The reading gives the authors — lyricist Kenneth Jones and composer Gerald Stockstill, both alumni of The BMI- Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop — a "fresh listen" to the material following a successful benefit concert of songs from the show last summer.
More than a dozen artists such as Gavin Lee from Mary Poppins and Andre Ward from Xanadu appeared in the earlier one-night "Christmas in July" concert, which raised more than $2,000 for Artists Striving to End Poverty (ASTEP).
The show was always intended for four adult actors (two men, two women) playing "a multitude of needy, selfish, misfit kids who are reaching out to Santa," composer Stockstill said.
The July presentation at The Players Theater in Greenwich Village was billed as having the feeling of naughtier versions of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
"In other words," Stockstill said, "leave the kids at home." Exploring the material Dec. 7 will be Chris Hoch (Off-Broadway's Die Mommie Die!, Broadway's Beauty and the Beast), Jeff Award winner Cindy Marchionda (The Apple Tree at Encores!, Kiss of the Spider Woman in Chicago), Jason Ma (Miss Saigon on Broadway, NAATCO's Falsettoland), Sally Wilfert (…Spelling Bee on tour, Make Me a Song Off-Broadway).
Director Jeff Talbott and musical director Mary-Mitchell Campbell, who both helmed the summer concert, remain attached.
The show's letters to St. Nick "are heard in revue form, and while they flirt with various pastiche styles as torch song, Kurt Weill rant, tap number, bossa nova, Noel Coward duet, and more," the composer said, "a good chunk of it, we hope, boasts a unique, contemporary musical voice."
Two new songs have been added since the summer, and tweaks and refinements have been ongoing.
Jones' musical Voice of the City (with composer Elaine Chelton) had a 2006 workshop by Human Race Theatre Company in Dayton, OH, and Stockstill's Too Good to Be True (with lyricist Amy Coady) was seen at Theater League's Crossroads Musical Theater Festival in Kansas City. The Dear Santa writers met in the BMI Workshop.
Industry inquiries can be made at DearSantaMusical@aol.com.