Schwartz, Bucchino, Gordon, Brown, Prince, Callaway Set for L.A.'s Inaugural New Musicals Fest

News   Schwartz, Bucchino, Gordon, Brown, Prince, Callaway Set for L.A.'s Inaugural New Musicals Fest
Stephen Schwartz, Ricky Ian Gordon, Jason Robert Brown and many other star musical theatre writers and performers will star or see their work staged in the inaugural Festival of New American Musicals in Los Angeles, planned for May and June 2008.
Stephen Schwartz
Stephen Schwartz Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Snapshots, a new musical revue of songs by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin), will get a premiere from the Rubicon Theatre, which will also present John Bucchino's It's Only Life.

The festival will also include a production of the play My Antonia, which Stephen Schwartz's son Scott Schwartz adapted from Willa Cather's novel. Stephen wrote incidental music.

The first English-language production of Schwartz's musical about Hans Christian Andersen, which has been seen in Denmark in Danish, is in negotiations to be presented as part of the festival.

A suite of music from the Ricky Ian Gordon's new musical The Grapes of Wrath, based on the classic John Steinbeck novel, will be performed in concert by the Los Angeles Master Chorale, conducted by its musical director Grant Gershon.

Pepperdine University will present a concert of new music by Jason Robert Brown (Parade, The Last Five Years), whose 13 recently ended a world-premiere engagement at the Mark Taper Forum. Cabaret performers such as Faith Prince, Ann and Liz Callaway, Amanda McBroom, Marilynn Lovell Matz, Karen Mason, Jason Graae and Karen Morrow will perform around the city.

The fest will also feature the West Coast premiere of the musical Sarah Plain and Tall, produced by Pepperdine University's theatre department.

ASCAP will workshop many new musicals throughout the fest in readings open to the public.

The festival is also looking to partner with Center Theatre Group, La Jolla Playhouse, the Old Globe, Pasadena Playhouse and Geffen Playhouse.

Each producing entity will finance its own production, while the festival will provide an umbrella marketing campaign.

The executive directors of the festival are Marcia Seligson, founder and former producing artistic director of Reprise! Broadway’s Best, and Bob Klein, who was a founding board member of Reprise!

Klein said in a statement, "It is our goal to make the festival a permanent celebration with new musicals on a regular basis and to establish a permanent center for the development and workshopping of new musicals in Los Angeles."

The pair are working closely with two primary advisers, Schwartz and Michael Kerker, who is director of musical theatre at ASCAP.

The 21-member advisory board, which will help choose the other participating musicals, includes Ted Chapin (executive director of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization), Sheldon Epps (artistic director of the Pasadena Playhouse), the actress Judith Light, Michael Ritchie (artistic director of Center Theatre Group) and the lyricist-director David Zippel.

The honorary chairs are Schwartz, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Jason Alexander and Angela Lansbury.

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