Current Season


Elektric, a musical adaptation of the classical story of Orestes and Elektra, conceived and written by Penn State B.F.A. Musical Theatre student, Caleb Smith and his sister Emmie Smith, pulls from all three major adaptations in the Greek canon, Oresteia by Aeschylus, Electra by Euripides, adn Electra by Sophocles. It is set in a world both modern and ancient, with a cast of characters straddling the 21st century in the city-state of Argos some ten years after the Trojan War. Argos has become a tense and explosive city, declining in chaos after a long way. The streets are flooded with protestors and private military guards headed by our power hungry royal couple Clytemnestra and Agisthus. Our main characters are Elektra and Orestes, twin siblings and dual heirs to the dying city. The long separated twins, desperate for revenge, clash in a battle of wills and morality. "Killing for the Gods isn't murder. It's duty." - Elektra

Performances: July 13 (8PM), July 14 (2PM and 8PM) and July 15, 2017 (2PM and 8PM); Penn State Downtown Theatre Centre
*In association with Central PA Festival for the Arts
*All Performances will require a button from the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts



Deep Water Ballad

The town of Deep Water, West Virginia, is on the brink of enormous change. After a terrible mining accident leaves three dead, politicians and profiteers want to revolutionize the local coal industry. Their answer is surface mining, aptly nicknamed “mountaintop removal” by residents of the region. Daniel Dawson, a young coal miner, and Grace Milbach, a would-be model, are brought together by tragedy. They must face the hard facts of their changing world and hold fast to each other amid the scandal, lies, and environmental ruin raging around them. The choices they make today will forever change the scope of their lives and the fate of their community..

Performances: July 14 (8PM), July 15 (2PM and 8PM) and July 16, 2016 (2PM and 8PM); Penn State Downtown Theatre Centre
*In association with Central PA Festival for the Arts
*Performances July 15 and 16 will require a button from the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts



Music by Will Reynolds
Book and Lyrics by Eric Price

RADIOACTIVE is the story of the most mysterious, magical, and deadly element on the Periodic Table: radium. It’s also a love story—the love between the two scientists who discovered it, Marie and Pierre Curie. As the Curies work together to understand radioactivity and to isolate pure radium, they unlock a force that is both beautiful and frightening, that has the power to heal and the power to kill, and that changes our understanding of the universe forever.

Performances: July 6-11, 2015; 2 pm Penn State Downtown Theatre Centre
*In association with Central PA Festival for the Arts
*Performances July 9-11 will require a button from the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts


Seeking Flight

Conceived and Written by Raymond Sage
Music by Will Reynolds
Script Development by Susan Russell

One professor’s realization of the artist’s journey through a mid-life maze utilizing the words of America’s greatest playwright, Eugene O’Neill.

Performances: July 6-11, 2015; 5 pm Penn State Downtown Theatre Centre
*Performances July 9-11 will require a button from the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts


Women: Front and Center

A look at the role of women in contemporary musical theatre.

Performances: July 6-11, 2015; 5 pm Penn State Downtown Theatre Centre
*In association with Central PA Festival for the Arts
*Performances July 9-11 will require a button from the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts


Something Wicked This Way Comes

Based on the novel by Ray Bradbury
Music and Lyrics by Neil Bartram
Book by Brian Hill

For those who still dream and remember, for those yet to experience its hypnotic power, step inside. The show is about to begin. Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two boys will discover the secret of its smoke, mazes, and mirrors; two friends who will soon know all too well the heavy cost of wishes. . .and the stuff of nightmare. This world premiere musical comes to us from the writing team of THE STORY OF MY LIFE and THE THEORY OF RELATIVITY.

Performances: July 6-11, 2015  8 pm Penn State Downtown Theatre Centre
*In association with Central PA Festival for the Arts
*Performances July 9-11 will require a button from the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts


Cabernet and Caberet

The Penn State NU Musical Theatre Festival’s annual salute to new works featuring Members of the Penn State Musical Theatre program.

