Festival Show Update: 5 Things You Should Know

Do you want to know more about the shows in the 29th Annual Festival of New Musicals? See the Five Things each show’s writing team wants you to know before you come to the Festival!

Five Things You Should Know About Darling Grenadine
By Daniel Zaitchik

1. One of the principle characters in Darling Grenadine is a Labrador Retriever named Paul. He is played by a life-size marionette. A trumpet player voices the things that Paul “says”—not by trying to imitate barking, but by sounding the idea of what Paul is trying to communicate. Sometimes his lines are quite musical, other times more abstract.
2. Darling Grenadine is full of stage magic. Our impulsive narrator controls the space—making props appear out of thin air, actors disappear through trap doors, etc. Illusion and charm are main themes in the show and they are highlighted by visual tricks and delights.
3. Darling Grenadine brings a cinematic feel to the stage. Stylized design elements and scenic projections create a whimsical spirit reminiscent of MGM classics as well as the work of contemporary filmmakers like Wes Anderson and Michel Gondry.
4. The music in Darling Grenadine is an unconventional mixture of singer-songwriter, pop and old-fashioned music theatre.
5. Darling Grenadine was developed at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Music Theater Conference and given a developmental production at Goodspeed Musicals’ Norma Terris Theatre.

Five Things You Should Know About Fall Springs
Music & Lyrics by Niko Tsakalakos, Book & Lyrics by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb

1. Fall Springs’ initial dramatic structure was inspired and modeled after tropes found in many disaster movies (for example, many contain fraught relationships between kids and their single parents, denial of scientific warnings, and selfish behavior that often leads to a grisly death). Our hope, however, is to not be a genre satire, but use the fun of the form to tell a personal and relevant story about climate change and willful human ignorance.
2. Fall Springs has an indie-rock driven score that embodies the youthful angst and rebellious spirit of the teenagers of Fall Springs. The sound of the grown-ups is a little more eclectic, drawing upon funk, classic rock, disco and swing influences. Large choral company numbers with close harmonies over the driving backline capture the primal drama of the piece. The music aims less to satirize and more to genuinely express the heart of the characters. Its ideal orchestra would be the same as a pimped out rock band.
3. We believe the tone and playful spirit of the show gives an opportunity to be very creative, scrappy, playful and clever-with-a-small-budget theatrical in the portrayal of the many action sequences that take place during the show.
4. In an October 2016 Pew Foundation Study, 48% of Americans believed that global climate change is due to human activity.  According to NASA, the scientific consensus among climate scientists is about 97%.
5. Fall Springs would love an opportunity for an extended development period that would ideally lead to a full production of our irreverent and relevant show. (And that would ideally lead to an empowered citizenry aware and ready to protect our environment.)

Five Things You Should Know About GIRL Shakes Loose
Music & Lyrics by Imani Uzuri, Book & Lyrics by Zakiyyah Alexander, Poetry by Sonia Sanchez

1. GIRL Shakes Loose features some of the poetry of legendary writer, activist and former poet laureate of Philadelphia Sonia Sanchez; in fact the title of the musical is a play on the Sanchez collection of poetry, ‘Shake Loose My Skin.’ In the musical, her poetry is used as song, often giving voice to the characters’ interior feelings.
2. The musical features “direct address” where the protagonist, GIRL, at times speaks directly to the audience, breaking the theatrical fourth wall and allowing a more stylized approach to storytelling.
3. The music from this show contains a wide range of styles including: choral, blues, R&B, funk, rock, house and classic musical theater to show the different soundscapes for each city GIRL travels to, as well as the diversity that she has grown up with.
4. This musical utilizes a Chorus with those characters playing a multitude of roles in our protagonists’ life—in fact everyone is a part of this Chorus except the lead; they are all in support of her journey. Musically, the Chorus provides aspects of narration, harmonies, call and response, polyrhythms and intertwined melodies.
5. Our title character is named GIRL because in many ways this is a universal girl who is trying to come of age, and we so rarely see women of color cast as the lead in universal roles in American theater.

Five Things You Should Know About Klook’s Last Stand
Book by Ché Walker, Music by Omar Lyefook & Anoushka Lucas, Lyrics by Ché Walker & Anoushka Lucas

1. Klook’s Last Stand came out of Ché Walker’s work teaching creative writing and acting in men’s prisons, young offender institutions, and ex-offender support projects—work he has done for over twenty years. The team was keen to try and break through some stereotypes about ex-offenders and challenges faced by working-class people the world over.
2. Ché Walker, Anoushka Lucas and Omar Lyefook conceived Klook’s Last Stand as one long, uninterrupted song, rather than a conventional musical. Some songs are exactly one line long and some speeches are underscored. The writers were interested in synthesizing speech and song and trying to make something different.
3. The duets are collaborations between Omar and Anoushka; Klook’s songs are composed by Omar and Vinette’s songs are composed by Anoushka. The idea was that each character has a distinct sensibility and voice.
4. The script has a blend of direct address and short scenes—the team wants to pull the audience to them and strip away all unnecessary effects and distractions.
5. The team is based in the UK, but all three writers grew up hugely influenced by American Literature and Music—and they love New York!

