The inaugural Atlanta Musical Theatre Festival, running Aug. 1-2, will take part at two venues — Midtown’s Synchronicity Theatre and West Midtown’s Actor’s Express, which is the event’s base. It’s now less than a month away.


When announcing the new event several months ago, founder/executive director Benjamin Davis said its goal is to connect writers with producing theaters and directors interested in taking a project further and to create networking relationships between producing theaters, playwrights, directors, actors and other artists.

Here’s the schedule:

  • undergroundNoon Aug. 1 at Synchronicity. Underground, a slave story told through song. Book & lyrics by  Akil DuPont. In 1850, a slave named Bali has dreams of freedom tuggin’ at his soul. He plots an escape after learning that his master plans to sell his young daughter. He then encounters a house slave who feels much differently. Underground was produced in March as a reading with the Negro Ensemble Company in New York and directed by Tony Award winner Ben Harney (Dreamgirls).
  • yellowwall8 p.m. Aug. 1 at Actor’s Express. The Yellow Wallpaper, based on a short story by 1890s feminist author Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Adapted by Hannah Church, with music & lyrics by Julia Goudreault. It’s 1891, and Charlotte has just finished a treatment called the “rest cure,” lying in bed for eight weeks in complete isolation. This “cure” was the most advanced medical care of its time for women diagnosed with “hysteria.” Charlotte’s mind, though, is still at a breaking point, so her doctor gives her new instructions: Never write again if she intends to get better. (Perkins’ original short story helped inspire playwright Sarah Ruhl’s award-winning In the Next Room, or the vibrator play, staged at Synchronicity in 2011 and 2015.)
  • fineartNoon Aug. 2 at Synchronicity. The Fine Art of Forgetting, a story of family and memory. Book by Heidi Cline McKerley, music by S. Renee Clark, lyrics by Jeff McKerley. It’s Karen’s birthday, and she’s desperately trying to make the right choices, let go of her past and move forward. Through magic realism and a Greek chorus-like ensemble, audiences follow her journey as she juggles a mother with Alzheimer’s, a disappearing father, a nonexistent romantic relationship and a career opportunity that seems too good to be true.
  • whatspast8 p.m. Aug. 2 at Actor’s Express. What’s Past, in which a pair of siblings wonder what they’d do if they could remember all the things they never knew they forgot. By Chase Peacock & Jessica De MariaWhat’s Past follow siblings on a journey through time and memory as they unravel the mystery of their parents’ death and the mystery of their own identities. (De Maria is AMTF’s development director; Peacock is an adviser.)

Synchronicity Theatre is at 1545 Peachtree St. NE, Actor’s Express at 887 W. Marietta St. Festival passes and single tickets ($27.50-$80) are available online HERE or by calling Actor’s Express at 404.607.7469. Discount tickets are available at

The Atlanta festival is modeled after the uber-popular New York Musical Theatre Festival, which Davis attended a year ago with the folk-rock musical The Last Time We Were Here, a show written by De Maria and fellow Atlantan Jeremiah Parker Hobbs, which Davis produced.

As with the New York fest, each AMTF production gets a venue, technical equipment, festival marketing and an audience. The team behind each show finds its own director and does its own casting, although AMTF advisers will attend rehearsals and share insights.

About Kathy Janich

Kathy Janich is a longtime arts journalist who has been seeing, working in or writing about the performing arts for most of her life. She's a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, Americans for the Arts and the National Arts Marketing Project. Full disclosure: She’s also an artistic associate at Synchronicity Theatre.

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