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Duncan Sheik, Steven Sater, Jason Robert Brown Set for 2018 Powerhouse Season

Duncan Sheik, Steven Sater, Jason Robert
Gregory Pace/REX/Shutterstock

A new musical by the Tony-winning duo behind “Spring Awakening,” Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater, and another by Tony-winning composer Jason Robert Brown are on tap for the 2018 season of Powerhouse, the  theater development program presented annually by Vassar and New York Stage and Film.

Powerhouse has played a role in the development of a number of notable stage titles in recent years, including “Hamilton,” “The Humans” and Off Broadway breakout “The Wolves.” “Head Over Heels,” the Go-Go’s musical that just opened in San Francisco ahead of a Broadway run this summer, was also among the works developed at Powerhouse.

Running June 22-July 29 at the Vassar College campus in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Powerhouse has a slate that includes two mainstage productions, four musical workshop presentations, two “Inside Look” workshops and a number readings of new works by playwrights including Halley Feiffer.

The musical workshop slate includes:

  • “Alice by Heart” — with book by Sater and Jessie Nelson (“Waitress”), music by Sheik, lyrics by Sater and directed by Nelson — the “Spring Awakening” co-writers’ new take on “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” set during the London Blitz of WWII;
  • “The Connector,” with a score by Brown, book by Jonathan Marc Sherman and directed by Daisy Prince, about an aspiring New York magazine writer in the mid-1990s;
  • “Little Orphan Danny,” a musical memoir about the life of Dan Finnerty, the frontman of comedy band The Dan Band, with book, lyrics and music by Finnerty, created by Finnerty and Sean Daniels, with additional music by Dan Lipton and directed by Sean Daniels; and
  • “Cowboy Bob,” created by Molly Beach Murphy, Jeanna Phillips and Annie Tippe, about a Texas woman who disguises herself as a man to become a successful bank robber.

On the mainstage are:

  • Liza Birkenmeier’s “Radio Island,” directed by Jaki Bradley, about a hostage negotiator grappling with crises both professional and personal;
  • “The Waves,” director-book writer Lisa Peterson’s adaptation of the Virginia Woolf novel with music and lyrics by David Bucknam, additional music by Adam Gwon, and Raul Esparza on board as creative consultant.

The “Inside Look” titles lined up are:

  • Jaclyn Backhaus’ “India Pale Ale,” directed by Will Davis, about a wedding in a Punjabi community in Wisconsin and the young woman who wants to defy tradition by opening a bar; and
  • “Our Country,” Annie Saunders and Becca Wolff’s autobiographical, Greek mythology-tinged look at the marijuana country in California.

Readings on the Powerhouse dockets include Feiffer’s “The Pain of My Belligerence” and the musical “Melissa R. and Dorothy Sue”  by Geoffrey Nauffts (book) and Jonatha Brooke (music and lyrics). Performances from Powerhouse’s actor training program are also on tap, along with other projects that remain to be announced.