the STAGES musical theatre festival
The STAGES New Musical Theatre Festival
An annual Chicago tradition for 15 years in Chicago, Stages moved to Los Angeles in 2011, becoming a biennial festival.
New Musicals Inc brings together dozens of writers, directors, music directors, and actors to present concert readings of eight brand-new musicals over one marathon weekend. The schedule is designed so that a Festival Pass holder can see all eight shows over the course of the 3-day weekend, or audience members can pick and choose among all eight shows, shuttling between the two presentation spaces.
The 2015 Festival took place over the weekends of August 21-23 and 28-30. The first weekend was at NMI in North Hollywood, and the second weekend was at 3D Theatricals in Anaheim. The six presentations were:
The Anarchist Girl - An edgy, provocative chamber musical about a young protestor who breaks into a house planning to kidnap a famous author, to make him a spokesperson for her cause, only to find that this former literary giant is now confined to a wheelchair, no longer able to speak. She turns her attention to the author’s shut-in son, and tries to convince him to come with her into the dangerous world to stand up for what he believes in. This is an “existential” musical that will appeal to the audience that loves a challenge!
Book and lyrics by J. Linn Allen, and music by Cris Wo.
Directed by Jon Sparks with musical direction by Ron Barnett.
Bagels! - The almost-true story of the man who invented the automated bagel-making machine; how it almost tore apart a family, and got some union bagel makers pretty upset. A family comedy, but with some adult moral dilemmas for the young inventor, this show has a charming, witty book and a lovely joyful score.
Book and lyrics by Chana Wise, music by Carl Johnson.
Directed by John Henry Davis, with musical direction by Emily Cohn.
Oklahoma in Wisconsin - It’s 1950, and the Bradley family are in dire financial straits with their Inn in Fish Creek Wisconsin. Then a Hollywood location scout comes to town - promising to bring prosperity along with the filming of the movie version of Oklahoma! Will he be able to pull it off? A funny family show full of glorious harmonies. A follow-up to our popular “Ice-Cold Reading” at STAGES 2013, this reading was an “Almost-Cold-Reading” with a brave who had the music in advance, but never had a rehearsal.
Book and lyrics by Richard Castle, music by Matthew Levine
Invisible - tells the story of two nerdy high school guys decide to create a potion to make themselves popular, so they can go to prom with the school’s cheerleading twins. But miraculously, the potion turns one of them invisible! Things start to sour between the friends when the visible one starts taking advantage of the situation, and doesn’t want to help his one-time-buddy become visible again, leading up to an explosive prom night. It features a driving, young score with humor that’s edgy and contemporary (but still family friendly!)
Book by David Hollingsworth, lyrics and music by David Orris.
Directed by Elise Dewsberry with musical direction by Bryan Blaskie.
Off the Wall - This musical comedy, loosely inspired by the 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre, won the 2014 Search for New Musicals. In this five-character, ninety-minute, original musical, the Mona Lisa is brought to life when a worker in the Louvre kisses her. Much to worker’s dismay, Mona Lisa immediately starts causing chaos all over Paris. This fresh, tongue-in-cheek musical may take place in the Belle Epoque, but it whimsically explores contemporary themes, including the glorification of celebrity, the obsession with physical beauty, and the importance of taking a second glance at preconceived notions of love and art.
Book and lyrics by Sarah Rebell, music by Danny Abosch.
Directed by Allison Bibicoff with musical direction by Jan Roper.
The New Voices Project - A concert of songs and musical excerpts written by the winners of the 2015 New Voices Projects - all writers under the age of 26. This is the third year of this competition, with support from Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Entertainment. Featuring the writers Ben Boecker, Andre Catrini, Samantha Chanse, Jacob Combs, Michael Finke, Bob Kelly, Madeline Myers, Bill Nelson, Mark Sonnenblick, and Joseph Trefler.
Off the Wall
Travis Dixon (as Vincenzo) and Gwen Hollander (as Mona Lisa) in the presentation of SEARCH FOR NEW MUSICALS winner Off the Wall, book and lyrics by Sarah Rebell and music by Danny Abosch.
Mark Anthony Lopez, Emerson Boatwright, and Jeff Scot Carey in the developmental production of Bagels! the musical, with book and lyrics by Chana Wise and music by Carl Johnson.
Stages Musical Theatre Festival features musicals in many different stages of development: first draft, polished drafts, as well as ready-for-production.
New Voices Project
Music Director Bryan Blaskie discusses a song with performer Daniel Stewart, while composer/lyricist Noah Reece video-conferences from North Carolina.
The 2013 Festival took place over the weekend of August 23-25. The shows featured at the “First Stage” (at the Lonny Chapman Theatre) were:
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) were:
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 filled by a showcase of material from brand new, young writers.
The 2011 Festival took place over the weekend of July 15-17. The more developed shows in the 16th Annual Stages Musical Theatre Festival were:
Windjammers, the moving tale of a sailor on the Great Lakes in the 19th century, written by Robin Share and Clay Zambo;
In the Mind of Olympians, a powerful revue about the 1948 and 2012 London Olympics, written by a dozen writers in London and Los Angeles;
Powder Puff Pilots, telling the story of female pilots in the 1920’s, written by Marian Partee, Cindy O’Connor and Noelle Donfeld; and
Now and Then a Hero, ten stories of real life common heroes, written by Larry Johnson and Jake Anthony.
The shows at the first draft stage presented at the Academy were:
Ghost(s), a goofy story of a local theatre company who thought they were producing a musical based on the hit movie Ghost, but discover to their horror it’s a terrible musical adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s play about syphilis and euthanasia, written by Kincaid Jones, Brian Woodbury and Noelle Donfeld;
Mary Marie, a sweet family musical based on the classic 19th-century novel about a young girl struggling with her parents’ divorce, written by Chana Wise and Carl Johnson;
The Ring, a nasty dark comedy about revenge at a high school reunion, written by Eric Dodson and Alan Fleishman; and
The Angel of Painted Post, a powerful fable about an unlikely vision in an even more unlikely town, written Adrian Bewley, Richard Castle and Matthew Levine.
Now and Then A Hero
The cast of Now and Then a Hero, by Larry Todd Johnson and Jake Anthony, in performance at the Lonny Chapman Theatre.
The writers of the shows represented in the festival gather for a public Q & A session.
Wondering how to get YOUR musical into Stages?
We actually consider musicals from anywhere for Stages. But there isn’t a direct way to submit to the festival, as we already have many musicals every year we would like to champion. The best way for us to get to know your show is for you to submit it to our annual ‘Search for New Musicals,’ which allows us the opportunity to workshop musicals which have been created outside of our own community. Every musical entered into the Search receives comprehensive feedback, and is automatically considered for further development at NMI, including whether it’s a fit for Stages Musical Theatre. If you’d like to read more about the Search and its deadlines, please visit our Search page.