Winter Park Playhouse's Florida Festival of New Musicals takes the stage next month

A new mainstage series and a new musical festival are on the horizon for the Winter Park Playhouse.

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  • | 10:09 p.m. July 27, 2017
Roy Alan and Heather Alexander founded the Winter Park Playhouse over 15 years ago.
Roy Alan and Heather Alexander founded the Winter Park Playhouse over 15 years ago.
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They will come from as far away as California, Connecticut and New York — aspiring writers and composers who will have their newly written musicals presented on stage for a local audience at the Winter Park Playhouse.

Locals will have a chance to witness musicals from up-and-coming creative minds as the Florida Festival of New Musicals takes the stage at the Winter Park Playhouse from Aug. 24 to 27.

It’s a showcase of six compositions that haven’t been produced, chosen out of 16 entries after the call for submissions was made last September by the playhouse.

Each musical will be performed three times over the four days.

Many great musicals get their start at events just like this, Winter Park Playhouse Executive Director Heather Alexander said, and this is an event the community won’t want to miss.

“It’s been in the process for (more than) five years,” Alexander said. “We are one of two professional musical theaters in the state. ... As such, we feel really strongly about the fact that there need to be platforms for composers and writers to be able to present works outside New York.

“There’s never been a new musical festival in Florida,” she said. “We felt very strongly that that’s something we should try to organize, launch and host. ... These are brand-new musicals. This is the way that the big Broadway musicals get started. They all start with some type of reading, and then they go into workshop and development, and then those that are most fortunate get to be on the big stage in New York.”

In addition to the performances themselves, the series also will give audience members a chance to contribute  in 15-minute talkback session following each performance. The writers and composers will seek feedback on character development and other various aspects of the show.

“Some of the writers have very specific questions,” Alexander said. “For example, if they’re not sure about a particular character, they may ask the audience what they think of that character, what did you think about that song that this person sang? They’re listening to the audience to get feedback so they can make their production better.”

Mainstage Series 2017-2018

This series kicks off Friday, July 28, with the opening of “Some Enchanted Evening: The Songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein.”

The musical, which runs through Aug. 20, features the work of creative giants Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, including beloved songs from Broadway classics such as “Carousel,” “Cinderella,” “The King and I,” “Oklahoma,” “South Pacific,” “The Sound of Music” and more.

“It’s basically a compilation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein songbook,” Winter Park Playhouse Artistic Director Roy Alan said. “It’s a celebration of their music from all of their Broadway musicals and being really the legendary composing team that have written ‘The Sound of Music’ and ‘Carousel’ and ‘South Pacific and all of these great warhorses of Broadway.”

From Sept. 18 through Oct. 8, the playhouse will feature “Life Could be a Dream,” a high-energy musical comedy about a doo-wop singing group, preparing to enter the Big Whopper Radio contest to help them realize their dreams.

“Daddy Long Legs” is a gorgeous off-Broadway musical based on the classic novel which inspired the 1955 movie. It tells the story of a witty and winsome young orphan, her mysterious benefactor and the deep friendship that develops. It runs from Nov. 30 through Dec. 17.

“We saw it in New York a couple of years ago and thought it was probably one of the most beautiful shows we had ever seen,” Alan said. “It’s just stunningly beautiful music.”

“Babes in Hollywood” will run from Jan. 26 through Feb. 24, 2018. It’s a magical musical about the legendary careers of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, from the soundstages of Hollywood to the stages of Broadway.

“Nunsense A-Men” is the hysterical original off-Broadway musical “Nunsense” with all of the characters portrayed by men. The Little Sisters of Hoboken discover their cook, Sister Julia, Child of God, has accidentally poisoned 52 of the sisters, so they put on a variety show to raise funds for their burials. This runs from March 16 to 25 and April 5 to 21, 2018.

The series concludes with “The Honky Tonk Angels,” a musical comedy by the creator of “Always ... Patsy Cline,” about three gutsy gals determined to better their lives and follow their dreams to Nashville. It runs May 11 to 20 and May 31 to June 10, 2018.

This year has marked a unique milestone for the Winter Park Playhouse, which is celebrating its 15th year in the community. 

The playhouse has operated as a nonprofit since its inception, with the goal of bringing joy to residents and fans of musicals. 

“We founded this theater out of love for the art form and love for Winter Park and this community,” Alexander said. “We wanted to make this world a better place. As a nonprofit, our whole mission is to entertain, uplift and inspire residents and visitors. That’s what it’s all about.”



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