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Theater Schmeater’s chamber musical draws new crowd

Getting audiences indoors takes effort in the summer months, which is why many theaters go dark in July and August or head to free outdoor festivals. At Theater Schmeater, they’re offering their second “chamber musical” to lure a new crowd to their space. To further combat Friday night traffic blues, they’re offering reduced ticket prices as an excuse to hang around downtown and head home a little later. Use ticket code “gridlock” at Brown Paper Tickets for their Friday only special deal.

The 2016 musical The Crossing documents a historic Amelia Earhart flight, but like all good Schmee productions, it’s not about the flight that you expect.

The brand-new, original musical documents Amelia’s successful crossing of the Atlantic, not her later fatal flight and disappearance in the Pacific. With music and lyrics by Paul Lewis, and a book by Paul Lewis and Carissa  Meisner Smit, the show is directed by Schmee’s artistic director Doug Staley.

“Her last flight has been told so many times before,” said Lewis. “I didn’t want to do a biopic musical. I kept running into stories of her weather man and decided to follow that character.” Lewis reimagined the character of the weather man, the person who helped Amelia plan and chart a flight into the unknown.

“I’ve worked with Paul several times. When we decided to do the chamber musical series at Theater Schmeater, Paul originally came to mind. To great extent it was Paul’s giant epic story but because our space was so small, I was very much focused on paring things down,” said Smit.

Staley explained “royalties for most musicals are more than what we can afford. But I still had the urge to do new musicals…with the proviso that they were going to be small. We could be a seedbed for new musicals.” Thus Staley coined the term “chamber musical” as “a good way to encapsulate that concept.”

The Crossing is Theater Schmeater’s second attempt at mounting a summer musical. “While last summer’s show was a little slow to start off, we generated good word of mouth and, by the end of the run, I was seeing new people coming into the theater–which is the goal,” said Staley. “I think there is a desire there to have that kind of experience that you’re not going to get at the 5th or the Paramount. You’re maybe 14 feet away from the actors at Theater Schmeater.”

That type of intimacy “is what we as writers write for,” said Lewis. “I‘ve known about the Schmee forever. To have one of my pieces to go up at the Schmee is a great honor and a thrill. It is a validation that someone has believed in this story.

The Crossing continues through August 13. For tickets and more information go to or go straight to


The article previously appeared elsewhere and is reproduced here with permission.