The 3rd Annual CHICAGO MUSICAL THEATRE FESTIVAL runs Aug. 8 – 28 at Victory Gardens Theater

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Underscore Theatre Company is pleased to announce the full line-up for its third annual CHICAGO MUSICAL THEATRE FESTIVAL, featuring 14 new musical productions. Created to showcase and support Chicago’s burgeoning field of musical theatre creators, this year’s festival will be held August 8 – 28, 2016 at Victory Gardens Richard Christiansen Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago. Each production will receive four performances during the Festival. The full schedule (Tuesdays – Sundays) can be found at www.cmtf.org, with single tickets and festival passes currently on-sale. 

From a Righteous Brothers tribute – to re-imaginings of Greek mythology – to a celebration of Jewish cuisine and culture, the CHICAGO MUSICAL THEATRE FESTIVAL offers something for everyone. After receiving more than 60 submissions, the festival’s team has chosen 14 new musicals – twelve to be presented in full productions – along with two workshop productions. This year, Underscore is also partnering with CPA Theatricals and Kokandy Productions for “The Bridge Program,” in which composing teams are paired with an established theatre company that oversees casting and rehearsals to give writers and composers a sense of what’s involved in the production of a new work. Bailiwick Chicago, which is presenting one of this year’s workshop productions, will also provide equipment and additional sponsorship for the festival.

“This year’s festival continues CMTF’s trend of growth to better serve and provide an artistic home for our vibrant Chicago community of musical theatre creators,” comments Festival Director and Underscore Theatre Company Artistic Director Alex Higgin-Houser. “This year, we’re providing composing teams more opportunities than ever before to connect with the musical theatre powerhouses of Chicago. Kokandy Productions and CPA Theatricals are taking over the production process for our Bridge Program – and Bailiwick Chicago will be producing a workshop in the festival, joining past participants such as New American Folk Theatre. We’ve also welcomed productions that have previously succeeded at the New York Musical Theatre Festival and now are looking to bridge the gap into regional productions so that their shows can have a life beyond the first presentation. We are also thrilled to work with Victory Gardens to combine our similar missions of producing groundbreaking new work.”

The Bridge Program

DAPHNE’S SUNSET presented by CPA Theatricals

Previously performed as Spot on the Wall at the New York Musical Festival

Book and Lyrics By Kevin Jaeger, Music by Alex Mitchell

Directed by Mark Lococo, Music Direction by Justin LaForte

Cast: Cody DericksColleen DeRosaGerald RichardsonGary Smiley and Jess Thigpen.

Daphne’s Sunset tells the story of one family’s search for expression and empathy inside a museum. Paul Hunter, a talented photographer, is about to have an exhibition of his work at the museum – but when his artwork focuses on his mother’s recent lost battle with cancer, his family finds out how difficult it can be to face your pain and your past. With allusions to Greek mythology and a contemporary score, Daphne’s Sunset reminds us to delve into the ugly truth and look for the beauty.

FLIGHT presented by Kokandy Productions 

Book, Music and Lyrics by Michael Potsic

Co-Directed by Allison Hendrix and Allison Shoemaker, Music Direction by Kevin Reeks

Choreography by Gloria Mwez

Cast: Nathan CarrollNick Graffagna and Lauren Kerbs with Johnny Kyle CookColin FunkEmily GraysonJeff MeyerCourtney MizeJohanna Moffitt and Jared Rein.

Based on the Greek myth “The Flight of Icarus,” Flight follows Daedalus, his wife Aeden and their son Icarus as they learn that to truly live and love comes with great risk.

Festival Productions

PLANTED presented by Rogue Elephant Productions 

Co-conceived by Christopher Pazdernik and Jeff Bouthiette

Music and Lyrics by Jeff Bouthiette, with additional lyrics by Rebekah Walendzak

Directed by Christopher Pazdernik, Music Direction by Jeff Bouthiette

Cast: Vasily DerisMax DeTogneCisco LopezConor McGarryJerome Riley and Korey White.

In today’s media, the depiction of LGBT life in America has evolved enormously: television shows such as Transparent and Modern Family, as well as book musicals such as Kinky Boots and Fun Home have not shied away from telling the bold and complicated stories of queer individuals. One popular theatrical medium, however, has lagged behind: the song cycle. Enter Planted. In the tradition of classic hetero-centric works such as Closer Than Ever and Songs for a New WorldPlanted is a contemporary song-cycle exploring relationships of modern-day queer men. Five men navigate through the minefields of dating, marriage, separation and independence. Through a multitude of characters and songs, audiences are introduced to stories both heart-breaking and hilarious during this one-act musical collage.

