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Campus News / News

Original musical comedy bound for NYC comes to life first with Rockford University Performing Arts students

02/15/2019 11:27 am

New York City based musical theater songwriting team Sam Carner and Derek Gregor have chosen Rockford University and its students to workshop a brand new musical. Carner and Gregor are in residence here through the end of February to bring their musical comedy “Techies” to life. The debut of this new production will run February 21 – 23 in Maddox Theatre, before heading to the Duplex Theater in New York City in March with students from Rockford University. This presents a unique opportunity for performing arts students to work with professionals in the industry and to learn more about the process of how a new production moves from concept to reality. It also presents a unique opportunity for the community to be able to see and participate in a brand new musical production.

Techies rehearsal

“Techies” is described as a fourth-wall shattering pop-rock musical comedy about being weird and fighting for respect in one of the most judgmental places on earth – high school. The show opens on Thursday February 21 and runs through Saturday, February 23. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Single ticket admission for adults $12, seniors age 55 and up, and students $9 unless otherwise noted. Group rates are available. For tickets, contact the Box Office at 815-226-4100 or Visit for more about Techies and the University’s performing arts season.

What it means to “workshop” a show: When playwrights and songwriters/composers of musicals create new work, it is very important to give the play a voice (other than the creators’ own voices) in order to see what works and what doesn’t. This happens with virtually every composed theater piece that exists. The process usually begins with a “reading,” in which actors are chosen just to sit around in a group, perhaps with an audience or maybe not, to read the play or musical. The next level is often a “stage reading” in which the actors have actually rehearsed with the script, and perhaps there’s a director that guides the performance. There may be some simple blocking and movement, but usually the actors stand behind a music stand or read it with script in hand. Eventually a new work is given a “workshop,” in which the actors have spent several weeks rehearsing, memorizing, and staging the new work. In all of these iterations, the work is discussed at length by actors and audience alike, and many edits are made to the work. When it gets to the workshopping stage, there are often several performances so the creators can get a lot of needed feedback.

Techies_Sam CarnerPerforming Arts Chair and Professor of Performing Arts Deborah Mogford explains, “The production of Carner & Gregor’s Techies is part staged reading, part workshop. The performances in Rockford will be ‘lightly staged,’ and the performances in NYC will truly be a staged reading. The joy of this process is the special collaboration that goes into creating a work of art in the theater. Sam and Derek have trusted Rockford University Performing Arts students with their newest work, and the two of them have been amazingly gracious in their desire for feedback and collaboration with our department.”

More about the writers as noted on their website – Sam Carner and Derek Gregor, among’s 12 Contemporary Musical Theatre Songwriters You Should Know, won the Richard Rodgers Award and the John Wallowitch Award for songwriters under 40, and Sam won the Kleban Prize for “Most Promising Librettist.” Their songs, which have garnered 11

Techies_ Derek GregorMAC nominations for “Best Song” / “Best Comedic Song” with one win, are performed in hundreds of venues around the world every year and have been sung on all seven continents (including Antarctica).

“Techies” cast list