Signature commissions two musicals on the spooky side

June 11, 2012

Things are about to get a little spooky scary at Signature Theatre in Arlington: The theatre is commissioning two new musicals, both of which have a bit of a horror bent.

The commissions, granted to composers Joshua Rosenblum and Josh Schmidt, are part of Signature’s American Musical Voices Project: The Next Generation.

Schmidt, along with writer Royce Davrek, is at work on “a sordid musical tale” formerly titled “Stockholm” (as in the Syndrome, not the city). He said the show is inspired by “the mainstream fascination with darker procedurals [and] the idea of a creation of a very dark burlesque. It’s a dark humor and an erotic fantasy.”

Rosenblum and Joanne Sydney Lessner, his collaborator and wife, are working on an adaptation of “The Haunted Hotel,” a novella by Wilkie Collins. Lessner is writing the book and Rosenblum is writing the music; they’re co-writing the lyrics.

“It’s creepy and gothic but with an element of fun,” Rosenblum said. “We like to straddle the line between scary and humorous.”

The American Musical Voices Project was founded in 2006 with a $1 million grant from the Shen Family Foundation to fund the creation of new musicals. The Next Generation, which falls under the AMVP umbrella, funds emerging composers.

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