Village Theatre to Develop Musicals by David Henry Hwang, Robert and Willie Reale

By Adam Hetrick
July 24, 2012

The Village Theatre's Festival of New Musicals will develop Lizzie Borden, Johnny Baseball and Great Wall, the latter a new musical co-written by David Henry Hwang, this August in Issaquah, WA.



The 12th annual Village Originals Festival of New Musicals nurtures six new musical works for the stage. Only one musical, Lizzie Borden, will be presented to the public. Both Next to Normal (under the working title Feeling Electric) and Million Dollar Quartet were developed at the weekend festival in previous years. The 2012 component will run Aug. 10-12.

Carrie Manolakos, Billie Wildrick, Carrie Cimma and Jessica Low will star in Lizzie Borden, which played a New York run in 2009 at the Living Theatre. Lizzie Borden has music by Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer and Alan Stevens Hewitt, additional music by Tim Maner, with lyrics by Cheslik-DeMeyer and Maner (who also penned the book). Matthew Webb is musical director.

Here's how it's billed: "Lizzie Borden was a rock star in her time, garnering fame, fortune, and two dead parents without a scratch on her criminal record. Now her story has a rock score with words and facts pulled right from the court transcripts of Lizzie’s famous murder trial. A cast of four incredible women will tell the story of the girl who took and axe, and gave her parents forty whacks."

Additional musicals set for the Festival include Great Wall, with a score by Kevin So, and a book by Kevin Merritt and Tony Award winner David Henry Hwang. According to the Village, "For his entire life, Asian-American Victor Woo has dreamed of performing with his piano on stage and becoming a superstar. But after his father's death, his tradition-based mother needs help maintaining the family Chinese restaurant and Victor must now grapple with difficult life-decisions that could make or break his performer profile. Already knowing that fitting in to the cookie cutter music industry is a road riddled with judgmental views and Asian-stereotypes, he needs to make the decision to stick with his roots or continue to battle the bigotry of the music industry to be a star. Rich with R&B influenced melodies; this new musical will have you cheering for the American rock star dream—no matter who is pursuing it."

Johnny Baseball, penned by Tony nominees Robert and Willie Reale (A Year With Frog and Toad), was previously seen at the American Repertory Theater in 2010. The musical features music by Tony nominee Robert Reale (Frog and Toad), lyrics by Tony and Oscar nominee Willie Reale (Frog and Toad, "Dreamgirls"), and a book by Richard Dresser.

"Most would say the Boston Red Sox were stuck under the Curse of the Bambino for 86 long years due to their badly calculated trade of Babe Ruth… but was this really the cause? This new musical takes a fresh spin on the rumored old tale, intertwining the discrimination of the 1920s with the heartfelt story of a young and talented white pitcher's love for a black jazz singer. Bursting with a sprightly score and elevating lyrics, it's a story about love and forgiveness, unjustifiable prejudice, and the good 'ole game of baseball," according to the Village.

Hello Out There has book and lyrics by Eric Price and music by Frank Terry. Here's how it's billed: "In this coming of age musical, a popular girl and her two nerdy schoolmates take advantage of the newborn Internet to transform themselves into an unlikely trio of online stock market advisors. But when their advice sends a blue-collar taxi driver to bankruptcy and the SEC to investigate their antics, the teens must find a way to make amends. The new-fangled concept of computers coupled with the unpredictable ups and downs of the stock market make Hello Out There a guilt-alleviating lesson about the transition of growing into the adult world."

Oneida has book and lyrics by Beth Blatt and music by Daniel Green. According to the festival, "The Oneida commune strives for the perfection in life, endeavoring for flawlessness with expressively open communal practices. But in such a small community, it's only a matter of time before things go wrong. Discouraged 'sticky' feelings and attachments things get stirred up between members. Soon the devout become filled with doubt. Based on the true story of the 1848 Oneida Community in New York, this musical is a journey into a world of ultimate idealization and the repercussions of trying to suppress unpredictable human emotions."

Bryan Putnam's musical The ToyMaker will also be staged. Here's how it's billed: "The town of Lidice was destroyed during WWII, snuffed out by the Nazi's and removed from maps. In this poignant new musical, the spirit of Lidice lives on in the memory of one heartsick toymaker and three of his most prized handcrafted creations. Inexplicably drawn to his story, a modern-day American woman has purchased two of the toys. Now, she is about to set off on an irrational journey to Europe to find the third—drawn by her own longing for children and a connection to a tale she can't fully understand. With a heartrending score laced with sadness and hope, The ToyMaker is both brave and compassionate and reminds us all of the injustice and forgiveness of mankind."

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