A total of nine new musicals have been staged at Northwestern since the American Music Theatre Project was founded in 2005. The range of subject matter, tone and style are ample evidence of modern musical theater’s creative possibilities.
2005: Was, music by Joe Thalken (BSM84), book and lyrics by Barry Kleinbort, directed by Tina Landau.
Inspired by The Wizard of Oz, Was weaves together the story of Dorothy Gael, a Kansas orphan in the 19th century, and an actor determined to discover her fate 100 years later.
2006: The Boys Are Coming Home, music and lyrics by Leslie Arden, book by Berni Stapleton, directed by Gary Griffin.
Accompanied by the sounds of bebop and swing, American GIs return home from World War II to discover that male-female relationships have shifted while they were away.
2006: Asphalt Beach, music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, book by T.C. Smith and Peter Spears (C88), directed by Amanda Dehnert.
A group of boarding-school students at Our Lady of Suppressed Desire Academy for Rambunctious Young Girls discover the joys of freedom to a rock soundtrack.
2007: In the Bubble, music and lyrics by Michael Friedman, book by Rinne Groff, directed by Michael Greif (C81).
A teenage boy who has been closed off from the world due to a rare medical condition must decide whether it’s worth leaving safety for a chance at love.
2008: Dangerous Beauty, music by Michele Brourman, lyrics by Amanda McBroom, book by Jeannine Dominy, directed by Sheryl Kaller.
A blend of classical and pop tunes recount the story of a 16th-century Venetian courtesan who rises to a leading role in society.
2009: Girls vs. Boys, music by Kevin O’Donnell and Nathan Allen, book and lyrics by Chris Matthews, Jake Minton and Nathan Allen, directed by Nathan Allen.
For six teenagers, parties and pills lead to life-or-death choices, played out to a rock/punk soundtrack.
2010: Not Wanted on the Voyage, music and lyrics by Neil Bartram, book by Brian Hill, directed by Amanda Dehnert.
A modern reimagining of the Great Flood forces a family to make difficult choices as the world as they know it comes to an end.
2012: The Verona Project, written and directed by Amanda Dehnert.
The members of a rock band morph into characters who explore the nature of love, the lingering wounds of loss and the struggle for self-acceptance. — E.C.B.
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