CURTAIN UP PHILLY! A Celebration Of New Musicals March And April, A Philadelphia First!

Audiences will have the opportunity to see more than 20 new musicals in March and April 2024.

By: Feb. 08, 2024
CURTAIN UP PHILLY! A Celebration Of New Musicals March And April, A Philadelphia First!

MusiCoLab, a nonprofit organization founded to encourage and support new musicals and the artists who create them, has brought together several theater companies to establish “Curtain Up Philly! A Celebration of New Musicals” – a two-month celebration of the creation of new works for the musical stage. Audiences will have the opportunity to see more than 20 new musicals in March and April 2024.

“It is fitting that Philadelphia, a city of firsts, is curating first-seen musicals,” said Kelly Lee, Chief Cultural Officer of the City of Philadelphia. “Seeing musicals in the very beginning of the process is very exciting and reminds us of the myriad of talented artists and innovators born of this city. Curtain Up Philly! A Celebration of New Musicals is another reason to take great pride in the creative talent in Philadelphia.”

“Curtain Up Philly” begins at Theatre Exile in South Philadelphia, where from March 7 to 16, Pier Players Theatre Company is presenting “The Angry Grammarian,” a new musical by Jeffrey Barg and David Lee White, based on the column of the same name that Barg writes for the Philadelphia Inquirer. On March 17, 23 and 24, Theatre on the Verge, a non-profit company based in Greater Philadelphia, will present an ambitious New Musicals Festival at the Abington Arts Center. On April 13 and 14, MusiCoLab will present “Spotlight Series: A Closer Look,” a collaborative program at the Louis Bluver Theater at the Drake in Center City during Philadelphia Theatre Week. Finally, from April 18 to 21, the 10th anniversary season of the Polyphone Festival at the University of the Arts will present two new works at Arts Bank.

“Philadelphia is exploding with creative talent, and we can’t wait to highlight the exciting, inventive new work being created in our backyard,” said Charlie Gilbert, coordinator of “Curtain Up Philly!”, executive director of MusiCoLab, and a writer, composer and director who taught musical theater at the University of the Arts for over 30 years. He is gratified by the response of other theater-makers who have agreed to bring together this first-time collaboration. He added, “This initiative is intended to create greater interest in new musicals in Philadelphia and demonstrate what a vibrant scene there is for new musicals here.”

Here are more details about each program:

“The Angry Grammarian,” a new musical by Jeffrey Barg and David Lee White, will be presented at Theatre Exile in South Philly March 7 - 16. This production is by Pier Players Theatre Company, a local theater company helmed by Chelsea Cylinder, who also appears in the cast.

Theatre on the Verge will present an ambitious New Musicals Festival on March 17, 23 and 24 at the Abington Arts Center (with additional programming online). Several works by Philadelphia creators are in the lineup, including: “Red & Black,” by Nick Hatcher, Sheridan Merrick and David Thomas (previously seen in the 2020 virtual Polyphone festival); “Clock-Maker” by Alexi Ralston; and “Unwound: Beyond the Labyrinth,” by Amanda Gulla, currently a participant in The MusiCoLaboratory, the writers’ group sponsored by MusiCoLab.

MusiCoLab will present “Spotlight Series: A Closer Look,” a program featuring 30-minute excerpts from works of 3 or 4 local musical theater creators, at the Louis Bluver Theater at the Drake. This program will be presented during Philly Theatre Week, with performances on Sunday, April 14 at 3pm and Monday, April 15 at 7pm.

The Polyphone Festival at the University of the Arts was created in 2014, and this year the festival celebrates its 10th anniversary of bringing cutting-edge creators of new works and undergraduate theater makers together to explore new modes of making musicals. Two works, to be announced soon, will be performed in repertory April 18-21 at the Philadelphia Arts Bank.

Two other new musicals will be seen in Philadelphia later this spring: “Siluetas,” by Philly creators Erlina Ortiz and Robi Hager, will open at Temple University on May 31 in a production by Power Street Theater. Also, The Wilma Theater will present the premiere of “Hilma,” a contemporary opera by Kate Scelsa and Robert M. Johanson, from June 4-23.

Ticket links for these productions and additional information can be found at www.curtainupphilly.org.




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