Archikulture Digest
6th Annual Festival of New Musicals (I)

Sixth Annual Festival of New Musicals (I)

Winter Park Playhouse • Winter Park, Florida, • June 22-25, 2023

It’s musical theater cliffhanger time! Six new musicals receive partial readings, just enough to tantalize the adoring audience. Let’s see what these budding shows look like…

• •

Bats On The Moon

by Kenny D’Aquila

Never give a sucker an even break, but if you can sell him a newspaper, he’ll never ask for his money back. It’s the early days of the New York newspaper wars, and a crucial moment in astronomy as well. William Herschel’s enormous 40-foot telescope closely examines the moon and planets in search of alien life. Herschel found no life, but that didn’t stop the tabloids from inventing it, and it did sell papers. Meanwhile, the editors fight over star reporters, and a bidding war reaches an outrageous $8 a week in pay. Reports of animals roaming the lunar Tethys sea are banner headlines. Was it all a total fabrication? Subscribe to The Sun, and find out!

This is a reasonably well-built study of newspapers competing over star talent, even if that stardom arises more from good science fiction than real journalism. The power play between editors works best in this story, but the reveal of the telescope is burdened by Star Trek-grade techno mumbo-jumbo. A side plot about an orphan child living on the streets gives us some emotional depth, but I was disappointed that we saw no actual bats on stage.

Gabriel, Blow Your Horn

by Bryan Leys

It’s tough to write a religion-based romantic comedy, but this light and fluffy story dodges offending any theology and focuses on angels arranging dates for humans. While a bit silly, it keeps the romances light and believable. As with all “Festivals of New Musicals,” we miss the ending, but there’s a sultry devil, and if you are going to hell, it might as well be with someone good looking. Her soon-to-be sinning target gets some good laughs and avoids smarminess. Even a bad guy needs to get in some good lines.

Young Dr. Jekyll

by Philip David Stern & Lisa Hopkins

The infamous Dr. Jekyll never died. After he was committed to an asylum, his two young sons, Harry and Arthur, were left to fend for themselves in London. The young Dr. Harry Jekyll is on the verge of a mindblowing discovery: an “intelligence” elixir. He is confident this will earn him the notoriety of his heroes, Newton and Copernicus, and erase the stigma of his last name. This sort of thing never works, but it’s worth a try. The story gets tangled up with a besotted roommate, a meddling landlord, and a triple-threat French songstress. Science or willpower, if you really believe that’s all it takes to be a star.

Winter Park Playhouse

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