The New Work Wave of Summer 2019World Premieres in TYA

Is there a heat wave of new work for young audiences this summer?

We’re tracking an unusually large number of world premieres opening across the country, filling the typically quiet landscape with new work. Most TYA theatre stages are dark this time of year, taking a much needed break in preparation for the launch of the 2019/20 season while camp and youth theatre programming takes centerstage. But this summer, a large number of exciting new productions are filling summer stages and introducing audiences to brand new content.

Featuring popular book adaptations, film-to-stage blockbusters, theatre for the very young, completely original stories, and  immersive experimental experiences, here are 11 new works for young audiences premiering across the country this summer:

Justine Icy Moral Daniel Glenn Westbrook and Rafael Sebastian in The Ballad of Mu Lan / Photo Margot Schulman

The Ballad of Mu Lan

Imagination Stage / Bethesda, Maryland
June 26–August 11, 2019
Written and directed by Alvin Chan
Music by Matt Mazzella
Partnership Production with Honolulu Theatre for Youth

Courage, honor, and country! When China is forced to war with the invading Xi Xia, each family must send one man into battle. In her quest to protect her baba, our young heroine proves girls can do anything- including saving a nation. Inspired by Peking Opera, this partnership production with the Honolulu Theatre for Youth is full of music, pageantry, and humor.

Crossing the Line

Cry Havoc Theater Company in partnership with Kitchen Dog Theater / Dallas, TX
July 19–August 4, 2019
Co-Directed by Mara Richards Bim and Tim Johnson

Their stories fill news feeds and television screens – young people caught in the political crossfire in the national conversation on immigration. Some pay enormous sums to be smuggled into the United States by coyotes. Some travel with family members seeking asylum only to be separated from their families on arrival. Some risk everything, crossing through desert and hostile land to escape violence at home. However they arrive, these young people have become political pawns in a national debate about identity and patriotism. Their fates are entwined with the fate of a country grappling with a surge of white nationalism and contradictory claims of religious freedom. Where do we go from here? This is the premise behind Crossing the Line, a new documentary-style work to be created and produced by Cry Havoc Theater Company in partnership with Kitchen Dog Theater.

Dog Man (Brian Owen) saves the day. Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel

Dog Man: The Musical

TheaterWorksUSA / New York, NY
July 8–August 4, 2019
Directed & Choreographed by: Jen Wineman
Book & Lyrics by: Kevin Del Aguila
Music by: Brad Alexander

Dog Man: The Musical is a hilarious new production based on the worldwide bestselling series from Dav Pilkey, the creator of Captain Underpants. Best buds George and Harold have been creating comics for years, but now that they’re in 5th grade, they figure it’s time to level up and write a musical based on their favorite character, Dog Man, the crime-biting sensation who is part dog, part man, and ALL HERO! How hard could it be? With the head of a dog and the body of a policeman, Dog Man loves to fight crime and chew on the furniture. But while trying his best to be a good boy, can he save the city from Flippy the cyborg fish and his army of Beasty Buildings? Can he catch Petey, the world’s most evil cat, who has cloned himself to exact revenge on the doggy do-gooder? And will George and Harold finish their show before lunchtime?? Find out in this epic musical adventure featuring the hilarity and heart of Dav Pilkey’s beloved characters.

Earthrise / The Kennedy Center


The Kennedy Center
July 18–August 4, 2019
Written by Lauren Gunderson
Composed by Brian Lowdermilk
Lyrics by Kait Kerrigan
Directed by Dawn Monique Williams

While the world waits for the launch of Apollo 11 in 1969, three children of key NASA employees watch from different perspectives: a mathematician’s daughter, an astronaut’s son, and an engineer’s daughter. By dreaming a collective dream of landing on the moon together, the kids learn to understand the historic mission—not fear it. Lauren Gunderson’s immersive, original play commemorates the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, featuring music and lyrics by Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk. Using projections, songs, and NASA footage, Earthrise captures the breathtaking feat of the first lunar landing. As the kids dream of voyaging to the moon and back, they discover how far “one small step” can propel them.

Drew Petersen in ELGIN PARK at The Wildrence, opening running June 27-July 14, 2019.

Elgin Park

The Wildrence / New York, NY
June 27–July 14, 2019
Created by Drew Petersen, Jae Lee, and Yvonne Chang
Based on the work of Michael Smith

Reclusive modelmaker, Michael Smith has never ventured beyond the city limits of the small American town he calls home, Elgin Park. His brother, however, Paul Smith, is an infamous magician and illusionist who dazzles national and international audiences under his stage name ‘The Spectral.’ When Paul Smith seemingly disappears without a trace, Michael starts down a path of amateur sleuthing and clandestine detection to discover the truth about where to and why Paul has vanished. Along his journey, with the help of dozens of Elgin Park citizens, a curious (and sometimes foreboding) communal identity of the town materializes, Michael’s own sleepy and nostalgic past is dug up, and an answer to the question, ‘where does the heart of magic lie?’ is uncovered. Stitching immersive theater and sound design, intimate storytelling and ornate miniature scenic installation, Elgin Park is a live, theatrical, 360 degree, cosy yet mysterious ghost story about family, imagination, aloneness, and the spirit and magic that lives within a small community.