Five Things You Should Know About The Passage
By David Darrow

1. The Passage is autobiographical. It is based on the author’s experience living in a house with a sick family member. The house in The Passage functions almost as another character.
2. For a musical, it is small and very intimate. There are scenes that take place in tiny areas—a tent, a closet, a bathroom—but the world should feel enormous to Albert, and his journey into the basement should feel epic.
3. The main characters don’t sing. There is a chorus of four actors who play various parts of the world—a dog, a box of memories, a pile of coats—and they supply the music of the world. The chorus in many ways represents the inner life of the characters.
4. Although the two leads, Albert and Cassie, are children, The Passage is not a piece of children’s theater.
5. This piece had its first workshop and production at The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, where it was developed and produced by 7th House Theater. I am looking for partners to help with the next stages—further development and a larger production.

Five Things You Should Know About Persephone
Book & Lyrics by Marcus Stevens, Music by Oran Eldor

1. You do not need to be an expert on Greek mythology to enjoy Persephone.  The characters are universal, and the story has been reimagined to tell a decidedly modern tale about how we find our true selves and our own place in the world.
2. Persephone blends the contemporary world with an ancient, mythical one. Its anachronistic quality is intended to inspire inventive staging and design.
3. The show’s music is inspired by a range of contemporary pop, rock and R&B.  Each principal in the show evokes their own unique brand of pop-star—the Gods are celebrities, after all!
4. The cast should be a diverse group of actors who represent our modern world. There is creative flexibility with the size of the ensemble and the doubling of supporting roles.
5. Our ultimate goal is to find a home for Persephone in New York. Through our participation in the NAMT Festival of New Musicals, we are hoping to find the right regional theater(s) to partner with for the World Premiere production.

Five Things You Should Know About Prom Queen
Book by Kent Staines, Lyrics by Akiva Romer-Segal, Music by Colleen Dauncey

1. Prom Queen is based on the true story of Marc Hall, who took the Durham Catholic District School Board to court in 2002. The precedent-setting case sparked an international media storm, making the blue-haired teen the face of a new generation fighting for equality. Marc became the subject of countless news stories, a documentary and the beloved Canadian TV movie Prom Queen: The Marc Hall Story produced by Mary Young Leckie and written by Kent Staines, both of whom continue in their respective roles (producer, book writer) for this musical adaptation.
2. Songwriting team Colleen Dauncey and Akiva Romer-Segal first met in high school, around the same time the story takes place. They mined many of their musical influences from this era, which infused the score with early 2000 pop, dance, R&B, country, gospel and more.
3. Prom Queen began its development process at Sheridan College’s Canadian Music Theatre Project (CMTP) in Oakville, Ontario. This amazing incubation program provided first steps for hit Canadian musicals Come From Away and Theory of Relativity.
4. In 2016 Prom Queen made its regional debut at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts in Montreal where the run was so successful with audiences of all ages that it was extended. The musical was awarded the prestigious Pechet Family Prize for Best New Musical by the Playwrights Guild of Canada.
5. We are looking to establish new relationships with theaters and producers as we hone our show and work towards our ultimate goal of regional and commercial productions.

Five Things You Should Know About Sam’s Room
Book by Dale Sampson with Trey Coates-Mitchell, Music & Lyrics by Caitlin Marie Bell, Marc Campbell, & Dale Sampson

1. Sam is a teenager with nonverbal and physical special needs. The research and exploration into this sensitive and compelling subject never ends. The team is committed to ongoing growth and discovery through field research in augmentative alternative communication and by working with teachers, families and experts in the field in order to spread awareness and strengthen the case for the importance of continued conversation on the subject of specials needs education.
2. The year is 1998. A JVC boombox blasts Backstreet Boys, and a Total Request Live VJ introduces the hot new boyband, N’SYNC. Debate over Bill Clinton’s sexual improprieties on the six o’clock news kills time before Home Improvement and Ally McBeal. In public schools, the day begins with Channel One News and ends with PTA discussions concerning IDEA and their efforts to provide public education opportunities for students with disabilities.
3. While in the comfort of his bedroom, Sam uses his imagination to transform himself into international superstar and ultimate communicator, Sammy Star. He transforms his bedroom into a concert stadium and takes the audience on a journey through a variety of musical genres. In this imaginary world, Sam achieves something that seems impossible in his current reality; communicating to thousands of people through his own unique songs and lyrics. Through music, he constructs a place inside his mind where he can be entirely himself and express everything he wants to say.
4. To help separate Sam’s nonverbal reality from his superstar fantasy, we use an original style of staging inspired by the National Speech and Debate Association, the oldest and largest speech and debate honor society in the world. These techniques help the cast of 3 innovatively create storytelling magic with nothing but their voices and bodies rather than using sets, costumes, props, etc.
5. Sam’s Room explores the human condition, exposing the difficulties of communication with one another. In a world where we can instantly speak our minds with the click of a button, we seem to suffer a mass disability when expressing feelings and ideas in a healthy productive manner. Sam’s journey to communicate explores the true power of the human voice.
For more information about the shows, visit the Festival page on our website. Don’t forget to sign in using your website log-in for exclusive content, including demo tracks from all eight shows!

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