Florida Festival of New Musicals
June 24 to 27, 2021 Winter Park Playhouse Winter Park, FL
by Carl F Gauze
Is it too early to be writing a rousing musical about Covid? Maybe, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sing and dance about everything else in life. Last year’s Florida Festival of New Musicals had to lock itself in a sealed room and tap dance alone until it was safe to re-emerge. They held those scripts over, and now we can see an hour from six new shows.That’s just enough time to get hooked but not enough save the damsel from the dragon. Let’s take a twirl around the dance floor:
-bb The Golden Door
-bb Book by Michelle Van Doeren and Andrew Swensen
-bb Lyrics by Andrew Swensen
-bb Music by Scott Anderson
Bad as things might look in 19th century Europe, there’s always the option of aiming for Ellis Island and the fabled golden life in America. Reality is much harsher, and a ticket to the new world doesn’t erase racism, anti-Semitism, nor any of the thousand flaws in the family of man. This is a sparkling musical with great songs, interesting conflicts and showing the majesty of “Ragtime” and the effusiveness of “In the Heights,” but with more likeable immigrants. There’s the French dancer eager to get out and find her own lover and not the dud daddy picked. There’s the black man, free but abused, and my favorite: the overly happy Irishman, deeply in love with his postcard of Lady Liberty. The music impresses, the disparate characters blend as well as any of us, and the captain is a bit of a jerk and not above seducing a passenger. All that’s missing is the iceberg, but that points us to a happy ending.
The Lost Girl.
Music & Book by Ben Bonnema
-bb Lyrics & Book by Arianna Rose
-bb Book by Bill Connington
-bb Music and Lyrics by Michael Cooper
Boy meets girl, boy marries girl, and the rest is what most people think of as “life.” It’s the minutia of everyday existence and living with another person who’d share a toothbrush in a pinch. We start with the modern-day stereotypes; Kombucha and e-scooters, and they we work back decade by decade through the hippie tropes and 1950’s Ozzy and Harriette life, then the WW2 years and The Depression leading to a sprint to the turn of the century. It’s a clever piece examing our stereotypes, true as they may be, and a peek into the gritty backside of a fancy wedding invitation. Frothy fun!
-bb Tangled Webbs
-bb Book and Lyrics by Gary Brumburgh
-bb Music by Ron Creager
The world is always up for a soap opera parody, and often the parodies are much more engaging than the real deal. The Webb Family runs the town through small businesses and dynastic connections. But like any stage family, the family tree is riddled with termites and sly sex and burning shame. There’s a large cast and plenty of side scandals, but “Tangled Webbs” does deliver on the laughs and mayhem. Best of all they snuck the the word “zany” into the press release. How cool is that?
-bb What Have They Done with Lolana Lamour?
-bb Book & Lyrics by Bryan Leys
-bb Music by Mary Feinsinger
Do heiresses really get frozen into giant ice cubes? Faded star Lolana Lamour was tucked away in the walk-in freezer by her staff, mostly because she left them out of her will, that ungrateful faded star! A desperate real estate saleswoman and failed soap star drop by for a showing and get sucked into the script’s intrigue and silly comedy. There no faded Hollywood star like a frozen Hollywood star, and this silly romp promises serious yucks if it makes it to stage.
-bb Zack Hill and The Rocket Blaster Man Adventure
-bb Book by Werner Trieschmann
-bb Music & Lyrics by Thomas Tierney
-bb Based on the comic strip Zack Hill by John Deering and John Newcombe
Take a step back from “Calvin and Hobbs,” and slather on some real mom and dad problems. At age nine, mortgages and electric bills are weird concepts. What matters are the adventures of the cartoon characters you know and love. The family may be thrown out on the street along with their rag tag collection of assorted boarders, but the major story question here is : Will Rocket Blaster Man ever return home? Not if his bad navigation keeps the kids buying magazines. We might resolve Zach’s domestic situation, but our superhero is doomed to wander, selling pulp magazines and squirt guns through all eternity.