Underscore Theatre Announces Lineup for 2014 Chicago Musical Theatre Festival, 6/5-15

Underscore Theatre Company Artistic Director Alex Higgin-Houser and Executive Director Laura Stratford announced today the lineup for 2014's Chicago Musical Theatre Festival. Created to showcase Chicago's burgeoning field of musical theatre creators, Underscore's festival features eight world-premiere musicals.

Two categories of submissions were accepted-independent submissions, in which producers submit production-ready works of musical theatre to be produced independently by the submitters and performed at the festival, and mentored submissions, in which writers and composers submit completed works of musical theatre to be produced by Underscore. Having received nearly 40 submissions, the festival's team selected two mentored submissions and six independent submissions.

Accepted independent submissions include I Have Been to the Wild Wood, devised by Duplicity Ensemble and directed by Nathan Wonder; Just Like Horses, created by J. Christopher Blackwell; Starting With My Voice written by Audra Sergel and produced by The Big Muddy Show; Reasonable Terms, adapted with permission from the collection of stories, Animal Crackers, by Hannah Tinti with book by Joan Mazzonelli and Marianne Kallen, lyrics by Marianne Kallen, and music by Karena Mendoz; Luigi's Ladies, written by John Uth; and Uncle Em's Traveling Hootenanny presents Keep Your Story Short Cause Your Tale's Too Tall produced by Lawless Archer Creative and written by T.Paul Lowry. Accepted mentored submissions include ANTHEM, produced by Firefly Jars Entertainment and created by Rachel Payne, Adele Dodds Powers and Zak Sandler; and Mr. Munch has a Murmur, and adaptation of a short story by songwriter Mark Sanders, from the collection A Guitar and a Pen: Stories by Country Music's Greatest Songwriters (Hachette Books, 2008), adapted by L.C. Bernadine.

Produced by Underscore Theatre Company, performing at The Den Theater, the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival runs June 5th-15th, 2014. Lineup and performance dates be available April 1st at www.cmtf.org, and tickets go on sale May 1st. "There is a niche waiting to be filled in the Chicago theatre community- musical theatre writers and creators are looking for an artistic home," stated Underscore's Artistic Director Alex Higgin-Houser. He added, "it is our aim to give them one."

About Underscore Theatre Company - Founded in 2011, Underscore Theatre Company is a team of producing artists dedicated to creating out-of-the-park original musical theatre. The composer Jean Sibelius said, "Music begins where the possibilities of language end," and we fully embrace this mentality in our work. We believe musicals offer something more than other performing arts, with music, text, and actors' interpretation coming together create a transcendent experience for performers and audience alike.


I Have Been to the Wild Wood

devised by Duplicity Ensemble Directed by Nathan Wonder

Brief Synopsis: What are you afraid of? Really? Hunger? Death? Abandonment? Betrayal? Death? Those are things we fear, but we almost never confront. We construct elaborate ways to avoid dealing with these things. I Have Been to the Wild Wood tears those away and reveals our true fear.

Starting With My Voice

Produced by The Big Muddy Show Created by Audra Sergel

Brief Synopsis: Starting With My Voice is a musical theatre song cycle that explores six humans, their human experience and their spirituality, through comedy and drama.


Produced by Firefly Jars Entertainment

Created by Rachel Payne, Adele Dodds Powers and Zak Sandler

Brief Synopsis: Throughout our history during times of American war, soldiers and those who love them have written letters. Some of those incredible stories of struggle and personal triumph are expressed in this four person song cycle, ANTHEM. They vary in time period and perspective. From the Revolution to Vietnam, Civil War and Desert Storm, protestor to private, warror to widow. Each song has an echo of our National Anthem, woven together to make up the fabric of the nation.

Reasonable Terms

adapted from Animal Crackers, by Hannah Tinti

book by Joan Mazzonelli and Marianne Kallen, lyrics by Marianne Kallen, music by Karena Mendoz

Brief Synopsis: The story revolves around the Zookeeper, his broody wife, Matilda, and the giraffes, Lulu and Francesco, who make demands to improve their conditions. The Zookeeper fears the giraffes' demands and wonders what he would do if his wife Matilda made demands on him. Matilda worries about her husband. The Psychiatrist worries about the animals and what the zoo's board of directors may do with them.

Luigi's Ladies

Created by John Uth

Brief Synopsis: Legendary cereal mascot, LUIGI THE LEOPARD, has eaten his last bowl of crunchy flakes and died. His tragic story from rise to breakfast-cereal-stardom to his ultimate descent into self-destruction and addiction to Cuckoo Puffs is told by four women in his life in this one-woman musical comedy. It's Grrrrrand!

Just Like Horses

Created by J. Christopher Blackwell

Brief Synopsis: A dramatic presentation of how we learn to love people even when they fall down in life. As an Afrian-American family, the Tarpeys must not only deal with racial inequality but also the devastation of alcoholism and a gambling addiction. The question: can this family stick together when the odds seem stacked against them?

Mr. Munch has a Murmur

adapted from a short story by Mark Sanders adapted by L.C. Bernadine

Brief Synopsis: A comic tale about a sardonic musician, his ex-girlfriend and unexpected events on a street corner in Manhattan. MMHM explores those great themes at the core of country music and theater: love gone wrong, love gone right, and the crazy things we do as we strive for a little success in any corner of our lives.

Uncle Em's Traveling Hootenanny presents Keep Your Story Short Cause Your Tale's Too Tall

Produced by Lawless Archer Creative
Created by T. Paul Lowry

Brief Synopsis: It's a family show that combines music, puppets, wild costumes in a vaudeville- influenced storytelling narrative of the American Folklore classics of Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed, John Henry and Pecos Bill.

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