Underscore Theatre Company Presents CHICAGO MUSICAL THEATRE FESTIVAL Preview — Spotlight on New Musical Theatre


February 3 - February 23, 2020
Mondays – Sundays, various times

Two Stages:
The Edge Theater (Broadway)
5451 N. Broadway
The Edge Theater (Off Broadway)
1133 W. Catalpa Ave.

Underscore Theatre Company’s Chicago Musical Theatre Festival showcases the expanding number of Chicago musical theatre creators.  Since its inception in 2014, the CHICAGO MUSICAL THEATRE FESTIVAL has brought nearly 50 new musicals to Chicago stages. The festival aims to provide much-needed artistic resources for emerging composer/lyricist teams to have their work supported, explored and performed.

This 6th annual Chicago Musical Theatre Festival, created to showcase and support the growing field of musical theatre creators from Chicago and beyond. The 2020 Festival features full productions of eight new musicals, plus two “pay-what-you-can” staged readings and a showcase of 10-minute musicals. 

The Festival will take place during the League of Chicago Theatres’ annual Chicago Theatre Week, with discounted tickets available to all Theatre Week performances. There will be multiple shows playing in two venues at once.


The full line-up for the 6th annual CHICAGO MUSICAL THEATRE FESTIVAL includes: 

On The Edge Broadway stage:


Book, Music and Lyrics by Gregory Becker

Directed by Christopher Pazdernik, Music Direction by Matt Salvo, Choreography by Kayla Boye

Featuring Alli Atkenson, Noah BermanJayla CraigCourtney Dane MizeShea Pender, Sydney RichardsJenny RudnickLaura Sportiello and Jasmine Young

WONDER WOMEN THE MUSICAL is an inspiring Golden Age-style musical comedy that tells the true story of the birth of the 1941 classic comic book character, Wonder Woman®. This story follows three women who lived in a clandestine four-way polyamourous relationship with the scientist who invented the lie detector. We see how this group overcame the discrimination, misogyny, and sexual taboos of the day and eventually became a ‘family’. Working together, they fused their individual passions for reproductive rights, gender psychology, equal rights, and BDSM and gave the world a superhero who would defeat ignorance using the powers of love and acceptance, and ignite humanity’s inner desire for a matriarch.



Book, Music and Lyrics by Olivia Popp

Directed by Zach Barr, Music Direction by Justin Cavazos

Featuring Ethan Carlson, Ryan Frenk, Stephanie Fongheiser, Nina Jayashankar, Gina Martin and Brian Pember


Astrophysics Ph.D. student Luke needs to prove his theory of parallel universes for his dissertation. Rising young writer Sam needs to salvage her latest story for her chance at a big break. When Luke successfully opens a wormhole and finds Sam on the other side, the two discover that they can help each other more than they think. DOUBLE VISION is an original sci-fi comedy musical by Olivia Popp about science (well, sort of), love (okay, kind of), relationships (in more ways than one), and the power of seeking something new.



Book and Lyrics by Ed Bryan, Music by William Berry

Directed by Jean Hardie, Music Direction by Annie Flood

Featuring Kevin Blair, Grant Brown, Hope Campbell, Melody DeRogatis, Theresa Egan, Zander Galluppi, William Garry, Aszkara Gilchrist, Mary Laura Godby, Nate Hall, Aaron Johnson, Chris Jowett, Kyle Kite, Peyton Lynch, Courtney Miller, Nick Pardo, Sean Rhead, Peter Ruger, Stefan Schallack, Charlie Scriven-Young and Ginny Weant 


The story of MOBY DICK is a headlong race into the jaws of death. Those on land wait, worry and go about their lives while Captain Ahab and the crew of the Pequod sail inexorably toward a tragic fate. Honorable Starbuck, carefree Stubb, practical Flask, heroic Queequeg, mysterious Fedallah and the rest of the crew: all are lost to Ahab’s fanatical obsession as he hurls himself against the will of God and the harsh divinity of nature. From the rowdy hijinks of The Great Leviathan to the high spirits of The Bedford Girls to the poignant reverie of Ahab’s What Price I Paid, the music weaves a haunting spell around a diverse cast of characters who live and die by the dictates of the sea. Ishmael, alone, lost and adrift on Queequeg’s coffin, survives to tell the tale and turn, at last, toward the comforts of hearth and family.



