CAP21, the Manhattan studio that stages professional readings of new scripts and produces Off Broadway shows, has five new works scheduled for Blackjacks 9, a Festival of New Works, from May 13-22.
Each of the five shows — including three plays and two musicals — will be presented for at least two performances. A family mystery about murder, a romantic comedy, an historical musical, a drama about assisted suicide and a coming-of-age musical set on a New Jersey beach are part of the mix this year.
Blackjacks Festival of New Works was instituted in 1994. CAP21 receives as many as 500 new scripts for consideration annually and literary manager Eliza Ventura has given numerous creative talents the chance to develop over 100 works throughout the past eight years. Over one-third of the projects have been continued Off Broadway or at major regional theatres, including Cedarwood Avenue by Mike Teele, later seen at the Theatre for the New City, Brian Lasser's One Tough Cookie, presented at Chicago's Apple Theatre, and Pete & Keeley, produced Off Broadway.
Collaborative Arts Project 21 (CAP21) was founded by artistic director Frank Ventura in 1993 as a non-profit organization committed to the development of new works and talent. This year's first three-play season was cancelled as the result of declining theatre attendance and a loss of financial support, but CAP21 is continuing its goal of developing new works with its free Barbara Wolff Monday Night Reading Series and Blackjacks Festival 9, giving writers the chance to have their new plays and musicals workshopped.
CAP21's Blackjacks 9 Festival of New Works includes:
- Beach Radio (7:30 PM May 13, 3 PM May 14), featuring music by Gerard Kenny, book and lyrics by Drey Sheppard, and directed by Larry Fuller, is a pop musical about a group of 18 year old friends who spend the summer together, exploring their sexuality with the help of a radio sex guru.
- On the Treetop (7:30 PM May 15, 7:30 PM May 16), written by Tony Manzo and directed by Frank Ventura, is a new romantic comedy dealing with "the romantic illusions of young love and the expectations and needs of mature love."
- Autumn Run (7:30 PM May 17, 3 PM May 18), is about a man wrongfully accused of murder who is released from prison after 10 years. This "story of secrets and ties in an American family" is written by Susan Bigelow-Marsh and Janice Goldberg, who also directs.
- Rebels (3 & 7:30 PM May 20, 3 PM May 21), a new musical with music by Jeffrey Lodin, lyrics by William Squier and John Allen, and a book by Allen, Squier, and Mana Allen, which explores the various points of view that led to the American revolution and is set "against a backdrop of events from the Boston Tea Party to Bunker Hill." The production will be directed by Sheryl Kaller.
- Killing Louise (7:30 PM May 18, 21), by Carol Galligan, is about an 89-year-old woman with failing health who asks her friend to help in ending her life. Directed by Michael Montel, the play deals with "issues of conscience, law, morality and freedom of choice."
Tickets for individual performances are available for $10. A Blackjacks Pass can be purchased for $25, guaranteeing admission to any performance. For reservations to the Blackjacks 9 Festival, call (212) 807-0202 or the CAP21 box office at (212) 684-1500. The CAP21 Theatre is located at 15 West 28th Street (between Fifth Avenue and Broadway). For more information, visit www.CAP21.org. — By Chris Reichheld