It's hard to believe, but Stages Musical Theatre Festival will be almost twenty years old this year. This biennial musical theatre event returns to Los Angeles the weekend of August 23-25. Featuring eight new musicals presented in concert readings, the festival will be hosted by the New Musicals Initiative (the professional wing of the Academy for New Musical Theatre) and will be presented in two locations: the Lonny Chapman Theatre (10900 Burbank Blvd in North Hollywood) and the Academy, 5628 Vineland in North Hollywood.
The New Musicals Initiative will be bringing together dozens of writers and over fifty actors to present eight brand-new shows. The schedule is designed so that a Festival Pass holder can see four shows on one day at the Lonny Chapman Theatre, and the other four shows at the Academy on the other. Or, if audience members have only one day, they can pick and choose among all eight shows, shuttling between the theatre and the Academy, which are five doors away from each other.
The shows featured at the "First Stage" (at the Lonny Chapman Theatre) will be:
<Mad Bomber- winner of the 2013 Search for New Musicals - based on the true story of the man who terrorized New York in the 1950s by setting off a series of bombs to get back at Con Edison (written by Charles Monagan and Richard deRosa);Vlad: a vampire's love story- a re-envisioning of the classic vampire story, with a 4-person cast, a rock score, and some plot twists you might not be expecting (written by Plácido Domingo, Samantha Domingo, and Scott Guy);
Wanting Miss Julie- a modern re-telling of the Strindberg classic (written by John Sparks, Jake Anthony, and Patricia Zehentmayr); and
Bloodline- the story of a 1920s spinster who finds herself engaged to a vampire with ulterior motives (written by Richard Castle and Clifford Tasner).
The shows featured at the "Very First Stage" (at the Academy for New Musical Theatre) are:LA Carmen - a futuristic setting for the beloved Carmen set in a time when speaking Spanish is illegal (in development with the Latino Theatre Company; written by Evelina Fernandez, Rosino Serrano, and Richard Castle);
Over the Horizon- a collective project by writers at the University of California at Irvine, about an Iraqi blogger and the son of an American soldier;The Max Factor Factor- an ice-cold reading of a musical about closeted gay film stars in the 1920's.
New Voices Project- a final slot to be filled by a showcase of material from brand new, young writers.
Festival Passes cost $50 and will admit you to every event in the Festival from Friday through Sunday. Single tickets will also be available - but Festival Pass Holders will be given priority seating.
"There are only 90 seats at the Group Rep Theatre," explains the Festival's Executive Director Scott Guy, "and so it's possible there won't be seats for last-minute individual ticket buyers. To counterbalance that, we're scheduling events at the Academy a half-hour later than the ones at the theatre, so there still will be a musical to see for everyone."
Artistic Director Elise Dewsberry explains the distinction between events at the Academy and those at the theatre: "Events at the Academy showcase first drafts, whereas the ones at the theatre have all had several more stages of development...hence the word 'Stages.' We've also invited a team of writers from the University of California at Irvine to bring us a brand new musical they've been developing; we're planning a special event for young up-and-coming writers to showcase their work - the New Voices Project; and for the first time ever we are planning a special "ice cold reading" in which the cast will be handed their script and score as the lights come up and they will literally cold-read and sight-sing their way through the piece with no preparation at all. New musical theatre, at every stage of development."
Festival passes may be purchased for $50 through the Academy's website at www.anmt.org