University of the Arts Polyphone Festival Celebrates 10th Anniversary

March 21, 2024

University of the Arts’ Polyphone Festival of New and Emerging Musicals will present two new works April 18–21 and a 10th anniversary concert April 20 and 21.

The Ira Brind School of Theater Arts at UArts announced the lineup for the 10th annual Polyphone Festival of New and Emerging Musicals. The festival will present two fully staged in-progress musicals in repertory April 18 through 21, as well as two concert performances April 20 and 21.

The Polyphone Festival would not be possible without the generosity of Peter Haas and  Doug Kreitzberg, as well as Suzanne Kreitzberg, whose memory the festival honors through its participants’ work.

The Doctor is Dead
Book, music, and lyrics by é boylan
Directed by é boylan and Rose Freeman
Music direction by Maya Kociba

A contemporary fantasy for queer imaginations, The Doctor is Dead follows a secret society of trans outcasts living underground. Using their unique abilities to investigate a mysterious empty coffin, our outcasts sing a song of leaving, of grief that becomes giving, of what begins in the end.

Book and lyrics by Patricia Noonan
Music by Liz Filios and Sean Mahoney
Directed by Megan Nicole O’Brien
Music direction by Garrick Vaughan

As World War II shakes the nation, sisters Beth and Frankie journey to Sweetwater, Texas, where they join with women from across the country to fly for the U.S. Army Air Forces. Though they master 77 types of planes and become among the first to test the new B-29 bomber, these women know all too well they risk their lives every day without the benefit of military status. 

When one of their own loses her life, Frankie, Beth, and the others must decide how to serve a country that needs their skills but refuses to fully acknowledge their sacrifice— and how to honor the sisters they have found in the process.

From the fringes of the history books, Sweetwater brings the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) centerstage in a story of duty, love, sisterhood, and the joys and costs that come with being pioneers.

Polyphone 10th Anniversary Concert
Directed by James Bruenger Arreguin
Music direction by Joey Rice

Revisit 10 years of Polyphone with a concert featuring songs and artists from past festivals, and celebrate the cutting-edge work developed at Polyphone that has pushed the form toward a limitless and exciting future. A full lineup of featured artists will be announced soon!

Polyphone alumni have received recognition for their work through countless awards, fellowships, nominations, and grants, including a Tony Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, a Lucille Lortel Award, a Drama Desk Award, an Obie Award, a Jonathan Larson Grant, a Richard Rodgers Award, a Fred Ebb Award, a Billie Burke Ziegfeld Award, and a LAMBDA Literary Award for Drama.

Schedule of Events

All events will take place at the Arts Bank Mainstage, 601 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147.

The Doctor is Dead public performances
April 18, 8 p.m.
April 20, 5 p.m.
April 21, 5 p.m.

Sweetwater public performances
April 19, 8 p.m.
April 20, 2 p.m.
April 21, 8 p.m.

10th Anniversary Concert public performances
April 20, 8 p.m.
April 21, 2 p.m.

Tickets will be available beginning Friday, April 1, at

About the Polyphone Festival

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Maggie-Kate Coleman, Polyphone represents an institutional effort by University of the Arts to change how musicals are born and how young theater makers are trained. By putting student actors and creatives in collaboration with cutting-edge artists of new musicals and dedicating university resources to new works as they are being born, Polyphone has made a transformative impact on hundreds of young artists, audiences, and the field of new musicals as a whole.

The American Theatre Wing featured Polyphone in its Emmy-nominated series Working In Theatre in 2017. 

For regular updates and creative content, follow Polyphone on Instagram at @polyphonefestival.

Musicals are currently in development and are not open for critical review at this time.

About Select Polyphone Artists & Staff

Maggie-Kate (MK) Coleman (she/her), artistic director, Polyphone Festival
MK Coleman is a lyricist, librettist, playwright, curator, educator, and cheerleader for new work. She is the recipient of the Jonathan Larson Grant and the 2023 Richard Rodgers Award for Marie in Tomorrowland, created with Erato A. Kremmyda and Sam Pinkleton. Her selected works include POP! with Anna K. Jacobs (world premiere at Yale Repertory Theatre); the Gift of the Magi with Andrew Cooke and Jeffrey Hatcher (Arkansas Repertory Theatre), and We Will Not Be Silent (New York Musical Festival). Field Trip: Climate Cabaret (Superhero Clubhouse), The Way They Live (The Civilians at The Met), and Hotel Mediteranee (Wild Project), were all productions with Kremmyda. 

