Underscore Theatre Company is pleased to present its 6th annual CHICAGO MUSICAL THEATRE FESTIVAL, created to showcase and support the growing field of musical theatre creators from Chicago and beyond. The 2020 Festival features full productions of eight new musicals, plus two pay-what-you-can staged readings and a showcase of 10-minute musicals. The Festival will be performed simultaneously on two stages from February 3 – 23, 2020 at The Edge Theater: the Broadway (5451 N. Broadway) and the Off Broadway (1133 W. Catalpa Ave.) in Chicago Edgewater neighborhood. Each full production will receive at least five performances during the Festival. Tickets are currently available at www.cmtf.org. The press “Sneak Preview,” featuring a sampling of songs from the 2020 Festival, is Monday, February 3 at 8 pm.
The 6th 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 nearly 50 new musicals 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!
Festival Producer and Underscore Executive Director Rachel Elise Johnson comments, “Underscore is thrilled to return to the Edge Theater for the second year in a row. This is the second year we will provide multiple shows playing in two venues at once, which means more options for festival-goers and more time on stage for participants. We have once again included a representative from the independent licensing company Stage Rights to our panel of judges, along with producers and Artistic Directors for leading theaters in Chicago who are equally invested in the development of new work. Every year, the festival provides a diverse and unique lineup of new musicals. We invite people to come and see these amazing works as they continue to develop on their journey to full production and beyond. We hope to see you in February!”
Location: The Edge Theater’s two stages: the Broadway (5451 N. Broadway) and the Off Broadway (1133 W. Catalpa Ave.).
Press Preview: Monday, February 3 at 8 pm
Performance Schedule (on two stages): Mondays – Sundays. For a detailed schedule of times by productions, please visit www.cmtf.org.
Tickets: $25 ($15 during Chicago Theatre Week). Readings: pay-what-you-can. Showcase of 10-Minute Musicals ($10 suggested donation). Tickets are currently available at www.cmtf.org.
The full line-up for the 6th annual CHICAGO MUSICAL THEATRE FESTIVAL includes:
On The Edge Broadway stage:
WONDER WOMEN THE MUSICAL
Book, Music and Lyrics by Gregory Becker
Directed by Christopher Pazdernik, Music Direction by Matt Salvo, Choreography by Kayla Boye
Featuring Alli Atkenson, Noah Berman, Jayla Craig, Courtney Dane Mize, Shea Pender, Sydney Richards, Jenny Rudnick, Laura Sportiello and Jasmine Young
WONDER WOMEN THE MUSICAL is an inspiring Golden Age-style musical comedy that tells the true story of the birth of the 1941 classic comic book character, Wonder Woman®. This hilarious upbeat show follows three women who lived in a clandestine four-way polyamourous relationship with the scientist who invented the lie detector. We see how this group overcame the discrimination, misogyny, and sexual taboos of the day and eventually became a ‘family’. Working together, they fused their individual passions for reproductive rights, gender psychology, equal rights, and BDSM and gave the world a superhero who would defeat ignorance using the powers of love and acceptance, and ignite humanity’s inner desire for a matriarch.
Book, Music and Lyrics by Olivia Popp
Directed by Zach Barr, Music Direction by Justin Cavazos
Featuring Ethan Carlson, Ryan Frenk, Stephanie Fongheiser, Nina Jayashankar, Gina Martin and Brian Pember
Astrophysics PhD student Luke needs to prove his theory of parallel universes for his dissertation. Rising young writer Sam needs to salvage her latest story for her chance at a big break. When Luke successfully opens a wormhole and finds Sam on the other side, the two discover that they can help each other more than they think. DOUBLE VISION is an original sci-fi comedy musical by Olivia Popp about science (well, sort of), love (okay, kind of), relationships (in more ways than one), and the power of seeking something new.
MOBY DICK – A MUSICAL
Book and Lyrics by Ed Bryan, Music by William Berry
Directed by Jean Hardie, Music Direction by Annie Flood
Featuring Kevin Blair, Grant Brown, Hope Campbell, Melody DeRogatis, Theresa Egan, Zander Galluppi, William Garry, Aszkara Gilchrist, Mary Laura Godby, Nate Hall, Aaron Johnson, Chris Jowett, Kyle Kite, Peyton Lynch, Courtney Miller, Nick Pardo, Sean Rhead, Peter Ruger, Stefan Schallack, Charlie Scriven-Young and Ginny Weant
The story of MOBY DICK is a headlong race into the jaws of death. Those on land wait, worry and go about their lives while Captain Ahab and the crew of the Pequod sail inexorably toward a tragic fate. Honorable Starbuck, carefree Stubb, practical Flask, heroic Queequeg, mysterious Fedallah and the rest of the crew: all are lost to Ahab’s fanatical obsession as he hurls himself against the will of God and the harsh divinity of nature. From the rowdy hijinks of “The Great Leviathan” to the the high spirits of “The Bedford Girls” to the poignant reverie of Ahab’s “What Price I Paid”, the music weaves a haunting spell around a diverse cast of characters who live and die by the dictates of the sea. Ishmael, alone, lost and adrift on Queequeg’s coffin, survives to tell the tale and turn, at last, towards the comforts of hearth and family.
