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Underscore Theatre Company is pleased to present its 5th annual CHICAGO MUSICAL THEATRE FESTIVAL, created to showcase and support the growing field of musical theatre creators from Chicago and beyond. This year's Festival features full productions of nine new musicals plus two free readings. The Festival will be performed simultaneously on two stages stages from February 4 - 24, 2019 at The Edge Theater: the Broadway (5451 N. Broadway) and the new Off Broadway (1133 W. Catalpa Ave.) in Chicago Edgewater neighborhood. Each full production will receive at least five performances during the Festival. Single tickets and festival passes are currently available at The press "Sneak Preview," featuring a sampling of songs from the 2019 Festival, is Monday, February 4 at 8 pm.


The 5th annual Festival takes place during the League of Chicago Theatres' annual Chicago Theatre Week, with discounted tickets available to all Theatre Week performances.


Since its inception in 2014, the CHICAGO MUSICAL THEATRE FESTIVAL has brought more than 40 new musicals to Chicago stages. The festival provides much-needed artistic resources for emerging composer/lyricist teams to have their work supported, explored and most importantly - performed!


Comments Underscore Theater Artistic Director Laura Stratford, "Underscore is thrilled to return to the Edge Theater to inaugurate their new Off Broadway stage for our fifth annual Chicago Musical Theatre Festival. This marks the first time in the festival's history that we will have programming running on multiple stages at once, which means more options for festival-goers and more time on stage for participants. We have added a representative from the independent licensing company Stage Rights to our panel of judges, meaning that not only will every show receive feedback from experts in the community, but they will all have a chance to make an impression on a licensing company that flourishes among regional theatres. Our lineup of musicals truly offers something for everyone, so we hope to see you in February!"

Location: The Edge Theater's two stage: the Broadway (5451 N. Broadway) and the Off Broadway (1133 W. Catalpa Ave.).

Press Preview: Monday, February 4 at 8 pm

Performance Schedule (on two stages): Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursday at 8 pm; Fridays at 7 pm & 10 pm; Saturdays at 3 pm & 7:30 pm; Sundays at 3 pm & 6 pm. Please note: there will be added performances on Monday, February 11 at 8 pm and Sunday, February 24 at 12 pm. For a detailed schedule by production, please visit

Free Readings: Monday, February 11 at 8 pm and Monday, February 18 at 8 pm.

Tickets: $20 ($15 during Chicago Theatre Week). $150 Festival Pass (all nine productions). Tickets are currently available at


The full line-up for the 5th annual CHICAGO MUSICAL THEATRE FESTIVAL includes:


OH HI, JOHNNY: The Room-sical Parody

Music and Lyrics by Alex Syiek

Book and Additional Lyrics by Bryan Jager

Featuring Connar Brown, Anthony Logan Cole, Micah Hilson, Cynthia Hindmon, Kyle Masteller, Sissy Anne Quaranta, Natalie Rae, Ian Rigg, Dylan Todd and Coleen Tutton


Oh Hi, Johnny is the unauthorized musical parody of Tommy Wiseau's disaster-piece, The Room. Join in the fun as we watch this writer/director/producer/star turn his "sacred artist vision" (dubbed the Citizen Kane of bad movies) into a big hit Broadway musical. Filled with chocolate, doggies and playing football in tuxedos... for some reason.


Book, Music and Lyrics by Evan Cullinan

Featuring Cody Dericks, Sophia Foldvari, Kayla Kennedy, Kati Kostyk, Quinn Rattan, Maddie Sachs, Garrett Sayers, Kelsey Skomer, Ryan Smetana, Taylor Snooks and Zach Tabor

Creating a story is hard work, especially when you're staring at a brand new page. Eve, a composer new to Chicago, attempts to tell a brand new story through song while dealing with the fiery embodiment of her unconscious thoughts: Ember, always burning over her shoulder. An Artist and The Ember: A Self-Love Story, examines the relationship between an artist and the personal anxiety in the act of creation and the effect that has on the creator and the creation for the world.



Book, Music and Lyrics by Jami-Leigh Bartschi

Featuring Taylor Adams, Sam Baum, Hannah Green, Alex Iacobucci, Michelle McKenzie-Voigt, Sean Rhead, Travis Shanahan and Brittany Stock


Follow the legendary friendship of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. Through the mystery, action, and cleverness woven throughout Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories, My Dear Watson looks beyond the realm of narrative and into the heart of the man himself... that is, if he has one at all. In this dramatic musical told from the perspective of Dr. Watson, we are forced to reanalyze and redefine love and friendship for a man who is seemingly incapable of both. Is there a man in the machine?



Book, Music and Lyrics by Adina Kruskal

Additional Music by Elyse Anderson

Featuring Kevin Blair, Rob Chesler, Allison Grischow, Kayla Higbee, Chelsea Milligan, Austin Nelson Jr., Jenna Rapisarda and Allie Wessel


Unison follows a tight-knit high school wind ensemble infected with a bad outbreak of Senioritis. As deadlines loom one after another, seven seniors struggle to balance band with the intense demands of the college application process. Between audition prep, personal essays, roommate pacts, and Ivy League rejections, everyone's individual problems pull them away from the group, leaving some students lost along the way. In order to lock in their post-grad plans without destroying their friendships, they'll have to practice hard, but party harder.



