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Love is Love! 8 New Musical Theatre Songs That Celebrate Love

Sara Jensen

Love is love is love is love is love!  In honor of pride month, let’s take a moment to reflect on all of the fabulous new musical theatre songs that celebrate LOVE.  This playlist will give you all the feels as you take a second to appreciate all of the love you’re surrounded by.  Whether you’re happily married, getting over a breakup, or learning to love yourself again; there is something in this playlist for everyone! 

1.      “Here for You” by Jonathan Reid Gealt

This song is so incredibly beautiful especially when sung by Jeremy Jordan and the composer/lyricist himself, Jonathan Reid Gealt.  It’s hard not to turn into a puddle while listening to this song especially after such an incredibly difficult month.

2.     “She’s Just a Child” by Attie Albertus

I’ll admit, the first time I heard this song I became obsessed and listened to it on repeat for hours.  Give it a listen and you’ll understand why.

3.      “One Day at a Time” by Peter Duchan and Breedlove from Stu for Silverton

I had the pleasure of being a Production Assistant for a reading of this musical at Theatre Latte Da in Minneapolis last year and it made such an impression on me.  This song is all about embracing who you are and loving yourself!  This musical is based off an incredible true story, if you’re intrigued to learn more be sure to check out the synopsis here.

4.     “Dear Lucy/Dear Tom” by Drew Gasparini from Circles

Drew Gasparini may or may not be the king of musical theatre love songs.  He has such a variety that are definitely worth exploring.  This song is vulnerability at its best.

5.     “The Shape of Love” by Jacob Yandura and Rebekah Greer Melocik

Yandura and Melocik are one of my favorite upcoming composer/lyricist teams.  You can find Jacob on the piano and Rebekah singing this beautiful ballad.  Keep your eyes on them, they continue to create compelling and exciting work!

6.      “If the World Looked Like You” by Will Reynolds

This is such a catchy up-tempo with lyrics that make your heart swoon even if you’re not in the mood to swoon.  Is there anything Jeremy Jordan can’t do?

7.     “I’ll be Here” by Adam Gwon from Ordinary Days

This song is storytelling at its finest.  It is heartbreaking yet hopeful and gives you all the feels.  Ciara Renee is so incredibly talented.

8.      “Runaway with Me” by Kerrigan and Lowdermilk from The Unauthorized Biography of Samantha Brown

This song had to be included in this list because you just can’t go wrong with this gorgeous ballad, especially when Michael Arden sings it.


New Musical Theatre Recently Produced in Chicago

Sara Jensen

Nothing excites me more than new musical theatre development in Chicago.  This city is packed with unbelievable talent and ideas.   I’ve seen incredibly exciting new musicals in this city and would love to see more.  Looking back at the past few years, there has been a lot of great progress made.  To reflect, I’ve put together a quick list of some wonderful songs and montages from amazing new works that have recently been produced in the city. 

1.     “Look to the Stars” from October Sky.  Music and Lyrics by Michael Mahler, Book by Aaron Thielen.  This musical had its World Premiere at The Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire this past fall.  This particular performance is by Chicago favorite actor/composer/lyricist, Michael Mahler.  If he looks familiar, you may have just seen him playing Seymour in American Blues Theatre’s Little Shop of Horrors.  You won’t be disappointed listening to this song, it is absolutely beautiful.  If you were like me and you missed out on the amazing opportunity to see the show while it was at Marriott Theatre, it’s not too late!   Go ahead and plan a vacation to San Diego because October Sky will make its West Coast Premiere this coming fall at The Old Globe.

2.     “Where There Was Bone” from Days Like Today.  Music and Lyrics by Alan Schmuckler, Book by Laura Eason.  Days Like Today had its World Premiere at Writers Theatre in Glencoe in the spring of 2014.  I had the pleasure of seeing this show and looking back it is one of my favorite musical theatre experiences.  I fell in love with the story and score and left the theatre wanting more.

3.     “What the World Needs is People Like Me” from Ride the Cyclone.  Book, Music, and Lyrics by Jacob Richmond and Brooke Maxwell.  Ride the Cyclone made its U.S. Premiere at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre this past October and this coming fall you can catch it Off-Broadway at the MCC Theater.  This particular performance is a Chicago Tribune showcase with the Chicago Shakespeare cast.  I couldn’t get over how exciting this show was and I am thrilled that it’s heading Off-Broadway for more audiences to enjoy.

4.      Sense and Sensibility.  Book, Music, and Lyrics by Paul Gordon.   Sense and Sensibility had its World Premiere at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre Summer 2015 and will be making its West Coast Premiere at the Old Globe in San Diego this summer.  This montage gives you a bit of an idea about the show as well as a teaser of its beautiful music.

