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American Music Theatre Project Workshops New Musical ‘The Enlightenment of Percival Von Schmootz’

Invited presentation of new musical by writers Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The American Music Theatre Project (AMTP) at Northwestern University will workshop and present a staged reading of the new musical “The Enlightenment of Percival von Schmootz” written by the Fred Ebb Award, Jonathan Larson Grant and Lorenz Hart Award-winning team Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond.

The musical features music by Kooman with book and lyrics by Dimond and is directed by Jeff Award-nominated and University alumnus Scott Weinstein, with music direction by Ryan T. Nelson, lecturer in theatre and musical director at the Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts at Northwestern.

Fed up with a world filled with plagues, pestilence and poor personal hygiene, a ridiculously optimistic young man sets out on a quest to end the Dark Ages. As he attempts to bring the light of hope to the world, Percival von Schmootz meets with hilariously disastrous results at every turn. It is only when things look the blackest that Percival is able to discover what true enlightenment means.

A cross between “Monty Python” and “Candide,” “The Enlightenment of Percival von Schmootz” is an outrageous satirical comedy that examines the ways we search for hope in our impossibly dark circumstances.

Kooman and Dimond (“The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes,” “Judge Jackie Justice,” “Dani Girl,” “Golden Gate,” “Homemade Fusion,” “Junior Claus”) are in residence on the University’s Evanston campus through May 22, working with a cast of eight Northwestern undergraduate actors to workshop the piece.

“Ever since we met Kooman and Dimond during the Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project in 2008, we’ve wanted to bring them back to Northwestern,” AMTP General Manager Ryan Garson said.  “We’re excited to have this incredible team here to take the next steps with this new musical. This show and this process are going to challenge our students and provide them with a unique inside look at the development of a wholly original musical.”

Recent AMTP projects include “The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen” by Daniel Green and Lezlie Wade; “Scrooge In Love!” by Larry Grossman, Duane Poole and Kellen Blair; “The Legend of New York” by Ryan Cunningham and Joshua Salzman; “The Rules of Love” by David H. Bell, Demir Demirkan and Sertab Erener; “Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money” by Lamont Dozier, David Ingber and Paris Dozier; “FOUND” by Hunter Bell, Lee Overtree and Eli Bolin; “Triangle” by Tom Mizer and Curtis Moore; and “HERO” by Aaron Thielen and Michael Mahler.

AMTP also has collaborated with Andrew Lippa, Joe Thalken, Gary Griffin, Michael Greif, Neil Bartram and Brian Hill, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Brian Usifer, Eugene Lee, Craig Carnelia, Lari White and others.

Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond

Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond received the 2013 Fred Ebb Award and a 2010 Jonathan Larson Grant and are the first recipients of the Lorenz Hart Award. Between them, they have received the Burton Lane Award, the Harold Adamson Award, the KC/ACTF Musical Theatre Award, a NYFA Fellowship and numerous ASCAP Plus awards.

Their musicals include “The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes” (developed at the O’Neill Music Theater Conference and the Village Theater), “Orphie & The Book Of Heroes” (The Kennedy Center), “Judge Jackie Justice” (Pittsburgh CLO), “Dani Girl” (Exit, Pursued by a Bear; licensed by Samuel French), “Golden Gate” (Williamstown Theatre Festival), “Homemade Fusion” (London’s Ambassadors Theater, Edinburgh Fringe Festival) and “Junior Claus” (Orlando Repertory Theatre; licensed by Dramatic Publishing).

Kooman and Dimond are members of the Dramatists Guild and ASCAP, and they are alumni of Carnegie Mellon University. They were Dramatists Guild Fellows, received a fellowship at the O’Neill National Music Theater Conference and attended the Johnny Mercer Songwriting Workshop. In addition, they founded the ASCAP Foundation Musical Theater Songwriting Project, a program dedicated to training young songwriters.

American Music Theatre Project

The American Music Theatre Project (AMTP) creates a mutually beneficial bridge between the educational and professional theatre communities, giving students the opportunity to work with established artists, while also providing those artists a safe and culturally vibrant space in which to cultivate new work in the early stages of development. To learn more about AMTP, visit

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