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Evanston was abuzz last week with anecdotes about Jessie Mueller, the 2001 Evanston Township High School graduate who won a Tony award on June 8 for Best Actress in a Musical. She played Carole King in “Beautiful – the Carole King Musical” and brought many in the Tonys audience to their feet when she sang a duet of Ms. King’s triumphant “I Feel the Earth Move” with its retiring composer.
At ETHS Ms. Mueller starred in a production of the musical “Once Upon a Mattress,” portrayed Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” and was one of the leading ladies in “Brigadoon.” Nora Fiffer, who played Blanche to Ms. Mueller’s Stella in “A Streetcar Named Desire” at ETHS, says of her, “Jessie has the ability to be just as genuine onstage as she is off.”
Ms. Mueller went on to roles in Chicagoland plays and musicals at Drury Lane, Marriott, Writers Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and the Goodman Theatre. Her work in New York City includes “Nice Work If You Can Get It” and “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.”
Ms. Mueller is the daughter of Roger Mueller and Jill Shellabarger, who met at Northwestern University and, with Jessie’s three siblings Abby, Matt and Andrew, are still active in the Chicago-area theater scene.
Roger Mueller, whom critic Sid Smith called “as reliable and surprising as any actor in town” continues to appear at Chicago Shakespeare, the Goodman and on numerous other area stages. Besides having played varied roles and built an impressive resume in voiceovers and audiobooks, Ms. Shellabarger runs the Skokie-based theatrical troupe Still Acting Up for actors aged 60 and up.