Town's Residents Wander in Circus of Dr. Lao, a New Musical Testing in Chicago, Jan. 23, 2006

News   Town's Residents Wander in Circus of Dr. Lao, a New Musical Testing in Chicago, Jan. 23, 2006 The development of new musicals isn't exclusive to New York City, as proved by Theatre Building Chicago's six concert readings in the 2005-06 "Monday Night Musicals" series.

On Jan. 23, The Circus of Dr. Lao, based on the novel by Charles G. Finney, will be heard there. The new musical has book by Kevin Hale and music and lyrics by Jon Steinhagen.

In it, "the residents of Abalone, a depressed, drought-plagued town in Arizona, confront their innermost secrets and fantasies when they visit the Circus of Dr. Lao where they meet strange, mythical characters ranging from a satyr to a unicorn."

Elizabeth Margolius (founder of The Directors' Lab) will direct, joined by music director Jeffrey Bouthiette.

Tickets for the 7 PM presentation are $10. Admission includes a reception with the cast and artistic team following the performance.

Theatre Building Chicago "has devoted more than 28 years to cultivating new American musical theatre by supporting writers, lyricists and composers, while staging over 100 new musicals in Chicago," according to company notes. Members of the Musical Theatre Writers' Workshop meet regularly to collaborate under the guidance of artistic director John Sparks. Members develop individual projects with select new works presented in the Monday Night Musicals series, as well as Studio Presentations, One Acts, Mini-Musicals and Stages, TBC's annual festival of new musicals in progress– all performed at Theatre Building Chicago. Workshop alumna Susan DiLallo (award-winning lyricist and librettist of Once Upon a Time in New Jersey) praised the workshop, saying, "Getting your work up in front of audiences is a little like walking naked on burning coals — only scarier and more painful. Luckily, TBC gives us a safe place to do this."

Reservations are strongly encouraged. For information, call (773) 327-5252 or visit www.theatrebuildingchicago.org. TBS is at 1225 W. Belmont Ave., in Chicago.