Festival of New Musicals to Feature Brain from Planet X, My Antonia, Norman's Ark and More | Playbill

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News Festival of New Musicals to Feature Brain from Planet X, My Antonia, Norman's Ark and More A two-month musical theatre festival, entitled The Festival of New American Musicals, will be held in May and June throughout Southern California.
Stephen Schwartz Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Marcia Seligson and Bob Klein, the executive producers of the festival, have worked closely with two creative advisors: award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz and ASCAP's Michael Kerker.

The Festival will feature full productions, staged readings, workshops of musicals in progress, cabaret events, concerts and master classes at such venues as the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura, South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, Musical Theatre Guild, Celebration Theatre, Ford Amphitheatre, Los Angeles Master Chorale and the Wilshire Theatre as well as various colleges and high school.

In a statement Seligson said, "Southern California is a focus point for new musicals – and once we began to organize this Festival we found that composers, lyricists, directors, and performers all lived here and wanted to find a way to highlight the huge amount of musical theatre activity here. Our two month Festival is the first of its kind of celebrate new musicals on such a grand scale."

Festival Productions

  • Pre-Festival Event: Dancing in the Dark: Music by Arthur Schwartz, lyrics by Howard Dietz, book by Douglas Carter Beane. Gary Griffin directs. Old Globe Theatre, now through April 13. Visit www.theoldglobe.org or call 619-23-GLOBE for tickets.


  • Brain from Planet X: Music and lyrics by Bruce Kimmel; book by David Wechter and Bruce Kimmel. This science-fiction musical features "an actual singing Brain, two aliens named Zubrick and Yoni (Yoni being the man-hungry female, and Zubrick being the man-hungry male), an All-American Family, a General, an elderly Professor, and 17 musical numbers — set in the San Fernando Valley in 1958." It will play weekends May 3-June 15 at the Chance Theatre in Anaheim. Call (714) 777-3033 or visit www.chancetheatre.com.
  • My Antonia, adapted from the Willa Cather novel, features direction by Scott Schwartz with musical underscoring by Stephen Schwartz and "follows the journey of a spirited young immigrant girl and her family as they struggle to make a living and a life on the Nebraska plains in the late 1800s." It will play the Rubicon Theatre May 18-June 1. Call (805) 667-2900 or visit www.rubicontheatre.org for tickets.
  • The Grapes of Wrath: The West Coast premiere of a suite of music from the new musical drama by Ricky Ian Gordon with book by Michael Korie, based on the classic John Steinbeck novel, will be performed in concert by the Los Angeles Master Chorale, conducted by musical director Grant Gershon. Walt Disney Concert Hall on May 18; for tickets call (213) 972-7282 or visit http://lamc.org.
  • Norman's Ark by composer Glen Roven and writer Jerome Kass is a "contemporary musical re-telling of the Noah's Ark story. A family of five is trapped on the roof of their house in the middle of a devastating flood, virtually submerged in water, waiting for a helicopter to come and rescue them. The Father, Norman, tries to calm his terrified family down by telling them a story about another flood the happened a million years ago." Ford Theatre May 27-June 8.
  • Love, Janis features musical direction and arrangements by Sam Andrew and is inspired by the book by Laura Joplin: "Janis Joplin, the icon of 1960's rock music, comes to life on stage in both music and words." Wilshire Theatre May 29-June 1. For tickets call (323) 655-0111 or visit www.wtbh.com.
  • Songs from an Unmade Bed features lyrics by Mark Campbell and music by a dozen composers. "A solo work that propels a smart, resilient, wry and ultimately romantic gay New Yorker through the heartaches and triumphs of love in the big city." June 4-13 at the Celebration Theatre. For tickets call (323) 957-1884 or visit www.celebrationtheatre.com.
  • Sing Me a Happy Song is a two-act musical revue by Georgia Stitt and David Kirshenbaum and is described as a "collection of funny, moving, theatrical songs about discovery and surprise at the twists and turns one faces in life." Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center June 14.
  • It's Only Life is a musical revue that features music and lyrics by John Bucchino and direction by Daisy Prince. Rubicon Theatre June 19-July 30. Call (805) 667-2900 or visit www.rubicontheatre.org for tickets.
  • The Fix has book and lyrics by John Dempsey and music by Dana P. Rowe. "When presidential candidate Reed Chandler dies in his mistress' bed, his maniacal wife and power-hungry brother thrust Reed's spectacularly ill-suited, drug-abusing son into the political spotlight," according to press notes. June 23 at the Musical Theatre Guild at the Alex Theatre. For tickets visit www.alextheatre.org or call 818-243-ALEX (2539. Readings and Workshops:

  • ASCAP and the Festival will present three musical readings: The Front by Paul Gordon, Jay Gruska and Seth Freidman will play two performances at The Edye Second Space in Santa Monica on May 17. Also scheduled are The Times by Joe Keenan and Brad Ross and I Married Wyatt Earp by Michele Brourman and Sheilah Rae (dates and venue to be announced).
  • Rubicon Theatre Readings: Daddy Long Legs, The Man Who Would Be King and One Red Flower, June 22-July 1. The latter is a musical play by Paris Barclay and will star Maureen McGovern. For tickets call (805) 667-2900 or visit www.rubicontheatre.org. Composer-Lyricists in Concert

  • Stephen Schwartz Concert – Citrus College on May 3 (preceded by a master class on the same day).
  • Jerry Herman with Donald Pippin, Jason Graae, Debbie Gravitte and Ron Raines at the Orange County Performing Arts Center Segerstrom Concert Hall on May 10.
  • Jason Robert Brown – Citrus College May 17 and Pepperdine University May 18. College and High School Productions:

  • All That He Was: Palos Verdes High School, April 25-May 3.
  • Klemperer's New Clothes; Birmingham High School May 2-May 8
  • Jason Robert Brown master class at Pepperdine University May 14
  • Fever: South Gate High School May 15-17, followed by May 23-25 at Ricardo Montalban Theatre
  • Pazzazz at Citrus College June 13-15 and Santa Barbara Performing Arts Center.
  • Dance With Me: Santa Monica High School.
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