UnsungMusicalsCo. Announces 2019 Calendar Of Events in NYC, CT, and Washington, DC
UnsungMusicalsCo. (Ben West, Artistic Director) has announced, today, its Fall 2019 Calendar of Events scheduled at various mid-Atlantic locations. First up is the new documentary musical 45 Minutes from Coontown, which traces the history of black musical theatre and is the second installment in The Show Time! Trilogy; the season continues with Sex, Satire, and Song, an exhibit curated for Yale University; Diversity and the Birth of Broadway, a two-part lecture series for the Library of Congress; and concludes with the new musical revue *The Passing Show of 2019. UMC's 2019 season launched in March with the UMC Writers Lab*.
Launching UMC's fall series of events is the new documentary musical 45 Minutes from Coontown, a celebration of black musical theatre, tracing its history from the late-1800s through 1999, and featuring more than 30 songs almost exclusively by black writers. Developed over more than four years, with more than 20 archives in more than 10 states, 45 Minutes from Coontown documents the story of an art form that grew amidst a nation's racial prejudice, and the many African-American authors who not only furthered the form itself but were also instrumental in the development of the American popular song.
The new documentary musical 45 Minutes from Coontown is created, written and performed by Ben West, the founder of UMC and a 2017 recipient of Lincoln Center's Martin E. Segal Award, with musical continuity and arrangements by Fran Minarik, direction and musical staging by Parker Esse, and music direction by Dionne McClain-Freeney. Full creative team will be announced shortly.
The new documentary musical will premiere for FIVE PERFORMANCES ONLY: Thursday, September 12, 2019 through Sunday afternoon, September 15, 2019 at The York Theatre Company's Theatre at Saint Peter's (619 Lexington Avenue, entrance on East 54th Street, just east of Lexington Avenue). NOW ON SALE, single tickets start at $45, and may be purchased by visiting UnsungMusicals.org. Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission. Warning: This documentary musical contains mature, historically accurate themes.
45 Minutes from Coontown is the second installment in The Show Time! Trilogy, a trio of documentary musicals charting the evolution and cultural impact of the American musical. The first installment, Show Time! The First 100 Years of the American Musical, premiered last September at The York Theatre Company's Theatre at Saint Peter's under the direction of Shannon Lewis. The third installment will be 68 Ways to Go - premiering in 2020 - a celebration and history of female musical theatre writers from Clare Kummer and Anne Caldwell in the early-1900s to the emergence of Jeanine Tesori in the 1990s. 68 Ways to Go will feature more than 30 songs with lyrics and/or music written by a woman.
Continuing this fall, UnsungMusicalsCo. will head out of town with two special events beginning with Sex, Satire, and Song, a museum exhibition curated by Show Time! creator Ben West for Yale University's Irving S. Gilmore Music Library (120 High Street, New Haven, CT). Featuring rare items from the personal papers of authors E.Y. Harburg, Rosamond Johnson, Cole Porter, Harold Rome, and Kurt Weill, all of which are held at Yale University's Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Sex, Satire, and Song takes a look inside the Broadway revue, revealing remarkable moments in the life of an iconic stage form which revolutionized the American musical in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, and laid the foundation for such treasured television variety shows as "Saturday Night Live," "Laugh-In," and "The Carol Burnett Show."
The exhibit opens Tuesday, October 1, 2019 with a corresponding lecture event, and will remain open throughout the fall. Portions of the exhibition will also be viewable online.
In late October, Show Time! creator Ben West heads to Washington, D.C. where he will give the first of a two-part lecture series entitled Diversity and the Birth of Broadway which will focus on the early female and African American authors of the American Musical. The first lecture is set for Wednesday, October 23, 2019 with the second scheduled on February 19, 2020 at The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Further details will be announced soon. Both events will be videotaped for subsequent webcast.
Closing out the season in December 2019, UnsungMusicalsCo. will present The Passing Show of 2019, a new musical revue celebrating and satirizing the social and cultural happenings of the past year. The Passing Show of 2019, a one-night only benefit concert, will feature sketches and songs written by college students and emerging writers. Submission guidelines and full details will be announced shortly.
Borrowing the title of what some consider the first American revue, The Passing Show (1894), UMC's new annual event is inspired by the iconic Broadway revue of the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, which launched the careers of countless writers. UMC's Writers Council for The Passing Show of 2019, which will serve as advisors, includes Jeff Bowen, Adam Gwon, Anna K. Jacobs, Kait Kerrigan, and Georgia Stitt.
UnsungMusicalsCo.'s 2019 season launched in March with the UMC Writers Lab, an annual four-week intensive fostering the creation of a new original musical play. An exploratory reading of Again and Again and Again with book and lyrics by Gil Varod, and music by Jonathon Lynch was held on April 1, 2019 with a cast that included Rebecca Faulkenberry, Autumn Hurlbert, Aaron Ramey, and Brian Sears. Again and Again and Again is an original musical comprised of three interconnected episodes exploring romantic relationships at different moments in time.
For additional information, please visit UnsungMusicals.org.
UnsungMusicalsCo. (UMC) is a nonprofit production company focused on researching, developing, and presenting prescient new works which illuminate the intersection of past, present, and future, and speak to the American musical as a reflection of American consciousness. Founded in 2009, UMC relaunched in 2018 after a three-year hiatus for research and development with its renewed focus on past, present, and future, and projects which entertain, enlighten, and inspire. The Show Time! Trilogy, UMC's trio of documentary musicals charting the evolution and cultural impact of the American musical, will premiere at the Theatre at Saint Peter's between 2018 and 2020. Dedicated also to the preservation of rare musical material for future generations, the company will be receiving its own archival collection in the Billy Rose Theatre Division of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.
Ben West (Artistic Director) is a writer, director, producer, performer, and musical theatre historian. His current writing projects include The Show Time! Trilogy, three new documentary musicals charting the evolution and cultural impact of the American musical; Direct from Proctor's 23rd Street Theatre for One Night Only: January 16, 1920, a new vaudeville documentary; and February '43, a new documentary musical examining the origins and aftermath of the Minstrel Show. West's directing credits include Unsung Carolyn Leigh for Lincoln Center's American Songbook; Gatsby: The Songs in Concert; Make Mine Manhattan; and The Fig Leaves Are Falling. Broadway: Old Acquaintance, assistant director and dramaturg; August: Osage County and The Homecoming, assistant producer; and Talk Radio_, production assistant. West has lectured and spoken at the Library of Congress, U.S. Copyright Office, The New York Public Library, and Yale University, where he will also be curating an exhibition for the Irving S. Gilmore Music Library in fall 2019. He is the founder of UMC and a 2017 recipient of Lincoln Center's Martin E. Segal Award.