New Musical GOD'S COUNTRY to Open 7/18 at NYMF

By: Jul. 03, 2013

God's Country, an original musical by Erik Johnke (Book and Lyrics) and Elaine Chelton (Music) set in 19th Century New York City, will be presented at the 10th Annual New York Music Theatre Festival (NYMF) for five performances starting on Thursday, July 18, at 9:00 PM, at The Pershing Square Signature Center Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre, 480 West 42nd Street. The musical is directed by Craig J. George and choreographed by Thomas-Sabella Mills. The Music Director is Bryan L. Wade.

The other four performances will take place on Sunday, July 21, at 1:00 and 5:00 PM; Tuesday, July 23 at 9:00 PM, and Wednesday, July 24, at 5:00 PM.

To purchase tickets by phone, call OvationTix at 212-352-3101. On line, visit: and visit the 2013 Events Page.

God's Country takes place in 1871 in the lower Manhattan area known as Five Points, the city's most dangerous place to live. Born to wealth and privilege, young Englishman James Watson is shattered by his mother's death and subsequent discovery that he was adopted and is really Irish. Determined to discover his true identity and find his birth mother, whom, he learns, had gone to America to start a new life, James impulsively embarks on an epic journey of discovery. Sweeping melodies with an Irish flavor carry this dynamic tale to the streets of New York City where James hopes to find his birth mother.

Once in New York, James befriends Tom Killian, who introduces him to New York's Irish community and agrees to aid him in his search. In exchange, James teaches Tom to read and gives him food and shelter. Soon James founds New York's first newspaper targeting the city's Irish immigrants, and uses the paper as a way to interview women who may know his mother's whereabouts. In his work as a journalist, James meets a young temperance worker, Kathleen Cahill, and they fall in love. As James becomes increasingly occupied with his search for his mother, Tom, sensing an opportunity, quickly rises to become the real editor of the newspaper, and has his eye on Kathleen as well. The production is set in a rich historical context and has classic elements of drama: a quest for identity, a love triangle and a villain. But it also has scenes of rollicking humor in the pubs of Five Points, large production numbers with stirring music, and a contemporary resonance with our current struggles with immigration. The score is a blend of Irish music and Broadway melodies performed by an ensemble cast of nine playing a wide variety of roles.

The cast features (in alphabetical order): Chuck Bradley (Tom Killian), Nick Cartell (James Watson), Jody Cook (Solomon McCreedy/Ensemble), Victoria Huston-Elem (Marion/Ensemble), Megan Kane (Sarah/Ensemble), Charles Levy (Foreman/Ensemble), Lulu Lloyd (Kathleen Cahill), Rob Lorey (Joe Cahill/Mr. Watson/Ensemble), and JP Qualters (Seamus O'Hanlon/Ensemble).

The Scenic Designer is Jonathan Collins and Claire Aquila has designed the period costumes. The Lighting Designs are by Richard Tatum. Raynelle Wright is the Stage Manager and Mae Frankeberger, Assistant Stage Manager. The Casting is by Cindi Rush Casting. The General Manager is Suellen Vance.

Erik Johnke is a playwright/lyricist/poet whose play Partition was a semifinalist for the Princess Grace Award for New Plays and whose short play, Reboot, was a finalist for the National Ten Minute Play Contest sponsored by The Actors Theatre of Louisville.

Elaine Chelton is a versatile pianist and composer who has worked with some of today's leading choreographers such as Susan Stroman, Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Alexi Ratmansky & Christopher Wheeldon. As a solo pianist for New York City Ballet she has performed the company's leading repertoire at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Russia, Japan, Hong Kong and Europe. Her theatre credits include a national tour of Evita and productions of 42nd Street and Merrily We Roll Along.

Director Craig J. George has staged many Off-Broadway productions, including Taming of the Shrew, The Aperture (New York International Fringe Festival), Lighter (New York Musical Theatre Festival), Macbeth (Harold Clurman Theater) and Alfred Kinsey: A Love Story (World Premiere, Michael Weller Theater).

Thomas Sabella-Mills has served as resident director/choreographer for New York's Obie Award winning company, Musicals Tonight! for 15 where he directed over 70 productions, Assistant Director/ Choreographer for Houston Grand Opera's A Little Night Music, and Director/Choreographer for its 2002 restaging for the Cultural Olympiad in Salt Lake City in association with the Olympics.

Bryan L. Wade is a musical director, Broadway accompanist and vocal coach who has musical directed/conducted productions at York Theater, Irish Repertory Theater, New York Musical Theater Festival, Midtown International Theater Festival, Phoenicia International Musical Festival, Spoleto Festival, as well as over 20 productions in regional venues.

The New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) exists to revitalize musical theatre culture by discovering and promoting new musical theatre artists, producers and projects; nurturing a vibrant and innovative artistic community; and connecting one of America's greatest art forms with a diverse, contemporary audience.

Now in its tenth year, the Festival is the largest musical theatre event in America. The preeminent site for launching new musicals and discovering new talent, the Festival provides an affordable platform for artists to mount professional productions that reach their peers, industry leaders, and musical theater fans. More than 85 festival shows have gone on to productions on and off-Broadway, in 48 states, and more than 20 countries worldwide, and Festival alumni have received a wide array of awards including the Tony and the Pulitzer Prize. In 2013, NYMF received a special Drama Desk Award in recognition of its work "creating and nurturing new musical theater, ensuring the future of this essential art form."

NYMF is the flagship program of National Music Theater Network, Inc., a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization. NYMF 2013 is presented in association with Dunkin' Donuts,, Production Resource Group,, New World Stages, Fox 5 New York, Tilson Consulting, The Out NYC, King Displays, Times Square Squared, Thomson Reuters, Nasdaq OMX, Backstage, Next Magazine, Ironpaper,,, and Yelp. NYMF is supported, in part, by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency. Major supporters include The ASCAP Foundation, BMI Foundation, Inc., The BWF Foundation, Con Edison, The Nathan Cummings Foundation with the support and encouragement of Jamie Mayer Phinney, The New Musical Development Foundation, The Jerome Robbins Foundation, The Rodgers & Hammerstein Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, and The Theater League.

NYMF Memberships, which combine charitable contributions with valuable, flexible ticket packages and perks like early seating are currently on sale. To purchase memberships or single tickets for Festival events, call (212) 352-3101 or visit


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