Christmas in July: Misfit Kids' Letters to Old St. Nick, music-directed by 2007 Drama Desk Award winner Mary-Mitchell Campbell (Company), will support Artists Striving To End Poverty (ASTEP), founded by Campbell to bring arts, education and empowerment to kids in need.
Chris Hoch, Daniel C. Levine, Cindy Marchionda and Sally Wilfert are among performers sharpening their pencils for the July 23 concert in New York City.
This "world premiere collection of naughty (and nice) holiday-themed theatre songs" by lyricist Kenneth Jones and composer Gerald Stockstill (both alumni of The BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop) will play at 7:30 PM at The Players Theatre at Macdougal and Minetta in Greenwich Village.
Joining the featured foursome of Hoch (Beauty and the Beast), Levine (Chicago), Marchionda (Arena Stage's Damn Yankees, Encores! The Apple Tree) and Wilfert (Assassins, Make Me a Song) will be special guests Roger DeWitt (The Woman in White), 2007 Tony Award nominee Gavin Lee (Mary Poppins), Emily Harvey (North Shore's upcoming Three Musketeers), Jennifer Simard (The Thing About Men, …Spelling Bee) and Jessica-Snow Wilson (…Spelling Bee), with Michelle Miller, Ben Roseberry and Kara Boyer.
Christmas in July is inspired by a new musical comedy Jones and Stockstill are writing. In the show of darkly funny letters to Santa, kids are played by adults. "We thought our so-far orphaned songs would make for a fun concert with a variety of voices," composer Stockstill stated, "and we were excited to be invited by ASTEP to test our work in front of an audience for the first time."
Lyricist Jones, who is also managing editor of Playbill.com, added, "It's nice knowing that songs sung by selfish, bratty, greedy characters will be doing some good for children who are in true need. ASTEP brings hope, comfort and joy to kids around the world, and Jerry and I have promised that beyond this concert, ASTEP will benefit from any future success our show has."
Organizers say the material has the feel of …Spelling Bee cross-pollinated with "A Charlie Brown Christmas" — but it's not for kids.
This is Jones and Stockstill's first major collaboration together since meeting in the Tony-Honored BMI Workshop. They recently worked with fellow BMI alumni on the musicals Too Good to Be True (Stockstill with lyricist Amy Coady) and Voice of the City (Jones with composer Elaine Chelton). The former had a 2006 reading in Kansas City, the latter had a 2006 workshop in Dayton, OH.
The Christmas concert is part of ASTEP's tradition of giving voice to emerging songwriters while raising money to introduce arts to kids who live in communities where performance, expression and creativity are luxuries.
All performers for Christmas in July are volunteering their talent, and 100 percent of the money supports ASTEP's mission.
Admission to the "dress-casual, book-in-hand concert" is $20 (general seating). To make a Christmas in July reservation, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (212) 706-1516.
The Players Theatre is at 115 Macdougal Street at Minetta Lane, 1-1/2 blocks south of Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village.
For more information about ASTEP's programs, visit www.createsomethinggood.org. For more information about Jones and Stockstill, e-mail DearSantaMusical@aol.com.
Artists Striving To End Poverty (ASTEP) is a non-profit organization "dedicated to mobilizing the global community of artists in an effort to create positive change for young people in need worldwide. ASTEP's programming, which includes arts camps in South Africa and Florida, an arts-based and centered orphanage in India, and outreach in New York City, takes place in communities with populations of impoverished children who have limited access to arts education."
The children who experience ASTEP "are empowered with creativity, knowledge, and a stronger sense of self-esteem, factors which help them break the cycle of poverty in their communities and in their own lives. At a time when funding for the arts is nearly extinct, ASTEP provides essential nourishment for young minds through song, dance, drama and the visual arts."
The ASTEP board of directors is comprised of Mary-Mitchell Campbell (founder/chair), Michelle Miller (vice-chair), Queen Nworisara-Quinn (treasurer), Jessica Walling Stokes (secretary), Kristin Chenoweth, Mark Canavera, Gavin Creel, John Doyle, Raul Esparza, Deb Lapidus, Anne L. Nathan, Timothy Thomas, Pascal Van Kipnis and Susan Vargo.