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Summer Music Theater Festival 2009 to Kick Off June 24

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June 24, 2009 | by Judy Moore
Slide Show: Production photos from Girls vs. Boys

EVANSTON, Ill. --- A toast to new works and Broadway favorites will mark the 2009 Summer Music Theatre Festival at the Theatre and Interpretation Center at Northwestern University.

The festival will begin with “A Centennial Celebration of Johnny Mercer” (June 24 to 27) to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mercer, master of the American song. The weeklong celebration is presented by the American Music Theatre Project (AMTP) at Northwestern University in partnership with The Johnny Mercer Foundation. The week will include a Master Teacher Cabaret, Songwriters Showcase and the annual “Johnny Mercer Celebration Concert,” featuring award-winning performers Liz Callaway Capathia Jenkins and Lin-Manuel Miranda. All Centennial Celebration events will be available on a single-ticket basis only.

The festival also will feature an innovative new musical from AMTP developed in partnership with The House Theatre of Chicago, “Girls vs. Boys” (July 10 to Aug. 2). A war of the sexes by the acclaimed creative team of “The Sparrow,” this story of high stakes relationships will be directed by House Theatre Artistic Director Nathan Allen.

“Girls vs. Boys” marks AMTP’s first partnership with a Chicago-based creative team and local non-profit theatre. The show also launches Northwestern’s collaboration with Broadway in Chicago, Chicago’s premiere commercial theatre presenting organization. Broadway in Chicago is working with Northwestern students through a for-credit marketing practicum course to create a comprehensive, innovative marketing campaign for “Girls vs. Boys.”

Joseph Jefferson Award-winning director and AMTP Executive Director Dominic Missimi will then take festival patrons back to a favorite 1950s small town with his production of the Tony Award-winning “Bye Bye Birdie” (July 24 to Aug. 9). He also will direct two exclusive evenings of song, “Diva! Diva! Divas! (Aug. 3 and 4) featuring three of Chicago’s top music theatre performers -- Hollis Resnik, Alene Robertson and Paula Scrofano.

The festival will conclude with a reading of a new musical by Tony Award-winning composer Sheldon Harnick adapted from the Moliere comedy “The Doctor in Spite of Himself” (Aug. 8). This exclusive, behind-the-scenes event will be available to festival subscribers only.

Festival subscribers are invited to a 2009 Summer Preview event (June 11). Featuring a catered reception, the afternoon event will provide a preview of songs from festival productions, as well as an opportunity to meet directors Allen and Missimi.

Subscriptions for the Summer Music Theatre Festival season are on sale now. Subscription pricing is $68 for the general public; $61 for seniors 65 and older, Northwestern faculty and staff and area educators and administrators; and $24 for full-time students. This reflects a decrease in subscription pricing from last summer and a 20 percent discount on single ticket prices. Single tickets to all performances will go on sale May 29. For more information, call (847) 491-7282 or visit http://www.tic.northwestern.edu.

The Theatre and Interpretation Center’s Summer Music Theatre Festival 2009 events will include:

Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project, Master Teacher Cabaret, “The Legacy of Johnny Mercer,” 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 24, Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive. An intimate evening of song featuring the Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project 2009 Master Teachers: Craig Carnelia, Tony Award-nominated composer and lyricist of “Sweet Smell of Success”; Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tony Award-winning composer, lyricist, creator and star of  the Broadway Musical “In the Heights”; and Lari White, three-time Grammy Award-winning songwriter. Tickets are $10.

Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project, Songwriters Showcase, 8 p.m. Friday, June 26, Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive. An audience favorite, this evening of original music features the works of emerging songwriters from across the country who represent the fields of pop, music theatre, folk, Latin and country music. Tickets are $10.

Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project, Johnny Mercer Celebration Concert with guest artists Liz Callaway and Capathia Jenkins, 8 p.m. Saturday, June 27, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive. A special one-night-only concert featuring Broadway stars Liz Callaway (“Merrily We Roll Along,” “Baby”) and Capathia Jenkins (“Caroline, or Change”) and celebrating the centennial of Johnny Mercer’s birth. The evening also features performances by Tony Award-nominated composer/lyricist Craig Carnelia, Tony Award-winning composer/lyricist/performer Lin-Manuel Miranda and Grammy Award-winning Nashville singer/songwriter Lari White, as well as talented young songwriters participating in the Mercer Songwriters Project. The program will be directed by Dominic Missimi. Tickets are $30 for Festival subscribers and $35 for the general public.

