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Jessie Mueller Heading to Chicago to Help Launch New Musical Theater Incubator

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Aug 28, 2014 06:42 PM EDT | Jon Sobel (j.sobel@classicalite.com)

Jessie Mueller

Actress Jessie Mueller attends the 68th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo : Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Jessie Mueller, the Chicago-bred, Tony Award-winning star of Beautiful – The Carole King Musical, will appear in her hometown next month for the first time since the 2014 Tonys. Together with her sister Abby, also a Broadway performer, she'll be lending her star power to the inauguration of a new incubator for musical theater called the FWD Theatre Project.

Founded by an octet of veteran theater professionals, FWB (Festival of Works in Development) is led by artistic director Amber Mak. Rather than producing its own new works, FWB solicits submissions of original musical theater works, selects the best among them, develops them through staged readings and workshops, and finally will work to place them with Chicago theaters.

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The September 22 launch event will showcase selections from the five new musicals that have been selected (out of more than 220 submissions) to receive fully produced staged readings in summer 2015.

The five winners look like an interesting bunch. Among them are The Black and White Ball, set in 1966 and centering on a black teenager who misunderstands Truman Capote's "Black and White Ball" as a "party to unite the races"; a musical adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice; and Love and Other Fables, a romantic screwball comedy about Aesop set in 600 BC.

Before hitting it big on Broadway, Jessie Mueller worked extensively in Chicago theater, including at Chicago Shakespeare, the Marriott Theatre, and the Goodman Theatre. She won a Jeff Award in 2008 for Carousel and was nominated for two more in 2011, the same year the Chicago Tribune named her "Theater Chicagoan of the Year."

Mueller received a Tony nomination in 2012 for her Broadway debut in On a Clear Day You Can See Forever and a Drama Desk nomination for The Mystery of Edwin Drood. She also appeared in Nice Work If You Can Get It before scoring the starring role in Beautiful, for which she snagged the Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Lead Actress in a Musical, thereby becoming the hot property she is today.

Tickets for LaunchingFWD! are $20-$35, with a limited number of VIP tickets available for $100. Call the City Winery box office at (312) 733-9463 or visit the venue's website for tickets.

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