Naughty/Nice, a Musical of Misfit Kids' Missives to Santa, Gets Starry Reading in NYC July 25

News   Naughty/Nice, a Musical of Misfit Kids' Missives to Santa, Gets Starry Reading in NYC July 25 Christmas in July turned out hotter than expected. Naughty/Nice, a concert reading of a new musical comedy of darkly funny original letters to Santa Claus — featuring adult Broadway stars playing misfit kids — is sold out July 25 at Ars Nova in Manhattan. A waiting list has formed.

Clockwise from top left: Sally Wilfert, JR Bruno, Cindy Marchionda and Chris Hoch
Clockwise from top left: Sally Wilfert, JR Bruno, Cindy Marchionda and Chris Hoch

The event gives attention to the new musical by BMI Workshop writers Gerald Stockstill (music) and Kenneth Jones (lyrics) and raises money for ASTEP/Artists Striving to End Poverty, founded by Mary-Mitchell Campbell, the in-demand musical director (The Addams Family, Company, and the coming Carrie and Williamstown's Ten Cents a Dance).

ASTEP has a tradition of partnering with theatre artists to raise money for its programs — and has sent artists into the field to work with underserved kids around the world.

The 7 PM presentation spotlights a core foursome of JR Bruno (Broadway's West Side Story, regional premiere of [title of show]), Chris Hoch (Broadway's Shrek, Beauty and the Beast, La Cage aux Folles), Jeff Award winner Cindy Marchionda (Kiss of the Spider Woman in Chicago, The Apple Tree at Encores!) and Sally Wilfert (Off-Broadway's Make Me a Song, Broadway's Assassins, La Jolla Playhouse's Little Miss Sunshine).

The quartet is joined by guest artists Jim Stanek (Broadway's Lestat and 1996's Forum), Jason Michael Snow (The Book of Mormon), Tony Award nominee Robin De Jesús (La Cage aux Folles, In the Heights), Elizabeth Stanley (Company, Cry-Baby), Kathy Voytko (The Frogs, Next to Normal, Hal Prince's most recent Evita tour), Kate Wetherhead (Cam Jansen, the web's "Submissions Only"), Rebecca Rizzo, Seph Stanek and Lauren Tripolitis.

ASTEP is producing the concert, directed by Jeff Talbott (the playwright-actor whose The Submission bows this fall at MCC Theater). Aaron Elgart is stage manager. Anthony De Angelis is music associate. Naughty/Nice, written by Playbill.com managing editor Jones and Stockstill, was first seen in a sold-out ASTEP benefit concert at The Players Theatre in Greenwich Village, and in later industry readings (at which time the show was called Dear Santa.) The show is not recommended for children, and has been billed in the past as a sort of Avenue Q meets ...Spelling Bee meets "A Charlie Brown Christmas." The show is written for four adult performers and a piano; the cast has been expanded for this special ASTEP concert.

Naughty/Nice was a membership-recommended finalist in the National Alliance for Musical Theatre's Festival of New Musicals in 2009, and helped the writers win the 2010 Dottie Burman Songwriting Award from the Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs (MAC).

"We designed the show as an affectionate throwback to those old shoestring-budget Greenwich Village musical revues from the 1950s and '60s that were spare and satiric and sharply funny, but with a big heart and lots of melody," Stockstill told Playbill.com.

For more information about the script and score, email DearSantaMusical@aol.com.

Jones & Stockstill met in the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop and are members of BMI. Their work has been heard at Joe's Pub, The Zipper Theatre, the Laurie Beechman Theatre and the Metropolitan Room, and on a Sh-K-Boom recording "New York City Christmas," to benefit ASTEP.

Stockstill's musical Food on the Aisle (written with Donna Kaz) was seen in the New York Musical Theatre Festival, and Too Good to Be True (written with Amy Coady) was presented in a Kansas City workshop/reading. Jones wrote book and lyrics for the musical Voice of the City, with music by Elaine Chelton, which received a workshop/reading by the Human Race Theatre Company in Dayton, OH.

Ars Nova is at 511 W. 54th Street. Tickets for the dress-casual, book-in-hand concert are $20 each. All artists are volunteering their talent, and 100 percent of the money raised supports ASTEP's programs to serve children in need.

To inquire about the waiting/cancellation list for Naughty/Nice, send an email to tickets@asteponline.org.

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ASTEP, the nonprofit organization that "uses the arts as a tool to foster creativity, teach life skills, and awaken young people's imaginations around the world," has a history of staging benefit shows that spotlight emerging talent.

According to its mission, "ASTEP builds a child's capacity for self expression through art programs which inspire youth to develop the voices and skills they need inside and outside the classroom. By connecting established and emerging artists with underserved youth, ASTEP uses the arts as a tool to foster creativity, teach life skills, and awaken young people's imaginations. Since 2003, ASTEP has partnered with community organizations to deliver after-school, holiday, and summer programs grounded in arts education curriculum. In addition to inspiring a passion for learning and leadership building, programs focus on social issues specific to each community such as HIV/AIDS, gang violence, drug abuse, gender equality, and teen pregnancy. ASTEP provides services to communities in New York, NY; Homestead, FL; and Bangalore, India."

If you are interested in volunteering or donating to ASTEP, visit www.asteponline.org.

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