Sponsored by Theatrical Rights Worldwide (NYC)
Presents its Third Musical in Development August 15 on the University of Memphis mainstage:
The Oliver Experiment
What if your entire life were a Broadway musical…and you had no clue?
Featuring Broadway’s Brightest Stars
Memphis, TN (July 27, 2015) – Tennessee Shakespeare Company, in partnership with the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance, presents its third and final developing musical reading on the U of M mainstage with The Oliver Experiment by Jeremy Desmon and Jeff Thomson on August 15 at 7:00 pm.
Tickets for the reading are just $15, or $10 for Students and Seniors.
The Oliver Experiment, directed by Jen Bender, is the latest developing musical in TSC’s inaugural Showplace Memphis: Musical Works in Progress.
Showplace Memphis is sponsored by one of Broadway’s elite musical licensing companies, Theatrical Rights Worldwide (TRW) and President/CEO Steve Spiegel, based in New York City. Showplace Memphis has been devised as the next creative stage for three musicals en route to full productions in New York and on the regional theatre circuit across the U.S. The first two musicals in the festival included Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical and Midsummer Night.
The Oliver Experiment
What if your entire life were a Broadway musical… and you had no clue?
Unbeknownst to young Ollie, he is the beloved star of The Oliver Experiment — “Now in it’s 19th year!” — a fanciful piece of theatre magic concocted by his over-protective father to give his son a life of music and innocence and Happily-Ever-Afters. With its colorful cast and ever-evolving storylines, the magnificent secret is maintained at all costs… until the night Ollie notices a beautiful, young understudy in the chorus.
Writers Jeff Thomson and Jeremy Desmon explore the lengths we go to in order to protect the ones we love in this funny, tuneful, and theatrical coming-of-age story.
The cast includes Michael Campayno (Ollie) last seen in NBC’s Sound of Music; Katie Rose Clarke (Annabelle) of Broadway’s Wicked, Light in the Piazza, and the upcoming Allegiance; Ramona Keller (Guardian Angel) of Broadway’s Smokey Joe’s Café and the original cast of Caroline, or Change; Molly Ranson of Broadway’s August: Osage County, Jerusalem, and Fish in the Dark as well as Off-Broadway’s Carrie, Bad Jews, and The Burnt Part Boys; Larry Daggett, who created the role of Henry Ford in Ragtime on Broadway; and Edward Watts (Swill Swindley) currently starring as El Gallo in The Fantasticks in NYC, and recently in Scandalous on Broadway, also It’s a Bird..Plane..It’s Superman at Encores!, The Most Happy Fella at the NYC Opera, and Show Boat at Lincoln Center.
The Oliver Experiment creators and cast will collaborate and rehearse at the U of M for ten days leading up to its reading. Though it will be going through both script and music changes, The Oliver Experiment will be played and sung in its entirety and with musical accompaniment on the U of M’s mainstage. Few other design elements (scenic/costumes/lights) will be integrated.
Audiences will have an opportunity to speak with the actors and creators of The Oliver Experiment immediately following its reading. Audiences also will inform the production by completing an audience survey that will help the creative team in future development phases.
Jen Bender (Director) is the Director of Programming and Artist Services and a Founding Producer of the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF). Her Broadway credits include The Lion King (Resident Director), Honeymoon in Vegas, Avenue Q, The Wedding Singer, Steel Magnolias (Associate Director), and Sweet Smell of Success (Music Assistant). She toured North America, Asia, and Australia as the Assistant Artistic Director of Cirque du Soleil's Ovo and directed the world premiere of Do You Hear the People Sing: The Dream Concert by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, featuring Lea Salonga, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Terrence Mann. She is a co-founder of Broadway in South Africa, a non-profit arts empowerment organization for children in need. Jen is a graduate of Northwestern University. (www.jenbenderonline.com)
Michael Campayno* (Ollie), a Pittsburgh native and the youngest of six children, was last seen in NBC's Sound of Music Live as Rolf Gruber. While in Pittsburgh, Michael performed with Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, was a Gene Kelly Award recipient, and received his training from Carnegie Mellon's School of Drama. Favorite roles include Billy Bigelow in Carousel, Gabe in Next to Normal, and he also appeared in All Shook Up at North Shore Music Theater. Follow him @MCampayno.
Katie Rose Clarke* (Annabelle) Broadway: Allegiance (Hannah Campbell) premiering this Autumn, Wicked (Glinda the Good), and Light in the Piazza (Clara). National Tours: Wicked and Light in the Piazza. Regional Theatre: Last Five Years (Cathy Hiatt; winner, Best Actress, Connecticut Critics Circle Award 2014) at Long Wharf Theatre; Prayer for My Enemy (Marianne Noone). Television: The Good Wife (CBS), Live from Lincoln Center Presents: The Light in the Piazza. Film: Maybe There’s a Tree (Independent Film). Katie holds a BFA from Sam Houston State University.
