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  • Angela Allyn

Northwestern’s incubator for new musicals announces new leadership

2022-2023 season includes “5&Dime,” “The Book of Names,” and “Night Side Song"

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The American Music Theatre Project (AMTP) at Northwestern University announces its 2022-2023 season of new musical works and the arrival of multi-talented Broadway artist Alexander Gemignani as its new artistic director.

Gemignani has worked on Broadway as an actor, music director and conductor, earning Tony and Grammy Award nominations for his role in “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel.” He is artistic director of the National Music Theatre Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center. A composer and lyricist, he is developing two new musicals.

“I look forward to helping American Music Theatre Project grow its already excellent reputation into its rightful place as an exceptional and necessary program for developing new musicals,” Gemignani said. “I hope to help clarify and expand the definition of development, meeting pieces where they are, providing writers with time and safe space to create, dream big and run experiments.”

Gemignani joins AMTP producing director Brannon Bowers in leading Northwestern’s incubator for new musicals where they will continue to engage Northwestern students and expose them to first-class musical development experience.

“I am honored to collaborate with our sensational team at Northwestern’s School of Communication to present this incredible season that was already in motion before my arrival,” Gemignani said.

Workshop presentations are open to the public. Tickets are $10 for general audiences and $6 for full-time students when purchased in advance.

Tickets for “5&Dime” are now available on the AMTP website or through the Wirtz Center box office at 847-491-7282.

The 2022-2023 AMTP workshop season is as follows:

“5&Dime” Based upon the play “Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean” by Ed Graczyk

Book by Ashley Robinson Lyrics by Shakina Nayfack Music by Dan Gillespie Sells Directed by Amanda Dehnert, associate professor of theatre at Northwestern

Presentations: Friday, Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 16 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Mussetter-Struble Theater, 1949 Campus Drive

In an old five and dime store in a dried-up West Texas town, the “Disciples of James Dean” gather for their 20th reunion. In 1955 when they were just teenagers, the Hollywood masterpiece “Giant,” starring James Dean, was filmed in the neighboring town of Marfa. Small town local Mona was cast as an extra in the movie, but shortly after his death, Mona has a child who she claims was conceived with Dean during the shoot. As the ladies reminisce about their youth, the arrival of a stunning, but familiar, stranger exposes bitter disappointments, delusions and long-suppressed truths, unearthing bonds the disciples didn’t know they had.

“The Book of Names” In collaboration with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Music by Jonathan Bauerfeld (Bienen 2016) Book and lyrics by Casey Kendall (Comm 2016)

Directed by Lucky Stiff (MFA directing 2019)

Orchestration and music direction by Conor Keelan (Bienen 2016)

Developmental workshop: Jan. 9-27, 2023 Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, Scotland, U.K.

Told over the course of a single day, “The Book of Names” is a mosaic of the stories of several immigrant families as their lives intersect on Ellis Island in the early 20th century. They navigate medical testing, judicial hearings, nationality quotas and an anti-immigration riot — all under the constant threat of rejection and deportation. Some families are torn apart, and some find love and acceptance in the unlikeliest of places. A romantic orchestra of French horn, strings and woodwinds underscore this celebration of the timeless stories of the people that risked everything to leave their homes and build our nation.

“Night Side Songs”

By the Lazours Music supervision and direction by Madeline Benson

Presentations: Saturday, Feb. 11, Friday, Feb. 17 and Saturday, Feb. 18

“Night Side Songs” is a gathering of music and story that asks us to consider this journey that we’re all on together. Taking doctors, patients and caretakers out of the hospital or the bedroom, we meld the land of the well and the sick in a theatrical space. Yasmine Holly is a fictional every-person on an illness journey. We hear Yasmine’s story from her entrance into the night side, to treatment, to her relationships with her doctors, nurses, her husband and her mother, while experiencing short visions of characters across time on illness journeys of their own. Audiences are asked to participate in the story by learning songs to sing with and to our characters, bearing witness and adding their voices as we go on this journey side by side.

Learn more about the 2022-2023 season artists at

AMTP’s new artistic director

Alexander Gemignani is an artistic director, actor, music director, orchestrator, conductor, composer/lyricist and educator. Selected Broadway: “My Fair Lady,” “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel” (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Grammy Nominations), “Violet,” “Les Misérables” (Drama League nomination), “Sweeney Todd” (Drama Desk nomination), “Assassins” (Theatre World Award), “Sunday in the Park with George.” Selected off-Broadway: “Road Show” at the Public (Drama League nomination), “Avenue Q” at the Vineyard Theatre. Selected regional: “Hamilton” in Chicago, “The Three Sisters” at Cincinnati Playhouse. Concerts: the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall, The New York Pops at Carnegie Hall, The Los Angeles Philharmonic at The Hollywood Bowl and the American Songbook Series at Lincoln Center. As a music director, he was represented off-Broadway with Fiasco Theatre’s production of “Merrily We Roll Along” at the Roundabout (also penned new orchestrations) and made his Broadway conducting debut as music supervisor of the 2019-2020 revival of “West Side Story.” TV/Film: “Servant” (Apple TV), “Empire” (FOX), “Chicago Fire” (NBC), “Homeland” (Showtime), “The Good Wife” (CBS), “Empire State” (ABC), the film “The Producers” (Universal), three appearances on “The Tony Awards” (CBS) and season five of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon). As a writer, he is currently developing two new musicals, “Diamond Alice” and “swingset/moon.” As an educator, he has served on the faculty of the National Theatre Institute at The O’Neill and NYU Steinhardt in addition to guest faculty/artist at the University of Michigan, Texas State University, Syracuse University (Tepper) and NYU Tisch School of the Arts. He began his tenure as artistic director for the National Music Theater Conference at The Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center in Waterford, Connecticut in 2018. There he has helped shepherd over 20 new musicals. His greatest joys are his beautiful daughter and his incredible wife, Erin Ortman.

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