TRIBULATION: THE MUSICAL presented by Higgin’s Beach Productions 

Previously performed at iO Theater, Chicago

Book and Lyrics by Molly Miller, Music by Brad Kemp

Directed by Tyler Samples, Music Direction by Jennifer Mitchell

Cast: Lexi AliotoChris BlakeLisa BurtonSarah Dell’AmicoRosie MoanCarly OlsonErin ReinBobby RichardsNiq SchwartzNick Shine and Seth Wanta.

It’s the end of the world… and you still need a job. Tribulation: The Musical follows Genevieve, a would-be poet who ends up at a crappy desk job after she realizes that being left behind in the rapture doesn’t mean rent isn’t due. Prophets, whores, middle managers, grad students and delivery guys alike all struggle to find their own pat and prevent the Apocalypse in this hilarious take on the Bible’s Book of Revelation.

THAT LOVIN’ FEELIN’ presented by Off Broadway Dinner Theatres, Inc. 

Previously performed at St. Croix Off Broadway Dinner Theatre

Book by James A. Zimmerman, Musical Arrangements by J. Michael Roy

Direction and Music Direction by James A. Zimmerman

Choreography by Lydia Keith

Cast: Peter AlexanderDavid Wesley FrankPhilip FrielerYvonne FreeseJoe KeithGreg LundLeon HammerBrittany OberstadtLydia Olson and Wayne Peterson.

You know the songs… but do you know the story? Now That Lovin’ Feelin’, the extraordinary “musical biography” of The Righteous Brothers, chronicles the story and songs of the duo that defined “Blue-Eyed Soul” for a generation. Follow two young dreamers from Orange County as they break into R&B, find enormous success and later enjoy a lifetime collaboration and friendship. This energetic tribute to the unique genius of Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield features more than 20 hits including “Little Latin Lupe Lu,” “Justine,” “Unchained Melody,” and of course, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.”

MATING presented by Jeffery Lyle Segal 

Book, Music and Lyrics by Jeffery Lyle Segal

Directed by Jeffery Lyle Segal, Music Direction by Adam LaSalle

Cast: Joan CurtoEdward J. MacLennanBradley Halverson and Amanda Hartley Urteaga.

The tragicomedy of modern romance is celebrated with laughter and tears in this smart new musical revue. In the first act, the performers sing mostly comedic complaints about the difficulty of finding “the one.”  In the second act, the couples join and find happiness.  But those love songs are followed by songs of breaking up, with their accompanying emotional pain. In the end, the couples reunite, and celebrate in love and unity.

MY LIFE IS A COUNTRY SONG

Presented by New American Folk Theatre 

Book, Music and Lyrics by Anthony Whitaker

Directed by Jamal Howard, Music Direction by Anthony Whitaker

Music Arrangements by Derek Fawcett

Cast: Suzanne BrackenDerek FawcettJenna FawcettCharlie Irving and Kirk Jackson.

The story of Donna, a woman starting life over after leaving a long-term abusive relationship. She has rented the mill house and is trying to begin a new life while trying to understand the years of mental and physical violence she endured. It becomes of a story of forgiveness; forgiving herself for allowing herself to be victimized, her family for turning their heads and even her ex-husband.

PEN 

Music and Lyrics by Leo Schwartz, Book and Lyrics by DC Cathro

Directed by Michael Driscoll, Music Direction by Aaron Benham

Cast: Michael Owen Achenbach, Shaun Baer, Randolph Johnson, Lauren Paris, Jenna Schoppe and Paul Michael Thomson.
Still reeling from a recent breakup and looking for a distraction, Paul starts corresponding with Rod, a pen pal in another state. Meanwhile, Paul’s co-worker, Lee, is in the planning stages of her wedding. Soon, what began as an innocent flirtation evolves into an emotional attachment that neither of them expected. The problem? Paul’s ex, Grayson, returns to try to win him back. The bigger issue? Paul’s pen pal is a prisoner, incarcerated for 13 more years.