5.     "Out There" from Beaches.  Book by Iris Rainer Dart and Thom Thomas, Lyrics by Iris Rainer Dart, Music by David Austin.  Beaches originally premiered at the Signature Theatre in Washington D.C. in Spring 2014.  After the run at Signature, the creative team took some time to work further on the show so that it was ready for its big anticipated run slotted for Chicago in Summer 2015.  With a stacked cast and creative team, the show did exceptionally well in Chicago.  There was a lot of anticipation for it to move to Broadway and I think we all hope that Broadway is still in its future.  This song is performed by the ever talented Shoshana Bean.  They didn't call her Elphaba for nothing.

These are just a few of the new musical works that have recently been produced in Chicago.  Whether you spend your spare time obsessing over new musicals or you're new to the theatre world; I hope this inspires you to support new work and go to the theatre.  Take time to explore these talented up and coming creative teams, you won't be sorry. 

Meet the writers of NEUROSIS

FWD Theatre Project

FWD‘s Megan O’Toole and Madison Kennedy interviewed Allan Rice, Ben Green, and Greg Edwards, the talented writers of FWD’s next staged reading, Neurosis, about their work, new musical theatre, and their excitement about working with FWD.

--MK: Where are you from? 

Originally, Allan is from Los Angeles, Ben from Boston, and Greg from Northern California.  Nowadays, Allan still lives in Los Angeles whereas Ben and Greg fled to New York.  This may or may not be indicative of their relationships with their parents.

For the first year and a half, we collaborated together without ever being in the same room.  (Thank you, Alexander Graham Bell!)  But now we've seen each other and the mystery is over.  It was a lot of buildup for nothing.

--MK: When were you first introduced to musical theatre?/What made you want to go into musical theatre?

ALLAN: I was involved in it a little bit in high school, but before I got into the world of musicals, I had really only seen four or five in my life.  I have always loved the format and the idea that you can sing about problems instead of panicking about them. 

GREG: When I was in kindergarten, my mom brought home a highlights album of The Phantom of the Opera, and I promptly became obsessed.  This dashed her hopes of ever having a daughter-in-law.

BEN: Hey, I actually liked Phantom of the Opera too... in first grade I was obsessed with trying to put on a production of it among my classmates. I remembering thinking the biggest barrier would be trying to read the four flats in the key signature in one of the charts from the vocal selections. 

Nowadays, in addition to writing musicals, Allan writes for TV.  Ben and Greg work at Facebook and Google, respectively, making them the only song writing team that also knows all your personal information.

--MK: What are some of your favorite projects you've worked on? Why?

Sometimes, projects just "go right."  In the case of Neurosis, song after song and scene after scene fell into place without the expected levels of sweat and homicide.  Within 18 months of collaborating on the show, we'd been offered our first professional production.  That doesn't really happen in real life, but it turns out "real life" doesn't apply to upstate New York.

--MK: What about FWD Theatre Project attracted you?/What made you want to apply?

Since our upstate production, we've heavily revised the show, and we wanted a chance to see the new draft on its feet and/or atop a music stand.  FWD Theatre Project provided the perfect opportunity for this, and their enthusiastic team and focus on collaboration sealed the deal.

--MK: Where did the idea for Neurosis come from? Did the book come first or the music or lyrics? Is it based on real life?

Well, they say write what you know.

The backstory: Allan had come to Ben and Greg with a draft, and they saw potential (and, ideally, a merchandising deal).  Since then, we've all been very involved in crafting and refining the story.  It's helped that we're very similar in our neuroses -- we mostly agree on all the things to fear in life.

--MK: Do you think it's challenging to create new musical theatre?/Do you think there's a good support system for new musical theatre? Why or why not?

It's super easy!  That's why everyone is doing it, right?

It is absolutely challenging to create new musical theatre.  A musical is a complex storytelling machine, and if the smallest piece is out of place, the whole thing can go down in flames.  (In this sense, musicals are a lot like hoverboards.)

However, even though writing a show is difficult, the reward of seeing it all come together outweighs the sweat, tears, insomnia, heart conditions, and other industrial by-products of the creative process.

In terms of support systems, we writers depend on theatre companies that put up new works.  Such companies are few and far between, so when we cross paths with the likes of FWD or the Merry-Go-Round (where we had our first production), we get all giddy-like.

--MK: What sets Neurosis apart from other musicals?

Truthfulness, we hope.  When you see these awkward, funny people and how they relate to their awkward, funny selves, we want you to think, "Oh, I've done that!" or "Oh, a trenchant analysis of the human condition!"  By the time you leave the theatre, we promise you'll have a new way of looking at yourself.  And a ticket is a lot cheaper than therapy.

--MK: What do you hope to get out of FWD's staged reading of Neurosis?/Where would you like to see Neurosis go?

We'd love to see how our latest draft works in front of an audience.  And if said audience laughs loudly and frequently, we won't complain.

Ultimately, we're working toward a production in (downstate) New York, and this reading at the FWD will help us ensure we're shipshape as we approach that milestone.

--MK: Do you have any plans to write more new musicals in the future?

We do.  In fact, we are.  We're still figuring out what exactly the show is about, but we're thinking a hip-hop retelling of the life and times of Alexander Hamilton.  Or maybe something about theme parks.