It’s no secret that Village Theatre is a point of pride for the Eastside. The Issaquah- and Everett-based professional theatre produces consistently excellent shows that draw audiences from across the region.
Village Theatre also incubates new shows every year, putting up bare bones, but polished productions, of new scripts so that writers can receive feedback as they continue to hone their work. One of the ways the theatre does this is through the annual Festival of New Musicals, now in its 19th year. Some shows that have gone through this process at Village Theatre — think Next to Normal and Million Dollar Quartet — have gone on to be Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning musicals.
From August 9 to 11, the 19th Annual Festival of New Musicals will feature five staged readings of musicals currently in development. Selections vary from an uplifting musical about an intersex man navigating his first romantic relationship to a rock musical about a woman who gets away with robbing banks for more than a decade.
“This year our shows really run the gamut from small chamber musicals to large scale musical satires,” associate artistic director Brandon Ivie said in a statement. “It’s a testament to these writers, the Seattle theatre community, and our audiences that we can support such a vastly varied group of new musicals.”
The Festival this year will also include an element it’s never had before: Quick Musicals, a collaboration with The 14/48 Projects. Three teams of writers will have just 18 hours — starting at 6 p.m. on August 9 when the theme is chosen and ending at noon the next day when the musicals are performed — to each write a 10-minute musical.
Like the Quick Musicals, the five staged readings taking place throughout the weekend have limited time to come together: each show has one week of rehearsal time, during which actors cannot spend more than 29 hours on their roles. Yet every year despite the quick turnaround, readings of the shows in the Festival are entertaining, poignant, funny, and touching. To boot, they’re interactive, giving audience members the opportunity to voice both constructive criticism and praise to the writers of each show.
Below, find Village Theatre’s summaries of each new musical to be performed in the 19th Annual Festival of New Musicals. The weekend is for Village Originals Members; learn more about becoming a member, if you are interested in attending.
Book, Music, & Lyrics by Oliver Houser (Stephen Schwartz Award)
Developed with & Directed by Hunter Bird
Music Directed by Michael Nutting
On the advice of doctors, Chris’ mother took the leap to subject her intersex child to genital surgery as an infant and raise him as a girl. Now 26 years later, Chris has transitioned back into being a man and is navigating his first romantic relationship while he is haunted by his eleven-year-old self, Christine.
Book by Andrew Russell (Stu for Silverton)
Music & Lyrics by Rich Gray
Directed by Brandon Ivie (Lizard Boy, Jasper in Deadland)
Music Directed by Nathan Young
A wild and funny satire based on the 1971 Norman Lear film of the same name, Cold Turkey tells the story of a beleaguered small town which responds to an advertising gimmick to win a $25 million challenge to quit smoking for 30 days.
Book & Lyrics by Selda Sahin
Book & Music by Derek Gregor (Unlock’d)
Directed by Jessica Spencer
Music Directed by R.J. Tancioco (The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes)
A new-grass, post-rock musical, Modern is the inspiring story of a group of Amish teenagers on their Rumspringa. Witness their brief period of freedom as they struggle to find the balance between love, tradition, progress, faith, and who they’ll become.
Book & Music by Cheeyang Ng (2018 Drama League Fellow)
Book & Lyrics by Khiyon Hursey (Netflix’s upcoming MIXTAPE)
Directed by Desdemona Chiang
Music Directed by Steven Tran
Two worlds. Two cultures. One question: How far are you willing to go to find family? Chinese-American adoptee Calvin travels to China in search of his birth mother. Unbeknownst to him, his biological brother, Yun, travels to America, seeking to break free of family traditions. Their quests in search of their own identities force them to evaluate whether family is chosen or biological.
Created by Molly Beach Murphy, Jeanna Phillips, & Annie Tippe
Music & Lyrics by Jeanna Phillips
Book & Additional Lyrics by Molly Beach Murphy (Drama League Beatrice Terry Resident)
Directed by Annie Tippe (Octet, Ghost Quartet)
Additional Music & Music Directed by Alex Thrailkill
Peggy was a good neighbor, a good daughter, and a great bank robber. Disguised as a man in a fake beard and a ten-gallon hat, “Cowboy Bob” evaded detection for more than a decade. In a score that’s equal parts Riot Grrrl and Texas two-step, the small-town legend inspires a local waitress to take life by the reins and let it ride.