Festival Show Update: XY

Last month, we chatted with Oliver Houser, the writer of 2018 Festival show XY. The musical has a variety of upcoming opportunities, including a public reading at member Chicago Shakespeare Theater this month.

Chris can’t shake Christine. She’s with him everywhere he goes, staring back when Chris looks in the mirror. But when Chris falls in love, the divide between then and now begins to blur. XY is a musical drama about accepting the past and coming home to the most unfamiliar of places: ourselves.

What was the post Festival response to XY like?
Hunter [Bird, director and collaborator] and I were moved and inspired by the overwhelming response to XY. We got to meet so many wonderful producers and folks from theaters across the country who responded to the presentation and were interested in collaborating with us or producing the piece. We were thrilled to find people resonating with the story across the age and gender spectrum, even those who hadn’t yet known about the intersex experience and the challenges intersex people face.

What did you discover about the show after presenting it in October, and what work have you done on the show since then?
We learned that the show was stronger without some of the material we had to cut for the NAMT presentation, so we’re keeping that material out. I’ve made significant revisions to the back end of the piece, including writing a new 11 o’clock number for the protagonist, Chris.

There’s been a lot of movement happening around the piece since its Festival presentation! Can you tell us a little bit about your post-Festival journey, and what’s coming up next?
Hunter and I are excited to present a reading of XY at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on May 24, which Kenny Alhadeff is financing, and the piece will be included in the Village Theatre’s Festival of New Musicals in August! I was honored to receive the inaugural Stephen Schwartz Award in March, and I’ve spent the past three months at two artist residencies developing my and Hunter’s newest musical, Almost Heaven, a coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of the opioid epidemic. We’re excited to head to the Rhinebeck Writers Retreat and the Warren Miller Center for the Arts this summer to continue work on Almost Heaven. I’ve also been developing new content for my singer-songwriter career, which I’m excited to present at a few concerts later this year, including at the Duplex Theater on October 24! You can head here for tickets:

As you look to the future, what most excites you about your upcoming partnerships and development opportunities?
It is a dream to be collaborating with such incredible artists and institutions on XY, most of whom we met through NAMT. We are honored to be exploring working with Marleen and Kenny Alhadeff, who are downright amazing human beings and really understand the beating heart at the core of the show. We can’t wait to work further with Rick Boynton at CST next week and Brandon Ivie at Village this summer. Our conversations with all of them have been stimulating and full of thought-provoking questions that have inspired me and Hunter to further hone the piece. 

Why should everyone get excited about the upcoming chances they’ll have to see XY, and how can interested members support the show now?
Our reading at CST will be open to the public, so come out if you can! We can’t wait to present the entirety of the show with an incredible cast. If you’re interested in supporting XY or speaking further about production or developmental opportunities, or you want to learn more about Almost Heaven, please reach out at

For more information about XY, reach out to Oliver directly at

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