BWW Spotlight: Village Originals' 2012 Festival of New Musicals
Village Theatre was back this last weekend with their 12th Annual Village Originals Festival of New Musicals. A weekend packed with five new musicals presented as script in hand, staged reading workshops; the festival aids in the fostering and growth of these exciting new works. Some previous works have even gone on to Broadway success as "Next to Normal" (previous title "Feeling Electric") and "Million Dollar Quartet" had their start through the Village Originals Festival of New Musicals and went on to win multiple Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize ("Next to Normal"). And, as they did with last year's "Cloaked" Village also took a previous festival entry and gave it a larger production as "Lizzie Borden" had a three performance off book workshop of it's own at the First Stage Theatre down the street from their main stage Francis J. Gaudette Theatre.
As these are all still works in progress it wouldn't be fair to critique any of them but here's a rundown of the offerings from this year's festival.
Hello Out There
Book & Lyrics by Eric Price
Music by Frank Terry
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.
Book & Lyrics by Beth Blatt
Music by Daniel Green
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.
Book by Kevin Merritt with David Henry Hwang
Music & Lyrics by Kevin So
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.
Book, Music and Lyrics by Bryan Putnam
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.
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.
Music & Lyrics by Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer
Book, Lyrics and Additional Music by Tim Maner
Music and Additional Lyrics by Alan Stevens Hewitt
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 (Carrie Manolakos, Billie Wildrick, Carrie Cimma, Jessica Low) will tell the story of the girl who took and axe, and gave her parents forty whacks. The actors accompanied by a stellar rock band led by music director Matthew Webb.
* Lizzie Borden contains mature content that may not be appropriate for all ages. Viewer discretion is advised.
Photo credits: Sam Freeman