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HT: Lauren Haughton Gillis: From dancing to choreography

Connie Shakalis | H-T Columnist

December 9, 2021


Lauren Haughton Gillis, director, choreographer and past Broadway (“Wicked”) performer is choreographing Cardinal’s “A Year with Frog and Toad,” which opens Dec. 21.

“I’m excited that Kate (Galvin, Cardinal’s artistic director) cast four of my wildly talented IU students,” Gillis said.

But Gillis is also excited about Galvin’s concept for the show.

“I dove deeply into vaudeville in school. Music history was a big part of my MFA.” Galvin’s vision ties in well with Gillis’ admiration for the genre, which started in France in the late 1800s.

“‘Frog and Toad’ lends itself well to vaudeville,” Gillis said.

Gillis met Galvin during the pandemic in 2020. She had heard good things about Galvin and so gave her a call, saying, “I would love to work for you. I’m a new (to town) choreographer.” The two clicked.

Gillis credits Galvin with having the vision, and doing the research, to try a vaudeville style for “Frog.” Galvin will occasionally tell Gillis something like, “Let’s do a Marx Brothers approach to that song.”

Gillis, an Actors Equity Association and Musical Theatre Educators’ Alliance member, is assistant professor of musical theater for Indiana University’s Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance. She has previously taught at San Diego State University and the Northwestern University NHSI Cherub Program as a director, choreographer and musical theater teaching artist.

Among other accomplishments, she has worked in TV in the “Annie” episode for Encore! on Disney Plus, directed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge and choreographed by Melinda Sullivan. Tommy Tune directed her in the original casts of “Turn of the Century” at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, and she has produced, directed and choreographed shows for Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS throughout the U.S. and Canada with the Broadway National Touring companies of “Hamilton,” “Wicked,” “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” and “The Book of Mormon.”

And, of course, Gillis is impressed with the vast IU campus and the town. “I like college towns, and particularly THIS town.”

If you go

WHAT: “A Year with Frog and Toad,” a musical by Robert Reale (music), with book and lyrics by Willie Reale, based on books by Arnold Lobel.

WHEN: Dec. 21-Jan. 2

WHERE: Buskirk-Chumley Theater, 114 E. Kirkwood Ave.

TIMES & TICKETS: https://bit.ly/3rFyAnF. Most tickets are “pay what you will,” where the ticket buyer determines the cost. There is a $2 convenience fee on each ticket. Premium seats have a fixed price.

NOTE: Patrons 12 years old and older must provide proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test. This is not required of younger children. Seating will be socially distanced, and masks must be worn.