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Jeff Steitzer (center) in "The Noteworthy LIfe of Howard Barnes" from Christopher Dimond and Michael Kooman at Village Theatre's 2014 Festival of New Musicals. (Photo by Sam Freeman)

Village Theatre Sets Lineup for 2015 Festival of New Musicals

The 15th annual festival includes readings of works by Paul Gordon, Cheryl L. Davis, and Christine Toy Johnson, and a developmental production from Kevin So and Kevin Merritt.

ISSAQUAH, WASH.: Village Theatre has announced the lineup for its 15th annual Festival of New Musicals (Aug. 7–9), featuring staged readings of five new musicals, and a developmental production of a sixth work. The readings are by invitation only but the production is open to the public.

“The Festival of New Musicals is one of the most exciting aspects of what we do,” said artistic director Steve Tomkins in a statement. “It has grown so much since it began, and now there’s truly nothing like it with so many talented actors and artists together on one street. There is so much excitement and anticipation as authors hear their work and actors bring characters to life, often for the first time. And of course there’s the thrill of finding that gem that goes on to really impact the landscape of musical theatre.”

The developmental production will be Great Wall, with music and lyrics by Kevin So and a book by Kevin Merritt. The musical follows a young man, whose dream is to become an Asian-American rock star, but his father’s untimely death forces him to reevaluate his goals. David Henry Hwang will provide creative consulting for the production.

The reading lineup includes:

  • Marco Polo—with music by Deborah Abramson and book and lyrics by Peter Mills—about Marco Polo’s journey for adventure, family, and a place that feels like home.
  • Barcelona,—with book and lyrics by Christine Toy Johnson, and music and lyrics by Jason Ma—about an American novelist who travels to Barcelona to rekindle her creative spirit after the death of her sister.
  • Death: The Musical—music, book and lyrics by Paul Gordon—about a struggling art teacher whose quiet weekend in the woods is thwarted by strange spirits.
  • Cubamor—with book and lyrics by James D. Sasser and music and lyrics by Charles Vincent Burwell, and based on the film by Joshua Bee Alafia—about two Americans and two Cubans who find love in Havana.
  • Bridges—with book and lyrics by Cheryl L. Davis and music by Douglas J. Cohen—about two women from different decades fighting for civil rights and equality in America.

Now in its 15th year, some notable musicals that have been developed at the festival includes Barbara Anselmi’s It Shoulda Been You (which recently closed on Broadway), Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux’s Million Dollar Quartet, and Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt’s Next to Normal.

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