Harmony, Kansas, featuring a book and lyrics by Bill Nelson with music by Anna K. Jacobs, kicks off the festival Jan. 13 at 7:30 PM in the Goodspeed Opera House. Harmony, Kansas, according to Goodspeed, "follows Heath, a farmer in rural Harmony, Kansas and his city-born partner who talks him into joining the newly formed gay men's chorus. Heath discovers a love for making music and unexpected kinship. But when the group decides to perform in public, his world is turned upside down and all that matters to him is threatened."
Following Harmony, Kansas will be the Festival Cabaret, a showcase of new songs by new artists, at 10 PM in the Gelston House.
"Break-out Sessions," held Jan. 14 from 10 AM-12:45 PM in the Gelston House, will feature talkbacks with actors and creatives. In "Sessions," Peter Filichia, theatre critic and author of "Broadway Musical MVPs," will name his picks for the most valuable players of each of the past 50 Broadway seasons; the Harmony, Kansas creative team will share the ups and downs of creating a new musical; and Nancy Anderson, winner of the Noël Coward Cabaret Award, will talk about the life of Coward and perform highlights from his songbook.
A preview of a new musical that is headed to Goodspeed's Norma Terris Theatre in 2012 will follow the "Break-out Sessions." The preview will be held in the Opera House from 2:30-3:30 PM. Also, the Noël Coward Symposium will be held in the Goodspeed Opera House at 4 PM, which features a free panel discussion with Book of Mormon co-director and Goodspeed alumni Casey Nicholaw.
Not Wanted on the Voyage, featuring a book by Brian Hill with music and lyrics by Neil Bartram, will be held at 7:30 PM at the Goodspeed Opera House. The musical, which is based on the novel by Timothy Findley, centers on an "ordinary family living ordinary lives in the turbulent days before the Great Flood. Their ordinary lives are turned upside-down when they learn that they alone will survive the coming deluge. Filled with magic, mythology and, above all else, hope, Not Wanted on the Voyage is a provocative new musical about the first time the world ended." The Festival Cabaret will follow, and is held at 10 PM in the Gelston House. Closing day, Jan. 15, will feature The Dogs of Pripyat, with music by Aron Accurso, lyrics by Jill Abramovitz and a book by book by Leah Napolin & Abramovitz. The musical reading will be at 1 PM in the Opera House. Here's how Goodspeed describes the work: "USSR, 1986. As all humans are evacuated from Chernobyl, their pets are left behind to fend for themselves. This is the story of those animals. Boychik is a gentle mutt who pines for his masters’ return. But when a pair of alphas take control, Boychik learns how to hunt, kill and ultimately form a new kind of family. Based on true events, The Dogs of Pripyat is a story about hope and survival when they seem least possible."
Following the musical, a reception will be held at 3:30 PM in the Gelston House, which features a meet-and-greet with the writers.
The Goodspeed Festival of New Artists is produced by Goodspeed Musicals' Max Showalter Center for Education in Musical Theatre. Dedicated to the preservation and advancement of musical theatre, Goodspeed Musicals was the first regional theatre to receive two Tony Awards (for Outstanding Achievement).
Goodspeed Opera House is located at 6 Main Street in East Haddam, CT. For more information and festival tickets, call (860) 873-8668 or visit www.goodspeed.org.