Broadway playwright Peter Filichia visits Millbrook Playhouse

PHOTO PROVIDED Broadway playwright Peter Filichia, bottom-left, sits with members of the Millbrook Playhouse.

MILL HALL — It’s not an everyday occurrence to see an acclaimed Broadway playwright travel from Manhattan to Mill Hall’s Millbrook Playhouse.

But that’s what happened after Peter Filichia responded to an invitation from Robert F. Schneider, who was directing a production of “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” at Millbrook Playhouse. Schneider asked and artistic director David Leidholtd readily agreed to have Filichia’s latest play “Musicals Without Music” hold its first public reading at the Millbrook Playhouse.

Peter Filichia is New York-based theater critic for the Star Ledger newspaper in Newark, New Jersey, and author of several books, including “Let’s Put On a Musical: How to Choose the Right Play for your School, Community or Professional Theater.”

Serving four terms as president and head of the nominating committee both for the Drama Desks Awards and the Theater World Awards, Filichia has hosted the annual ceremony for the past several years.

Filichia is also critic-in-residence for the University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and is music theater judge for the ASCAP awards.

His “Musicals Without Music,” in which characters from over two dozen musicals stay in character and make funny and sometimes scathing remarks after the curtain goes down, was read by the four-person cast of Millbrook’s final attraction “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” with Schneider serving as an informal Stage Manager.

Having attended this very animated reading in Millbrook’s Cabaret, “Musicals Without Music”, consists of several vignettes in which the characters spout off in a creative manner.

Filichia’s brainchild “Musicals Without Music” is written to be played without scenery, and only a few props.

The wide range of characters covers everyone from a couple of jealous nuns from “The Sound of Music” lamenting about Maria, to a different Maria (from “West Side Story”), as well as Peter Pan, Professor Higgins, Gigi, and dozens more. Nellie Forbush isn’t happy to suddenly learn from Emil that she is a stepmother. But Charlie Brown does finally get to kick that elusive football.

After the reading, which lasted slightly over an hour, Filichia took the stage, soliciting feedback, fielding questions and explaining what prompted him to pen this comedy.

Given its length, the playwright stated that he doesn’t envision “Musicals Without Music” being expanded into a longer theater piece, but rather hopes that the revue finds a home as a cabaret production in supper clubs, where shows often run approximately one hour.