Festival of New American Theatre Continues through Apr. 22 at The Phoenix Theatre

The southwest’s premiere new theatre works festival. Trust us, it’s a process.

Hosted annually by The Phoenix Theatre Company, the Festival of New American Theatre amplifies new voices and expands the canon of American theatre. Returning for its 25th year, the Festival will continue honoring our longstanding commitment to the development of new works, playwrights, and performers and include a variety of events that allow artists of all kinds to see their work come alive onstage. This year’s festival will feature: a play reading, two musical readings, two Composer Lyricist Cabarets, Choreography Lab, First Draft Series, a brand-new event showcasing the role of designers in new work development, and a return of the 24-hour Theatre Project. The 25th Anniversary will also feature collaborations with Spotlight Youth Theatre and Arizona State University. This is an opportunity to witness how a production goes from the page to the stage!


Onward and Upward

Based on the play Up (The Man in the Flying Chair) by Bridget Carpenter

Musical Reading

April 14 at 7:00 PM and April 16 at 3:00 PM

Music by Charlie Romano

Lyrics by Will Wegner

Book by Will Wegner and Charlie Romano

Directed by Michael Barnard

Music Directed by Jeff Kennedy

Dramaturge John Perovich

In 1983, Walter Griffin made national headlines after tying a cluster of weather balloons to a lawnchair and flying 16,000 feet into the sky. Nearly two decades later, Walter is still searching for his next great invention, but he struggles to get his ideas off the ground. His wife, Helen, encourages him to find a steady job, while their son, Mikey, searches desperately for recognition of his own. After a surreal encounter with his idol, high-wire artist Philippe Petit, Walter believes he’s found his ticket to success and goes to extreme lengths to fund his new prototype. Meanwhile, Mikey finds an unlikely friend in a pregnant classmate, Maria, who soon lands him a job at her Aunt Chris’s questionable small business. Helen is overjoyed at her family’s newfound stability, but she soon discovers that their situation is more precarious than it seems, threatening to topple down off the wire at any moment.

The Consoling Mechanism

Musical Reading

April 21 at 7:00 PM and April 23 at 3:00 PM

Music, Lyrics, and Book by Josh Franklin

Directed by Michelle Chin

Music Directed by Kevin White

Dramaturge A.R. Corwin/Cohen

The Consoling Mechanism is a stirring and ultimately uplifting contemporary musical exploring the relationship between human connection and our ever-increasing reliance on technology. A tragic car accident has left the Husk family struggling to define their new reality. As Valerie, suddenly faced with a disability, returns to school, she dives deeper into a Virtual Reality world, escaping her new challenges and the recent loss of her mother. Her father finds it difficult to connect with her and goes to dangerous measures in order to re-establish family connections. Further complicating the family dynamic, Asher, Valerie’s sibling, is dealing with the loss of their mother through dressing in their mother’s old dresses and fighting the confines of sexual identity. Just as Valerie is about to give up on school and human connection, she meets Andrew, who allows her to open up for the first time since the accident. Can a virtual escape and the promise of love provide a safe form of recovery or will Valerie turn away from her reality for the temptations of the artificial?

additional events

tales from the amusement park

(In collaboration with Arizona State University)

April 22 at 12:00 PM and 4:00 PM

Tales from the Amusement Park is a musical theatre-style song cycle written by Matt Villar.  Each song within the piece is a self-contained story which explores the melodrama within the mundane.  Everyday, people go about their time heedless of the lives being lived in concert with their own.  This cycle seeks to inspire compassion by taking a step back and examining the ups and downs of a day in the life of the average person, using the ever-familiar setting of an amusement park to ground the action (and inaction) against a widely-relatable backdrop.

Composer lyricist cabaret

Britt Bonney Performances: April 22 at 1:00 PM and April 23 at 6:00 PM

Bret Simmons and David Howard Performances: April 22 at 6:00 PM and April 23 at 1:00 PM

The Composer Lyricist Cabaret is returning to this year’s Festival, and we will be featuring two different cabarets. This year we will highlight the work of Composer/Lyricist Britt Bonney and Composer and Lyricist team Bret Simmons and David Howard. Each performance will feature a 45-minute set of music and will be followed by a talkback.

choreography lab

April 15 at 1:00 PM and April 16 at 6:00 PM

Featuring Choreographers Nicole Olson and Nathaniel Shaw

After premiering in last year’s festival – Choreography Lab is back! Modeled after and inspired by the New York Theatre Barn event of the same name, this offering will showcase how movement and dance can elevate and expand storytelling in new musicals. This event will feature two different choreographers setting movement on four dancers to the same song from a new musical. The two interpretations will be presented in tandem to show the iconic mark a choreographer can leave on a musical. This event will be followed by a talkback.

choreography lab: master class

April 15 at 6:00 PM

As an homage to our ever-popular Summer of Dance classes, the Choreography Lab: Master Class will be an interactive event structured like a dance class. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn sections of movement from both iterations of the choreography featured in the Choreography Lab performances. This is an interactive event – please come dressed to move.

first draft series: young playwrights

(In collaboration with Spotlight Youth Theatre)

April 15 at 11:30 AM and April 16 at 11:30 AM

I Would’ve Never Guessed by Chris Brattin

The 7 AM Bus by Max Mendoza

Boarding for Neverland by Spencer Wareing

Through a collaboration with Spotlight Youth Theatre, we are presenting a special iteration of our First Draft Series featuring young playwrights. This free event will feature sit down readings of three different one-act plays which competed and won Spotlight Youth Theatre’s 2022-2023 Playfest, their annual playwriting competition for young adult playwrights.


April 15 at 3:00 PM

This new Festival event puts a spotlight on the work of designers and their role in establishing the world and aesthetic of a new work. This will be an informative panel with lighting, costume, and scenic designers who are new work veterans. This panel is also in conjunction with the reading of Onward and Upward. The artists will talk about their creative process and design ideas for a fully produced version of this musical.

The Festival of New American Theatre is sponsored by

Greater Phoenix In Business Magazine

Related posts