Muhlenberg celebrates 40 years of Summer Music Theatre with two world premiere musicals

News Image This summer’s lineup includes ‘Legally Blonde,’ premiere of ‘The Legend of New York,’ all-ages circus musical ‘The Comedy of Wizards’

 Friday, January 10, 2020 05:16 PM

News Image


Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre’s 40th season will include two world premiere musicals and a recent Broadway hit, as well as programs to commemorate 40 years of professional summer musical theater at Allentown’s Muhlenberg College.

The anniversary season includes the world premiere of "The Legend of New York," a funk/rock musical set during the New York City blackout of 1977, by award-winning composers Joshua Salzman and Ryan Cunningham. Also featured on the MSMT mainstage: the 2007 Tony Award-nominated hit musical "Legally Blonde," based on the beloved 2001 movie.

The season will also include a world premiere circus musical for audiences of all ages: "The Comedy of Wizards," by MSMT veterans Christopher Scheer and Toby Singer, featuring swordplay, slapstick, puppetry, acrobatics, and a lively Dixieland score.

The season opens with "Legally Blonde," running June 11-28. "The Legend of New York" runs July 9-26. "The Comedy of Wizards" runs June 24 through July 25.

"I’m thrilled to celebrate our 40th summer season," says founding artistic director Charles Richter. "Our mission is the same as it was when we started back in 1981: bring the great works of the musical theatre repertoire to the residents of the Lehigh Valley in high-quality productions. We couldn't do it without the support of our community."

Richter will host a day-long celebration of the 40th MSMT season on June 20, for patrons and alumni. Events include a banquet and all-star cabaret performance, featuring past summer theater stars; a post-show dessert reception; and a late-night showtune karaoke session in which all are welcome to participate.

Subscriptions go on sale in January, and single ticket sales will begin March 1. information on the the season and the 40th Anniversary Celebration are available at and 484-664-3333.

The season opens June 11 with "Legally Blonde: The Musical," the Tony Award-nominated 2007 musical comedy based on the smash hit movie, about a sorority girl who charms her way into Harvard Law in pursuit of a boy — only to defy everyone’s expectations, including her own.

MSMT veteran director James Peck ("Bring it On," "In the Heights") returns to direct the production.

"Legally Blonde" won an Olivier Award in 2011 for Best New Musical, with a book by Heather Hach ("What To Expect When You're Expecting," "Freaky Friday") and music and lyrics by Laurence O'Keefe ("Bat Boy: The Musical," "Heathers the Musical") and Nell Benjamin ("Mean Girls"). The show will run June 11-28 in Muhlenberg’s Empie Theatre.

The world premiere of "The Legend of New York" opens July 9, with a score by 2002 Muhlenberg alumnus Joshua Salzman.

When an angel appears to a hardened NYC cop, she sends him on a quest to find three souls worth saving by sunrise--or else the city will be destroyed. "The Legend of New York" is a mythic musical comedy with a disco/funk score that celebrates 1970s Manhattan in all its grungy glory, from Central Park to Times Square to CBGBs to the legendary Studio 54 — all during the famed blackout of 1977.

MSMT artistic director Charles Richter will direct the show’s first-ever full-scale production. A group of Broadway performers including Santino Fontana and Laura Osnes performed a concert version in 2016 at New York City’s Feinstein's/54 Below.

Joshua Salzman (music) and Ryan Cunningham (book and lyrics) are Drama Desk- and MAC Award-nominated writers. Their Off-Broadway musical "I Love You Because" has been produced all over the world. The New York Times has called their work "terrific, refreshing fun — filled with wit and zest."

Salzman and Cunningham have been featured in’s list of "Contemporary Musical Theatre Songwriters You Should Know," and in 2013, received a Jonathan Larson Grant from the American Theatre Wing, given annually to honor emerging composers, lyricists and book writers.

"The Legend of New York" will run July 9-26 in Muhlenberg's Dorothy Hess Baker Theatre.

"The Comedy of Wizards" is a high-flying world-premiere theater experience like no other, combining swords, sorcery and slapstick with puppetry, acrobatics, and a vibrant Dixieland-style musical score. Brooklyn-based theater company Doppelskope — creators of the fan-favorite MSMT musicals "Gruff!" "Grimm!" and "Growl!," have created a fantastical realm of wayfaring wizards, based very loosely on Shakespeare’s "Comedy of Errors."

The eccentric wizard Antipholus of Syracuse is traveling the world with his bumbling assistant Dave, when they find themselves face-to-face with their identical twin brothers — another eccentric wizard, also named Antipholus, and his bumbling assistant Dave. Chaos ensues in a zany musical-theater circus, created for audiences of all ages by Christopher Scheer and Toby Singer.

"We believe in the intelligence of children and the whimsy of adults," says Scheer, a 2005 Muhlenberg alum.

A free 45-minute imagination workshop follows each performance of "The Comedy of Wizards." Participation is limited, and advance registration through the box office is recommended. The workshops emphasize storytelling and play through activities based around circus skills and fantasy.

The show runs June 24 through July 25 in Muhlenberg's Studio Theatre.

"Legally Blonde" runs June 11-28; "The Legend of New York" runs July 9-26. Performances for the first weekend ove each are Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Remaining performances are Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.

Ticket prices for both "Legally Blonde" and "The Legend of New York" are as follows. First four performances: $35 regular admission; seniors, $31; students, $20; youth (18 and under), $17. Remaining performances: $41 regular admission; seniors, $37; students, $24; youth, $21. Group rates and subscription prices are also available.

Audio Description and Open Captioning will be available at the Saturday matinees of "Legally Blonde" on June 13 and "The Legend of New York" on July 11. Email [email protected] for tickets in the accessible section of these performances. A Relaxed Performance of "The Comedy of Wizards" will be presented on Saturday, July 11, at 10 a.m., followed by an interactive workshop. Relaxed performances are designed for children with autism and other sensory challenges. Details are available online.

"The Comedy of Wizards" runs June 24 through July 25. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., and Friday and Saturday at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. All tickets are $11 for the first week of performances and $13 for remaining performances, and group rates are available.

Tickets and information are available at or 484-664-3333.


About Muhlenberg College
Founded in 1848, Muhlenberg is a highly selective, private liberal arts college offering baccalaureate and graduate programs. With an enrollment of nearly 2,000 students, Muhlenberg College is dedicated to shaping creative, compassionate, collaborative leaders through rigorous academic programs in the arts, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences; selected preprofessional programs, including accounting, business, education and public health; and progressive workforce-focused post-baccalaureate certificates and master’s degrees. Located in Allentown, Pennsylvania, approximately 90 miles west of New York City, Muhlenberg is a member of the Centennial Conference, competing in 23 varsity sports. Muhlenberg is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.