Larry Daggett* (Ollie's Father) Credits include: Ragtime (Henry Ford; original Broadway cast), Candide (NYC Opera), Red, Hot, and Cole (Cole Porter, National Tour), My Fair Lady (Doolittle/Pickering), Man of La Mancha (Quixote/Carrasco), A Little Night Music (Fredrik), Sweeney Todd (Judge Turpin), Follies (Ben), Damn Yankees (Applegate), Amadeus (Salieri cover), Souvenir (Cosme), This Wonderful Life (36 characters), The Full Monty (Harold), Annie (Rooster), Drood (Crisparkle), Sunset Boulevard (Max), 1776 (R.H. Lee), and more, at theatres which include Actors Theatre of Louisville, Arkansas Repertory, Asolo, Barrington Stage, Barnstormers, Cape Fear Regional, Cleveland Play House, Fulton Opera, Goodspeed Opera, Lyric Stage Co. of Boston, Music Theatre of Connecticut, New Harmony, North Shore Music Theatre, Pittsburgh Public, Portland Center Stage, Sierra Repertory, Theatre League of Kansas City, White Plains PAC, Wilma Theatre, among others. (www.larrydaggett.com)
Jeremy Desmon (Bookwriter and Lyricist) is an award-winning writer whose stories have played around the world. The Girl in the Frame, seen in over a dozen productions, earned him the prestigious Edward Kleban Prize as America’s most promising Musical Theatre Bookwriter. Mr. Desmon is best known for the rock musical Pump Up the Volume, Good News, 7½ Wondrous Act(s) of True Love, Surviving The Avalanche, and his high-school musical, Cyrano de BurgerShack. In addition, he writes “family theatrical”/touring arena shows for some of the world’s most recognizable characters in Disney Live’s Mickey’s Music Festival!, Universal’s Curious George Live!, and Sesame Workshop’s Elmo Rocks! He is proud to have written multiple editions of The Greatest Show on Earth for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. (www.jeremydesmon.com)
Ramona Keller* (Guardian Angel) made her Broadway debut in Smokey Joe's Cafe and originated the roles of Ms. Paradice in BKLYN the Musical and Radio 1 in Caroline, or Change on Broadway and in London’s Royal National Theater. Select regional credits include Dreamgirls, Lonestar Love, Beehive, The Buddy Holly Story, Hugh Jackman’s musical revue In Time and the female lead in Handel's Messiah Rocks! Ramona has performed with New York Pops, Bay Atlantic Symphony, and Grand Rapids Orchestras. She most recently appeared in the Encores! Off-Center musical theater series in Little Shop of Horrors alongside Jake Gyllenhaal and Ellen Greene.
Molly Ranson* (Nurse Bianca) most recently appeared on Broadway in Larry David's Fish in the Dark. She made her Broadway debut in the Steppenwolf Theatre Company's production of August: Osage County, which she subsequently performed at the National Theatre in London (Olivier Award nomination for Best Company Performance) and the Sydney Theatre Company in Australia. She next appeared on Broadway in Jerusalem, opposite Mark Rylance. Off-Broadway, Molly starred in the Roundabout Theatre Company's production of Bad Jews (Lucille Lortel Award nomination), in MCC Theater's production of Carrie (Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, and Drama League Award nominations), and in the Playwrights Horizons/Vineyard Theatre production of The Burnt Part Boys.
Jeff Thomson (Composer) is a recipient of the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation Award, as well as the Dramatist Guild Musical Theatre Writing Fellowship. His original musical Trails was performed at the Los Angeles and New York Musical Theatre Festivals, winning him the NYMF award for Best Music as well as the Stage Entertainment Development Award. Recently, Trails made its international debut in Tokyo, Japan. Other projects include the club musical adaptation of the cult film Jawbreaker, and the arena rock musical adaptation of the 1990 film Pump Up the Volume. He was commissioned by Broadway Across America to compose the score to the upcoming children's musical Madlibs Live! and was selected to write the music for an upcoming animated movie musical for Amazon Studios. He is currently developing two musical motion pictures. (www.jeffthomsonmusic.com)
Edward Watts* (Swill Swindley) is currently starring as El Gallo in The Fantasticks at the Jerry Orbach theater in NYC. Broadway/NYC: Scandalous (Robert/David), It’s a Bird..Plane..It’s Superman (Superman) at Encores!, The Most Happy Fella (Joe) at the NYC Opera, Show Boat (Steve) at Lincoln Center, Transport (Delamare) at The Irish Rep. Tours: The Little Mermaid (King Triton), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Adam Pontipee), Beauty and the Beast (Gaston). Favorite regional: Roman Holiday (Joe Bradley) at The Guthrie, Les Miserables (Javert) at Dallas Theater Center, 1776 (Thomas Jefferson) at Goodspeed Opera, Funny Thing…Forum (Miles - Helen Hayes nomination for Best Supporting Actor) at The Shakespeare Theatre D.C. TV: "The Sopranos", "Rescue Me", "The Carrie Diaries", "All My Children". Proud member of Actors’ Equity Association. EdwardWatts.net
* AEA member
Seating is general admission; first come/first seated. Tickets are on sale now. Students 22 and younger and Seniors 62 and older receive discounted $10 tickets.
The Oliver Experiment will be presented on the Mainstage inside the University of Memphis Theatre Building, which is located on the main campus at 3745 Central Avenue in Memphis, TN.
Purchase tickets now in person Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm at TSC’s office located at 3092 Village Shops Drive in Germantown, or by calling 901-759-0604, or by going on-line to www.tnshakespeare.org.
The TSC Box Office inside the University of Memphis Theatre Building also will begin selling tickets on the day of the performance one hour prior to curtain (6:00 pm). Free parking is available in the Central Avenue parking lot, beginning at 7:00 pm, directly across from the U of M Theatre Building. No refunds. Cast is subject to change.
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