BWW Spotlight: Village Theatre's 18th Annual Festival of New Musicals

Several years ago, I remember watching the Tony Awards and seeing Broadway power couple Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker presenting the award for Best Score and getting all giddy and nerdy over it because "NEW SONGS!" Well that's how I feel every summer at Village Theatre's Festival of New Musicals. I get to see what's out there up and coming and maybe get to walk away seeing a new gem. And this year was no exception with a couple of shows blowing me away. Now, of course, these are workshops and staged readings of shows, so we cannot really review them, but I can at least tell you what they offered us.

Music by Ben Chavez, Book & Lyrics by Yianni Papadimos
Directed by Jerry Dixon

BWW Spotlight: Village Theatre's 18th Annual Festival of New Musicals
Sarah Russell, Rafael Molina, and
Kody Bringman in Elysium.
Photo credit: Sam Freeman

Elysium is the story of an Ohio family dying under the weight of its own secrets. When Katie returns to her childhood home for her father's funeral, she reunites with Tabby, the sister she hasn't seen in years. Their reunion was supposed to be a peaceful one filled with memory and mourning - however, a terrible storm brings the arrival of an unexpected guest. As the whiskey pours, questions about a brother and father unconditionally loved by a town are finally answered.

BWW Spotlight: Village Theatre's 18th Annual Festival of New Musicals
Mikayla Sanchez and Alexander Penkov in
The Passage.
Photo credit: Sam Freeman

By David Darrow
Directed by Brandon Ivie

Albert, a sixth grader, has a monster living in his basement. When it captures his father, he enlists his brave new friend, Cassie, to embark on an epic journey into the depths of his home. The Passage is a coming-of-age story about two children confronting a reality stranger than anything they could imagine.

Book & Lyrics by Brian Crawley, Music by Zoe Sarnak
Directed by Sheila Daniels

BWW Spotlight: Village Theatre's 18th Annual Festival of New Musicals
Chelsea LeValley and Eliza Palasz in
Teddy & Max.
Photo credit: Sam Freeman

Teddy and Max are two young sisters from Queens who form a singing duo in the late '60s. Joining the vanguard of the era's singer-songwriters, they question everything - from their given names (Theodora and Maxine) to the roles others expect them to play. Teddy & Max examines the decisions female performers were able to make for themselves in that era - sometimes a little ahead of women in other professions - how the culture supported and obstructed them, and of course how their decisions look to us through the frame of feminism today.

Book by Hannah Kohl, Lyrics by Daniel Maté, Music by Will Aronson
Directed by Victoria Clark

BWW Spotlight: Village Theatre's 18th Annual Festival of New Musicals
The cast of
Hansel & Gretl & Heidi & Günter.
Photo credit: Sam Freeman

Gretl - yes, that Gretl - is now a single mom living in modern day Chicago, still suffering the post-traumatic stress of her fairytale childhood. She can't resist stuffing her kids' pockets full of pebbles, spraying them with deer musk to hide their human scent from witches, and imposing a strict no-sugar policy. Her tragically modern kids, Heidi and Günter, are fed up, and dream of the impossible: a normal childhood. But when long lost Uncle Hansel shows up at their doorstep, they are plunged into an unexpected adventure that brings the family together in a hilarious and touching tumble of past and present.

Book by Jenny Stafford, Music & Lyrics by Sam Salmond
Directed by Kathryn Van meter

BWW Spotlight: Village Theatre's 18th Annual Festival of New Musicals
The cast of The Homefront.
Photo credit: Sam Freeman

The Homefront is a rock musical about female factory workers at the end of World War II. As soon as the war was won, the women were fired in order to make room for the men returning home. This is the story of one woman's journey at the earliest stages of a feminist revolution in the American workforce, as she fights to get the women hired back at the factory - while balancing her relationship with her husband, a returning war veteran. What happens when our progressive ideals meet reality? What are we willing to give up-and who are we willing to overlook-in order to get what we want?

And that's what we saw and who knows, what you may soon see coming to a larger production near you.

For more information on Village Theatre's Festival of New Musicals and how you can become a member to see them each year, visit them online at

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From This Author Jay Irwin

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