The fest launched March 22 with two performances of Tales From the Bad Years by Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk, directed by Richard Roland.
Take Me America by Bill Nabel and Bob Christianson, directed by Susan Russell, will be seen March 29 at 2 PM and 8 PM at The Pavilion Theatre. It's based on the motion picture "Well Founded Fear," and has lyrics and libretto by Bill Nabel and music by Bob Christianson
In it, we "follow nine refugees in their quest for asylum in the United States, and the three INS agents who decide their fate. Do they stay or do they go? How would you decide? Get it wrong and you might as well sentence them to death, or worse. Inspired by true stories from the asylum process; stories of life and death. They are real, sometimes humorous, but always compelling." The show boasts 12 characters.
The new works performed by students on the Penn State University Main Campus in University Park, PA, are part of a development process that benefits writers and actors at once — authors hear and test new material in a safe environment, and student performers grow by working with new and unknown characters, songs and scenes.
"The purpose of the festival is to promote new works of musical theatre in a creative, educational and theatrical environment," according to Penn State. Each musical has one week of rehearsal culminating in two performances (free to the public) in reading format. The composers and lyricists are in residence at Penn State University Park working with Penn State students and faculty in this creative process.
Tales From the Bad Years is a five-actor musical revue "about people who are stuck between phases in their lives. Each song tells a story about being young, feeling old, and wanting something big."
Rehearsals began March 17 toward a March 21 dress rehearsal and 2 PM and 8 PM performances March 22 at The Pavilion Theatre.
Raymond Sage, assistant professor of voice, is artistic director of Penn State New Musical Theatre Festival, an initiative of The Pennsylvania State University School of Theatre and School of Music.
For more information, visit www.psunewmusicals.org.