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Northwestern University Theater in June

Two special stage events are co-sponsored by the American Music Theatre Project

  • Annual ‘Songwriters in Concert’ program honors the legacy of Johnny Mercer
  • One-night-only concert to feature new works by emerging songwriters from U.S. and abroad
  • Legend of Clifford Griffin and the Colorado Silver Rush has inspired a new rock musical

EVANSTON, Ill. ---Two June stage productions on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus have strong ties to the University’s American Music Theatre Project (AMTP).

Co-presented by the School of Communication, the first event -- the 11th annual Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project’s “Songwriters in Concert” on June 25 -- will take place in one of the venues in the Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts on the University’s Evanston campus.

The other event -- a June 2 staged reading of a new rock musical set during the Colorado Silver Boom in the late 19 th century -- will be held in the nearby Norris University Center, at 1999 Campus Drive, a few dozen footsteps to the north of the Wirtz Center.


The American Music Theatre Project (AMTP) at Northwestern University brings together the nation’s leading artists in music theatre to work with Northwestern’s faculty and students. AMTP’s goal is to nourish and invigorate American music theatre by developing and producing new musicals; increasing opportunities for education and training with Northwestern’s theatre, music theatre and dance programs; and creating new connections between professional and academic communities. More information about AMTP is available online.

More information related to AMTP’s upcoming events follow.


The 11th annual Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project Presents: “Songwriters In Concert,” 8 p.m. Saturday, June 25, at the Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive. An intimate one-night-only concert will feature the new work of emerging songwriters from around the world in genres ranging from pop and folk to music theatre, jazz and more. “Songwriters In Concert” is the closing celebration of The Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project, a weeklong intensive for emerging professional songwriters in all genres held annually each June on the Evanston campus of Northwestern University. The highly competitive program attracts applicants from around the world and invites 12 songwriters or songwriting teams to spend a week in residence working with three award-winning professional master teachers. The program honors the legacy of Johnny Mercer by fostering the tradition of mentorship that Mercer was committed to throughout his career. 

The 2016 Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project participants are Kate Douglas, Joseph Evans, Emily Hall Gardner, Alina John, Alexis Kesselman, Alice Kim, Linda Kiraly, Kata Kozma, Grace McLean, Jesse Ruben, Phillip Smith, Zach Spound, Matthew Wang and Matt Webster. For full bios, visit Chosen from a record-breaking competitive pool of applicants, the 2016 participants will work with a trio of returning master teachers, including Tony Award-nominated composers and lyricists Andrew Lippa and Craig Carnelia and three-time Grammy Award-winning songwriter and producer Lari White.

Hosted by the American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University, the Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project on the University’s Evanston campus has helped cultivate the talents of Tony Award-nominated songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Fred Ebb Award-winner Sam Willmot, Jonathan Larson Award-winner Nikko Benson and Latin Grammy Award-winners Obed Bermudez and Jennifer Peña. Tickets are $30 for the general public; $27 for Northwestern staff and faculty members and seniors age 62 and older; and $10 for full-time students with current Northwestern IDs.

For additional information or to purchase tickets, visit or contact the Wirtz Center Box Office at 847-491-7282. 


Staged reading of “Discount Ghost Stories,” featuring book, music and additional lyrics by Alexander Sage Oyen, and book and archival research by Jessica Kahkoska, 8 p.m. Thursday, June 2, McCormick Auditorium, Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, Northwestern University, Evanston campus. “Discount Ghost Stories” explores the legend of Clifford Griffin and the Colorado Silver Rush as a rock concert, repurposing text from historical archives and the American folk canon into lyrics and book. The reading will feature a cast of Northwestern students and a live rock band. The event is free and open to the public. The reading is being presented by the American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University. Reservations can be made through this link. Direct email inquiries to

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