About the festival

The Chicago Musical Theatre Festival, now in its second 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, and so far, it has been a great success.

This is a juried festival, so theatre companies, as well as independent teams of playwrights and composers, submit their new works for consideration, and a select few make the cut. During last year's inaugural festival, nearly 50 companies submitted new musicals--ultimately, we chose 8, who performed in rep at the Den Theatre last June. For this year's festival, we'll be announcing the lineup in just a few short days

Looking to attend again this year, or check us out for the first time? Never fear! Sign up for our mailing list, and you'll be the first to know our lineup, and you'll get first dibs when tickets go on sale.


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 13 world-premiere musicals in Chicago. In 2014, Underscore created the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival, which in collaboration with 8 other theatre companies produced 8 new works by Chicago artists. For Underscore’s 2014-15 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.


We'll be announcin the lineup in just a few days. Sign up for our mailing list to be the first to find out what this year will bring!

Contact Us

For any additional questions, please send us an email!