The Festival of New American Musicals which officially launched throughout Southern California on May 1 will officially end on July 10-13th with a staged reading of the new musical, DANCE WITH ME, based on the lives and romance of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. The Festival has included 158 performances of 43 musical theater events in 36 theaters stretching from Santa Barbara to San Diego, reaching an estimated 122,000 theatergoers.
"The Festival is designed to celebrate the return of the American musical to the center of our popular culture," says Festival Co-Executive Producer, Marcia Seligson "Equally important, we are showcasing the vast creative and performing talents of Southern California's theater community."
There are four performances of DANCE WITH ME, which will star cable TV personality, Jai Rodriguez, July 10-12 at 8pm and July 13 at 4pm at WeHo Church, 916 North Formosa Ave., West Hollywood. The performances serve as a benefit for the WeHo Church. Tickets cost $15. To purchase tickets, visit
DANCE WITH ME, with book, music and lyrics by Robert Bartley and Danny Whitman, is an original musical that follows in the footsteps of GYPSY, Jersey Boys, DREAMGIRLS and FUNNY GIRL, about famous iconic performers. With an original score that spans big band to hot Latin conga rhythms, DANCE WITH ME tells the story of how Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz struggled against all odds to be together and wound up making television history in the process.
"We end the Festival with a new beginning," says Co-Executive Producer, Bob Klein. "The Festival's closing event will be also be a preview of next year's Festival. In fact, our hope is that a full production of DANCE WITH ME will be a major feature of our second festival in 2009."
The Festival's 2008 events included: the pre-Broadway run of DANCING IN THE DARK at The Old Globe in San Diego; readings of new musicals BONNIE & CLYDE, WATER, I MARRIED WYATT EARP and THE TIMES; high school premieres of ALL THAT HE WAS (Palos Verdes), KLEMPERER'S NEW CLOTHES (Birmingham); FEVER (South Gate) and THE NEXT GENERATION (Crossroads); college productions of CAMILA (Santa Monica College), SING ME A HAPPY SONG (College of the Canyons); PAZZAZZ (Citrus College) and LUMPING IN FARGO (UC Irvine).
The RUBICON THEATER in Ventura, contributed five shows to the festival: MY ANTONIA (shared with Pacific Resident Theater in Venice); IT'S ONLY LIFE, ONE RED FLOWER, THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING and DADDY LONG LEGS; and three preview concerts showcasing area high school and college talents.
Other productions were ENTER THE GUARDSMAN (Covina Performing Arts Center; IMAGINE (South Coast Rep); RETURN (Edgemar Theater); THE 10s (Secret Rose Theater); NORMAN'S ARK (Ford Theater); THE FIX (Musical Theatre Guild);
WE CAN'T STAND STILL (William Grant Still Center). Concerts and master classes were also given at Orange County Performing Arts Center, Citrus College and Pepperdine University by Stephen Schwartz, Jerry Herman, and Jason Robert Brown.
Seligson and Klein are Co-Executive Producers of the festival and Linda Shusett is Producer. Rich Schraier directs educational outreach. The festival is presented by The Bank of New York Mellon and sponsors include Los Angeles County, The ASCAP Foundation, The Jewish Community Foundation, Greenberg & Glusker, KUSC, BACKSTAGE, and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.