Underscore’s 4th Annual CHICAGO MUSICAL THEATRE FESTIVAL Runs Feb. 6 -16

Underscore Theatre Company is pleased to present its 4th annual CHICAGO MUSICAL THEATRE FESTIVAL, created to showcase and support the growing field of musical theatre creators from Chicago and beyond. This year’s Festival, featuring full productions of seven new musicals plus two staged readings, will play February 6 – 16, 2018 at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago. Each full production will receive at least four performances during the Festival. Single tickets are currently available at www.cmtf.org.

The 4th annual Festival takes place during the League of Chicago Theatres’ annual Chicago Theatre Week, with discounted tickets available to all Theatre Week performances.

Since its inception in 2014, the CHICAGO MUSICAL THEATRE FESTIVAL has brought 35 new musical to Chicago stages. The festival provides much-needed artistic resources for emerging composer/lyricist teams to have their work supported, explored and most importantly – performed!

Production Schedule & Tickets:

Press Preview: Monday, February 5 at 8 pm

Curtain times: Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays at 8 pm; Fridays at 7:30 pm & 10 pm; Saturdays at12 pm, 3 pm & 8 pm; Sundays at 12 pm, 3 pm & 6 pm. For a detailed scheduled of productions, please visit www.cmtf.org.

Tickets: $20 ($15 during Chicago Theatre Week). Tickets are currently available at www.cmtf.org.

The full line-up for the 4th annual CHICAGO MUSICAL THEATRE FESTIVAL includes:

Book, Music & Lyrics by Vi Nhan H. Tran

Directed by Mackenzie Goodwin Tran, Music Direction by Ben Byard

Cast: Todd Aulwurm, Jennifer Cheung, Carolyn Plurad, Diana Lee, Vi Tran and Michael Van Pham

Born in Vietnam and raised in southwestern Kansas, Vi Nhan H. Tran is torn between the mysterious secrets of his heritage and the waving wheat fields of his adopted home. A poignant and humorous folk musical memoir, The Butcher’s Son chronicles the Tran family’s escape from Vietnam, imprisonment by the Khmer Rouge and resettlement in the cattle country of America. Tran weaves a thrilling refugee story and All-American tale of how family stories become family lore and where one family’s search for a home ends.

GRINDR The Opera

Book, Music and Lyrics by Erik Ransom

Directed by Rachel Klein, Music Direction by Oliver Townsend

Choreography by Rachel Klein and Shawn Quinlan

Cast: Connor Baty and Nathan Cooper. Additional casting to be announced.

Four gay men, seeking different types of connection, intersect to hilarious and calamitous results in this sung-through musical parody that puts the notorious gay hook-up app into the exaggerated world of opera. With musical styles ranging from contemporary pop to baroque, GRINDR The Opera is a daring, humorous look at the changing landscape of gay relationships, and the greatest catalyst for the shift: GRINDR.


Book by Liz Falstreau, Lyrics by Liz Falstreau and Ashley Flanagan, Music by Ashley Flanagan, Orchestration by Asher Carlson

Directed by Chris Causer, Choreography by Kira Christoforidis

Cast: Rena Ahmed, Luciana Bonifazi, Raymond Cleveland, Dylan Connelley, Casey Daniel, Liz Falstreau, Josh Greiveldinger, Tim Huggenberger, Josiah Robinson, Carly Sue Skankey, Maiko Terazawa and Elliot Watts

Set during the years following the American Civil War, Iron Irene tells the story of two sisters and their fight for family, equality and a better world. Upon the death of their parents, Cassie DeLanie is sent from her home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to live in southwestern Wyoming with her sister, Irene. Together, the sisters must learn to adjust to this new world while still attempting to maintain the beliefs and identities of their childhood. Their adventures will lead them to Wyoming’s shining moment: being the first U.S. territory to grant women’s suffrage.

