The Wisconsin New Musicals Cycle

Music Theatre of Madison is delighted to be the first organization in the state to dedicate a significant portion of its annual programming to the development of new musicals. 

The Goal: The Wisconsin New Musicals Cycle will develop and nurture new musical theatre works by Wisconsin-based authors, providing a three part process: A reading (unstaged, in a casual setting), a workshop (semi-staged, with exhibits of renderings and vision boards as well as educational materials) and a full production (fully staged with orchestration, costumes, sets, and all other elements of a full production.)   The process of development will be supported by Music Theatre of  Madison's directors, performers, and designers.  It will also, most importantly, rely on audience feedback throughout the process to help shape the stories and characters, resulting in truly collaborative Wisconsin originals. 

The Process: In the same year as a fully-staged production, MTM will have a reading of a brand new piece, with the composer of the fully-staged production mentoring the new authors.  Follow the process on MTM's blog and social media! 

Current Production

Music and Lyrics by Jennifer Hedstrom     Book and Lyrics by Karen Saari
Directed by Meghan Randolph

Workshop: June 13-14, 2020, Madison Opera Center

Full production premiere: August 13-21, 2021, Play Circle Theatre
The first reading of Ten Days In A Madhouse took place December 4, 2019

The true story of 1880s journalist Nellie Bly, a feminist icon and brilliant writer.  Determined to expose the atrocities of mental institutions, she got herself committed to one, later chronicling the horrors she experienced. Using a folk and pop-infused score, Ten Days In A Madhouse tells the story of the women Nellie met and the challenges she faced in escaping and speaking for those who couldn't defend themselves. 

Past Production

Book,  Music, and Lyrics by Nathan Fosbinder

Workshop (June 17-18, 2018) directed by Catie O'Donnell
World premiere (August 16-25) directed by Meghan Randolph

Hephaestus (Heh-fes-tus) tells the story of the oft-forgotten outcast of Greek myths.  He is an artist, blacksmith, and hopeless romantic, desperate for the love of Aphrodite, yet facing epic hurdles to win her affections.  Brutally cast out by his mother, Hera, he embarks on a quest for love, identity, and art, surrounded by humorous and modern versions of Greek mythological characters.   

Click here to see cast, photos, video, and press from the 2019 production! 

The Writers

Nathan Fosbinder (Hephaestus Book, Music, and Lyrics) grew up in Madison and graduated from La Follette High School.  At age 14, he appeared in Music Theatre of Madison’s third production, The Sound of Music.  Nathan is a recent graduate of the musical theatre program at the Boston Conservatory and is currently in cycle 29 of the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at the Tisch School at New York University.  Nathan’s regional writing premiere occurred in summer of 2017 with his Theatre for Young Audiences musical The Dancing Princesses, which was presented at Summer Theatre of New Canaan.  At Boston Conservatory he wrote a musical adaptation of Holes and a semi-biographical play entitled What About Cal. He has appeared as a performer with Summer Theatre of New Canaan, Children’s Theater of Madison, American Folklore Theatre, and the Boston Conservatory. 

Jennifer Hedstrom (Ten Days In A Madhouse Music and Lyrics)  has served as both pianist and music director for numerous productions within the Madison theater community. Recent credits with MTM include Lizzie, A New Brain, La Cage Aux Folles and the upcoming Murder Ballad. Passionate about arts education, Jennifer works as a private piano teacher, has held positions as a teaching artist with the Children's Theater of Madison and Girl's Rock Camp Madison, and serves as the music director for educational theater troupe, Whoopensocker. Jennifer performs regularly in the Madison area as a pianist and singer-songwriter. Her original song, "Prairie," was included on the 2017 Dane Arts Buy Local Compilation.  Hear her music at​

Karen Saari (Ten Days In A Madhouse Book and Lyrics) Karen's ‘Rain on Fire was awarded the 2019 Br!nk Residency Award by Milwaukee’s Renaissance Theaterworks and was a second-rounder at the 2018 Austin Film Festival. Her play In a Clearing celebrated its world premiere in 2018 (Magnetic Theatre Company, Asheville, NC) and was a 2018 semi-finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Playwriting Conference. Karen is a 2015 Wisconsin Wrights New Play Festival winner, a 2017 Last Frontier Theatre Conference PlayLab awardee and a 2017 ATHE Award finalist for Excellence in Playwriting. Her comedy Bad in Bed (A Fairy Tale) had its developmental premiere in 2018 (Acadiana Rep, Lafayette, LA) and was a semi-finalist for the Garry Marshall Theatre New Works Festival. One-act plays Joyland and The Ones Who Stay have been staged across the country. She is a member of Dramatists Guild, Playwrights Center and a founding member of Guest House Theatre. She will finish her MFA in playwriting from Augsburg University in 2021. As an actor she has appeared in MTM’s Bonnie and Clyde and The Sound of Music, among other Madison credits. She is a voice talent, costumer and proud mother of two.

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