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Leslie Kritzer, Harriet Harris, Sebastian Arcelus & More Set for 2009 Festival of New Musicals

Leslie Kritzer, Harriet Harris, Sebastian Arcelus & More Set for 2009 Festival of New Musicals
Photo by: Bruce Glikas

Leslie Kritzer

Broadway's top talent will showcase eight new shows at the Festival of New Musicals.

Leslie Kritzer, Harriet Harris, Debra Monk, Sebastian Arcelus and Adam Chanler-Berat are among the many Broadway performers set for the 21st annual Festival of New Musicals. The industry-only event will be held on October 19 and 20 at off-Broadway's New World Stages.

Presented by the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, the annual festival presents new works in 45-minute staged readings. Past highlights have included The Drowsy Chaperone, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Children of Eden, Honk!, Ordinary Days, Songs for a New World, Striking 12, Summer of '42 and A New Musical. This year's eight selected shows were culled from a pool of more than 130 applicants. The lineup for the 2009 festival is as follows:

BAND GEEKS! by Tommy Newman, Gaby Alter, Mark Allen and Gordon Greenberg, with musical direction by David Loud (Ragtime, Curtains) and direction by Greenberg (Happy Days, Working)
Jared Gertner (Ordinary Days), Aaron J. Albano (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Alex Brightman (Wicked), Adam Chanler-Berat (Next to Normal), Patti Murin (Xanadu) and Griffin Matthews (Paper Mill’s 1776) star in this high-stepping tribute to marching bands and misfits everywhere. With just nine members and dwindling funds, the Cuyahoga High Marching Beavers are close to extinction. When a troubled athlete is relegated to their ranks, Elliott, the tuba-playing band captain and Laura, his best friend, must find a way to unite the band, overcome their pride and embrace their inner geek.  More casting is to be announced shortly.

FACTORY GIRLS by Creighton Irons and Sean Mahoney, with musical direction by Matt Hinkley (Rooms) and direction by Victoria Bussert
At the dawn of the American Industrial Revolution in 1844, Sarah Bagley leaves her New Hampshire farm to work, socialize, and write with thousands of young women in the growing textile mills of Lowell, Massachusetts. When conditions deteriorate, Sarah risks everything they have gained to fight the “soulless corporation.” The cast features Carrie Manolakos (Mamma Mia!), Anika Larsen (Xanadu, Avenue Q), David Larsen (Billy Elliot), Steel Burkhardt (Hair), Kate Ferber, Lindsay Mendez (Everyday Rapture), Dana Steingold (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Brian Sutherland (1776), Cortney Wolfson (Legally Blonde national tour) and more to be announced.

HOSTAGE SONG by Clay McLeod Chapman and Kyle Jarrow, featuring music direction by Nathan Leigh (Big Money) and direction by Oliver Butler
Bound and blindfolded in a war-torn country, two hostages take refuge in music, memory and each other in this new indie-rock musical. But the further into their fantasy world the two of them reach, the more the space between reality and escape blurs. Casting will be announced shortly.

HOW CAN YOU RUN WITH A SHELL ON YOUR BACK? by Michael Mahler and Alan Schmuckler, with musical direction by Deborah Abramson and direction by Kent Nicholson
After-school detention becomes an adventure when a stranger shows six students the power of a good story. Aesop's timeless fables take an entertaining turn in this new musical that reveals universal truths through simple, age-old allegories. Broadway alums Gideon Glick (Spring Awakening, Speech and Debate) and Emma Hunton (Spring Awakening) will be part of the cast, with additional actors to be announced shortly.

IRON CURTAIN by Susan DiLallo, Peter Mills and Stephen Weiner, with music direction by Remy Kurs (The Dome) and direction by Cara Reichel
This madcap farce set in 1954 is about two hapless songwriters kidnapped by the KGB, brought to Moscow, and forced to “fix” a Communist Propaganda musical. The cast will be announced shortly.

IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU by Barbara Anselmi and Brian Hargrove, with musical direction by T.O. Sterrett (Wicked) and direction by Michael Bush
In a world where religions collide, plots are hatched, pacts are made and secrets exposed, hope is found when you least expect it. Is it Iran? Is it Iraq? No, it’s just the Steinberg Wedding. The cast includes Harriet Harris (Tony Award winner for Thoroughly Modern Millie), Debra Monk (Curtains, Tony winner for Redwood Curtain), Lisa Howard (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) and Sebastian Arcelus (Jersey Boys), with additional casting to be announced.

MEMORY IS THE MOTHER OF ALL WISDOM by Sara Cooper and Zach Redler, with musical direction by Vadim Feichner (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) and direction by Joe Colarco
Leslie Kritzer (A Catered Affair) and Catherine Cox (Baby) star in this two-person comic tragedy about the troubled relationship of a woman who has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and her estranged daughter who moves back home to take care of her.  

RIPPER by Duane Nelsen, with musical direction by Andy Einhorn and direction by John Simpkins
Elena Shaddow (The Light in the Piazza tour) will star in this Victorian thriller. The PennyWise Music Hall is home to an illusionist who saws women in half while real murders are taking place on the streets outside. Reporter Chester Talbot sets out to unravel the story, but what he sees may not be what it seems. The remainder of the cast is to be announced shortly.

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