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Stages 2001: A Festival of New Musicals in Progress

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Stages 2001: A Festival of New Musicals in Progress

Chicago's New Tuners Theatre hosts this weekend-long showcase of 13 new musicals, offered here in varying stages of readiness. The agenda includes eight staged readings of never-produced works, with the actors using scripts and scores to piano accompaniment, as well as five "pitches"--backers'-audition-style presentations of scenes and songs from previously produced shows whose authors are hoping to secure future

productions. The fest gives audiences and aspiring writers a chance to discuss the art, craft, and commerce of musical theater as they rub elbows before each show and during meal breaks.

Performances take place Saturday and Sunday, August 11 and 12, in the north and west theaters of the Theatre Building, 1225 W. Belmont. Admission is $12.50 per performance or $65 for a two-day pass. On Friday, August 10, the festival opens with a benefit dinner and a performance by Jo Anne Worley (who will also emcee Saturday's performances) at the Claude Seymour House, 817 W. Hutchinson; tickets for that event are $125. For reservations to all "Stages 2001" events, call 773-327-5252.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 10

Opening Gala

Comedian Jo Anne Worley, who starred in last spring's concert revival of Call Me Madam at the Auditorium, headlines this black-tie-optional gala at the Claude Seymour House in Buena Park. Joining Worley for the 8 PM performance are the authors and composers of some of the coming weekend's shows, who will offer selections from their works. The performance is preceded by cocktails at 6 PM and dinner at 7 PM.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 11

Robin Hood: The Untold Story

Pop songwriters Berton Averre (of the Knack) and Rob Meurer penned this comic reinterpretation of the medieval legend; Stephen Rader stars as the arrow-dynamic hero in this staged reading. West theater, 9:30 AM.

It's So Quiet Here, A Christmas Valentine, and Lucky in the Rain

It's So Quiet Here, by June Siegel and Jimmy Roberts, tells of a famous painter recalling the time in her youth when she was first struck by inspiration; A Christmas Valentine, by Barbara Georgans, Susan Di Lallo, and Leo Schwartz, is based on O. Henry's story "A Retrieved Reformation." These two one-acts are performed in staged readings. The program also includes a "pitch" of Lucky in the Rain, a portrait of young American expatriates in 1920s Paris that was produced at the Goodspeed Opera House in 1997. Scripted by Broadway veteran Sherman Yellen (The Rothschilds), it features vintage songs by Dorothy Fields, Harold Adamson, and Jimmy McHugh.

North theater, 9:30 AM.

La Vie Ennui and Facade

Gregg Opelka's La Vie Ennui spoofs the music of Edith Piaf in its portrait of two fading cabaret singers in Paris; it's offered in a "pitch." Facade, by Thomas Adams and Margit Ahlin, concerns the relationship between three young misfits who form a "freaks club"; it's performed in a staged reading. West theater, 1 PM.

Otello

Norbert Gunther Kramer's musical, seen in a staged reading, resets the story of Shakespeare's Othello to modern-day Haiti. North theater, 1 PM.

Emma & Company and Jason and the Golden Fleece

Emma & Company, recently seen off-Broadway and performed here in a "pitch," is adapted by Judy Freed and Jon Steinhagen from stories by Edna Ferber; it examines the changing position of women in early-20th-century America. Jason and the Golden Fleece, by British writers Denise Wright and Peter Anthony, is based on the ancient myth; it's performed in a staged reading. West theater, 3:30 PM.

Statuette and Boldface

Dave Stinton and Jeffrey Hepker's Statuette, based on John Kane's novel Best Actress, focuses on the deadly competition among a quintet of dysfunctional stars vying for an Academy Award. The show received its world premiere in Chicago earlier this year at the WNEP Theater and is seen here in a "pitch." Boldface, by Renee Enna and John Drwal, is described as a comedy about a superhero who can't fly; it's performed in a staged reading. North theater, 3:30 PM.

Funny, You Don't Look Like a Grandmother and Opal

Robert Waldman, composer of The Robber Bridegroom, teamed up with Sheilah Rae and Lois Wyse for Funny, You Don't Look Like a Grandmother, an adaptation of Wyse's book about grandmotherhood. Currently running in LA, the show is performed here by the authors themselves in a "pitch." Robert Lindsey Nassif's Opal, based on the childhood diary of Opal Whitely, offers the tale of a girl who finds hope after enduring a tragedy; it's seen in a staged reading. North theater, 7:30 PM.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 12

La Vie Ennui and Facade

See listing for 1 PM Saturday. West theater, 10:30 AM.

Otello

See listing for 1 PM Saturday. North theater, 10:30 AM.

Emma & Company and Jason and the Golden Fleece

See listing for 3:30 PM Saturday. West theater, 1:30 PM.

Funny, You Don't Look Like a Grandmother and Opal

See listing for 7:30 PM Saturday. North theater, 1:30 PM.

Robin Hood: The Untold Story

See listing for 9:30 AM Saturday. West theater, 4 PM.

It's So Quiet Here, A Christmas Valentine, and Lucky in the Rain

See listing for 9:30 AM Saturday. North theater, 4 PM.

Statuette and Boldface

See listing for 3:30 PM Saturday. North theater, 7 PM.

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