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NYC’s Theatrical Rights Worldwide in collaboration with Tennessee Shakespeare Company and the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance Announces Titles for

Showplace Memphis

Three Exciting, Developing Musicals with National, Professional Casts in Readings

Memphis, TN (April 27, 2015) – As part of Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s first year-round season, the development of three exciting new musicals launches on the University of Memphis Mainstage this summer with Showplace Memphis: Musical Works in Progress.

Sponsored by one of Broadway’s elite musical licensing companies, Theatrical Rights Worldwide (TRW) and President/CEO Steve Spiegel, based in New York City, Showplace Memphis partners TSC and the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance in a very special collaboration that could be the next creative stage for these musicals en route to full productions in New York and on the regional theatre circuit across the U.S.

TRW has selected three musical scripts in various stages of development to be presented to Memphis audiences as professional, Actors’ Equity Association “Readings.”  TSC has cast the musicals from around the country with a number of Broadway performers.  

Each of the shows’ creators will collaborate and rehearse in Memphis for ten days leading up to each reading.  Each musical will be played and sung in its entirety and with musical accompaniment on the U of M’s luxurious Mainstage, located at 3745 Central Avenue in Memphis.  No other design elements (scenic/costumes/lights) will be integrated.

Audiences will have an opportunity to speak with the actors and creators of each musical immediately following each Reading.  Audiences also will inform each production by completing an audience survey that will help each creative team in future development phases.

Theatrical Rights Worldwide represents musicals from Broadway and Off-Broadway, as well as shows originating in regional theatres.  TRW cultivates and introduces new work along with extending the production life of musicals to all theatrical marketplaces worldwide.  TRW licenses productions to a broad range of customers, from schools to Broadway.  As agents for the authors, TRW grants live stage production rights and provides performance and rehearsal materials and tools to enhance the actor, musician, and audience experience.  Its Broadway collection includes Memphis-centric musicals All Shook Up: The Music of Elvis Presley, Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash, and the Tony Award-winning Best Musical Memphis.  Its internationally-popular collection also includes Jersey Boys, Monty Python’s Spamalot, which won the Tony for Best Musical, Kander and Ebb's Curtains, The Color Purple, and recent releases Ghost the Musical, Big Fish, and The Addams Family.

“With Memphis’ long history and unmatched appreciation for the Arts, bringing TRW’s new works festival here offers the ideal location for fostering artists and creativity,” said Mr. Spiegel.  “This is TRW’s platform for the future, and we eagerly look forward to housing this annual event in this great city.”

Showcase Memphis Schedule of Musical Readings:

Tenderly, The Rosemary Clooney Musical

based on the life of Rosemary Clooney
by Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Freidman
directed by Kent Nicholson
musical direction by Matt Castle
Title Sponsors: Pat and Thane Smith
Reading: Saturday, May 23 at 7:00 pm
University of Memphis Theatre Building Mainstage

The story of Rosemary Clooney, America's favorite girl singer, is brought to life in this exhilarating and inspiring new musical biography.  Her journey starts with her humble Midwest childhood and rise to Hollywood stardom, and continues beyond battles with depression to a triumphant comeback.  Through it all, she topped the charts for nearly five decades with signature songs.  Tenderly offers a remarkably personal and poignant picture of the woman whose unparalleled talent and unbridled personality made her a legend.

The show, which received rave reviews and a double-extension of its run in its second incarnation at Cincinnati Playhouse earlier this year, features 17 of Ms. Clooney’s signature hits, including “Hey There (you with the stars in your eyes),” “Tenderly,” and “Come On-A My House.”

Tenderly, which is generously sponsored at Showcase Memphis by Pat and Thane Smith, returns its popular Cincinnati cast members, Michael Marotta and Susan Haefner (Broadway’s State Fair, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and 42nd Street).   

In 2005, creators Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman were named National Music Educators of the Year.  Janet and Mark's first collaboration, Anne of Green Gables, has played at theatres across the country, including Village Theatre (WA), The Barter Theatre (VA), and the Victoria Theatre (OH).  Janet and Mark’s extremely popular musical adaptation of Melinda Long's best-selling children's book How I Became a Pirate, was commissioned by First Stage Theatre (Milwaukee) in 2008 and has been rollicking its way across many stages, including Cape Rep, the Des Moines Playhouse, Riverside Theatre, and Children's Theatre of Cincinnati.  Their powerful and moving musical, Harriet and Sam, captures the times and events of pre- and post-Civil War America as seen through the eyes of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mark Twain.  Janet and Mark also have penned a humorous, irreverent, and satirical look at married relationships with their musical cabaret, War Games: Marriage on the Front Lines.  Their holiday show Ebenezer (a musical version of “A Christmas Carol”) has been delighting audiences for the past five years.  Sleepy Hollow: A Musical Tale, commissioned by Kalamazoo Civic Theatre, premiered on Halloween 2010 and has just been added to Columbus Children’s Theatre upcoming season.  For more information: www.vogtfriedmancomposers.com.

Midsummer Night

a musical loosely adapted from William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
with book, music and new lyrics by Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda
additional music by Gene Lewin
adaptation conceived and directed by Janet Roston
musical direction by Ryan O’Connell
Reading: Saturday, June 27 at 7:00 pm
University of Memphis Theatre Building Mainstage

What if the madness of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream took place at a Rock Festival?  Songwriters Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda (Striking 12, Sleeping Beauty Wakes) join with co-creator/director Janet Roston for a new take on Shakespeare’s beloved comedy.  It’s a rollicking collision of rock music, iambic pentameter and hipsters – where rock stars Titania and Oberon quarrel, festival assistant Puck creates havoc, and roadie Bottom gets a chance to shine.  Live music, glow sticks, and power chords!

