Penn State's acclaimed NU. Musical Theatre Festival to present new works

STATE COLLEGE, Pa -- Penn State’s acclaimed NU. Musical Theatre Festival will present two new works during its 2014 summer season: Sarah Hirsch and Molly Fox’s musical adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s "The Fall of the House of Usher" at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 18, and Michael Gruber’s musical "The Not So Peaceable Kingdom" at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 19. Individuals interested in experiencing the rehearsal process for these works also may attend any/all rehearsals, which are open to the public and take place daily 2 to 6 p.m. Friday, June 13 through Thursday, June 19. Admission to performances and rehearsals of "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "The Not So Peaceable Kingdom" is free and open to the public. All rehearsals and performances take place at the Penn State Downtown Theatre Center, 146 South Allen Street, State College, Pennsylvania.

Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" comes to life in Sarah Hirsch and Molly Fox’s haunting musical adaptation. Struggling painter James Cleary receives a summons to his childhood friend Roderick Usher's mansion, to paint Roderick's portrait before he dies. Roderick and his twin sister, Madeline, allegedly suffer from a mysterious inherited illness. Roderick tells James that Madeline is far away, but James discovers her hidden in the mains. James's discovery of a sinister vein running through the Usher line rocks the house to its foundation. "The Fall of the House of Usher" addresses just how far we would go to keep from losing those we love.

Michael Gruber’s "The Not So Peaceable Kingdom" is a musical anthology of children's poems, fables, and short stories with animals as the central figures. Illuminating works by Aesop, A.A. Milne, Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, Roald Dahl, the Grimm Brothers, and many others, this program features four singers and is designed to delight children of all ages.

“We are thrilled to bring "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "The Not So Peaceable Kingdom" to our community” said Raymond Sage, artistic director of the NU. Musical Theatre Festival. “The work we do at the NU. Musical Theatre Festival is a genuinely collaborative effort in the progression of a truly American art form. I am incredibly proud of the dedication of everyone associated with our 2014 season and can’t wait for our audiences to experience these remarkable new works.”

Penn State’s NU. Musical Theatre Festival explores, encourages, and fosters new works of musical theatre by today’s progressive playwrights and composers in an educational setting, giving students at Penn State access to the collaborative process between the artist, the art form, and the professional world of musical theatre. The festival is an annual event that allows up-and-coming composers, lyricists, and book writers to workshop their original musical theatre pieces on the Penn State, University Park campus. Musical theatre works in development are selected each season to be work-shopped and performed as staged readings. The performances of these works, which take place at the Penn State Downtown Theatre Center–a state-of-the-art proscenium theatre in downtown State College–feature students from Penn State’s B.F.A. Musical Theatre program and are directed and music directed by members of Penn State’s M.F.A. Directing and Musical Direction programs. For more information on the NU. Musical Theatre Summer Festival, visit

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Last Updated June 12, 2014