“Girls vs. Boys,” a new musical directed by Nathan Allen, 8 p.m. Friday, July 10; 9:30 p.m. Saturday, July 11; 2 p.m. Sunday, July 12; 8 p.m. Thursday, July 16; 8 p.m. Friday, July 17; 6 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, July 18; 2 p.m. Sunday, July 19; 8 p.m. Thursday, July 23; 8 p.m. Friday, July 24; 6 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, July 25; 2 p.m. Sunday, July 26; 8 p.m. Thursday, July 30; 8 p.m. Friday, July 31; 6 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2, Hal and Martha Hyer-Wallis Theater, 1949 Campus Drive. Love doesn’t hurt. It kills. “Girls vs. Boys” plunges you into an all-out war of the sexes. Brother and sister find themselves thrust into a perilous, modern-day “Lord of the Flies” -- playing a game with rules they don’t fully understand. The acclaimed creative team of “The Sparrow,” along with Northwestern students, has created a story of high stakes relationships with even greater consequences, challenging the storybook ideal of love in an amped up, exhilarating new musical. “Girls vs. Boys” contains strong language, violent themes, partial nudity and loud music. Developed in partnership with the American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University and the House Theatre of Chicago,” and directed by Nathan Allen, “Girls vs. Boys” will feature music by Kevin O’Donnell with Nathan Allen, book and lyrics by Chris Mathews, Jake Minton and Nathan Allen and choreography by Tommy Rapley. Single tickets are $25 for the general public; $22 for seniors 65 and older and Northwestern faculty and staff and area educators and administrators; and $10 for full-time students.

“Bye Bye Birdie,” directed by Dominic Missimi, 8 p.m. Friday, July 24; 8 p.m. Saturday, July 25; 2 p.m. Sunday, July 26; 8 p.m. Thursday, July 30; 8 p.m. Friday, July 31; 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1; 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2; 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 6; 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 7; 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 9, Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive. Set in the world of soda fountains and “getting pinned,” Elvis and “The Ed Sullivan Show,” this Tony Award-winning musical turns a small town upside down when the hip-thrusting superstar Conrad Birdie arrives in Sweet Apple, Ohio, to give “one last kiss” before induction into the Army. Filled with classic songs like “Put on a Happy Face” and “The Telephone Hour,” this beloved American musical is a hilarious send-up of 1950s culture and a reminder that parents will never understand their crazy “kids.” Originally starring Dick Van Dyke and Chita Rivera, “Bye Bye Birdie” took Broadway by storm in the early 1960s and has become an exhilarating mainstay of stages around the world. Directed by Dominic Missimi, the show will also feature choreography by Rachel Rockwell, one of Chicago’s most popular directors and choreographers. Single tickets are $25 for the general public; $22 for seniors 65 and older and Northwestern faculty and staff and area educators and administrators; and $10 for full-time students.

“Diva! Diva! Divas!” 8 p.m. Monday, Aug. 3 and 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4, Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive. These two exclusive evenings of song will feature Chicago’s top musical-theatre divas -- Hollis Resnik, Alene Robertson and Paula Scrofano -- directed by Dominic Missimi and featuring Joseph Jefferson Award-winning Northwestern alumnus and music director Doug Peck. Single tickets are $35 for the general public; $27 for seniors 65 and older and Northwestern faculty and staff and area educators and administrators; and $10 for full-time students.

“The Doctor in Spite of Himself,” first reading, 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8, Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive. This ultimate backstage experience will feature the first reading of a new musical by Tony Award-winning composer and Northwestern alumnus Sheldon Harnick (“Fiddler on the Roof”). Composed and adapted by Harnick, the piece is based on Moliere’s “Le Medecin malgre lui” with a book by J.B. Poquelin. This event is part of the American Music Theatre Project’s OutLOUD Series. Admission is free and available only to festival subscribers. Reservations are required. For reservations, call (847) 491-7282.

The American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University nourishes the vitality of American music theatre through the development and production of innovative and adventurous new musicals by leading artists in the field. The program provides a rich and multidisciplinary environment for new works to thrive and creates opportunities for Northwestern’s students and faculty to be intimately involved in the creation of new work by professional artists.