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Festival of New American Musicals

More than 25 new works will take to the stage in Southern California during second annual festival

Posted: April 18, 2009 11:10 a.m.
Updated: April 18, 2009 11:15 a.m.
Amanda Leigh Cobb and Josef Brown in "Dirty Dancing" opening at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. Amanda Leigh Cobb and Josef Brown in "Dirty Dancing" opening at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood.
Amanda Leigh Cobb and Josef Brown in "Dirty Dancing" opening at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood.
American musical theater is on the upswing thanks to the "Festival of New American Musicals" launched last year by Marcia Seligson and Bob Klein.

The 2009 Festival, a four-month musical theater festival, will be held April through July throughout Southern California. Seligson, Klein and Linda Shusett are executive producers of the second annual Festival.

"Musical theater has no age range. It is for all age groups," said Shusett.

This year's festival will include several student productions, including elementary school age students.

"We are excited by the fact that we are reaching out to the broader community," Shusett said. "There are people all over doing musical theater. That is our goal - musical theater is back and we want people to realize that you, too, can participate."

The Festival of New American Musicals is home to full productions, staged readings, workshops of musicals in progress, cabaret events, concerts, master classes and other events. The producers are working in partnership with more than 30 Southern California area performing arts organizations, each of which will produce a new American musical during the Festival time period.

The venues include Orange County Performing Arts Center, Pantages Theatre, Alex Theatre, South Coast Repertory, Granada Theatre in Santa Barbara, El Portal Theatre, La Mirada Theatre, Colony Theater, Rubicon Theatre, Boston Court Theatre, and Blank Theatre. The University of Southern California, Fullerton College and Marquez Elementary School are also participating.

"This year, we have purposely broadly defined ‘new musicals,' in order to draw as much attention as possible to this art form," said Shusett. "For the Festival, a new musical can be anything from a show having its very first public reading, to a recent Broadway show that didn't receive the attention it fully deserved. And we are working hard to enlarge the scope of the support that we lend to the theatres that participate in the Festival."

The Festival's Web site is now online at

Among the events of the 2009 Festival of New American Musicals:

"No Way To Treat A Lady" (Los Angeles Premiere) by Douglas J. Cohen - A serial killer is on the loose, and detective Morris Brummell is on the case. Can he find the killer, get the girl, and appease his disappointed mother- all before the next chorus? It's a game of cat and mouse - a tour de force with 4 actors playing 17 roles. Colony Theatre; April 15 - May 17. Ticket Information: (818) 558-7000 x15;

"Set Up And Punch" (World Premiere) Book by Mark Saltzman, original songs by Berton Averre and Rob Meurer. The Blank Theatre Company joins the Festival for the first time with this musical about a clever songwriting duo, whose promising relationship is blown to bits when they must collaborate with the sex-god singer-composer of a cutting edge rock band. Love gets sung in the wrong key, proving the old adage: there are two sides to every triangle. It features original songs by rockers Berton ("My Sharona") Averre and Rob Meurer. Set Up And Punch is written by 7-time Emmy Award winning writer Mark Saltzman. Blank Theatre Company; April 24 - May 31, 2009. Tickets: (323) 661-9827;
"The Water" (First Public Reading) by Tim Werenko, Jeff Hylton, and Georgia Stitt. Concert reading of the winner of the Academy for New Musical Theatre's '08 Search for New Musicals. Colony Theatre; April 27. Tickets: (818) 558-7000 x15;

"Everyman - The Musical" by Bill DeLuca; directed by Naomi Buckley. The South Bay Bridge Project was developed by the Dominguez Bridge Theatre Company. "Everyman-The Musical" is a modern morality play, where God sends Death to summon Everyman to a reckoning of his life, breathing hilarious new life into a somber form, taking the audience on an unforgettable journey both inside and outside the theatre. Cal State Dominguez Hills Theatre; April 17 - 26. Tickets (310) 243-3589.

"Make Me A Song" (West Coast premiere) Music and lyrics by William Finn. "Make Me a Song" is a compilation of more than twenty hits from Tony award winning composer-lyricist William Finn's exceptional career in musical theatre. These songs are personal, haunting and often hilarious tales from Finn's rich and touching songbook. His storied career spans four decades and includes such honored shows as "In Trousers," "March of the Falsettos," "Falsettoland," "A New Brain," "Elegies: A Song Cycle" and the recent, Tony Award winning, "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." Covina Center for the Arts; May 6-10. Tickets: (626) 331-8133,

"Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story On Stage." The famous 1987 film of the same name has been re-imagined for the stage by the original screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein, directed by James Powell, and choreographed by Kate Champion. "Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story on Stage" comes to the Pantages Theatre for its pre-Broadway, West Coast premiere! Featuring 35 hit songs - including "Hungry Eyes," "Hey Baby," "Do You Love Me?" and the heart-stopping "I've Had The Time of My Life. Pantages Theatre; May 8-June 28. Tickets: (213) 365-3500,

"Peter Pan: A New Musical" (World Premiere) Written by Jordan Beck with music by Jonathan May and orchestration by Nolan Livesay. This new musical brings the classic story of Neverland to life for a whole new generation. LifeHouse Theater; May 9-June 14. Tickets: 909-335-3037,

"Forbidden Broadway" 25th Anniversary Special Edition Created and written by Gerard Alessandrini. "Forbidden Broadway," starring members of the Award-winning New York cast, brings its poking, prodding, teasing, pleasing, jeering and cheering roast of the top Broadway hits from yesterday and today - "one of the funniest evenings on or Off-Broadway!"

"Forbidden Broadway" was first seen at Palsson's Supper Club on New York's Upper West Side in January 1982. An unemployed actor, Gerard Alessandrini, wanted a showcase for his talents. He decided to assemble some of the musical parodies of Broadway shows he had written since childhood into a nightclub act. Critics and audiences were wowed and it has since become New York's longest running musical comedy revue. The Granada - Santa Barbara; June 4 - 14. Tickets (805) 899-2222;

For an entire list of venues and productions visit


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