New works, solo shows, musicals and international performers fill the stages of the Sixth Annual Midtown International Theatre Festival in New York City starting July 18.
John Chatterton, publisher and editor of OOBR ("the off-off-broadway review") started MITF "as a way to present the finest Off-Off-Broadway talent in convenience, comfort and safety" in a handful of intimate midtown theatres not far Times Square.
In the coming weeks, expect such provocative titles as Under My Apron, Cervix With a Smile, Spit It Out!, Don't Break Your Egg, Shakespeare Is Dead, Charles and Diana: The Musical, On the Couch With Nora Armani (a hit in the 2004 fest) and Santa Claus Is Coming Out, among many others.
Submitted scripts are chosen by panels made up of industry people of producer Chatterton's choosing.
For the 2005 festival, 52 separate works will play in repertory (the length of the run of each show varies, usually between 3-9 performances) at one of five spaces, all on West 36th Street: Workshop Mainstage Theater (312 W. 36th Street, 4th Floor), Workshop Jewel Box Theater (312 W. 36th Street, 4th Floor), Where Eagles Dare Theatre (347 W. 36th Street, Ground Floor), Where Eagles Dare Studio Theatre (347 W. 36th Street, 12th Floor) and Smash Studios (307 West 36th St., 18th Floor).
Scripts are selected by the artistic directors in consultation with the other members of the management team. Writers and/or their attached producers (if any) produce their own work; space, technical assistance and marketing are provided by MITF. "We do everything we can to select projects that are pleasing to us as well as to their varied audiences," according to a MITF statement. "We encourage plays of all racial and sexual stripes, in all genres, aimed to attract audiences of all tastes."
MITF admits, "Our philosophy is based on a paradoxical combination of selectivity and diversity."
The works are a mix of Equity and non-Equity productions, revivals and world premieres.
Launching the festival July 18 will be the first performances of the following shows: Apathy-The Gen X Musical, Spit It Out!, Charles and Diana-The Musical, Cex and the Sity, The Girls Who Wore Black, Soul to Keep and Revolutionary Chickens.
In addition to executive producer and artistic director Chatterton, MITF's management team is Emileena Pedigo (production assistant, assistant to the producer), Judd Hollander of Bunch of People Productions (press and publicity), co-artistic director Bob Ost (musicals and cabaret), co-artistic director Glory Sims Bowen (plays), co-artistic director Cheryl King (solo shows), Andre Zucker (venue manager for Where Eagles Dare Theatre and Studio Series).
Here's a thumbnail look at shows that will have their first performances July 18, the first day of the 2005 fest:
Apathy: The Gen X Musical . "Follow the wacky adventures of a drug dealing vamp and her friends (a manic slacker, a goth chick, a party slut, a closet case, and her cuckold boyfriend) as they smoke dope, trip on acid, undermine authority, and treat anything 'PC' with insane irreverence." Words and music by Mickey Zetts, directed by Paula D'Alessandris, featuring Fiona Choi, Ethan Gomez, Samantha Leigh Josephs, Ryan G. Metzger, Matt Miniea, Duncan Pflaster and Sami Rudnick. An Equity showcase production. Visit www.apathythemusical.com.
Cex and the Sity . "A parody of the popular cable show 'Sex in the City.' It deals with fashion, femininity, relationships and the mishaps that come with each. The show takes real issues and gives them a sense of humor." Created and produced by Robin Ackerman and Marjorie Suvalle, written by Rick Suvalle, directed by Michael Ormond, original music by Joshua Rosali, featuring Elizabeth Bowden, Sam Dingman, Chris Flynn, Theresa Fowle Jim Longo, Jay Spece, Marjorie Suvall.
Charles and Diana: The Musical . "A retelling of the Princess Diana story as a Carousel-like musical fantasy drama. Princess Di meets her Guardian Angel and gets a second chance to live her life over again in this musical fantasy drama recounting her tumultuous reign as both the world's goodwill ambassador and spurned wife plagued by inner demons." World premiere. Music and book by Lewis Papier, lyrics by Mary Sullivan Struzi, directed by Clyde Baldo, with Michael Digioia, Amanda Ladd, Rob Resnick, Kate Greer, Tracy Rosten, Kenneth Garner, Natalie Delena, Kiirsten Kuhi, Amy Russ, Monica Russell, Alan Ostroff. An Equity showcase production.
The Girls Who Wore Black . "While Kerouac was breaking rules, these women were breaking ground. The women of the Beat Generation are the epitome of cool. They were black stocking hipsters, renegade artists, intellectual muses and gypsy poets who changed our culture forever. Step inside their world in this fusion of drama and poetry." World premiere. Adapted by JoEllen Notte from the writings of Elise Cowen, Diane di Prima, Joyce Johnson, Hettie Jones, Leo Skir and Anne Waldman. Directed by JoEllen Notte with Nicole Carpino, Anna Howland, Margaux Laskey, Michele Weiss, Beth White. Visit http://thegirlswhoworeblack.tripod.com.
Revolutionary Chickens . " An intimate spectacle of the Chinese Cultural Revolution told through circus, puppetry and masks! Rob Lok seeks to recreate the story of his family’s escape from Mao Zedong's Communist China in his new multimedia piece, which combines puppetry, mask and circus arts to turn his tale of familial persecution and exodus into an experiment in physical comedy." Created and performed by Rob Lok, with visual and sounds by Kris Anton. Design consultant is Spencer Moy. Visit www.revolutionarychickens.com.
Soul To Keep . "Old Cal, instructor to the new souls, is about to learn all the lessons of life himself — or will he harden his heart forever? Cal, along with Moses (Harriet Tubman) and the 'Soultations,' helps a new soul acquire all the tools needed for life below the sky...or do they? With interference from Cal's brother, Lucifer, Cal learns the tools of life for himself." Written, co-produced and performed by Joyia D. Bradley, also featuring BJ Wheeler a.k.a. "Priest," co-produced by Joan Liman, directed by Alexandra Lopez. Produced by EB Productions and Limanade Productions.
Spit It Out! "A comic and endearing look at an unlikely friendship between two women that develops when their paths in life collide. [It's] a story of the transformational power of friendship. Written by Amy Coleman and Valerie Smaldone, directed by Sarah Gurfield, with music direction by Donna Kelly, featuring Amy Coleman, Valerie Smaldone, Stephen Bienskie and The Spit It Out! Blues Band: Andy Bassford, Donna Kelly. Produced by Two Sides of a Coin Productions. An Equity showcase. Visit www.twosidesofacoin.com.