Michael Warrell and Lisa Kuhnen in CPA Productions’ DAPHNE’S SUNSET. Photo by Jenny Anderson.

Underscore Theatre Company has announced the full line-up for its third annual CHICAGO MUSICAL THEATRE FESTIVAL, featuring 14 new musical productions. Created to showcase and support Chicago’s burgeoning field of musical theatre creators, this year’s festival will be held August 9 – 28, 2016 at Victory Gardens’ Richard Christiansen Theater, each production will receive four performances.

According to Underscore, the festival received more than 60 submissions. 14 new musicals have been chosen to participate.

This year, Underscore is partnering with CPA Theatricals and Kokandy Productions for “The Bridge Program”. The program will pair composing teams with an established theatre company that oversees casting and rehearsals to give writers and composers a sense of what is involved in the production of a new work.

“This year’s festival continues CMTF’s trend of growth to better serve and provide an artistic home for our vibrant Chicago community of musical theatre creators,” comments Underscore Theatre Company Artistic Director Alex Higgin-Houser. “This year, we’re providing composing teams more opportunities than ever before to connect with the musical theatre powerhouses of Chicago. Kokandy Productions and CPA Theatricals are taking over the production process for our Bridge Program – and Bailiwick Chicago will be producing a workshop in the festival, joining past participants such as New American Folk Theatre.”

Full Line-Up below. A detailed schedule of performances has yet to be released.

DAPHNE’S SUNSET presented by CPA Theatricals

Book and Lyrics By Kevin Jaeger, Music by Alex Mitchell

Previously performed as Spot on the Wall at the New York Musical Festival

Daphne’s Sunset tells the story of one family’s search for expression and empathy inside a museum. Paul Hunter, a talented photographer, is about to have an exhibition of his work at the museum – but when his artwork focuses on his mother’s recent lost battle with cancer, his family finds out how difficult it can be to face your pain and your past.

FLIGHT presented by Kokandy Productions

Book, Music and Lyrics by Michael Potsic

Based on the Greek myth “The Flight of Icarus,” Flight follows Daedalus, his wife Aeden and their son Icarus as they learn that to truly live and love comes with great risk.

PLANTED presented by Rogue Elephant Productions

Co-conceived by Christopher Pazdernik and Jeff Bouthiette

Music and Lyrics by Jeff Bouthiette, with additional lyrics by Rebekah Walendzak

In the tradition of classic hetero-centric works such as Closer Than Ever and Songs for a New WorldPlanted is a contemporary song-cycle exploring relationships of modern-day queer men. Five men – include including a trans-man, a Latino-American and a bisexual – navigate through the minefields of dating, marriage, separation and independence. Through a multitude of characters and songs, audiences will be introduced to stories both heart-breaking and hilarious during this one-act musical collage.

TRIBULATION: THE MUSICAL presented by Higgin’s Beach Productions

Book and Lyrics by Molly Miller, Music by Brad Kemp

It’s the end of the world… and you still need a job. TRIBULATION: THE MUSICAL follows Genevieve, a would-be poet who ends up at a crappy desk job after she realizes that being left behind in the rapture doesn’t mean rent isn’t due. Prophets, whores, middle managers, grad students and delivery guys alike all struggle to find their own past and prevent the Apocalypse in this hilarious take on the Bible’s Book of Revelation.

THAT LOVIN’ FEELIN’ presented by Off Broadway Dinner Theatres, Inc.

Book by James A. Zimmerman, Musical Arrangements by J. Michael Roy

You know the songs… but do you know the story? A “musical biography” of The Righteous Brothers, THE LOVIN’ FEELIN’ chronicles the story and songs of the duo that defined “Blue-Eyed Soul” for a generation. This tribute to the unique genius of Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield features more than 20 hits including “Little Latin Lupe Lu,” “Justine,” “Unchained Melody,” and of course, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.”

MATING presented by Jeffery Lyle Segal
Book, Music and Lyrics by Jeffery Lyle Segal

The tragicomedy of modern romance is celebrated with laughter and tears in this new musical revue. In the first act, the performers sing mostly comedic complaints about the difficulty of finding “the one.”  In the second act, the couples join and find happiness.  But those love songs are followed by songs of breaking up. In the end, the couples reunite, and celebrate in love and unity.


Presented by New American Folk Theatre

Book, Music and Lyrics by Anthony Whitaker

The story of Donna, a woman starting life over after leaving a long-term abusive relationship. She has rented the mill house and is trying to begin a new life while trying to understand the years of mental and physical violence she endured. It becomes a story of forgiveness; forgiving herself for allowing herself to be victimized, her family for turning their heads and even her ex-husband.


Book by DC Cathro, Music and Lyrics by Leo Schwartz

Still reeling from a recent breakup and looking for a distraction, Paul starts corresponding with Rod, a pen pal in another state. Meanwhile, Paul’s co-worker, Lee, is in the planning stages of her wedding. Soon, what began as an innocent flirtation evolves into an emotional attachment that neither of them expected. The problem? Paul’s ex, Grayson, returns to try to win him back. The bigger issue? Paul’s pen pal is a prisoner, incarcerated for 13 more years.


Book by Matty Selman and Iris Burnett. Music and Lyrics by Matty Selman

Previously performed at the New York Musical Festival

The last of the colorful Dubroff sisters, Goldie, has just passed away and her granddaughter, an aspiring actress, leaves for Hollywood instead of staying home and having the traditional family Passover (songs, stories, prayers and massive amounts of food), with her mother.

STALKER: THE MUSICAL presented by RPG Productions

Concept by David Russell, Book and Lyrics by David Russell and Alex Giles

Music by Andy Peterson

Previously performed at the New York International Fringe Festival 2015

In a dystopian world, where love is completely outlawed, “stalking’” has emerged as a replacement for relationships, and people adhere to the concept of “Look, but don’t touch.” When a stranger from another world arrives, society is thrown into chaos, not least because this stranger introduces a novel concept: that of love.


Book by L.C. Bernadine; Music and Lyrics by Kevin Welch

Four people at a block party – apartment-dwellers in a world of homeowners – are drawn to each other because of their status as invisible renters, their mutual penchant for a kind of loopy conversational improv and their desire for anything that resembles security at a time when the threat of violence simmers at the edge of every day and every horizon.

THE TRANSCIVILITY OF ALBERT CASHIER Presented by Permovio Productions and Keaton Wooden

Created by Jay Paul Deratany

Book by Jay Paul Deratany, Music and Lyrics by Joe Stevens

An exploration of the life and story of Albert Cashier, a Civil War soldier with a secret that resonates with issues in the public eye 150 years later.

NUMBERS NERDS presented by CPA Theatricals

Book by Laura Stratford, Lyrics by Alex Higgin-Houser, Music by David Kornfeld

Against a backdrop of drama-queens-turned-janitors, loose ferrets and college pressure, a diverse (almost) all-girls high school Math Team must band (and sing!) together to raise the money to go to the National competition, surmount their differences to win and figure out if unicorns are extinct.

JENNA ROXIE AND THE CHURCH OF MODERN LOVE presented by Bailiwick Chicago

Book, Music and Lyrics by Ethan Krupp and David Reddyk

Directed by Jon Martinez

When the inventor Dole Roxy created the world’s most popular cough syrup, he collected a group of people who drink it so regularly that he began a commune, focused on music, love and drinking Roxy’s Cough Syrup. When he passes away, his spirit is “transmigrated” into his newborn daughter (Jenna) making her the new leader.

About author


PerformInk is Chicago's entertainment industry trade publication.