Gabrielle Dominique, Nimeme Wurden, and Ashawnti Ford in rehearsal for "Goddess," part of the 2017 NEXT Festival at Theater Latté Da in Minneapolis. (Emilee Elofson)
Gabrielle Dominique, Nimeme Wurden, and Ashawnti Ford in rehearsal for "Goddess" in this summer's NEXT Festival. (Emilee Elofson)

Theater Latté Da Announces 2017 NEXT Festival

Three new works will be developed this summer at the Minnesota theatre.

MINNEAPOLIS: Theater Latté Da (TLD) has announced the lineup for its NEXT Festival. Three new works have been selected to receive workshops and public readings this summer. The festival is part of TLD’s NEXT 20/20, an initiative launched in 2015 that aims to develop 20 new musicals or plays with music by the year 2020.

The first musical will be Goddess (July 22 and 24), with music by Michael Thurber and lyrics by Mkhululi Z. Mabija, Thurber, Jocelyn Bioh, and Saheem Ali. The musical, which was conceived by Ali and Mabija, is a contemporary spin on the ancient folk tale about the deity of music, set in a jazz club at the East African port of Mombasa. The reading will feature Nathan Barlow, Gabrielle Dominique, Ashawnti Ford, Karan Kendrick, Thomasina Petrus, Jon-Michael Reese, Mikell Sapp, Joe Thomas, and Nimeme Wuren. Sanford Moore will provide music direction, and Ali will direct.

Next up will be Five Points (July 27 and 29), with a book by Harrison David Rivers, music by Ethan D. Pakchar and Douglas Lyons, and lyrics by Lyons. The musical follows a young black performer and an Irish immigrant as they chase the American Dream in 1863 in New York City. The cast for the reading will include Matt Bailey, Nathan Barlow, Jody Briskey, Ivory Doublette, Daniel Grecco, Michael Gruber, Aeysha Kinnunen, Joel Liestman, Riley McNutt, Thomasina Petrus, Jon-Michael Reese, Andre Shoals, Kendall Anne Thompson, and Alejandro Vega. Denise Prosek will provide music direction, and Peter Rothstein will direct. Five Points will receive its world premiere at TLD in the spring of 2018.

The third piece in the festival, wrapping up TLD’s 2016-17 season, will be Glen Berger’s Underneath the Lintel (Aug. 4 and 7), about a Dutch librarian’s adventure to find the person who anonymously returned a travel guide 113 years past its due date. The piece, which premiered in 2002, will be reimagined as a play with music and will feature a score by Frank London. The cast will include Sally Wingert, Natalie Nowytski, and Dan Chouinard. Chouinard will provide music direction, and Rothstein will direct.

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