Hercules opens at The Public Theater this summer, based on the Disney film.


The Public Theater /  New York, NY
August 31–September 8, 2019
Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by David Zippel
Book by Kristoffer Diaz
Choreography by Chase Brock
Directed by Lear deBessonet
Based on the Disney film written by Ron Clements, John Musker, Donald McEnery, Bob Shaw, and Irene Mecchi, and directed by Ron Clements and John Musker

The Public Theater’s initiative that invites communities across New York to create ambitious works of participatory theater is closing out the summer in truly epic fashion. Public Works will present the glorious story of HERCULES, brought to vibrant life by professional actors and community groups from across the city. Directed by Public Works founder and Resident Director Lear deBessonet, this summer’s production, based on the Disney animated film, will feature the film’s beloved score, plus additional original songs by the film’s composer Alan Menken and lyricist David Zippel, with a new book by Kristoffer Diaz and choreography by Chase Brock. Journey with Hercules in this new stage adaptation that invites New Yorkers from all five boroughs to participate in a joyous musical that celebrates the heroes found in all of us.

Inch By Inch at Stages Theatre Company in MN.

Inch by Inch

Stages Theatre Company / Hopkins, MN
Directed by Melanie Salmon-Peterson
Adapted by Katharine Benyo
August 7–25, 2019

This world premiere of Leo Lionni’s Caldecott winning book, Inch By Inch immerses the youngest theatregoers in the whimsical and sweet story that dares to ask, “Can a song be measured?” Our littlest patrons will meet up with our winsome inchworm who can measure anything under the sun. They will then help him cleverly solve the dilemma of how to measure the song of the hungry nightingale.

Llama Llama Red Pajama, The Musical / Bay Area Children's Theatre, Photo by Alessandra Mello

Llama Llama Red Pajama, The Musical

Bay Area Children’s Theatre / Berkeley, CA
July 8–August 25, 2019
Based on the books by Anna Dewdney
Book, Music and Lyrics by Austin Zumbro
Directed by Marty Johnson

It’s been a big first day of school, and Llama’s happy to be home and wearing his favorite red pajamas. After his bedtime story, Mama Llama tucks him in and pops downstairs. Llama’s toys try to help him relax, but he’s too wiggly. He needs a drink of water. But where did Mama Llama go? Why isn’t she coming? This original, world-premiere musical will have everyone doing the Bedtime Dance!

Max Makes A Million / The Alliance Theatre / Photo by Greg Mooney

Max Makes A Million

The Alliance Theatre / Atlanta, GA
June 20–July 21, 2019
Based on the book by Maira Kalman
Adapted and Directed by Liz Diamond

Poetry, dance, jazz, visual art, and most of all, dreams coalesce in a glorious theatrical adaptation of Maira Kalman’s one-of-a-kind book Max Makes A Million. Adapted and directed by celebrated theatre artist Liz Diamond, this play follows the beat-poet dog Max Stravinsky on his quest to get to Paris and celebrates those wishful thinkers who dare to dream beyond what seems possible. Max Makes a Million is produced in collaboration with the High Museum of Art’s exhibition, The Pursuit of Everything: Maira Kalman’s Books for Children, a colorful exhibition exploring the extensive catalog of Kalman’s imaginative stories and illustrations, which have delighted readers for more than 30 years.

Stoo’s Famous Martian American Gumbo / Peppercorn Theatre / Winston-Salem, NC

Stoo’s Famous Martian American Gumbo

Peppercorn Theatre / Winston-Salem, NC
July 12–28, 2019
By Matt Barbot
Directed by Kaiser Ahmed

Now that Stoo’s family lives on Earth, he can’t grow his favorite fruit from Mars. Together with his friends Kacey and Billy, Stoo is out to invent a brand new special food out of delicious things from Earth!

PigPen Theatre Co. opens their adaptation of The Tale of Despereaux at The Old Globe.

The Tale of Despereaux

The Old Globe / San Diego, CA
July 6–August 11, 2019
Book, music, and lyrics by PigPen Theatre Co.
Based on the novel by Kate DiCamillo and the Universal Pictures animated film
Directed by Marc Bruni and PigPen Theatre Co

The acclaimed PigPen Theatre Co. charmed and astonished Old Globe audiences with The Old Man and The Old Moon. Now they return to San Diego, bringing their one-of-a-kind theatrical and musical inventiveness to Kate DiCamillo’s beloved, Newbery Medal–winning modern fable. Despereaux is a courageous mouse who dreams of becoming a knight. He sets off on a noble quest that will take him down into dungeons and up to the heights of a castle tower to rescue a beautiful human princess—but the dark-hearted rat Roscuro has other ideas. The Boston Herald proclaims, “PigPen Theatre Co. is already a phenomenon,” while The New Yorker says, “It’s like watching child geniuses at play!” Full of gorgeous music, stunning stage effects, witty performances, and a message of optimism and community, The Tale of Despereaux is an inspiring and beguiling story for all ages.