ARTICLESTom Williams

How to Run for Mayor – 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 

How to Run for Mayormayor_icon

Book by Gilbert Tanner
Music and Lyrics by Aaron Aptaker


“Kim needs a job. Unfortunately, she just graduated college, which means she isn’t really qualified for anything. So… she decides to run for mayor of Chicago. After her campaign goes viral, Kim winds up as the leading opponent to Rahm Emanuel. How to Run for Mayor is an irreverent and hilarious take on elections in the 21st century.”

Analysis: How to Run for Mayor has the germ of a cute idea for a chamber musical as it pokes fun at our present Mayor, at the election process and how social media can take an air-head 20something and run her for mayor just so she can get enough money to pay her rent. Problem: if your going to produce a show with an eye on developing an audience and attracting artistic directors and producers to ‘polish’ your show to make it stage worthy – make it ready for an audience. The production I saw was not ready – the singers couldn’t sing, the movement was sophomoric and the lyrics, when they could be heard were mostly generic. The book was cliche-ridden, the humor was childish. Unfortunately, this work needs to be re-thought and the songs need to be clever with a biting edge. And, if I was trying to showcase my new musical at a festival, I’d cast folks who can sing!

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.