Book by Kelsey Nighthawk, Music and Lyrics by Matt Day
Directed by Logan Boyd Jones, Music Direction by Samantha Westlake
Featuring Katie Cutler, Elise Delap, Danny Ferenczi, David Marden, Natalie Rae, Cody Robison, Will Rupert, Nola Tellone and Allie Wessel
PAPER SWORDS is a romantic comedy musical, focusing on two groups of live action role-players (LARPers) as they navigate adolescence. When the king announces his retirement, the teenagers and the kingdom of Eloren are thrown into shambles. To determine the next ruler of the land, the knights of competing teams Ferndrey and Silvermore must battle one another for the throne. Full of young love, heartbreak, awkwardly-long high fives, nostalgia and wonderfully catchy tunes, PAPER SWORDS will have you in tears (from laughing and/or crying) as you exit the theatre.
BILLY AND THE POTATO POWERED TIME MACHINE
Story and Lyrics by Lawrence Adelson and Keith Gatchel, Music by Nicholas Davio and Chauncey Alexander Davis-Mauney
Featuring Lara Carling, Esther Fishbein, Luke Halpern, Tyler Maxie, Jack William Rodgers and Elijah Warfield
Two kids, Billy and Jamie, have been taken by their mom to live at their grandmother’s house while she starts a divorce with their dad. In the basement, they discover a time machine powered by potatoes. Billy uses it to make honor roll and defeat the school bully. But, when things go wrong, Billy and his mother need to try and find a better way to change the future in this rock and roll fairy tale for kids and families.
On The Edge Off Broadway Stage:
BAKED! THE MUSICAL
Book, Music and Lyrics by Jordan Liu and Deepak Kumar
Directed by Taylor Stark, Music Direction by Jordan Liu
Featuring Anna Brockman, Yuchi Chiu, Devon Hayakawa, Murtaza Kapasi, Adit Marciano, Eunice Park, Joselle Reyes, Vicky Snyder, Ryan Tang and Janelle Villas
When she doesn’t receive the scholarship that would send her to her dream school, habitual overachiever Jane Huang, with the help of her best friend, joins forces with the class degenerate to build the greatest drug empire ever run by high schoolers. Kept in the dark are Jane’s parents, whose inability to cope with their daughter leaving for college while maintaining a profit at their struggling Chinese bakery drives them to pry and potentially unravel Jane’s web of lies.
BAKED! THE MUSICAL is a reflection on perfectionism, self-worth, and the question of what we owe the people we love. It features an all Asian-American cast, and the themes are born out of the writers’ own experiences growing up as the children of immigrants in the US.
Book and Lyrics by Fran Zell, Music by Karena Mendoza
Directed by Joan Mazzonelli, Music Direction by Mo Yeh, Choreography by Angela Allyn
Featuring Erin Renee Baumrucker, Marian Kaderbek, Elizabeth Rentfro, Samantha Jo Russell and Maiko Terazawa
Five women at a gym turn their obsession with weight into a steady diet of friendship. Each focuses on her appearance while harboring a secret she is afraid to share. Projecting their frustrations onto a mysterious woman in their midst, four of the women rig the gym’s Truth or Dare game in hopes of learning their adversary’s darkest secrets. The plan backfires, giving everyone the opportunity to come clean and test her own capacity for friendship. This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.
Book and Lyric by Brittany Handler, Music by John Love
Directed by Sarah Joy Adler
Featuring Sarah Joy Adler, Susan Bratton, Tara Egan, Brittany Handler and Vinny Tangherlini
Adira is a musical satire that tells the story of one princess who must rescue her kingdom. After learning of a terrible curse, Adira runs away to find herself and to break the spell. Along her journey, she encounters a series of new characters, both friend and foe who teach her things that she never knew, including a troll and his bridge, some magic mushrooms and an evil sorcerer. With the help of some dancing dildos and her singing vibrator sidekick, Adira has some big O! moments and learns that she is stronger and more capable than she ever knew.
Special Events & Staged Readings:
Chicago Dramatists Showcase of 10 Minute Musicals
Monday, February 3 at 6 pm at The Edge Broadway ($10 suggested donation)
Chicago Dramatists presents a showcase of 10-minute musicals by Chicago area authors and composers, inspired by the City of Chicago. Six musicals reflect the city in a series of funny, political and poignant snapshots.
IS YOU IS
Story by L.C. Bernadine and Kerry Cochrane, Book and Lyrics by L.C. Bernadine, Music by Erik Olsen
Monday, February 10 at 8 pm at The Edge Off Broadway (pay-what-you-can)
Set in 1933 Chicago, IS YOU IS is a jazz-driven musical about a public school bath attendant in a West side school, desperate to be a teacher but caught under the weight of the Depression and the spell of the newly-opened exhibition “The Races of Mankind,” the mesmerizing but “scientifically indefensible” Field Museum blockbuster which fed false notions of race to millions.
Words by Alex Higgin-Houser, Music by Lucy O’Brien
Monday, February 17 at 8 pm at The Edge Off Broadway (pay-what-you-can)
Roll for initiative! In a basement in the middle of the country, four friends and one mysterious newcomer join forces to play an epic game of Dungeons and Dragons.Adventurers! brings us inside the game as the party sets off on a quest for revenge, musically bringing to life the spells, creatures, and thrilling encounters of the most popular role-playing game of all time. Like the game, fate plays a major role in every performance of Adventurers: live dice-rolls determine the course of events, so that nobody, including the performers, knows how the evening will end.
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 or co-produced 65 new mainstage and workshop musicals in Chicago. Underscore is proud to be Chicago's home for new musicals.