GEFILTE FISH CHRONICLES 

Previously performed at the New York Musical Festival

Book by Matty Selman and Iris Burnett. Music and Lyrics by Matty Selman

Directed by Emily Maltby, Music Direction by Jermaine Hill

Orchestrations by James Higgins

Cast: To be announced.

The last of the colorful Dubroff sisters, Goldie, has just passed away and her granddaughter, an aspiring actress, leaves for Hollywood instead of staying home and having the traditional family Passover (songs, stories, prayers and massive amounts of food), with her mother. When the family photographer magically appears after being gone for 50 years, the stage begins to sparkle with a musical that is enchanting, heartwarming and uproariously funny

STALKER: THE MUSICAL presented by RPG Productions

Previously performed at the New York International Fringe Festival 2015

Concept by David Russell, Book and Lyrics by David Russell and Alex Giles

Music by Andy Peterson

Directed by Nich Radcliffe, Music Direction by Andy Peterson

Cast: Tamara Bodnar Sydney Alex DycusJessica FisherLukas NowakowskiJosh Pritchett Elizabeth StenholtLucas WellsNik Whitcomb and Christopher Zeglin.

In a dystopian world, where love is completely outlawed, “stalking’” has emerged as a replacement for relationships, and people adhere to the concept of “Look, but don’t touch.” When a stranger from another world arrives, society is thrown into chaos, not least because this stranger introduces a novel concept: that of love.

WILL THE CIRCLE 

Book by L.C. Bernadine; Music and Lyrics by Kevin Welch

Directed by Vi Tran, Music Direction by T.J. Anderson 

Cast: Gianna Clark, Jon Patrick Penick, Justin Pierce, Willa Sachs and Aaron Sarka. 
Four people at a block party – apartment-dwellers in a world of homeowners – are drawn to each other because of their status as invisible renters, their mutual penchant for a kind of loopy conversational improv and their desire for anything that resembles security at a time when the threat of violence simmers at the edge of every day and every horizon.

THE TRANSCIVILITY OF ALBERT CASHIER 

Presented by Permovio Productions and Keaton Wooden

Created by Jay Paul Deratany

Book by Jay Paul Deratany, Music and Lyrics by Joe Stevens

Directed by Keaton Wooden, Music Direction by Joe Stevens

Cast: To be announced.

An exploration of the life and story of Albert Cashier, a Civil War soldier with a secret that resonates with issues in the public eye 150 years later. From the author of Veronica (Greenhouse Theater) and Haram, Iran (London).

Workshop Productions:

NUMBERS NERDS presented by CPA Theatricals 

Book by Laura Stratford, Lyrics by Alex Higgin-Houser, Music by David Kornfeld

Directed by Amber Mak, Music Direction by John Cockerill

Cast: Danielle DavilaBritain GebhardtMadison KauffmanJhardon MiltonHanah Rose Nardon and Maisie Rose.

Against a backdrop of drama-queens-turned-janitors, loose ferrets and college pressure, a diverse (almost) all-girls high school Math Team must band (and sing!) together to raise the money to go to the National competition, surmount their differences to win and figure out if unicorns are extinct. 

JENNA ROXY AND THE CHURCH OF MODERN LOVE presented by Bailiwick Chicago in conjunction with With a Machete Productions

Book, Music and Lyrics by Ethan Krupp and Davyd Reddyk

Directed by Jon Martinez, Music Direction by Davyd Reddyk

Cast: Becca BrownMax DeTogneGary FieldsMike GospelBrendan Mulhern and Sophia Shrand.

When the inventor Dole Roxy created the world’s most popular cough syrup, he collected a group of people who drink it so regularly that he began a commune, focused on music, love and drinking Roxy’s Cough Syrup. When he passes away, his spirit is “transmigrated” into his newborn daughter (Jenna) making her the new leader.

About Underscore Theatre Company 

Founded in 2011, Underscore Theatre Company is a team of producing artists dedicated to exploring stories of power and resonance through a musical lens; fostering the development of new musicals; and bolstering Chicago’s role as a national leader in musical theatre. Since its creation, Underscore has produced 32 world-premiere musicals in Chicago. The company’s recent world premiere The Story of a Story (The Untold Story) is nominated for a 2016 Non-Equity Jeff Award for “Best New Work.” Underscore is proud to be Chicago’s home for new musicals.