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Two new musicals from the American Music Theatre Project this summer

It’s shaping up to be a big summer for Northwestern University’s American Music Theatre Project (AMTP).

“Something in the Game: An All-American Musical,” opened at the Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts July 21 to critical acclaim from Chicago theatre reviewers. The 24-member cast includes both professional and student performers.

On the same day, AMTP artistic director David H. Bell, flew to Edinburgh to direct rehearsals of a new music theater work set to debut at the storied Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

That meant Bell, the director, choreographer and co-lyricist of “Something in the Game” didn’t even get to see the opening night performance of the Knute Rockne-inspired musical in Evanston.

Fulfilling its mission to nurture and develop new musicals, AMTP made the big step of mounting a full-fledged production of a musical developed at Northwestern, while simultaneously immersing students in a transatlantic collaboration with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Bell believes both summer collaborations will greatly impact the artistic development of Northwestern students.

Although “Something in the Game” is the tale of Notre Dame football coach Rockne, the show has its roots at Northwestern. Adapted from a play by Buddy Farmer, the creative team includes composer and Northwestern alumnus Michael Mahler and Bell. 

Bell says he was drawn to story of the legendary coach, because it is “the ultimate American Faust story…and the story of the losing of values through the getting of fame and fortune.”

Neal Davidson (’18 School of Communication) who plays the role of Gus Dorais, Rockne’s best friend, said the experience of performing with professional actors was one of his most valuable experiences at Northwestern.

“Professional actors bring a different level of intensity and focus to rehearsal. It showed me that I could up my game and that I could even match that. And it gave me more faith in myself to pursue this professionally,” Davidson said.

Davidson was a featured performer in AMTP’s 2017 Edinburgh Fringe collaboration with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

“Performing abroad gave me a global perspective that I don’t get on campus. I was there working with professionals in an environment where there are 4,000 productions going on in a month…it expands your horizons.”

“‘Something in the Game’ actors will leave this experience knowing what kind of questions to ask because they’ve been through this experience…and the musicals, developed in collaboration with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, offer a cultural and multicultural experience that will change their lives,” said Bell.

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