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Eugene O'Neill Theater Center Announces 2014 National Music Theater Conference Selections

The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center announced today its two new musicals selected for development at the 36th National Music Theater Conference:

The War Dept.
Libretto, Music, & Lyrics by Jim Bauer
Libretto, Art, & Video Direction by Ruth Bauer
> View creative team bios
Readings: Saturday, June 28 at 8pm; Sunday, June 29 at 3pm; Wednesday, July 2 at 8pm; Friday, July 4 at 7pm

Synopsis: The American Civil War has ended, but the terrible task of cleaning up the mess - and trying to make sense of it all - has only just begun. That work falls in large part to the eccentric savant Private William T. Clarke working in an obscure and mysterious division of The War Department, sorting through unmanageable mountains of records housed now in Ford's Theater, dark since Lincoln's assassination there three years before. Clarke, who is fighting demons of his own, finds his strange and insular domain invaded by three desperate visitors in the same day, each looking for something precious lost in the war, unearthing tense and powerful emotions buried just below the surface. Unfortunately, Clarke may be the only person who can help them, and the war may not be over yet.

The White City
Words by Julia Gytri
Music by Avi Amon
> View creative team bios
Readings: Saturday, July 5 at 8pm; Sunday, July 6 at 3pm; Wednesday, July 9 at 8pm; Friday, July 11 at 3pm

Synopsis: Chicago, 1893. The city hosts the World's Columbian Exposition. Change is palpable: all in attendance hope to propel society into a shining new era. We follow Lucy, a rambunctious sharpshooter from Buffalo Bill's Wild West, as she explores the Fair, thrilled by the fast-paced modernity of city life. But trouble simmers beneath the façade of the shimmering "White City" when young women begin to go missing, as Henry Howard Holmes, a local doctor, exploits the innovations presented at the fair for his own demented purposes. Loosely based on the true story of America's first recognized serial killer, The White City explores all of the delightful (and deadly) possibilities that accompany the introduction of new technology.

Breaking the 2013 conference's records, the National Music Theater Conference received over 200 submissions for 2014. Under the leadership of conference Artistic Director Paulette Haupt, each selected work will under go the O'Neill's signature development process, employing acclaimed professional actors, dramaturgs, directors, and music directors in an intensive series of rehearsals which culminate in four staged script-in-hand readings open to the public.

Speaking about this year's selections, Ms. Haupt said, "The selection process for this summer was daunting, with 211 applicants marking a record year for us. It is always astonishing to know how much talent is out there needing and deserving to have their voices heard. We are proud to support the works of Jim and Ruth Bauer and Avi Amon and Julia Gytri this year with two inspired music theater works of exceptional quality."

Since its founding in 1978, the National Music Theater Conference has developed nearly 120 new musicals, including early works of award-winning writers and composers such as Kirsten Childs, Tan Dun, Andrew Lippa, Duncan Sheik, Steven Sater, Paul Oakley Stovall, and Jeannine Tesori. Many have received productions and acclaim worldwide.

Joe Masteroff and Edward Thomas' Desire Under the Elms (2003 Grammy nominee) was the first work to be developed at the Conference in 1978. Arthur Kopit, Mario Fratti, and Maury Yeston's Nine, developed in 1979, was the Tony Award winner for Best Musical and Best Score in 1982 and Best Revival of a Musical in 2003. Jeff Whitty, Robert Lopez, and Jeff Marx's Avenue Q, developed in 2002, won three Tony Awards in 2004, including Best Musical. In the Heights, a 2005 project with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and book by Quiara Alegría Hudes, received the Lucille Lortel and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Outstanding Musical in 2007 and four Tony Awards, including Best Musical, in 2008.

The O'Neill's Executive Director, Preston Whiteway, remarked, "The National Music Theater Conference remains at the forefront of fostering this unique American art form. I am very excited for these pieces to come to the O'Neill to be developed as part of our 50th summer season. Jim and Ruth Bauer's The War Dept. and Julia Gytri and Avi Amon's The White City continue the robust tradition of the American musical."

The National Music Theater Conference runs from Saturday, June 28 through Friday, July 11 at the O'Neill's campus in Waterford, Connecticut. Box Office ((860) 443-1238) and online ticket sales begin Wednesday, June 11; advance ticket sales are available to O'Neill Members beginning Wednesday, May 21. Schedules are subject to change.

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