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!
“Angel 8” is a cult science fiction TV show. It’s also a lifestyle. To the fans gathered at the first-ever “Angel 8” convention, it’s EVERYTHING. But when the unthinkable happens during show creator Scott Furnish’s long-awaited keynote address, this group of lovable misfits must band together to prove that no power in the ‘verse can keep a story from its fans.
Fanatical, one of the new musicals being workshopped in the Chicago Musical Theater Festival, is an import from the UK. But, science-fiction television fandoms have a strong tendency to transcend the Atlantic divide, and some fellow audience members I heard at intermission said this musical perfectly captured the personalities and dynamics at a fan convention. Matt Board’s attitude towards fans is one of loving mockery, and several of the songs reflect this. One cos-player identifies the spy, and tries to win him over by admitting the excesses of fandom are unpleasant, but explaining how inspirational a certain character was to her, and giving a tour of how other fans have used Angel 8 for their own creative expression and bonding. The music is similar to what you might hear from Stephen Sondheim in the heavy emphasis on clever lyrics, which is epitomized by the song “Me Slash You.” This demo, like other productions in this festival, suffers from lack of focus on the singing, but with a bit of tightening of the first act and slightly sharper comedy, a company looking for a musical to appeal to the young nerd crowd (which overlaps heavily with the young theatre crowd) would find strong possibilities in Fanatical.
Reviewed June 30, 2015
For more information, see the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival’s website.Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at americandemigods.com. Performances are July 5 at 7:00 pm, July 11 at 12:00 pm, July 15 at 9:30 pm, and July 19 at 4:00 pm. All CMTF shows are at The Den Theatre, 1333 N Milwaukee Ave.