Theater League, Inc., the Kansas City-based national musical theatre presentation and production company, which has satellite presenting programs in a number of American cities, will introduce its Missouri audiences to readings of new works this summer in the first annual Kansas City Crossroads Musical Theater Festival this summer. This festival plays July 10–22, 2006.
Works were solicited in recent months in an open submission process and performers, directors and musical directors are pulled from the pool of Kansas City artists.
"Our mission at Theater League is to enhance the quality of life in the communities we serve with the thrill of live theatre," said Mark Edelman, Theater League president, in a statement. "We believe that introducing Kansas City audiences to new, fresh musical theatre productions is an important part of this mission. And by giving these new pieces a chance to be enjoyed, we plan to also offer new talent and new ideas the opportunity to grow and thrive. We are energized by the possibilities this exciting venture offers."
If the program takes off, Theater League, Inc., markets around the country may be witness to a reading festival, letting other regional audiences in on the process of giving voice to new works. One of the Crossroads Festival's goals is for the Theater League to possibly fully produce a festival production for future presentation in its venues. Theater League markets include Greensboro, NC, Long beach, CA, Mesa, AZ, Pasadena, CA, Richardson, TX, South Bend, IN, Thousand Oaks, CA, and Toledo, OH.
Following a national call for submissions, seven new musicals were selected. They include The Count of Monte Cristo, Dakota Sky, Frog Kiss, Maccabeat, Route 66, Thorstein Veblen's Theory of the Leisure Class and Too Good To Be True. Some of the titles have been seen in developmental or reading productions around the country. Readings will be staged at a variety of small venues in and around the downtown Kansas City "Crossroads District" over two weekends. The festival will operate under Actors' Equity staged reading rules. Equity and non-Equity actors are expected to perform.
Artistic teams directing readings for the festival include Linda Ade Brand and Andy Anderson, Amy Coady and Molly Jessup, Steven Eubank and Chris Leavy, and Ernest Williams and Anthony Bernal.
Here's a list of shows selected for the 2006 Kansas City Crossroads Musical Theatre Festival.
The Count of Monte Cristo, book and music by Philip de Blasi, lyrics by Jane Landers, based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas. It "tells the tale of the promising young sailor Edmond Dantes who is falsely accused of treason by his jealous rivals. Imprisoned on the island of Chateau D'if for 13 years, Edmond loses everything, but plots revenge on those who betrayed him. An old priest (Abbe Faria) wrongly condemned reveals to Edmond the location of a hidden treasure on the Isle of Monte Cristo. In an amazing turn of events, Edmond escapes from prison and secures the treasure turning himself into the Count of Monte Cristo. Edmond returns to his home and uses his newfound wealth and influence to gain revenge on his betrayers, win back his love, and fulfill his promise to Abbe Faria to help the poor and needy."Dakota Sky, composed by Deborah Wicks La Pama, libretto by Kathleen Cahill. " "Although lost to common history, 12 percent of homesteaders in Wyoming, South Dakota, and Colorado between 1887 and 1908 were single women. Dakota Sky was inspired by the letters and diaries of these single women who homesteaded the great plains at the turn of the century. On the night before the last land lottery in the American land rush at Fort Pierre, South Dakota, five single women are crammed into a tiny back room awaiting their fate: Abigail, a housemaid; Ida, a teacher; Viola, a prostitute; Wilomene, a society girl; and Mary, the acting Indian agent for the lottery. In the few hours they are joined together by the ghosts of their pasts and their hopes for a new beginning. When the night is over, they know their lives will never be the same."Frog Kiss, book and lyrics by Charles Leipart, music by Eric Schorr. "An adult twist on the classic fairy tale of the Princess and the Frog. The princess must marry, but no suitor suits her. However, she finds the 'yang' to her 'yin' in a talking frog. Although they try the age-old method of turning him into a prince with a kiss, it doesn't work and the zany kingdom unites as they try to free the prince of his affliction."Maccabeat, music by Harvey Shield, lyrics by Richard Jarboe and Chayim Ben Za'ayev, book by Ben Za'ayev, from a story by M. Edelman based on portions of the 1st Book of Maccabees (Apocrypha). "A pop rock musical take on the Biblical story of Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. Judah Maccabee and his brothers sing doo wop, chase girls and try to remain true to their faith and traditions in a world where it's cool to be Greek. When Judah and the lovely Allura, a 'heathen,' fall for each other, two very different cultures are forced to confront — and learn from — one another. With Allura's help, Judah and his brothers outwit the bad guys and strike the blow against tyranny that made the Chanukah celebration possible. It may not have happened quite this way, but hey — you never know."Route 66, book by Jerold Goldstein & William Squier, music by Fred Stark, lyrics by William Squier. "Liz Mitchell is a big-city journalist, a career woman in need of a jumpstart. Drew Garrett is a bohemian photographer who lives life as it comes. They are both assigned to work on a photo essay on historic Route 66 — a journey that takes them through the heart of America where they learn important lessons about life in America, local color, and eventually themselves."Thorstein Veblen's Theory of the Leisure Class, book and lyrics by Charles Leipart, music by Richard B. Evans. "It's New York City, 1900, and out-of-work economics professor Thorstein Veblen takes his 'Theory of the Leisure Class' to the Fifth Avenue Vaudeville Theatre stage. He announces that to facilitate the promotion and sale of his recently published economic treatise, he has engaged several unemployed actors to present a musical demonstration of his socio-economic theory. He introduces the heroine of his story, Ellen Potts, a soon-to-be-heiress, with an overdeveloped social conscience. Veblen's demonstration takes Ellen through courtship, marriage, and the pursuit of her dream of social justice for the poor of New York — and ultimately into conflict with Veblen's vision of a Conspicuously Consuming and Status Driven American Society."Too Good To Be True, lyrics and book by Amy Coady, music and book by Gerald Stockstill. Initiated and developed in The BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, it's "loosely based on the life of Elmyr de Hory, one of the most notorious art forgers of the 20th century." The musical "pieces together facts and fables of the infamous imposter by those who knew him — or thought they did. The musical chronicles the adventures of Elmyr and his partner in crime, the actress Helka Rosika, from the time they meet as starving artists through their nefarious rise to fame and fortune. Along the way, philosophical questions about the meaning of art, truth, and talent are revealed." Chris McCoy is artistic director of Kansas City Crossroads Musical Theater Festival. He has worked for Theater League, Inc. for two years as both presentation manager and manager of education and community programs.
Artistic Teams for the festival include director Linda Ade Brand and musical director Andy Anderson, director Amy Coady and musical director Molly Jessup, director Steven Eubank and musical director Chris Leavy, and director Ernest Williams and musical director Anthony Bernal.
For more information about projects and programming of work in Theater League markets (including Kansas City), visit www.theaterleague.com.