ARTICLESTom Williams

American Smoothie – The Chicago Musical Theatre Festival

The Chicago Musical Theatre Festival,

now in its second year, is a new-works festival produced by Underscore Theatre company. We created CMTF for one reason: there’s a wealth of musical theatre creators and performers in Chicago, but the high risks of producing new musicals means that few companies are willing to take a chance, especially on new authors. CMTF is designed from the ground up to showcase Chicago’s emerging musical theatre creator community, and this year’s festival features 13 brand-spankin new musicals!

Progress report 

American Smoothieamerican_smoothie_icon

Book and Lyrics by Nick Jester
Music by David von Kampen


“Brian is an IT technician at the corporate headquarters of American Smoothie Inc. He pines after the cute accountant, stews in jealousy over his too-good coworkers and prays to the spirit of John Grisham for salvation. Part thriller, part romance, and all hilarious, American Smoothie is a world premiere chock-full of bombs, bird fetishes and nutritious whole-fruit flavor.”

Analysis: American Smoothie is a play mentored by the creatives from Underscore Theatre Company, the producers behind the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival. It sure shows, as American Smoothie is a well-structured work that is on its way to being a stage worthy new musical. The book and lyrics by Nick Jester contains a cute story about a main character who we quickly learn to quickly care about. Brian is the company computer expert who is taken for granted by the company’s management. He is one of a wacky group of characters who have funny and distinct personalities. These folks are zany enough to “sing” their adventures/foibles. A crucial element for a musical. The musical is part thriller, part romance with a collection of cute songs. The work is funny, empathetic and absurdist enough to not take itself too seriously. It is on its way (with tightening and polish). I think local artistic directors/ producers and those looking for fresh new musical comedies should checkout this piece. It could use more clever choreography but the essentials elements of a musical are here: nice melodies, smart lyrics, with interesting music by David von Kampen. This show can become a fun light chamber musical.

Tom Williams

Date viewed: June 30, 2015

Location and Directions

All 65 festival performances are taking place at the Den Theatre, at 1333 N. Milwaukee in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood.

The theatre is accessible via the Division or Damen Blue line stops, the #9 Ashland Bus, or the #50 Damen bus.