Temple Hosting Nationally-Recognized New Musical Fest
Philadelphia has made its name as a unique incubator for new theatrical works. It is a tradition that goes back to pre-Broadway try-outs, where shows tested their chops in the City of Brotherly Love before they headed to the shark tank of New York. That spirit of innovation continues today, and will be highlighted this weekend at Temple University, when the MainStreet Festival comes to town.
The nationally-recognized program features concert readings of three new American musicals and employs local “MainStreet Affiliates” who employ local artists to perform the works. Jordan Mann, one of the Philadelphia Affiliates, suggested that the process fosters a sense of community amongst all elements of process.
“Students, professionals and non-professionals all come together for a week with a shared goal of bringing these new works to life. The support we’ve received from Temple University is incredible,” Mann added. “We couldn’t do this without the support of the incredible faculty and students of the department.”
Also involved with the process is Tony Award-winning director Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening) who had a definitive say in the selection process of this year’s works. In fact, the program is titled “The Michael Mayer Season” and features Roger Ames‘ How Green Was My Valley, based on the 1939 novel and 1941 motion picture of the same name, Doug Cohen‘s The Gig, and Ray Leslee and Philip Goodman‘s A Good Man. MainStreet Festivals has created a preview bank of songs from the shows for those who want a preview of the musical stylings of each production.
And, as any good theater patron knows, new works often time make bold choices that more mainstream productions often times lack. Mann recalled one particular audience member from last year’s festival who was visibly moved during his son’s performance of the work Under Fire.
“Many of [the audience members] who loved musicals all their lives left with a new understanding of the process of bringing a new work to life,” Mann said. “I hope that many more who come to this festival leave with a greater appreciation of how exciting it is to be part of that process.”
The MainStreet Festival runs January 16 and 17 at Temple’s Randall Theatre. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online. For more information, visit the Festival’s website.