New musicals and plays are sprouting in workshop form this spring in The Fourth Annual New Works Festival at TheatreWorks, the resident Palo Alto, CA, company devoted contemporary theatre.
The works being presented in developmental form as April turns to May include Wheelhouse, billed as "the GrooveLily Musical That Moves," by Gene Lewin, Brendan Milburn, Rachel Sheinkin and Valerie Vigoda, who created the cult musical hit Striking 12. Ted Sperling directs the TheatreWorks presentation of Wheelhouse, seen April 28 and scheduled again for 5 PM May 1.
"In an effort to cut expenses, a struggling rock band hits the highway in an aging motor home," according to TheatreWorks notes. "In a comically touching ode to the road, their plans backfire, threatening the sweet harmonies that hold them together." Created by the pop group GrooveLily, it's "an autobiographical tale of three tunesmiths in desperate need of a tune-up."
Also on New Works Festival slate:
The Funkentine Rapture, "a Funkalicious New Musical," book by Lee Summers and Ben Blake, music and lyrics by Lee Summers, directed by Robert Kelley. 8:30 PM April 29, 5 PM April 30. "The soaring '70s. Platform shoes, skyhigh 'fros, and a beat to take you even higher. When an aspiring funkmaster reaches for the stars, he's caught in an uproarious battle between good and evil, funk and disco, Kentucky fried and Harlem's catfish surprise. Can he win the girl, gain the gig, and rescue the recipe from heinous hands? Get your funk on for the funniest musical funkfest in years."
Vrooommm!, a Nascomedy, by Janet Allard, developed with and directed by Michael Bigelow Dixon. 2 PM April 30, 8 PM May 1. "When a female driver becomes the hottest racer on the NASCAR circuit, the good ol' boys get good n' mad. Sabotage, deception, inside moves and plenty of pit-stop passion soon rule the racetrack. In this wacky high-speed comedy, it's miles per hour versus laughs per minute all the way to the checkered flag."
Laughing Without an Accent, a "Solo Comic Adventure," written and performed by Firoozeh Dumas, developed and directed by David Ford. 6 PM April 29. "From the author of the best-selling memoir 'Funny in Farsi,' this hilarious solo adventure tells what it takes to create a best-seller while growing up as an Iranian-American in the land of the free. Insightful and funny, this touching tour de force by the uniquely talented Firoozeh was developed specifically for the New Works Festival."
Piece, a "Musical Memory," music and lyrics by Scott Alan, book by Tara Smith, directed by Schele Williams. 8:30 PM April 30, 2 PM May 1. "Mom's empty house triggers vivid memories for a high-fashion editor whose career has peaked almost as fast as her passions have paled. In a soaring musical full of unexpected recollections, she pieces together the patterns of a life filled with promise and compromise, third strikes and second chances, and always, a mother's unconditional love."
Part of TheatreWorks' New Works Initiative,
The New Works Festival "embodies TheatreWorks' core values by combining artistic excellence through collaboration, diverse programming, and audience involvement, while celebrating the human spirit," according to notes by Kent Nicholson, Director of New Works for TheatreWorks. "A live audience is the most important part of the development process. The best thing a writer or composer can ask for is an audience to be thrilled by something new and exciting. We ask that you help us realize our potential by joining us as we work out the kinks and discover how these pieces touch us, reflect us, and make us laugh. Together, let us applaud the power of theatrical imagination. Some of what you see will be funny, sad, or downright odd. But we promise you it will be a thrilling ride!"
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