Book and Lyrics by Eric C. Jones, Music by Bradley Dean Whyte and Alex Winkler,

Orchestrations by Nate Weil

Directed by Allison Heinz, Music Direction by Samantha Westlake

Choreography by Jaime Raglow

Cast: Isabel Breanahan, Caitlin Dobbins, Shelby Edwards, Chris Furrer, Luke Halpren, Alex Iacobucci, Jillian Jocson, Kate Jordan, Natalie Kreft, Lynette Li, Cari Meixner, Emily Moon, Mike Movidio, Gage Peterson, Christopher Ratliff, Colton Schied, Kati Schwaber, Allison Taylor, Thomas Tong and Evan Wilhelm

A powerful rock musical about forgiveness, restoration, the power of friendship and what it means to be a family. This moving tale intersects and moves back and forth throughout 70 years and tells the story through the viewpoints of three unlikely men from different religious and ethnic backgrounds who are connected through a priceless family heirloom: a gold pocket watch. From the start of WWII to post-911 America, the lives of these characters will forever be changed during the historic liberation of Buchenwald and Dachau. Liberators: An American Musical encourages you to believe that even the most unlikely person can make a difference.


Music and Lyrics by Joey Katsiroubas, Book by Dan Hass

Directed by Madison Smith, Music Direction by Joey Katsiroubas

Choreography by Katelyn Stoss

Cast: James Bleecker Jr., Kirby Gibson, Matt Lamson, Alex Madda, Tommy Ross, Sophie Scanlon and Ashlyn Seehafer

Theresa is a young, single couples’ counselor in Chicago. While she’s great (well, okay) at keeping couples together, she can’t seem to lock down a guy for herself. And the fact that she tends to get attached (well, neurotic) after just one date doesn’t help either. Cut to Mr. Wonderful moving into the office next door: beautiful, bulgy-biceped Will. It’s obsession at first sight, and no obstacle or girlfriend is going to keep Theresa from being with him. She’ll ruin relationships, sabotage dates, push people out of the closet – mixing and matching her clients until it’s just Wonderful and her. Forever. And ever.


Book by Brian Huther, Ben Auxier and Seth Macchi, Music and Lyrics by Ben Auxier and Brian Huther, Arrangements and Music Direction by Ryan McCall

Cast: Ben Auxier, Molly Denninghoff, Ryan Hruza, Brian Huther, Nellie Maple, Mike Ott, Shea Pender and Elise Poehlin

Set in the 1920s during the decline of Vaudeville and the rise of Hollywood, The Ballad of Lefty & Crabbe tracks the journey of an ultra-sharp but down-on-their-luck comedy duo as they navigate the rapidly changing world of entertainment. With a cast of eight portraying nearly fifty characters, audiences will quickly lose themselves in this absurd and delightful comic world and leave with smiles on their faces.


Book, Music, and Lyrics by David Gosz and Leo Fotos

Directed by Max Cervantes, Music Direction by Erik Pearson

Cast: Bradley Atkinson, Chuckie Benson, Kiko Laureano, Nic Mains, Hannon McEldowney, Meredith Kochan, Randolph Johnson, Marssie Mencotti, Marissa Pattullo and Marco Tzunux

Through intricate characters and intimate music, “TRU” paints a picture of how hauntingly beautiful life can be. “TRU” explores the joys and challenges of the many relationships that are formed throughout one’s life, testing the various forms of love – between a man and his father, between a granddaughter and her grandmother, between a woman and her art, between a student and his teacher, between a man and himself. Walking hand in hand with reality, “TRU” toes the line between what is unbelievable and what is true.

Workshop Productions:

Monday, February 12 at 8 pm

Book by Tommy Jamerson, Music and Lyrics by Mark Contorno

Jacob Freeman seems to have it all; a thriving career, a bestselling novel, and an adoring wife. But when his past comes to haunt him in the form of his estranged seventeen year old daughter, Jacob’s perfect life is suddenly turned on its head and secrets long since buried begin to rise to the surface yet again.

Monday, February 19 at 8 pm


Book, Music and Lyrics by Annabelle Revak

Joe Loula departs war-torn Bohemia for Chicago in 1917 seeking a new job and a new independence. He quickly befriends Charlie, Nora and Olivia at Williams’ Custom Pianos. As the foursome become inseparable, the U.S. plunges into the World War I: businesses, relationships and pride are put to the test. A true story set to a jazz score, Notes and Letters chronicles the attempt to find an even beat in a world where the meter is constantly shifting.

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 44 new musicals in Chicago. Underscore is proud to be Chicago’s home for new musicals.