It promises to be quite a year for The Music Theatre Company (TMTC) of Highland Park — the ensemble devoted to expanding the musical theater canon through fully-staged productions, commissions of new works, and musical experiments.
Founding artistic director Jessica Beth Redish and co-artistic director Jess McLeod have announced the company’s innovative lineup for its 2014-2015 season, which begins Dec. 4, 2014 and runs through Aug. 2015. Among the offerings will be a 20-minute world premiere musical by Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan , an evening about the making of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Allegro” (at the Ravinia Festival), and presentations of new musicals previously commissioned by the company, including “Mill Girls” (book by Samantha Beach and music & lyrics by Diana Lawrence, and T”he 9/11 Report,” conceived by Redish, with music & lyrics by Michael Mahler. Here’s a closer look:
± “The 48-Hour Musicals: Encore! ” (Dec. 4-14) : This program is devoted 15-minute musicals created in 48 hours, and has been an annual mainstay of the TMTC season since 2008. Featuring the world-premiere presentation of a new 20-minute musical by Corgan based on the “Eleusinian Mysteries,” it will be paired with reprises of four short works that have inspired future commissions from TMTC, including: “Tereshkova,” by Scotty Arnold; “Postcards from Paris” by Lawrence, “Chase,” by Mahler, and “Reception,” by J. Oconer Navarro. McLeod directs and Redish choreographs. Performances will be at TMTC’s space at 1850 Green Bay Rd., in Highland Park. For tickets ($35 for the Dec. 4 preview $40 for regular performances ), call (847) 579-4900 or visit www.themusictheatrecompany.org.
± “OSCAR & RICHARD & JOE: An Evening about Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ‘Allegro'” (TMTC at the RAVINIA FESTIVAL (Jan 31, 2015): TMTC joins forces with Ravinia to create a one-night-only event — a musical exploration of “Allegro.” Following the immense popularity of”Oklahoma!” and “Carousel,” Rodgers and Hammerstein undertook a revolutionary new musical. The show sharply divided critics, but Stephen Sondheim, who served as a production assistant on the original production, found much to admire. The evening will explore the context of the musical through theatrical footnotes of its history and legacy, as well as showcase key moments and songs from this rarely-produced gem. The program, conceived and directed by Redish, and written by Scotty Arnold, will be presented in Ravinia’s Bennett Gordon Hall at 8 p.m. For tickets ($10) call (847) 266-5100 or visit www.ravinia.org.
± “Mill Girls” (Summer 2015: Originally commissioned and developed by TMTC in 2014, this new musical is about the young women who left small towns behind to earn higher wages at the newly-built cotton factories of Lowell, Massachusetts. These bright, hungry workers used their paychecks to pay down family debt, send their brothers to college, and take advantage of Lowell’s cultural offerings. But when conditions worsened, the girls were forced to choose: cling to their jobs at all costs, or stand against the factories. Conceived and directed by McLeod and choreographed by Redish, the musical features music & lyrics by Diana Lawrence and book by Samantha Beach. Tickets will be available starting March 8, 2015, International Women’s Day, by calling (847) 579-4900 or visiting www.themusictheatrecompany.org.
± “The 9/11 Report “(Summer 2015): Originally commissioned and developed by TMTC, this show explores the 9/11 Commission’s Report and the myriad perspectives, agendas, and failures of imagination surrounding the darkest day in modern American history. This folk-rock music theatere piece is conceived and adapted by Redish, who will direct and choreograph, and features music and lyrics by Jeff Award winner Michael Mahler, with spoken word poetry by Oron Stenesh. Tickets will be available starting March 8, 2015, by calling (847) 579-4900 or visiting www.themusictheatrecompany.org.
Joining the TMTC Advisory Board this season are Broadway and Chicago director Gary Griffin, producer Jan Kallish and Chicago Shakespeare Theater associate producer Heather Schmucker.