(VIDEO) Columbia College Chicago Theatre Dept. Alums Bring Hell in a Handbag Productions’ ‘Poor People! The Parody Musical’ to the Stage May 2-June 16

(Poster design: Michael S. Miller. Photos: Rick Aguilar Studios)

Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department alum Tyler Anthony Smith ’17, a graduate of the Theatre Department’s BA Program in Acting, is the author and co-star of Hell in a Handbag Productions‘ world premiere Poor People! The Parody Musical, running May 2 through June 16 at the Chopin Theatre, located at 1543 W. Division in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. For tickets, click here.

The show is described as “an insane homage to many of the characters, songs and tropes of those very expensive Broadway and West End musicals about the less fortunate (Annie, Oliver!, Les Miz, Sweeney Todd… you get the gist).”

Dakota Hughes

Connar Brown

In addition to Smith, the production’s cast includes Columbia College alums Dakota Hughes ’15, a graduate of the Theatre Department’s BFA Program in Musical Theatre Performanceand Connar Brown ’19, a graduate of the Theatre Department’s BA Program in Acting with a Minor in Voiceover and a Minor in Video Production.

Dakota Hughes

Hughes stars as the story’s red-headed protagonist Li’l Orphan Arnie, who travels from 1979 New York City to Paris, France, in 1815, where they join force with a gang of pickpocketing prostitutes. Brown is an understudy in the show.

Dakota Hughes and Tyler Anthony Smith in “Poor People! The Parody Musical.” (Photo: Rick Aguilar Studios)

Smith, a Hell in a Handbag ensemble member, plays Nance, the classic hooker with a heart of gold who befriends Arnie.

Tyler Anthony Smith

“When I was in the fourth grade,” Smith recalls, “I was supposed to be in the ensemble of our district’s high school production of Oliver! I got sick, missed too many rehearsals, and was forced to exit the show. So not only is this Handbag’s response to Apple TV’s Schmigadoon!, it’s also my revenge.”

Stephanie Shaw

Stephanie Shaw

The show is directed by Columbia College Theatre Department alum and faculty member Stephanie Shaw ’92 (Theatre), MFA ’09 (Creative Writing), who teaches courses in solo performance and directing at the Theatre Department. As previously reported in this blog, Shaw directed Hell in a Handbag’s 2022 world premiere of Smith’s comedy Frankenstreisand, which also costarred Hughes and Smith. As previously reported in this blog, Hughes won a 2023 Joseph Jefferson Award for Non-Equity Theatre for their performance in Frankenstreisand.

Here’s a promotional video for the show: