New Musicals MIDWESTERN GOTHIC and SILVER BELLES Get Private Readings at D.C.'s Signature Theatre

New Musicals MIDWESTERN GOTHIC and SILVER BELLES Get Private Readings at D.C.'s Signature Theatre

Continuing its ongoing efforts of supporting new musical theatre, Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA held invitation only readings of two world premiere musicals, Midwestern Gothic by composer Josh Schmidt (pictured, middle-right - Adding Machine, A Minister's Wife) and librettist Royce Vavrek (pictured, bottom-left - Dog Days, Twenty-Seven) and Silver Belles by composer/lyricist Matt Conner (pictured, left - Nevermore, Crossing) and book writer Ally Currin (Caesar and Dada, Benched), on November 6 and November 8, 2014.

Midwestern Gothic was commissioned as part of the American Musical Voices Projects: The Next Generation with support from The Ted and Mary Jo Shen Charitable Gift Fund.

Midwestern Gothic explores the wild and fantastical "inner-barbarism" suppressed - then suddenly released between a collection of folks inhabiting an isolated rural American town. With her mostly-absent mother Deb tending endless bar-shifts in a small town several miles away, nineteen year-old Stina spends most of her aimless days immersed in books and films on television while her stepfather Red tends a nearly defunct farm. Armed with the power of her intelligence, rampant imagination, and striking beauty in a yellow one-piece swimsuit, Stina manipulates Red (wallowing in his own mid-life crisis) and an over-weight hired "farm-boy in heat" named Anderson for daily fun, sport and entertainment. What else can she or anyone else do to pass the time as the hand of poverty, isolation and loneliness increases its grip on the inhabitants of this desolate, yet beautiful Midwestern landscape from which there is no apparent escape?

"Writing this show with Josh for Signature Theatre is beyond exciting," said librettist Royce Vavrek. "It's the convergence of many influences in my life: the cinema of Catherine Breillat and Andrea Arnold, Sam Shepherd's plays, the hand-painted photography of Pierre et Gilles, and my own experiences growing up on a family farm. It has blossomed from a deeply personal and passionate place, and it's thrilling to watch it find its shape in this workshop."

New Musicals MIDWESTERN GOTHIC and SILVER BELLES Get Private Readings at D.C.'s Signature TheatreThe cast for the workshop features Maria Egler, Lesley Hamilton, David Little, Matthew Myers, Anthony Nuccio, Graham Rowat, Paul Scanlan, Stephen Gregory Smith, Russell Sunday and Emily Zickler.

Directed by Matthew Gardiner and Music Directed by Timothy Splain.

Silver Belles is the fourth musical by Matt Conner to be developed by Signature Theatre. The Arlington based composer and lyricist created Nevermore, The Hollow and Crossing.

Silver Belles looks at life, loss and love with country-fried music and down-home humor. The Silver Belles' Pageant is the highlight of Christmas in Sylva Ridge, Tennessee, and this year's production of "A Christian Christmas for Christ" is sure to top last year's runaway hit, "Another Naughty Nativity." But without their peerless leader Oralene, the Belles find the pageant in jeopardy and a dear friend in dire need.

"We are very excited to work on this new project with Eric Schaeffer and the amazing Signature Team in developing a brand new show for the Holidays!" said composer Matt Conner.

New Musicals MIDWESTERN GOTHIC and SILVER BELLES Get Private Readings at D.C.'s Signature Theatre"To have access to Signature's amazing pool of talent, resources and expertise as we develop this new musical is absolutely humbling," said book writer Ally Currin. "Matt and I are so eager to dive into the deep end of this creative process and put the finishing touches on SILVER BELLES, a musical that both of us have poured our hearts and souls into for several years now. To see it on its feet with Eric and the whole Signature team is going to be a blast."

The cast for the workshop features Sandy Bainum, Ilona Dulaski, Catie Flye, Rayanne Gonzales, Helen Hedman and Dan Manning.

Directed by Eric Schaeffer and Music Directed by Warren Freeman.

ABOUT THE AMERICAN MUSICAL VOICES PROJECT - The AMVP, founded in 2006 thanks to a generous grant from The Shen Family Foundation, is the largest single musical theater commissioning and producing initiative of any U.S. theater, and has commissioned 14 works to date (nine under 'The Next Generation' which supports emerging composers). Through the AMVP, Musical Theater Composer Grants have been awarded to Ricky Ian Gordon, Michael John LaChiusa, Joseph Thalken, Adam Guettel and Jeanine Tesori. Each of the grants includes a commission to create a new full-length musical, with a commitment for full production as part of Signature Theatre's mainstage season. In April 2009, Giant by Michael John LaChiusa received its world premiere at Signature Theatre. Ricky Ian Gordon's Sycamore Trees premiered in May 2010, and Joseph Thalken's musical, And the Curtain Rises premiered in March 2011. In June of 2008, the AMVP added The Next Generation program which has awarded grants to Matt Conner, Adam Gwon, Gabriel Kahane, Peter Foley, Marisa Michelson, Chris Miller, Scott Davenport Richards, Josh Schmidt, and Joshua Rosenblum. In August 2011, the AMVP Next Generation program saw two of its early commissions come to fruition with the historic AMVP Repertory Series, featuring full productions of Matt Conner's The Hollow and Adam Gwon's The Boy Detective Fails in rotating repertory. The AMVP Repertory Series -- the first of its kind in the American theater -- launched Signature's 22nd season.

ABOUT SIGNATURE - Recipient of the 2009 Regional Theatre Tony Award, Signature Theatre is a non-profit professional theater company in Arlington, Virginia dedicated to producing contemporary musicals and plays, reinventing classic musicals, and developing new work. Under the leadership of co-founder and Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer and Managing Director Maggie Boland, Signature has presented 38 world premiere productions and is renowned for combining Broadway-quality productions with intimate playing spaces.

In addition to hosting the finest talent from the DC metropolitan area and New York, Signature has been home to such theatre luminaries as Chita Rivera, George Hearn, Hunter Foster, Emily Skinner, Ann Reinking, Marc Kudisch, Judy Kuhn, John Kander and Fred Ebb, Cameron Mackintosh, Terrence McNally, and the company's signature composer, Stephen Sondheim. Since its founding in 1989, Signature has won 90 Helen Hayes Awards for excellence in the Washington, DC region's professional theater and has been honored with 340 nominations

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