Polyphone 2021

The Polyphone Festival of New and Emerging Musicals is a nationally recognized festival of the emerging musical at University of the Arts in Philadelphia. For the last six years, UArts brought professional composers, librettists, directors, choreographers and music directors from the field to the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts at UArts to work with student casts and creative teams on musicals in progress.

 April 2021 - Recorded 


The Blazing World 
Music by Sean Eads
Book & Lyrics by Brandy Hoang Collier
Directed by Zi Alikhan

The Blazing World is a futuristic adaptation of Margaret Cavendish’s groundbreaking 1666 sci-fi novel. The musical follows Margaret Hoang, a computer engineer at NOBL. When her favorite A.I. (Pyra) becomes smarter than planned, Margaret saves Pyra from deletion by hiding her in the company’s unfinished lead project—a VR program called NOBLEarth. Margaret loses track of Pyra and must follow her into the program, where she finds a completely altered, extraordinary digital world of Pyra’s own creation inspired by Pyra’s favorite books. Pyra has replaced the heads of humanoid creatures that were meant to populate the simulation with the heads of animals, and the new hybrid creatures revere her as their empress. While Pyra navigates her bubbling consciousness, Margaret discovers devious secrets about the true purpose of NOBLEarth. Together, they unearth tremendous power and grapple with questions of reality and what it means to be alive.


Kill the Whale: A Musical Odyssey 
By Daniel Emonds
Directed by Chloe Treat
Music Directed by Dan Garmon 

Kill the Whale: A Musical Odyssey refracts Moby Dick into a cycle of songs that bare the souls of each character. The chamber rock orchestra Peek-Wow and its diverse actor-musicians—steeped in rock and hip hop, folk and roots, rhythm and blues, psychedelia and soul—drives the piece towards its inevitable conclusion, much like Ahab’s ship. The narrative visits the insides of the minds of its characters––the anxieties of its narrator, the monomania of its captain, the ego death of its cabin boy––places them together in this world and offers sonic communion in the confusion of “this mixed affair called life.”


By Truth Bachman
Directed by Zhailon Levingston

Shapeshifters is a musical theater piece about queer and trans teenage superheroes. The musical centers around a nonbinary teen, Mel, who—to save their own life—must answer the question: “what are you?”. Mel draws up a comic book universe wherein they lead an underground tribe of queer superheroes called the Shapeshifters. The Shapeshifters serve as Mel’s spirit guides as they set on a journey to discover, harness and protect their superpowers from an apocalyptic future. Mel and the rest must harness their powers to sustain them in flight as they take the inevitable leap from adolescence into adulthood. The Shapeshifters Universe is designed to foster queer community through conversation and song. Its characters, stories, and music speak to specific parts of the queer and trans experience. Using the lense of superhero science fiction, Shapeshifters actively encourages young queer and trans performers to consider what “others” them as their super power.


Lilith and Her Demons 
By Sarah Hough 
Directed by Randi Alexis Hickey  

Lilith and Her Demons is a modern folk piece that explores Lilith as an idea that transcends space and time, and embodies each one of us in her journey toward independence.

This piece explores how Lilith takes shape in folks of all kinds today. They work in New Jersey; find themselves in an abortion clinic; and at a tenants' rights rally; and in a Brooklyn dairy restaurant; and by the Red Sea.