Oak Park resident wins distinguished Jeff Award

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By Ashley Lisenby

Digital Editor

Oak Park resident John Fournier received a 2014 non-equity Jeff Award on June 1 for Artistic Specialization, i.e. music and lyrics, for The Life And Death of Madam Barker, a cabaret musical comedy.

Madam Barker, played by co-creator Molly Brennan, was conceived by Brennan and Fournier for the show 500 Clowns & the Elephant Deal, a production at the Steppenwolf Upstairs Theater and The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland.

In 2013, Fournier, who teaches at Aspira Haugan Middle School in Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood, and Brennan, along with Chicago playwright Brooke Allen and director Eric Hoff, brought Barker to the stage in her own production.

"Madam Barker and her troupe of 15 singers, dancers and musicians take on the task of her final grand show," wrote Fournier in an email. "She attempts to give the audience her life story as she and the troupe grapple with mortality, failure and the meaning of community."

The Life And Death of Madam Barker debuted in October at the Red Tape Theater, 621 W. Belmont St., in Chicago, ending in November.

Fournier wrote music and lyrics and was also music director for a number of productions, including Fatty Arbuckle's Spectacular Musical Revue, 500 Clown Christmas, The Golden Truffle, and Ne'er Do Wells.

"For the theater, I am working on A Very Barker Christmas [and] a musical treatment of the 1990s film Benny & Joon," wrote Fournier. The Christmas production should be ready for the 2014 holiday season and the latter sometime in the spring of 2015.

Fournier and is soul band, Everybody Says Yes, will be performing at Martyrs, 3855 N. Lincoln, in Chicago on Tuesday, July 1.

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