Chester County Students to Debut in East Coast Premiere of Musical Comedy Dreamland

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WEST CHESTER, PA — A group of local teens have a rare theatrical opportunity usually only reserved for professional actors. Students from eleven area middle and high schools are ready to blast off in the East Coast Premiere of Dreamland by Chris Miller and Nathan Tyson. This over-the-top 50s musical comedy is a riff on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream but set in Area 51, the famed classified government site right before it opens to the public. West Chester Studio at Uptown!, the performing arts education side of Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center, will produce Dreamland from May 20 to May 22, 2022.

Dreamland is part of WC Studio’s spring line-up of shows which included Disney’s Aladdin, Jr. (May 13-15). It marks the first time the organization has presented a new work and this is the first production of Dreamland on the East Coast. Dreamland has built a loyal online following and the recorded version features Broadway favorite and TONY-winner Christian Borle.

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“We were looking for something new that has lots of roles and I read about Dreamland,” said Uptown’s Education Director and Dreamland Director, Therese Walden-Murphy. “I thought this was something the kids would love. One of the exciting reasons for doing this show is because they can’t find these characters anywhere online. They get to originally design their characters. They can’t go and look at somebody else’s work and say that is how it should be portrayed. They get to create this world and these people.”

Dreamland (or a musical riff on Shakespeare’s Midsummer set during the declassification of Area 51) is exactly what the title says it is, or is it? When a group of high school honor students take free reign in a top-secret military base two days before it opens to the public, will there be aliens? Maybe. A show choir? Definitely. An over-the-top, B-movie-style musical comedy with a score that blends contemporary musical theatre pop with the smooth sounds of the 1950s, Dreamland is the brainchild of Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen, award-winning songwriters of Tuck Everlasting on Broadway and a madcap brand new musical designed for educational settings.

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The cast and creative team of Uptown’s production features students from Henderson High School, Rustin High School, Stetson Middle School, Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School Center for Performing and Fine Arts, Villa Maria Middle and Upper School, Strath Haven High School, Downingtown West and East High Schools, Bishop Shanahan, Coatesville High School, Conestoga High School and Downingtown STEM Academy.

Walden-Murphy directs the show. Scott Anthony is the Music Director. Gina Veith is the choreographer. There are twenty-eight 7-12 grade students in this show.

“I love the way this show was written. It has lots of characters and a large ensemble that does all the main numbers,” said Walden-Murphy. “This was written for younger performers and we really value the training our young artists get. It helps them learn to connect with themselves. I also look forward to our audiences getting to see this exciting new musical.”

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Dreamland runs May 20-22 at Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center. Tickets cost $17-$20 and are available online at uptownwestchester.org. Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center is located at 226 N. High Street in West Chester.

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