Book by Kelsey Nighthawk, Music and Lyrics by Matt Day

Directed by Logan Boyd Jones, Music Direction by Samantha Westlake 

Featuring Katie Cutler, Elise Delap, Danny Ferenczi, David Marden, Natalie Rae, Cody Robison, Will Rupert, Nola Tellone and Allie Wessel


PAPER SWORDS is a romantic comedy musical, focusing on two groups of live action role-players (LARPers) as they navigate adolescence. When the king announces his retirement, the teenagers and the kingdom of Eloren are thrown into shambles. To determine the next ruler of the land, the knights of competing teams Ferndrey and Silvermore must battle one another for the throne. Full of young love, heartbreak, awkwardly-long high fives, nostalgia and wonderfully catchy tunes, PAPER SWORDS will have you in tears (from laughing and/or crying) as you exit the theatre.



Story and Lyrics by Lawrence Adelson and Keith Gatchel, Music by Nicholas Davio and Chauncey Alexander Davis-Mauney

Featuring Lara Carling, Esther Fishbein, Luke Halpern, Tyler Maxie, Jack William Rodgers and Elijah Warfield


Two kids, Billy and Jamie, have been taken by their mom to live at their grandmother’s house while she starts a divorce with their dad. In the basement, they discover a time machine powered by potatoes. Billy uses it to make honor roll and defeat the school bully. But, when things go wrong, Billy and his mother need to try and find a better way to change the future in this rock-and-roll fairytale for kids and families


On The Edge Off Broadway Stage:


Book, Music and Lyrics by Jordan Liu and Deepak Kumar

Directed by Taylor Stark, Music Direction by Jordan Liu

Featuring Anna Brockman, Yuchi Chiu, Devon Hayakawa, Murtaza Kapasi, Adit Marciano, Eunice Park, Joselle Reyes, Vicky Snyder, Ryan Tang and Janelle Villas

When she doesn’t receive the scholarship that would send her to her dream school, habitual overachiever Jane Huang, with the help of her best friend, joins forces with the class degenerate to build the greatest drug empire ever run by high schoolers. Kept in the dark are Jane’s parents, whose inability to cope with their daughter leaving for college while maintaining a profit at their struggling Chinese bakery drives them to pry and potentially unravel Jane’s web of lies.

BAKED! THE MUSICAL is a reflection on perfectionism, self-worth, and the question of what we owe the people we love. It features an all Asian American cast, and the themes are born out of the writers’ own experiences growing up as the children of immigrants in the US.



Book and Lyrics by Fran Zell, Music by Karena Mendoza

Directed by Joan Mazzonelli, Music Direction by Mo Yeh, Choreography by Angela Allyn

Featuring Erin Renee Baumrucker, Marian Kaderbek, Elizabeth Rentfro, Samantha Jo Russell and Maiko Terazawa


Five women at a gym turn their obsession with weight into a steady diet of friendship. Each focuses on her appearance while harboring a secret she is afraid to share. Projecting their frustrations onto a mysterious woman in their midst, four of the women rig the gym’s Truth or Dare game in hopes of learning their adversary’s darkest secrets. The plan backfires, giving everyone the opportunity to come clean and test her own capacity for friendship. 



Book and Lyric by Brittany Handler, Music by John Love

Directed by Sarah Joy Adler 

Featuring Sarah Joy Adler, Susan Bratton, Tara Egan, Brittany Handler and Vinny Tangherlini 


Adira is a musical satire that tells the story of one princess who must rescue her kingdom. After learning of a terrible curse, Adira runs away to find herself and to break the spell. Along her journey, she encounters a series of new characters, both friend and foe, who teach her things that she never knew—including a troll and his bridge, some magic mushrooms and an evil sorcerer. With the help of some dancing dildos and her singing vibrator sidekick, Adira has some big O! moments and learns that she is stronger and more capable than she ever knew.


$25 ($15 during Chicago Theatre Week)

Readings: pay-what-you-can.

Showcase of 10-Minute Musicals ($10 suggested donation). 

For more information and tickets visit the Underscore Theatre Company website.

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