nettie Fowler. Pasquale most recently triumphed on Broadway in The Bridges of Madison County with Kelli O’Hara and is currently appearing on CBS’s The Good Wife. A two-time Tony nominee, Osnes most recently starred on Broadway in Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Internationally acclaimed opera star Denyce Graves will make her musical theater debut with this production, singing the iconic “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Graves is well known to Lyric audiences for her title-role portrayal of Bizet’s Carmen. Additional casting will be announced at a later date.


Carousel will be directed and choreographed by Rob Ashford, who made his Lyric debut in the 2013-14 season directing a new production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. Ashford is the choreographer for the 87th Academy Awards, airing on February 22. He recently co-directed Macbeth at the Park Avenue Armory with Kenneth Branagh and directed NBC’s recent live musical hits Peter Pan Live! and The Sound of Music Live!. Conductor David Chase makes his Lyric debut with Carousel, and will lead members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus. Chase is a regular collaborator with Ashford; he was music director for The Sound of Music Live! and Peter Pan Live!, as well as the recent Broadway revival of  How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, which was directed and choreographed by Ashford. Artist Paolo Ventura will make his theatrical debut as set designer. Tony Award-winning Catherine Zuber is costume designer, returning to Lyric after her company debut with Ashford’s Barber. Lighting will be designed by Neil Austin, and Michael Black will be chorus master.


Carousel is the third Rodgers and Hammerstein musical to be presented as part of Lyric’s American Musical Theater Initiative. The King and I and South Pacific follow in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, respectively. Past productions were Oklahoma! in the 2012-13 season and The Sound of Music in the 2013-14 season.


Carousel runs Friday, April 10 through Sunday, May 3, 2015 (26 performances, including one preview) at the Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago. Tickets start at $29, and are now available at or at 312-827-5600.  The official press opening for Carousel is Saturday, April 11 at 7pm.


The new Lyric Opera production of Carousel is generously made possible by The Negaunee Foundation, an Anonymous Donor, Robert S. and Susan E. Morrison, Mr. and Mrs. J. Christopher Reyes, Liz Stiffel, Mrs. Herbert A. Vance and Mr. and Mrs. William C. Vance, and Jim and Vicki Mills/Jon and Lois Mills.


About Lyric

Founded in 1954, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s mission is to express and promote the life-changing, transformational, revelatory power of great opera. Lyric exists to provide a broad, deep, and relevant cultural service to Chicago and the nation, and to advance the development of the art form.


Lyric is dedicated to producing and performing consistently thrilling, entertaining, and thought-provoking opera with a balanced repertoire of core classics, lesser-known masterpieces, and new works; to creating an innovative and wide-ranging program of community engagement and educational activities; and to developing exceptional emerging operatic talent.


Under the leadership of general director Anthony Freud, music director Sir Andrew Davis, and creative consultant Renée Fleming, Lyric strives to become the great North American Opera Company for the 21st century: a globally significant arts organization embodying the core values of excellence, relevance, and fiscal responsibility.