WESTON >> The Weston Playhouse Theatre Company has announced Kirsten Childs' "Bella: An American Tall Tale" as the winner of its tenth annual New Musical Award. The only honor of its kind in the country, the Weston New Musical Award supports the production of a high-quality demo of a new work by writers and composers of notable promise, chosen from a group of national nominations.
Winners rehearse in Vermont under professional music direction with a cast of Broadway actors/singers, performing selections on the Weston stage. The cast then travels to New York for an invited concert and a recording session with Kurt Deutsch of Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight Records. "The New Musical Award was the first of our now annual New Works Programs," notes Weston Producing Artistic Director Steve Stettler, "and it has led to ongoing relationships with an exciting group of emerging and established writers and composers, including five productions of new musicals on our stages."
Nominated by The Sundance Institute Theatre Program and commissioned by Playwrights Horizons, Bella: An American Tall Tale is a musical exploring the African-American experience in the Old West. When Isabella "Bella" Patterson boards a train headed west to reunite with her Buffalo soldier sweetheart, she encounters the most colorful and lively characters ever to roam the Western plains. Calling Childs "an under-appreciated gem of the American musical theatre," nominator Janice Paran celebrates Bella's "heart and hope and pizzazz."
Author Kirsten Childs is an award winner many times over. Her Off-Broadway musical "The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin" won an Obie and garnered a handful of nominations: Lucille Lortel, NAACP, and Drama Desk among them. She holds faculty positions at NYU-Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program and is a TDF Mentor in Wendy Wasserstein's Open Doors Program.
Weston's New Works Programs are supported by the Anton Family Foundation, Dramatists Play Service, the Frederick Loewe Foundation, Stacey Mindich Productions, Music Theatre International, the Rodgers and Hammerstein Foundation, Sh-k-Boom/Ghostlight Records, the Shubert Foundation, Tams-Witmark Music Library and many generous individual donors. The demo recording is supported in part by SAG-AFTRA.
Past recipients of the Weston New Musical Award have been produced around the country, have been chosen for the National Alliance for Musical Theatre's annual Festival of New Musicals in New York City, and have received such honors as the Jonathan Larson Grant and Richard Rodgers Award.
The Vermont concert of "Bella: An American Tall Tale" is on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. at the Weston Playhouse on the Village Green in Weston. The event is free and open to the public. The performance will be followed by a brief reception, with an opportunity to meet Childs and her cast. RSVP recommended at email@example.com.