June 12; 7 pm Downtown Theatre Centre

With special guest Nicole Johndrow and the critically acclaimed Mixtape Confession: The Diary of a Teenage Optimist

July 3,2015 - 7 pm Penn State Downtown Theatre Centre


Past Seasons

The Fall of the House of Usher:

Edgar Allan Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher comes to life in Sarah Hirsch and Molly Fox’s haunting musical adaptation. Struggling painter James Cleary receives a summons to his childhood friend Roderick Usher's mansion, to paint Roderick's portrait before he dies. Roderick and his twin sister, Madeline, allegedly suffer from a mysterious inherited illness. Roderick tells James that Madeline is far away, but James discovers her hidden in the mains. James's discovery of a sinister vein running through the Usher line rocks the house to its foundation. The Fall of the House of Usher addresses just how far we would go to keep from losing those we love.
Performance: Wednesday, June 18 at 7:00PM
Penn State Downtown Theatre Centre
Admission: Free 


The Not So Peaceable Kingdom:

Michael Gruber’s The Not So Peaceable Kingdom is a musical anthology of children's poems, fables, and short stories with animals as the central figures. Illuminating works by Aesop, A.A. Milne, Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, Roald Dahl, the Grimm Brothers, and many others, this program features four singers and is designed to delight children of all ages.
Performance: Thursday, June 19 at 7:00PM
Penn State Downtown Theatre Centre
Admission: Free

“We are thrilled to bring The Fall of the House of Usher and The Not So Peaceable Kingdom to our community. The work we do at the NU. Musical Theatre Festival is a genuinely collaborative effort in the progression of a truly American art form. I am incredibly proud of the dedication of everyone associated with our 2014 season and can’t wait for our audiences to experience these remarkable new works.” - Raymond Sage


Bleeding Love:

Lyrics: Harris Doran, music: Arthur LaFrentz Bacon, book: Jason Shafer

It’s always cold and nothing grows. A cloistered teen cellist must find a real live rose in order to thaw the frozen heart of the rebel punk next door. An eclectic score ranging from Broadway to Classical to Rock beats within this wickedly demented, post-apocalyptic fairytale for grownups.
Performances: Penn State Downtown Theatre Centre, July 9-13, 2013

A Hair Out of Place:

Book, Music, and Lyrics: Joe Major

(Loosely based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story "Bernice Bobs Her Hair," ) A “rags-to-bitches” story of a young high school redneck who sets out to make something of her life in the bustling metropolis of Little Rock, Arkansas. As she encounters a social scene treacherous enough to rival Fitzgerald’s original version, she is soon swept up in the glamor and politics of popularity as she learns the hard way that you shouldn’t let it go to your head.
Performances: Penn State Downtown Theatre Centre, July 10-13

Inexperienced Love by Jacob Tischler:

Performances: Penn State Downtown Theatre Centre, December 15, 2012 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm
More Information

Cold Turkey:

Composer/Lyricist: Richard Gray

It's 1969 and Eagle Rock is on the skids! When an evil cigarette company offers $25 million to any American town that quits smoking for 30 days, Eagle Rock accepts the challenge! But, will they win?
Performances: Penn State Downtown Theatre Centre, October 28, 2012 7:00 pm

Rocket Science:

Lyrics: Jason Rhyne, music: Stephen Weiner, book: Patricia Cotter

Rocket Science is the story of Hal Hefner, life long stutterer and odd ball. He is bright, funny and stuck behind a wall of words he can’t quite get out of his mouth — until Queen of the Debate Team, Jenny Ryerson, plucks him from high school obscurity and entreats him join the High School Forensics Team. It’s love at first tsunami and soon Hal begins a life altering journey to tackle his biggest challenge: finding his true voice.
Performances: Walnut Street Theatre Philadelpia, Dec 5 , 2011 6:30 pm
                        Penn State Downtown Theatre Centre Dec 10, 2 pm                           

Pregnancy Pact:

Lyrics: Gordon Leary, music: Julia Meinwald

15 year-old Brynn and her three best friends make a pact to become single mothers together and raise their children together in a shared dream of the perfect life. Their pact grows as other young girls equally disenchanted with their lives begin to find out and want in.  What starts as a utopian quest quickly turns complicated as these tender youths get closer and closer to parenthood. 

