Stages '97: A festival of new Musicals in Progress | Festival | Chicago Reader

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Stages '97: A festival of new Musicals in Progress

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What are you doing the rest of your life? How about this weekend? If you're interested in the state of the musical theater, you might want to check out some or all of this weekend-long event, which showcases a slew of new musicals in various stages of development. The performances range from short presentations of material from the shows to fully staged "skeletal productions," as shown in the schedule below. Presented by New Tuners Theatre, the fest features 14 works by writers from Chicago, around the country, and overseas; it also gives audiences and aspiring writers a chance to discuss "the anatomy of a musical" as they rub elbows with each other and various out-of-town celebrities--including Oscar-winning songwriter Alan Bergman. All activities (except the Friday benefit--see listing below) take place at the Theatre Building, 1225 W. Belmont; see below for which of the Theatre Building's three theaters each show is in. Prices range from $10 for single performances to $25 for a one-day pass and $39 for a two-day pass; for more information, call 773-327-5252.

FRIDAY, JULY 25

New Tuners Kick-off Benefit

This opening event features a cocktail reception beginning at 6 PM, a buffet dinner at 7 PM, a performance of selections from the coming weekend's shows at 8 PM, and a postperformance dessert reception. Alan Bergman will host the event and will also perform some of his songs. The benefit takes place at the Arts Club of Chicago, 201 E. Ontario. Tickets for this event are $125 (passes are not accepted); call 773-929-7367, ext. 22.

SATURDAY, JULY 26

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

Lee Pockriss, Hal Hackady, and Henry Farrell's version of the horror tale about two reclusive sisters is offered in a "sit-down reading," with a full cast reading from scripts. North theater, 9 AM.

Emma & Co.

Judy Freed and Jon Steinhagen's musical about a turn-of-the-century traveling saleswoman is offered in a "sit-down reading." South theater, 9 AM.

The Pitch

This is a series of 20-minute presentations of works-in-progress, in which actors describe the plot and characters and sing several selections. On display are: Cashell Byron's Profession, John Sparks, Ken Stone, and Jan Powell's adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's tale of a woman who falls for a prizefighter; Flower Shop by Donald Abramson and Vincent Bonvissuto, about "a control freak who falls in love with a man with a short life expectancy"; Goldy and the Three Bears' Lox, Marty Hansen and Kerry Chater's fairy-tale spoof; The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, adapted from Washington Irving's classic tale by Scott Sandoe, Elizabeth Doyle, and Owen Kalt; and Nobody Likes Retsina, Barbara Georgans, Jon Steinhagen, and Philip Seward's show about Greek immigrants in Depression-era Chicago. North theater, 11:15 AM to 12:30 PM.

The Pitch

Same as above in the following order: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Nobody Likes Retsina, Cashell Byron's Profession, Flower Shop, and Goldy and the Three Bears' Lox. South theater, 11:15 AM to 12:30 PM.

Medicine Show

Thomas Royal, Ellen Fitzhugh, and Walter Kennon's musical--described as "a classic commedia story turned Western"--is performed in a staged reading. North theater, 1:30 PM.

The Money Tree

Harriett Belkin, Norman Belkin, and Warner Jepson's musical, about a backyard tree that sprouts dollars, is performed in a staged reading. West theater, 1:30 PM.

The 4 in the Morning Boogie Blues

Marsha Meyers and Jim Owens's a cappella musical, about a woman haunted by ghosts from her past and present, is performed in a staged reading. North theater, 4 PM.

Overland

Ken Stone and Jan Powell's musical about pioneers in a westward-bound wagon train is performed in a "skeletal production," the next best thing to a full production. North theater, 7:30 PM.

SUNDAY, JULY 27

Medicine Show

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

Sea Change

Tom Megan's study of an East Coast seaman and his family is performed in a "sit-down reading." South theater, 9:30 AM.

The 4 in the Morning Boogie Blues

See listing for Saturday. North theater, 12:30 PM.

The Money Tree

See listing for Saturday. West theater, 12:30 PM.

Slings and Eros

Bridget Dodson and Janet Barnet's "romantic romp," performed in a "sit-down reading," pits Mark Twain (played by veteran Twain impersonator Richard Henzel) against William Shakespeare in a Prince and the Pauper spoof. North theater, 3 PM.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Tom Jansson photo (uncredited).

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