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Stages 2004: A Festival of New Musicals

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Theatre Building Chicago hosts its 11th annual weekend-long showcase of new musicals, offered here in concert readings (with the actors at music stands) and staged readings (with the actors moving about while using scripts and scores). The eight works in progress assembled by artistic director John Sparks range in subject matter from the Wild West to ancient Egypt, from Al Jolson to Jack the Ripper, from the sentimental songs of Stephen Foster to the paranoid fables of Franz Kafka. The festival gives audiences and aspiring writers a chance to discuss the art, craft, and commerce of musical theater as they rub elbows between shows.

Stages 2004: A Festival of New Musicals takes place Friday-Sunday, August 13-15, in the north and south theaters of Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont. Individual prices are shown below; a Stages Pass to all Saturday-Sunday shows costs $85. For reservations and more information, call 773-327-5252.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 13

Broadway Man

Sherman Yellen and Will Holt penned this biography of legendary singer Al Jolson. The show, which features Jolson classics as well as new tunes, stars Sam Harris under the direction of Steve Scott. North theater, 7:30 PM. $75 (includes preshow reception and postshow party; Stages Pass not applicable).

SATURDAY, AUGUST 14

Ripper

Duane Nelson's musical drama concerns a reporter's attempt to track down Jack the Ripper. Henry Fonte directs. North theater, 9 AM. $15.

American Klezmer

Members of the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band are featured in this tale of two sisters who come to the U.S. in 1910. Domenick Danza directs this collaboration between Joanne Koch, Sarah Blacher Cohen, Ilya Levinson, and Owen Kalt. South theater, 9 AM. $15.

Broadway Man

See listing for Friday. North theater, 12:30 PM. $15.

Saratoga Trunk Songs

David Arthur's nostalgic musical concerns a group of actors who find an old trunk filled with what they believe to be songs cut from famous Broadway shows. Pat Murphy directs. South theater, 12:30 PM. $15.

The Arresting Dilemma of Mister K

Kafka's The Trial inspired John Sparks and Jon Steinhagen's musical about a man who is mysteriously apprehended and "forced to choose between perfect conformity and imperfect individuality." Andrea Dymond directs. North theater, 3:30 PM. $15.

Cleopatra

The Egyptian queen's triumph and tragedy are the focus of this musical by Scott Guy, Raymy Krumrei, and Jeff Hanson. Alison Henderson directs. South theater, 3:30 PM. $15.

The Singin' Cowboy

Gregg Opelka, Todd Mueller, and Hank Boland's romantic comedy, directed by Tina Salamone, pays tribute to the music and movies of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. North theater, 7:30 PM. $15.

Doo-Dah

The short and troubled life of 19th-century songwriter Stephen Foster is chronicled in this vaudeville-style musical. Based on a concept by Michael Lichtefeld, it features a script by Martin Casella; Jay Schwandt arranged Foster's classic sentimental ballads and minstrel-show hits. Ilesa Duncan directs. South theater, 7:30 PM. $15.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 15

The Singin' Cowboy

See listing for Saturday. North theater, 9 AM. $15.

Doo-Dah

See listing for Saturday. South theater, 9 AM. $15.

Lyricists' Forum

Mark Hollmann (Tony Award winner for Urinetown: The Musical), Julie Shannon (The Christmas Schooner), and Susan DiLallo (winner of the 2003 Kleban Award and Richard Rodgers Award) discuss the art of lyric writing. North theater, 11:45 AM (preceded at 11 AM by lunch at Joey's Brickhouse, 1258 W. Belmont). $20 (includes lunch; Stages Pass not applicable).

The Arresting Dilemma of Mister K

See listing for Saturday. North theater, 1 PM. $15.

Cleopatra

See listing for Saturday. South theater, 1 PM. $15.

Ripper

See listing for Saturday. North theater, 3:15 PM. $15.

Saratoga Trunk Songs

See listing for Saturday. South theater, 3:45 PM. $15.

American Klezmer

See listing for Saturday. South theater, 6 PM. $15.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Paul Grigonis.

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