University Of The Arts' POLYPHONE FESTIVAL Returns Virtually For 2021

'Festival of the Emerging Musical' to present four new works online.

By: Apr. 14, 2021

University Of The Arts' POLYPHONE FESTIVAL Returns Virtually For 2021

University of the Arts' Ira Brind School of Theater Arts has announced the lineup for the seventh annual Polyphone Festival of New and Emerging Musicals. The festival will be available online beginning April 21st at

The four musicals that comprise the 2021 festival approach the form in a spirit of radical adaptation. From an interactive/ist queer superhero comic book universe, an expansive virtual world created by a self-aware A.I. program, a soundscape-driven present-day exploration of primal redemption, to an intersectional odyssey unpacking American literary history and oppressive forces, each creative team has chosen to investigate virtual musical theater development in a unique way that supports the needs of their show. Each musical has been workshopped virtually over 8 weeks.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Maggie-Kate Coleman, Polyphone represents an institutional effort by University of the Arts to change how musicals are born and how young theater makers are trained. By putting student actors and creatives in collaboration with cutting-edge artists of new musicals and dedicating university resources to new works as they are being born, Polyphone has made a transformative impact on hundreds of young artists, audiences, and the field of new musicals as a whole.

The American Theatre Wing featured Polyphone in its Emmy-nominated series Working In Theatre in 2017.

Composer and Writer César Alvarez served as Polyphone's artistic director from its founding in 2015 through 2019. The Polyphone Festival would like to acknowledge the generous support of Doug Kreitzberg and the late Suzanne Kreitzberg, whose memory we hope to honour through our work.

For regular updates and creative content follow Polyphone on Instagram at @polyphonefestival

For press inquiries please contact Lindsay Cram at

* Musicals are currently in development and are not open for critical review at this time.

This year's Polyphone Festival will feature presentations of four new works:

The Blazing World

Adapted from The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing-World by Margaret Cavendish

Book and Lyrics by Brandy Hoang Collier

Music by Sean Eads

Directed by Zi Alikhan

Music Direction by Mo Yeh

Visual Design by Carolyn Mraz

Sound Design by Chris Sannino

Costume Design by LeVonne Lindsay

Video Effects Editing by Matt Powell

Movement by Madison Cupp-Enyard

The Blazing World is a futuristic adaptation of Margaret Cavendish's groundbreaking 1666 sci-fi novel. The musical follows computer engineer Margaret Hoang and her personal passion project: an A.I. program named Pyra. As Margaret struggles to make space for herself in the real world, Pyra grows more curious about worlds outside the computer.

Kill the Whale: A Musical Odyssey

Adapted from Moby Dick by Herman Melville

By Daniel Henri Emond

Directed by Chloe Treat

Music Direction by Josh Henderson

Visual Design by Carolyn Mraz

Sound Design by Michael Kiley

Dramaturgy Consultation by Lynde Rosario

Kill the Whale: A Musical Odyssey refracts Moby Dick into a cycle of songs that bare the souls of each character. The chamber rock orchestra Peek-Wow and its diverse actor-musicians-steeped in rock and hip hop, folk and roots, rhythm and blues, psychedelia and soul-drives the piece towards its inevitable conclusion, much like Ahab's ship. The narrative visits the insides of the minds of its characters--the anxieties of its narrator, the monomania of its captain, the ego death of its cabin boy--places them together in this world and offers sonic communion in the confusion of "this mixed affair called life."

Lilith and Her Demons

Adapted from Lilith and Her Demons by Enid Dame

Created by Apartment 20

Music and Lyrics by Sarah Norcross Hough

Directed by Randi Alexis Hickey

Music Direction by Damien Figueras

Additional Material and Stories by The Ensemble

Visual Design by Lina Younes

Sound Design by Larry Fowler

Costume Design by Dina El-Aziz

In this modern-folk song cycle we meet the mythological she-demon, Lilith, as a rather ordinary young woman in Newark, NJ. She's on the run, healing from betrayal and heartbreak, searching the world and herself for a sense of power and freedom. An ensemble of seven asks the question, how many lifetimes do we have to live before we get to see our redemption story through?


By Truth Bachman

Directed by Zhailon Levingston

Music Direction by Keiji Ishiguri

Illustration and Animation by Jake Colderath

Sound Design by Christie Chiles Twillie

Video Editing by Colin Sass


Nonbinary fourteen-year-old, Mel, is a high school bully caught between the worlds of "boy" and "girl". Misunderstood by parents, teachers, and classmates, MEL's world is lonely and savage. But when Mel unearths a universe called Queer Time, their flaws become their superpowers. Mel finds a family of superheroes, The Shapeshifters, whose mission is to save young teens from untimely death. An action-packed musical that combines the suspense of Watchmen with the camp of Glee, Shapeshifters is an episodic adventure told through social media, illustrations, and a playlist of original songs by Truth Bachman. A universe of LGBTQ superheroes unlike any seen before, Shapeshifters encourages audiences of every age, gender, and sexuality to find their tribe, sing along, and claim their superpower. @shapeshiftersmusical

Purchase tickets at

s in 1987, University of the Arts became the largest institution of its kind in the nation, offering programs in design, fine arts, media arts, crafts, music, dance, theater and writing. It now features 30 undergraduate arts majors, 15 graduate programs and the nation's first PhD program in Creativity. UArts is also home to innovative centers across disciplines, including the Center for Immersive Media, Lightbox Film Center, Philadelphia Art Alliance and Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery.

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