This summer, Arts Garage in Delray Beach is introducing fresh talent into the musical theater community with its Summer Tune-Up series. The series will include four original and imaginative productions from the minds of up-and-coming playwrights and composers, performed by professionals in an intimate play-reading concert format, followed by talk-back sessions with the audience. This allows for instant feedback for the producers and playwrights, as well as truly engaging theater experience for the audience.
Arts Garage has only been rolling out its array of artistic programs for two years now, but their integration into the existing community has surpassed the expectations of the city and reinforced the cultural infrastructure of the South Florida art community. Its celebration of internationally renowned composers and promising local students alike makes Arts Garage a cultural hub for visual artists, performers, and musicians, where innovation and tradition live in harmony.
Lou Tyrrell, artistic director of theater at Arts Garage, has been hard at work in his mission to bring fresh talent into the spotlight. “The Arts Garage Summer Tune-Up is all about developing new works in musical theater, exposing our community to what’s being written today that is not the typical, commercial, Broadway kind of work.”
The first of these works, Tinyard Hill, finds a handsome young blacksmith in 1960s Georgia whose life is turned upside-down when a beautiful woman and an unexpected draft notice arrive within days. The patriotism and romance of the country-pop score and more traditional story structure offer a comfortable, yet thought-provoking opener for the series. Tinyard Hill will run on Thursday, June 6 at 7:30 p.m.
The Longing and the Short of It, performed completely in song, follows the internal journeys of six strangers struggling to feel “something like okay.” NYC-based writer Daniel Mate was the recipient of the 2013 Kleban Prize for Most Promising Musical Theater Lyricist. “I believe he will become a major contributor to American musical theater in the years to come, so for me it is a joy and a privilege to support his development,” says Lou. Mate’s remarkable lyrical work brings the characters to life with catchy and insightful songs that reach the heart of our universal insecurities. The Longing and the Short of It will run on Thursday, June 13 at 7:30 p.m.
The following week, Hostage Song, a remarkably original rock musical, will offer a dramatic romantic comedy with an unsettling edge. Jennifer, a journalist, and Jim, a contractor working for the Pentagon, are taken hostage in an unnamed war-torn country with only stories of their pasts to kill time. “It’s riveting because of its ripped-from-the-headlines theme… It’s the kind of thing going on right now, so it’s very different and compelling,” says Tyrrell. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. on June 20.
The closing piece to this innovative and thematically muscular series, Dani Girl, explores the serious subject of cancer through the eyes of Dani, a precocious nine-year-old cancer patient. When Dani loses her hair to leukemia, she vows to get it back and embarks on a fantastic journey in search of the reason behind cancer’s existence. In her battle with a personified cancer, she discovers the beauty of life and ultimately wins back her hair. Described as funny and poignant, this tremendously imaginative piece will wrap up the Tune-Up series on Thursday, June 26 at 7:30 p.m.
Each piece will be performed in a play-reading concert format, with scripts in hand, and there will be a talk-back session following each performance for the playwrights to receive feedback from the audience. Promoting these small-scale performances allows Lou to get closer to the material and determine whether Arts Garage wants to fully produce each piece. Be sure to support these new works and do your part in recovering the fresh, intimate story telling that often gets lost in the million dollar productions costs and tired retellings of the Broadway circuit.
“We live in a time when if it isn't a Broadway prospect it’s not taken seriously, and the art form of American musical theater needs to reclaim this area of exciting new work,” Tyrrell observes. “That’s what we hope to do through this Tune-Up series.”
- Tickets cost $15-$20.
- To purchase, visit artsgarage.org.
- And as always, Arts Garage is BYOW – Bring Your Own Whatever