Andrew Lippa's Asphalt Beach to Get Fall Run at Northwestern University

News   Andrew Lippa's Asphalt Beach to Get Fall Run at Northwestern University Asphalt Beach, an Andrew Lippa property which has previously been reported as an upcoming movie musical starring Wicked Tony nominee Kristin Chenoweth, will emerge as a stage musical this fall at Northwestern University.

Andrew Lippa.
Andrew Lippa. Photo by Michael Cairns

The show will be the latest project of the American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University. The American Music Theatre Project is a new initiative of Northwestern University dedicated to "developing and producing new musicals in cooperation with some of music theatre's top writers, composers and directors."

Asphalt Beach has a score by Lippa, and a book by T.C. Smith and Peter Spears. Amanda Dehnert will direct. Dates are Oct. 27 to Nov. 12 at the Josephine Louis Theatre on Northwestern's Evanston campus. Opening in Nov. 3.

Lippa is the composer of The Wild Party, A Little Princess and john & jen. Smith and Spears are both from the movie world. Spears was previously mentioned to direct the film.

Asphalt Beach is a rock musical set in New Jersey at Our Lady of Suppressed Desire Academy for Rambunctious Young Girls. There, a group of misfit girls try to escape the domineering head mistress Sister Severia.

No casting has been mentioned. Past Project ventures include The Boys Are Coming Home and Was.

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The AMTP program is fueled by a $2 million budget. Hollywood writer, producer and director Garry K. Marshall, a Northwestern alumnus, and his wife Barbara providing seed funding for the initiative. Additional funding is being provided by the Chicago law firm of Gardener, Carton and Douglas; William Donnell; the Gilman & Gonzales-Falla Foundation; The Shen Family Foundation; and Barbara Whitman and David Carlyon.

The project is also designed to "increase opportunities for education and training within Northwestern’s theatre, dance and opera programs and initiate a series of interdisciplinary research projects." The long-term goal is the creation of a permanent center for the American Music Theatre on Northwestern's Evanston campus.

Dominic Missimi, director of the music theatre program at Northwestern, and Stuart Oken, former executive vice president of Disney Theatrical Productions, will spearhead the project. Missimi chairs the executive committee responsible for the initiative, while Oken is its artistic director.

The AMTP advisory committee includes lyricist-composer Sheldon Harnick (another alumus); Northwestern professors Frank Galati and Mary Zimmerman (both well-known directors); Goodman Theatre artistic director Robert Falls; former Chicago Tribune chief critic Richard Christiansen; Landau, who is working on the aforementioned Was.

While writers, directors and choreographers will be professionals working in the field, the majority of actors will be students, "unless a particular role requires a quality that cannot be filled by a student."

The musical presentations will be open to both regional theatres and independent producers. "We welcome non-profit and commercial producers interested in a specific project to join us during the development phase," said Oken in a statement. "It’s critical for the creative teams that we not only introduce their material, but encourage additional productions in other venues."

Northwestern has long provided the theatre with writers, directors and performers. Among those who attended Northwestern in the past are Harnick, George Furth, Larry Grossman, Tony Randall, Craig Bierko, Sally Murphy, David Schwimmer, Patricia Neal, Kate Shindle, Penny Fuller, Donna English, Sarah Pfisterer, Ron Holgate, Heather Headley, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Kimberly Williams, Jeff Blumencrantz, Claude Atkins, Karen Black, Nancy Dussault, Carol Lawrence, John Cameron Mitchell, Cloris Leachman, Ann-Margret, Paul Lynde, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Charlton Heston, Michael Grief, Keith Reddin, John Logan, Margaret Nagle, Greg Berlanti, Denis O'Hare, Gregg Edelman, Richard Kind, Fred Applegate, Jayne Atkinson, Marg Helgenberger, Clancey Brown, Megan Mullally, Dermot Mulroney, Zach Braff and Charlotte Rae.