Words and Music by Ryan Martin

Featuring Rachel Guth, Jordan Pokorney, Maureen Sanderson and Rachel Whyte


When Hadley Breaker's father passes away, all of the adults in her life are quick to offer their sincere condolences and some not exactly asked-for advice: move on. Not the kind to take advice from grownups, Hadley and her friend Spider decide instead to build an impossibly tall ladder so they can visit Hadley's father in Heaven. Ryan Martin's new musical fairy tale is an adventure through the credible and the incredible, in which you don't realize what you've left behind until you can see it clearly from six thousand feet in the sky.



Book, Music and Lyrics by J. Linn Allen

Featuring Ana Maria Alvarez, Emi Lee Frantz, Sarah Hayes, Bill Kavanagh, John Leen, Shaina Summerville and Timothy Sullivan


How will you face the end? A cancer patient, estranged from his family, tries to write a song for his granddaughter's wedding in hopes of a reconciliation. Seized by emotion and memory, he calls on his creativity to give him strength in his waning days, and comes to accept help from a varied group of new friends.



Book, Music and Lyrics by Barton Kuebler

Featuring Austin Book, Annie Nelson and Gordon Stanley


Moonshiner is a magical take on film noir set among the alleys of Chicago in 1952. Selene Orb, chanteuse-cum-femme fatale, engages private eye Nicodemus Silver to uncover the secret of her husband Peter's monthly absences. The ensuing investigation unleashes a flood of secrets, leading the trio into desperate straits before a surprise visitor arrives to save the day. Ideal for fans of hard-boiled detective movies, classic American musicals and a slight touch of the supernatural, Moonshiner is a delightful evening not to be missed!



Book by Sarah Frasco

Music by Gabriella Hirsch

Lyrics by Sarah Frasco and Gabriella Hirsch

Featuring Brittney Brown, Elisabeth Del Toro, Shelby Edwards, Gary Fields, Sarah Frasco, Gabriella Hirsch, Katie Hunter, Madeline Lauzon, George Ochoa, Ricci Prioletti, Shanna Sweeney, Allison Taylor and Brendan Tran
Band: Noah Appelbaum, Joshua Draper, Jordan Harris and Becca Shertok

This is a story about a girl named Lucky. Okay, but really, it is! Lucky is a unique young woman, whose cosmology revolves around her copy of The Care and Keeping of You sent to her by her absent mother. Upon entering college, Lucky is forced to face the reality that not every obstacle she faces will be covered by her beloved book, and that maybe, her book is not as great as she once thought. Inspired by The Care and Keeping of You, Lucky: A Musical follows one young woman's journey of growing up, making new friends and understanding the wonderful, heartbreaking and magical elements of being a woman.



Book and Lyrics by Rachael Migler

Music by Eric Grunin

Featuring Christian Edwin Cook, Elijah Cox, Emily Hawkins, Patrick Hill, Neill Kelly, Cash Maciel, Marko McRae, Kayla Muldoon, Jordan Nazos, Sarah Ohlson, Britton Paige, Sarah Schol and Melanie VItaterna


A daring, evocative fantasy, Brooke Astor's Last Affair tells the true story of the charismatic, complex dynamo who ruled New York high society and rebuilt much of the city with her fortune until she was betrayed by her only child and his wife, leading to disaster for the family and Manhattan's splashiest criminal trial. With a lyrical, passionate score, the show tracks the rise and fall of one of America's most powerful, glamorous women and her epic, high-stakes quest to grow, love and forgive. Brooke comes to CMTF from festivals at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and Emerging Artists Theater in New York.


Free Readings



Book and Lyrics by Laura Stratford

Music by Laura Stratford and Heidi Joosten


Jenny and Jessa are outsiders, living on the outskirts of town with their father, the village gravedigger. Since their mother ran away two years ago, they've found companionship in the Boneyard, a ghostly realm they can only enter together, populated with the spirits of the town's former inhabitants. When a new spirit appears in the Boneyard, the girls must question everything they thought they knew about their family, and decide which world they want to live (or die) in.



Book and Lyrics by Gordon Leary

Music by Julia Meinwald


At the last minute, Geoff drives halfway across the country overnight to attend (or maybe crash?) his ex-boyfriend Casey's wedding to childhood friend Joelle. But when he gets there, it's all a bit more complicated than he expected.


About Underscore Theatre Company


Founded in 2011, Underscore Theatre Company is a team of Producing Artists dedicated to exploring stories of power and resonance through a musical lens; fostering the development of new musicals; and bolstering Chicago's role as a national leader in musical theatre. Since its creation, Underscore has produced or co-produced 65 new mainstage and workshop musicals in Chicago. Underscore is proud to be Chicago's home for new musicals.



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