The Festival        Submit        Press/Contact

About the festival

The Chicago Musical Theatre Festival, now in its third year, is a new-works festival produced by Underscore Theatre company. We created CMTF for one reason: there's a wealth of musical theatre creators and performers in Chicago, but the high risks of producing new musicals means that few companies are willing to take a chance, especially on new authors. CMTF is designed from the ground up to showcase Chicago's emerging musical theatre creator community. In the last two years, we've featured 21 new musicals in various stages of development, and brought in over $40,000 in ticket revenue to producers!

2016 - The Skinny

This year's CMTF will be in August, running for 3 weeks, with each selected production running for 4-5 performances. Much like the last two years, we're looking for new works from composing teams and production companies looking to take their new musical to the next level. We have a couple of exciting announcements coming up, including our venue, which has been upgraded to...we can't tell you yet! But in the meantime, submissions are open, and as always, it's free to submit!

Wanna stay up-to-date, whether as a producer, writer, or member of the audience? Sign up for our mailing list!


Submitting to CMTF

Choose your path

Option 1: Composing teams in search of a producer

You wrote a musical, and now you want to put it on its feet. That said, perhaps you don't have the resources, or connections, to make that happen. That's where we come in. If you're selected, CMTF pairs your production with a theatre company in Chicago to workshop your show, and, using CMTF's resources, to put on a 4-5 performance workshop run during the festival. That company retains the right of first-refusal to further productions for 90 days after the festival closes, after which you are free to pitch your show to other producers.

If your show is selected, composing teams pay a production fee (historically ~$500-1000), which goes towards the production of your show. In return, teams receive a percentage of ticket sales (historically 5-10%). Most importantly, though, you get to see your show brought to life with the help of dozens of artists, workshopped to hone your script and score, and presented to an audience of theatre producers, artists, industry members, and the general public. Note: due to the amount of man/womanpower that goes into this process, ONLY A SMALL NUMBER OF "OPTION 1" SUBMISSIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED.

Option 1 - Submit Now!

Option 2: Producers/Ensembles in search of an audience

You, or your theatre/production company, have a new musical that you're ready to show the world.

These productions make up the majority of CMTF performances. Should you be selected for Option 2, all producers pay a production fee (historically $500-1000), which helps pay for the festival, and are entitled to 50% of all ticket revenue for your production (historically $1000-$4,000). You'll be responsible for putting your show on its feet (including rehearsals, costumes, props, additional set pieces, etc.). CMTF provides the venue, a general light plot, sound equipment (including microphones!), audience services, and festival-wide promotion and publicity for your production.

For Option 2, you control your exposure. You can bill your production as a workshop, as a festival try-out, or as a balls-to-the-wall world premiere that's ready to go to the next level. Through our publicist, we ask the press to review accordingly, encouraging anything from full reviews to teasers to no coverage at all.

NOTE: There is an Early Bird option! We'll be making an initial selection from early submitting shows, with an option to secure your slot before the end of 2016.

Option 2 - Submit Now!

Option 3: Producers in search of a Show

You produce musical theatre, and you want to help put a new show on its feet, while minimizing the risk to you and your company.

If your company is selected, CMTF facilitates a process in which you choose from our "option 1" submissions to workshop. You receive the lion's share of the writers' production fee (historically $500-1000), and receive access to CMTF resources (including limited rehearsal space, dramaturgical personnel, our costume/technical inventory, etc.), as well as the resources offered to "option 2" producers above (venue, publicity, tech, etc.). You also receive 50% of all ticket sales for your production, and the right of first-refusal to productions of your selected show for 90 days after the festival closes.

This option is best for new or established theatre/production companies who are looking for new musicals to produce, or who have a mission of developing new work.

Option 3 - Submit Now!


About Underscore Theatre Company

Founded in 2011, Underscore Theatre Company is a team of producing artists dedicated to exploring stories of power and resonance through a musical lens; fostering the development of new musicals; and bolstering Chicago’s role as a national leader in musical theatre. Since its creation, Underscore has produced or co-produced 28 world-premiere musicals in Chicago. In 2014, Underscore created the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival. For Underscore’s 2015-16 season, Underscore will present two new full-length musicals created by Chicago composers and lyricists, as well as an expanded festival.

The composer Jean Sibelius said, “Music begins where the possibilities of language end,” and we fully embrace this mentality in our work. We believe musicals offer something more than other performing arts, with music, text, and actors’ interpretation coming together create a transcendent experience for performers and audience alike.


Full presskit coming soon!

Contact Us

For any additional questions, please send us an email!