Performances: Penn State Downtown Theatre Centre, Dec 9, 7 pm, Dec 10, 7 pm

How Can You Run With a Shell On Your Back

Music, Lyrics, and book by Michael Mahler and Alan Schmuckler
Inspired by the enduring relevance of Aesop's classic fables, Alan Schmuckler and Michael Mahler chose three tales—"Androcles and the Lion," "The Ant and the Grasshopper," and "The Tortoise and the Hare"—stories that are more than 2,500 years old, to rediscover through the eyes of young people today.
How Can You Run with a Shell on Your Back? places Aesop's three tales into the hands of several unlikely—and seemingly unalike—storytellers: six young students who have been sent to after-school detention. There, the reluctant group is confronted with a substitute teacher named Mr. Sopperstein, who encourages them to spend their hour-sentence together by using their imaginations and exploring one of the library's books—Aesop's Fables. Resistant at first, the six come around as they take on the Aesop's characters and imprint the stories with their own points of view.

Bubble Boy the Musical

Music and Lyrics for Bubble Boy by Cinco Paul (Horton Hears a Who), Book by Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio (College Road Trip)
Bubble Boy the musical follows the odyssey of Jimmy Livingston, a boy born without immunities and confined to a plastic bubble room. When he discovers that the love of his life Chloe is getting married, he builds a bubble suit, breaks out of his home and travels across the country to stop the wedding. Along the way he must deal with unlikely cults, ferocious bikers, an Indian ice cream man, and the greatest obstacle of all, his controlling mother.

The Giver

Scott Murphy music
Nathan Christianson book and lyric
Based on the novel by Lois Lowry
Based on the beloved novel, The Giver by Lois Lowery, is a coming of age story set in a utopian community that is free from pain, sickness and conflict, but also without color, weather, or deep emotions.
Jonas and his friends, Asher and Fiona, along with his family, journey through the questions of life, love and happiness.

Standardized Testing the Musical

Sam Willmott music, lyrics, and book

The Boy in the Bathroom

Michael Lluberes book and lyrics
Joe Maloney music


Michael Kooman music
Christopher Diamond lyrics

All Fall Down

by Selda Sahin and Greg Turner
Book by Nielsen and Pederson
Original Idea by Tim Zimmerman


Music and Lyrics by Helle Hansen
Directed by Rob Schneider

The Scottish Musical

Lyrics by Mark Waldrop
Music by Sam Davis
Book by Darin de Paul

Red River Quilt

Music and Lyrics by Richard Biever
Directed by Ted Christopher


Conceived by Dr. Norman Spivey and written by Dr. Susan Russell
Perfomed by Dr. Norman Spivey


Music and Lyrics by Adam Gwon
Directed by Matthew Kaylor Toronto

Buzz & Bud

Music and Lyrics by Bruce Trinkley and Jason Charnesky
Directed by Amy Anders Corcoran


Music and Lyrics by Maggie Coleman & Anna Jacobs
Tales From the Bad Years
Music and Lyrics by Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk

Take Me America

Lyrics and libretto by Bill Nabel
Music by Bob Christianson
Based on the motion picture, Well Founded Fear


Books and lyrics by Aaron Toronto
Music by Heidi Grimsley

Ordinary Days

Book, Music and Lyrics by Adam Gwon

The Alchemists

Music and Lyrics by Peter Mills
Book by Cara Reichel


Music by David Cornue
Lyrics by Sam Holtzapple