The Chicago Musical Theatre Festival returns


Rogue Elephant Productions' Planted - MICHAEL COURIER
  • Michael Courier
  • Rogue Elephant Productions' Planted

Back for its third year, the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival, running at Victory Gardens Theater through 8/28, presents 14 new or lightly used musicals, two of them in workshops and a dozen in full productions. I saw a preview featuring just a song or two from 11 of the entries, so there's not much basis for a real evaluation. But I can tell you which tastes made me want more.

Jenna Roxy and the Church of Modern Love (Sat 8/20, noon): One of the workshop productions, this tale of a cough syrup cult was represented by two songs that shared the same driving feel and dense, intense language; cast member Sophia Shrand put her solo—"Too Drunk to Be 15"—over nicely. Pen (Fri 8/26, 6 PM): Speaking of putting things over, Jenna Schoppe brought big comic energy to the bridezilla joke that is "Happy Fucking Day," a song from Leo Schwartz and D.D. Cathro's musical mainly about a gay love triangle.

My Life Is a Country Song (Sun 8/21 and Sat 8/27, 5 PM; Sun 8/28, noon): This work by Anthony Whitaker of Chicago's own New American Folk Theatre has a serious subject—a woman's recovery from an abusive marriage. But you wouldn't know that from the preview song, "Good Baptist Girls," which offers three women channeling Bad Moms as they head out for a wild night. Mating (Sun 8/21, noon; Tue 8/23, 8:30 PM): Jeffrey Lyle Segal's riff on the "tragicomedy of modern romance" covers topics ranging from "Love Online" to what love is like when "My Baby Used to Be a Man." Flight (Fri 8/19, 8:30 PM; Tue 8/23, 6 PM; Sat 8/27, 7 PM): If the song "Free" is any indication, Michael Potsic's rewrite of the Icarus myth does a good job of emulating the anthemic Disney mode associated with Alan Menken.

Chicago Musical Theatre Festival Through 8/28: Tue-Fri 6 and 8:30 PM, Sat-Sun varies; see website, Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln, 773-871-3000,, $20, workshop productions free with reservation.

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