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Dramatic reading of ‘Rockne’ musical to debut at Northwestern

American Music Theatre Project brings musical theater professionals to Nov. 19 event

  • ‘Rockne: There’s Something in the Game’ to be read with piano accompaniment
  • Musical tells story of legendary Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne
  • Event is free and open to the public, with registration

EVANSTON - The American Music Theatre Project (AMTP) at Northwestern University will give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the musical “Rockne: There’s Something in the Game” during a reading Nov. 19 on the Evanston campus. 

Rockne: There’s Something in the Game” tells the story of legendary Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne, who was born in 1888 to Norwegian immigrants and remains one of the greatest coaches in the history of college football.

AMTP will present a reading of the play with music and piano accompaniment at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, in the Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston. The event is free to attend, but registration is suggested. Email to register.

AMTP will also host a reading Sunday, Nov. 20, at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Reserve seats online

Under artistic director David Bell, AMTP brings the nation’s leading musical theater artists together to work with Northwestern faculty, staff and students on development of new musicals.

The Chicago Tribune described “Rockne: There’s Something in the Game” as “smart and witty,” during its world premiere at Theatre at the Center in Munster, Indiana. The production was nominated for several Joseph Jefferson awards.

For more information, visit the AMTP website.

Meet the team

This special AMTP production features 14 Northwestern students, acting alongside professionals such as Stef Tovar (“A Twist of Water,” “Appropriate,” original production of “Rockne” at Theatre at the Center), Johanna McKenzie Miller (“October Sky,” “Million Dollar Quartet”), Adrian Aguilar (“Rocky”), Ed Kross (“The Jungle Book”), Sharriese Hamilton (“Pericles”) and Neil Friedman (“October Sky,” Chicago Shakespeare Theatre).


David H. Bell – Lyricist

Head of the Music Theatre Program at Northwestern, Bell has won 11 Joseph Jefferson awards and earned an additional 33 nominations for his work at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, the Marriott Theatre and Dury Lane Oakbrook in Chicago. Bell previously served as artistic director of the historic Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.


Michael Mahler – Composer

Based in Chicago, Mahler is the Jeff award-winning composer/lyricist of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” “October Sky,” “Hero,” “The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes,” “Wonderland: Alice's Rock & Roll Adventure,” “Painted Alice,” “Rockne,” “How Can You Run with a Shell on Your Back?” and other musicals. He contributed additional lyrics to Cameron Mackintosh's Broadway-bound revival of “Miss Saigon” and served as the original English lyricist of Boublil and Schönberg's “La Revolution Francaise.” Projects in development include “Secret of My Success” and “Gravediggers' Hamlet.”


Buddy Farmer - Bookwriter

Farmer, the only playwright to ever play football for Bear Bryant at the University of Alabama, earned critical acclaim for his first play, “Coaches,” which toured to the University of Notre Dame, San Francisco, Milwaukee, the Super Bowl in Phoenix and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. His latest play, “The Barbeque,” received the runner up award in the 2010 New Works of Merit Playwriting Contest in New York. His play “Alabama Baggage” earned honorable mention in the 2008 New Works of Merit awards.


Greg Schaffert – Producer

As an independent producer, Schaffert spent the last 40 years working in every facet of theater. Schaffert’s Broadway production of “Peter and the Starcatcher” won five Tony awards. Schaffert produced the tour and off-Broadway productions as well. In the last 15 years, he also produced “Next to Normal” (Pulitzer); “Burn the Floor;” and “All Shook Up,” plus several off-broadway and regional productions. Projects in development include a Broadway revival of “Bat Boy,” “Atlantis;” “Hot Mess in Manhattan;” “The Singing River;” and “Painted Alice.”


John A. Girardi – Producer

A 1999 performance of Buddy Farmer’s stage play “Coaches” led Girardi to get involved as executive producer in the musical, “Rockne: There’s Something in the Game.” He has been involved financially since workshops began. Girardi is also a civil trial attorney with the firm of Girardi & Keese in Los Angeles.

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