The cast of eleven singers from Los Angeles, NYC, and Memphis includes Katrina Lenk (Titania) from Broadway’s Once and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.

Keyboardist Milburn and electric violinist Vigoda have been singing and writing songs together for over 20 years, first for their band GrooveLily, and more recently for musical theatre and film.  Theatre:  Striking Twelve, Sleeping Beauty Wakes, Beautiful Poison, Wheelhouse, Toy Story: The Musical, Long Short Story, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, its complete reworking as the rock musical Midsummer Night, and Ernest Shackleton Loves Me.  Film: many songs for Tinker Bell for Disney animated movies.  Awards:  LA Ovation Awards (2007), Jonathan Larson Award (2006 and 2008), ASCAP Foundation Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award (2009), Annie Award nominations (2011 and 2012), and Broadway World Seattle Critic's Choice Awards (2014).  For more information: milburn-vigoda.com.

The Oliver Experiment

book and lyrics by Jeremy Desmon
music by Jeff Thomson
Reading: Saturday, August 15 at 7:00 pm
University of Memphis Theatre Building Mainstage

What if your entire life were a Broadway musical… and you had no clue?

Unbeknownst to Ollie, he is the beloved star of The Oliver Experiment — “Now in its 19th year!” — a fanciful piece of theatre magic concocted by his over-protective father to give his son a life of music and innocence and Happily-Ever-Afters.  With its colorful cast and ever-evolving storylines, the magnificent secret is maintained at all costs…until the night Ollie notices a beautiful, young understudy in the chorus.  Writers Thomson and Desmon (Pump Up The Volume) explore the lengths we go to protect the ones we love in this funny, tuneful, and theatrical coming-of-age story.

Jeremy Desmon (Bookwriter/Lyricist) is an award-winning writer whose stories have played around the world.  The Girl in the Frame, seen in over a dozen productions, earned him the prestigious Edward Kleban Prize as America’s most promising Musical Theatre Bookwriter.  Jeremy is best known for the rock musical Pump Up the Volume, Good News, 7½ Wondrous Act(s) of True Love, Surviving the Avalanche, and his high-school musical, Cyrano de BurgerShack.  In addition, Jeremy writes “family theatrical”/touring arena shows for some of the world’s most recognizable characters in Disney Live’s Mickey’s Music Festival!, Universal’s Curious George Live!, and Sesame Workshop’s Elmo Rocks!  He is proud to have written multiple editions of The Greatest Show on Earth for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.  For more information: www.jeremydesmon.com.

Jeff Thomson (Composer) is a recipient of the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation Award, as well as the Dramatist Guild Musical Theatre Writing Fellowship.  His original musical Trails was performed at the Los Angeles and New York Musical Theatre Festivals, winning him the NYMF award for Best Music as well as the Stage Entertainment Development Award.  Recently, Trails made its international debut in Tokyo, Japan.  Other projects include the club musical adaptation of the cult film Jawbreaker, and the arena rock musical adaptation of the 1990 film, Pump Up the Volume.  He was commissioned by Broadway Across America to compose the score to the upcoming children's musical Madlibs Live! and was selected to write the music for an upcoming animated movie musical for Amazon Studios.  He is currently developing two musical motion pictures.  For more information:  www.jeffthomsonmusic.com.

“This new Festival should prove to be one of the most exciting theatre projects Memphis has experienced in quite a while,” says E. Frank Bluestein, TSC Executive Director and Project Director for TRW’s Showplace Memphis.  “Thanks to Theatrical Rights Worldwide, we will get a first-hand opportunity to view original musicals in their infancy, as they are developed here in our city, on their way to an eventual professional debut – hopefully in New York and beyond.”

All readings are general admission; first come/first seated.  General Admission tickets are just $15 and are on sale now.  Students 22 and younger and Seniors 62 and older receive discounted $10 tickets.

Each performance will be presented inside on the Mainstage at the University of Memphis Theatre Building, which is located on the main campus at 3745 Central Avenue in Memphis, TN.

Purchase tickets in person Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm at TSC’s office located at 3092 Village Shops Drive in Germantown, or by calling 901-759-0604, or by going on-line to www.tnshakespeare.org.  

The TSC Box Office inside the University of Memphis Theatre Building will begin selling tickets one hour prior to each performance on-site.  Free parking is available in the Central Avenue parking lot, beginning at 7:00 pm, directly across from the U of M Theatre Building.  No refunds.  Casts and titles are subject to change.

Tennessee Shakespeare Company
Tennessee Shakespeare Company is a professional 501(c)(3) theatre and education organization which performs the plays of William Shakespeare indoors and outdoors seasonally; performs classical and Southern writers seasonally; and provides year-round educational and training programming.  Now in its seventh season, Tennessee Shakespeare Company seeks to sustain a Mid-South classical theatre that both nurtures artists and encourages audiences to exaltation, curiosity, and wonderment; be a center for the community dedicated to re-discovering faith in life by increasing awareness of reality and expanding imagination through an emphasis on the performance, education, and training of William Shakespeare’s works.  For more information:  www.tnshakespeare.org.

U of M Department of Theatre & Dance
The University of Memphis' Department of Theatre & Dance offers both the BFA and MFA degrees in theatre and is successfully training our next generation of theatre artists. The Department mounts a full season of plays and dance concerts in a variety of performance venues, large and small.  With an emphasis on diversity and a breadth of experience only the performing arts can provide, the Department of Theatre & Dance provides audiences with the best in local theatre and dance.  Upcoming productions feature a delightful mix of comedy and drama, music and dance.  For more information: