Production Archive

Spring Awakening

Spring 2012
Book and Lyrics by Steven Sater
Music by Duncan Sheik
Directed by Amina Omari
Haven’t you heard the word of your body?
“Winner of 8 TONY Awards, including BEST MUSICAL, Spring Awakening celebrates the unforgettable journey from youth to adulthood with a power, poignancy, and passion that you will never forget. Adapted from Frank Wedekind’s 1891 expressionist play about the trials, tears, and exhilaration of the teen years, it has been hailed as the “Best Musical of the Year” by the New York Times, New York Post, Star Ledger, Journal News, New York Observer, and USA Today.” –


Fall 2011
Book, Music and Lyrics by Jonathan Larson
Directed by Tim Dyster
No day but today.
“Set in the East Village of New York City, Rent is about falling in love, finding your voice and living for today. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Rent has become a pop cultural phenomenon with songs that rock and a story that resonates with audiences of all ages.

“Based loosely on Puccini’s La Boheme, Rent follows a year in the life of a group of friends struggling to make it in the big city. They include Mark, a filmmaker and the narrator of the story; his former girlfriend, Maureen, a performance artist; Maureen’s lover, Joanne, a public interest lawyer; Mark’s roommate Roger, a musician; Mimi, an exotic dancer, with whom Roger falls in love; Tom Collins, a computer genius; Collins’ lover, Angel, a street musician and drag queen; and Benny, a former member of the group who, after marrying into a wealthy family, has become their landlord. How these young bohemians negotiate their dreams, loves, and conflicts provides the narrative thread to this groundbreaking musical.” –

Little Women

Spring 2011
Music by Jason Howland
Lyrics by Mindi Dickstein
Book by Allan Knee
Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott
Directed by Eric Hagreen
Sometimes when you dream…your dreams come true.
“Based on Louisa May Alcott’s own family experiences (and novel), Little Women, follows the adventures of Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy March as they grow up in Civil War America. The beloved story of the March sisters is timeless and deals with issues as relevant today as when they were written. Now, this wonderful narrative has been brought to life as an exhilarating new musical filled with glorious music, dancing and heart. Little Women embodies the complete theatrical experience, guaranteeing a night filled with laughter, tears, and a lifting of the spirit. This powerful score soars with the sounds of personal discovery, heartache and hope – the sounds of a young America finding its voice.” –

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Fall 2010
Music and Lyrics by David Yazbek
Book by Jeffrey Lane
Directed by Bryan Botti
Nothing is too wonderful to be true…
Based on the 1988 film classic starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a sidesplitting modern musical comedy gem about a pair of con men and the gorgeous female target with whom they both come to reluctantly fall in love. What follows is a zany caper, a battle of wits and wills between an old pro and a scrappy newcomer featuring a snazzy and hilarious score by David Yazbek (The Full Monty). This delightfully twisted tour of the French Riviera ultimately proves itself to be as funny as it is dementedly heartwarming.


Spring 2010
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Book adapted from Volatire by Hugh Wheeler
New Version by John Caird
Directed by Julie Kleist-Mendez
Pursue the simple life.
A lighthearted take on some not-so lighthearted topics, Candide is, at heart, a philosophical query undertaken in the most somber manner imaginable: song and dance. Voltaire’s classic satirical novel, reinterpreted for the stage with music by Leonard Bernstein and libretto by Hugh Weeler, follows the wanderings of its eponymous protagonist through the cold and callous reality of “The Best of All Possible Worlds,”€ and his attempts to reconcile his optimistic dogma with horrible tragedy.
By chronicling these misfortunes and misadventures, Candide manages to find humor in the optimistic explanations for horrendous calamities that were as common in the 18th century as they are today. However, Candide does not seek to preach pessimism or transform its audience into misanthropes. Rather, it removes the audience’s rose-colored glasses in the hopes of unveiling the evils that exist in our world, inciting people to correct these wrongs through a philosophical message of unwavering hope and eagerness for a brighter tomorrow.

I Love You Because

Fall 2009
Music by Joshua Salzman
Book and Lyrics by Ryan Cunningham
Directed by David Musselwhite
I’ll never say, “I love you anyway.”
Jane Austen has never been quite so hip as in this modern musical updating of Pride and Prejudice that transplants the beloved romantic tale from 19th century London to modern day New York City. Swapping Victorian social events for J-Date, and reversing the genders of the protagonists, I Love You Because features an infectiously catchy score by Joshua Salzman and endlessly inventive lyrics by Ryan Cunningham that are as relevant as they are hilarious and moving.
I Love You Because explores the state of love in today’s world by paralleling one of the world’s classic love stories with the trials and tribulations of today’s twenty-somethings, struggling to find happiness and contentment in a fast-paced city filled with countless roadblocks to bliss. Conservative greeting card writer Austin Bennett and liberal photographer Marcy Fitzwilliams navigate the murky waters of modern dating, sampling every scenario along the way from websites to blind dates to friends with benefits to She’s Just Not That Into You.
Additionally, it explores issues of gender politics, by assigning to each character traits normally associated with the opposite gender, making insightful observations on masculinity and femininity, as they are defined at the start of the new century. It manages all of this while being extremely funny, warm, engaging, and unexpectedly touching. I Love You Because is the perfect romantic musical comedy for today’s jaded theatre crowd, restoring a sense of wonder and sweetness to the genre, while keeping its tongue firmly in cheek.


Spring 2009
Book by Joe Masteroff
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Music by John Kander
Directed by Jenn McDonald
Life is a cabaret.
Set in a nightclub in Berlin, 1930, Kander and Ebb’s musical masterpiece, Cabaret, captures the last vestiges of a decadent world on the brink of being consumed by darkness. Within the walls of the Kit Kat Klub, the devilish Master of Ceremonies invites his audience to leave their troubles outside and give in to the temptations of music, dance and debauchery, while outside, a certain political party is gradually rising to power, threatening the very balance of world order.
Told through the eyes of a young, bisexual, American novelist, Cabaret focuses on his relationship with Sally Bowles, who comes to represent all he loves most about Berlin, as well as all that most disturbs him about the city.
Cabaret is a dark and compelling journey into the past and a timely exploration of a carefree society on the brink of destruction – a circumstance that is most often overlooked, until it is too late.

Songs For A New World

Fall 2008
Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Directed by Jenn McDonald
A new world calls across the ocean…
Bouncing around American history and cultural mythology, Jason Robert Brown’s song cycle, Songs For A New World, is about exploration and change. Each number introduces a different character whose life is on the verge of some new transformation.
We meet everyone from Christopher Columbus to the frazzled wife of a millionaire threatening to leap from the ledge of their high-rise to Betsy Ross to a basketball player about to hit the big time to the not-so-jolly Mrs. Saint Nick, and learn that life is filled with changes which, whether they are simply exciting or difficult or frightening, are ultimately, deeply rewarding.

The Last Five Years

Fall 2008
Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Directed by Bryan Botti
Take your time.
Time travels in opposite directions in Jason Robert Brown’s two-person musical, The Last Five Years, which presents the tale of Jamie and Cathy’s ill-fated relationship from both characters’ point-of-view.
The characters alternate their sung monologues; Jamie, traveling chronologically through time, and Cathy, reviewing their relationship from its final moment to its first, meet face to face halfway through the play, at their wedding, and share only that one moment together in time.
With brilliant lyrics and score, The Last Five Years is an incisive, funny, and sad character study that captures all the highs and lows of being in love and questions Tennyson’s famous couplet of whether:

“‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.”

-In Memoriam, 1850

Little Shop of Horrors

Spring 2008
Book and Lyrics by Howard Ashman
Music by Alan Menken
Based on a film by Roger Corman
Screenplay by Charles Griffith
Produced and Directed by Josh Burlingham
You’ll never stop the the terror!
Little Shop Of Horrors is the irresistible, crowd-pleasing, dark musical-comedy that tells the story of a lovable florist shop employee, Seymour Krelborn, who believes that his new plant will win him the girl of his dreams and the success he so richly deserves. Little does he know that his plant has other plans in mind…
Disturbingly hilarious and heart-warming, Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s hit Little Shop Of Horrors serves as an entertaining and cautionary tale that forces audiences to consider the nature and consequences of success.

The Wild Party

Fall 2007
Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa
Based on the Poem by Joseph Moncure March
Produced and Directed by Josh Burlingham
Don’t you want to be the life of the party?
Based on an epic poem by Joseph Moncure March, which explores the dark side of sexuality and desire, Lippa’s musical is set in the Jazz Era during the course of one wild party on one long, tumultuous night.
Featuring a killer score, this sinfully seductive musical features a multitude of eccentric characters but focuses on the tragic love quadrangle between the beautiful and manipulative vaudeville dancer, Queenie, her abusive and controlling vaudeville clown husband, Burrs, a former prostitute, Kate, and the enigmatic Mr. Black.
It is a challenging tale of vice and virtue, which entertains the audience while forcing it to question how much, if at all, society and its concepts of morality have changed since the start of the last century.

Sweeney Todd

Spring 2007
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Hugh Wheeler
Produced and Directed by Justin Leader
To seek revenge may lead to hell…
Hailed by many as the greatest work in American musical theatre history, Stephen Sondheim’s operatic and gruesome Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street tells the classic tale of wrathful ex-convict, Benjamin Barker, who vows veangance upon the evil and lustful Judge Turpin, who had him falsely imprisoned sixteen years before so that he could bed Barker’s wife, Lucy.
Newly escaped from prison, Barker, under the pseudonym, Sweeney Todd, returns to London, only to discover that Lucy had committed suicide, after the Judge had raped her, and that he had also taken custody of their daughter, Johanna. In response, Todd sets up a murderous scheme with his downstairs neighbor, Mrs. Lovett , who has been in love with him all of these years.
Based on British folklore, Sweeney Todd explores the twisted nature of obsession and revenge and examines how the corruption of society can turn even the most innocent among us into vicious killers.

A New Brain

Fall 2006
Music by William Finn and Jason Robert Brown
Lyrics by William Finn
Book by William Finn and James Lapine
Produced by Justin Leader
Directed by Josh Burlingham
Think Spring!
After collapsing in a restaurant, cranky, unfulfilled composer, Gordon Schwinn is diagnosed with a potentially fatal brain condition, which sets him off on a wild, phantasmagorical ride through his own subconscious mind, while still in the confines of his hospital bed, in William Finn’s powerful and witty autobiographical musical, A New Brain.
Gordon’s lover, Roger, mother, Mimi , and best friend, Rhoda try to keep his mind at ease, even as he is being haunted and taunted by visions of his boss, a children’s television show host in a frog suit, the practically demonic Mr. Bungee , who attempts to exacerbate his greatest fear – that he will die without ever having accomplished a work of lasting worth.
Unexpectedly funny and soul-stirring, A New Brain is a complex meditation on the restorative powers of art and creation by one of Broadway’s cleverest and most heartfelt writers.

An Evening with Jeff Marx

Spring 2006
Produced by Justin Leader

In April of 2006, the Melodramatics Theatre Company, Inc. arranged to have Jeff Marx, the Tony Award-winning creator of the Broadway hit musical Avenue Q, visit Cornell University for a series of events, including a special workshop for MTC members!

Bat Boy: The Musical

Fall 2005
Music and Lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe
Book by Keith Farley and Brian Flemming
Produced by Justin Leader
Directed by Josh Burlingham
Don’t deny your beast inside!
Based on a tabloid article from the Weekly World News:
Things are not right in the town of Hope Falls, West Virginia. The trouble starts when three local teens discover a hideous half-boy, half-bat creature deep in a cave. The bat boy, is brought to the local veterinarian, Dr. Parker , his wife Meredith and daughter Shelley who name him Edgar and set out to refine the boy into an acceptable member of society. The townsfolk, however, have no tolerance for the Parker family’s misguided benevolence. With their livestock in limbo and a local teen at death’s door, having been bitten by the bat boy, the citizens of Hope Falls are out for blood. So, too, is the bat boy!
Written by Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming with music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe, Bat Boy: the Musical is wild and witty, mixing action and romance, comedy and tragedy. With its camp characterizations and keen dialogue, Bat Boy provides light-hearted entertainment on the surface and a subtle subtext you can really sink your teeth into!

Into the Woods

Spring 2005
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by James Lapine
Produced by Justin Leader
Directed by Justin Nisly
Children will listen!
Fractured fairy tales of a darker hue provide the context for the Melodramatics’ second musical, which deconstructs the Brothers Grimm by way of Rod Serling. While the faces and names are familiar, all the stories intersect through unexpected new plot twists as a baker and his wife journey into the woods in search of a cow, a red cape, a pair of golden slippers and some magic beans to lift a curse that has kept them childless. However, after the seeming “happily ever after,” wishes won take a turn for the worse as a giant flounces through the kingdom. Who will survive to see their wish granted and who will perish? Find out in the Melodramatics’ production of Stephen Sondheim’s Tony Award-Winning musical: Into the Woods!


Fall 2004
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by John Weidman
Produced by Justin Leader
Directed by Justin Leader
Everybody’s Got the Right!
Inspired by true events, Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s Assassins details the lives of America’s most notorious criminals – those men and women throughout American history who either successfully or abortively attempted to assassinate the President of the United States.
Throughout the course of this controversial musical, the assassins, unhinged in time, form a community, stretching from the “pioneer,” John Wilkes Booth to the most recent failure, John Hinckley, all the while being observed by both the optimistic Balladeer , who admonishes them in song, and the bloodthirsty Proprietor, who goads them on towards their bloody deeds.
Darkly comedic and psychologically penetrating, Assassins is a cynical exploration of the American Dream and the upshot that can occur when someone decides that the only way to claim it for himself is to destroy that symbol which stands for everything he wanted and everything that held him back from achieving his dreams.