Her work has been developed with support from MacDowell, the Orchard Project, Mercury Store, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, NAMT, Space on Ryder Farm, Ars Nova, Catwalk Institute, The American Music Theater Project, and The Civilians. MK earned her MFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and a BA from Ithaca College. She is a proud 2019 Polyphone Festival alum artist. Follow MK on Instagram: @maggiehyphenkate.

Joey Rice BM ’22 (Piano Performance) (he/him), music supervisor, Polyphone Festival
Joey is a music director, a collaborative pianist, and an educator based in New York. He has collaborated with and arranged for artists including Kristin Chenoweth, Jeff Richmond, Mary-Mitchel Campbell, Stephen Schwartz, the Colorado Symphony, and the Boston POPS. Joey is currently on the piano faculty at UArts; is a teaching artist in the theater schools at AMDA College and Conservatory of the Performing Arts and Pace University; and has served as music director and staff accompanist for Broadway Artists Alliance, Broadway Workshop, BroadwayEvolved, and Music Theatre Philly. A proud UArts and Polyphone 2021 alum, he is passionate about encouraging developing artists to collaborate on new works, as it enhances their ability to revisit existing material with a more expansive point of view.

é boylan (they/them), book, lyrics, and music / co-director, The Doctor is Dead
é is a New York City–based director, creator, and composer developing new work towards trans liberation. Their selected honors include: New Writer in Residence at Lincoln Center Theater, 2022 Jonathan Larson Grant finalist, 2022 Relentless Award honorable mention, 2023 June Bingham New Playwright Commission finalist, 2019 Trans Lab Fellow, 2019–2020 Manhattan Theatre Club Directing Fellow, 2021 Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriter, 2021 Prospect Theater Co. MT Lab, 2022 MTFxR Garage Artist, 2020–2022 Roundabout Theatre Co. Directors Group, and 2020–2023 Musical Theatre Factory's Makers Cohort. Visit é’s website:

Patricia Noonan (she/her), book and lyrics, Sweetwater
Patricia is a writer, an actor, and an educator. Her work includes book and lyrics for the musicals Sweetwater (developed/presented at Goodspeed and the Philadelphia Women’s Theater Festival), Learning How to Drown (developed/presented at Goodspeed, Finger Lakes Musical Theater Festival, and Boston College), The Adventures of Ara (developed for Bridge Arts Ensemble), and the upcoming game/role-playing game Defenders of the Wild for Outlandish Games. As an actor, she has appeared at the Roundabout Theater Company, Lincoln Center, City Center, and theaters across the country. Patricia has also created roles in Maury Yeston’s Death Takes a Holiday (Sophia), Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice (Elizabeth Bennet), The Brontes (Charlotte), Signs of Life (Lorelei), Baby Case (Betty Gow), and Neurosis (Abby). She’s a proud teaching artist with Arts Ignite, People’s Light, and at schools throughout the Northeast. Visit Patricia’s website:

Liz Filios (she/her), composer, Sweetwater
Liz is a Philadelphia-based actor, musician, and teaching artist. Her compositions include An Iliad (Lantern Theater Company), Twelfth Night O Lo Que Quieras (Delaware Shakespeare), The Winter’s Tale (Folger Theatre), and The Little Princess (Quintessence Theatre Group). Liz’s additional sound design and music direction credits include The Tempest (Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Round House Theatre); D-Pad (Theatre Exile); The Ice Princess, Hamlet, and Shakespeare In Love (Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival); and Dance Nation (Temple University). Liz is director of artist training at People's Light, an Independence Foundation Fellow, and a recipient of the F. Otto Haas Award. She holds a BFA in Musical Theater from University of Michigan. Visit Liz’s website:

James Bruenger-Arreguin BFA ’21 (Directing, Playwriting, and Production) (he/him), director/co-curator, Polyphone 10th Anniversary Concert
Born in Los Cabos, Mexico, and raised in Denver, Colorado, James is a Latino director and practitioner working in Creative Development at Disney Theatrical Group. His directing credits include: Elf the Musical, (Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center) and Guadalupe in the Guest Room (2021–2022 Henry Awards for Outstanding Direction of a Play and Outstanding Production of a Play). He was a recent Van Lier Directing Fellow at Repertorio Español and was part of the 2022–2023 Directors Group at Roundabout Theatre Company. James’s other creative credits include director of Primero Sueño and La Extinción de los Dinosaurios (Repertorio Español); director of The Last Five Years, director/choreographer of Evita, and choreographer of Fly By Night (Southern Colorado Repertory Theatre); and Visiones del Cuerpo, POP: The Musical Exhibition, and director of Momentos (University of the Arts). James holds a BFA in Directing, Playwriting, and Production from UArts. Visit his website:

Rose Freeman (zie/zir), co-director, The Doctor is Dead
Rose (zie/zir) is an award-winning stage director, teacher, writer, and producer of theater and opera. Zie has directed many plays, environmental events, burlesque acts, nationally touring hip hop concerts, and new musicals and operas. Rose managed monster truck rallies, ran a sailboat company, and occasionally acts, including touring with Teatro di Viti. Zie writes libretto for musicals and operas and co-founded Third Eye Theatre Ensemble. Rose has worked with Mercury Store, Wolf Trap Opera, Mannes School of Music, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and many other institutions. Zie is represented by Marvel Arts Management. Visit Rose’s website:

Megan Nicole O’Brien BFA ’05 (Applied Theater Arts) (she/her), director, Sweetwater
Megan is a five-time Barrymore Award nominee. For 17 years, she was co-founder and resident director of the award-winning 11th Hour Theatre Company. Some of her  favorite directing credits include: the world premieres of Big Red Sun by John Jiler and  Georgia Stitt, Field Hockey Hot! by Michael Ogborn, Blues in the Night and The Bomb-itty of Errors (Milwaukee Repertory); Little Shop of Horrors (11th Hour/Theatre Horizon), The Great American Trailer Park Musical and Reefer Madness (11th Hour/Montgomery Theater); Rent (11th Hour/Drexel University); The Adding Machine Musical and High Fidelity (UArts); Spring Awakening and Big Fish (Temple University); and See What I Wanna See, City of Angels, Bonnie & Clyde, Dogfight, Altar Boyz, Rooms, Avenue X, The Wild Party, The Secret Garden, The Bomb-itty of Errors and tick, tick...BOOM! (11th Hour Theatre Company). Megan is currently pursuing her MFA in Musical Theater Collaboration at Temple University. In addition to directing, she has been a teaching artist for 20 years, but her favorite job is being a mom to two awesome kids!

Maya Kociba (she/they), music director, The Doctor is Dead
Maya is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, where she attended the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) and earned her Bachelor of Music in Music Education. While there, she was privileged enough to be able to work with musicians in the Cincinnati May Festival Chorus; perform at Cincinnati Music Hall with CCM’s Community Women’s Chorus; and travel to Kecskemét, Hungary, for a two-week intensive in music pedagogy at the Kodály Institute. In addition to music education endeavors, Maya was music director of Carousel in 2018. That same year, she toured with Austin Lamewona for the Ohio tour of his musical Octets: A New Musical, for which  she was music director, contractor, and conductor. In 2022, Maya worked with Austin again as a transcriber, an engraver, and a composer for his musical The Underground. She joined him again as music director in 20232024, as the production team is prepping the show for its debut performance in August 2024. Maya has been a private piano teacher for over 10 years and has added voice and ukulele students to her studio. She now lives in southern New Jersey, where she is an elementary general music teacher in Cherry Hill Public Schools and sings in the Mendelssohn Chorus of Philadelphia.

Garrick Vaughan (he/him), music director, Sweetwater
Garrick is a classically trained tenor, actor, and music director from Philadelphia. He graduated with his degrees in Music Education and Vocal Performance from Temple University and has been active in the city’s classical music scene, performing with Opera North Inc. at the Opera America Conference in 2012. Garrick has also been a finalist in the 2014 PHL LIVE Center Stage Classical Competition and won in 2015. He has shared the stage singing with Kristin Chenoweth and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Garrick’s talents have been showcased across the country and internationally in the 2018 European tour of the musical Hair and the Original USA Gospel Singers. Garrick played Harpo in the 2018 Barrymore Award-winning production of The Color Purple. Most recently, he made his off-Broadway debut in the new musical When We Get There. You can find Garrick on all social media @GarrickVaughan. “Follow Me and #catchdreams.”