Current Projects

New works currently being developed by Ben West and UnsungMusicalsCo.


The Show Time! Trilogy

Show Time! The First 100 Years of the American Musical
Created, Written, and Performed by Ben West
Musical Continuity and Arrangements by Fran Minarik
Direction and Musical Staging by Shannon Lewis
Music Direction by Evan Zavada

A new documentary musical, Show Time! The First 100 Years of the American Musical charts the evolution of the uniquely American art form, and its reflection of American consciousness. Developed for over five years, with more than 20 archives, in more than 10 states, Show Time! features more than 50 songs that shaped the musical canon in an electrifying live-action documentary, weaving live music and live performance through a narrative of world, cultural, and, primarily, theatre history.

Show Time! The First 100 Years of the American Musical includes seven eras of the American musical: Cosmic Collisions (1866-1899), Birth of an Art Form (1900-1924), Rise of the Golden Age (1925-1930), Golden Age, Part One (1931-1950), Golden Age, Part Two (1951-1970), Fall of the Golden Age (1971-1980), and Growing Pains, or Identity Crisis (1981-1999).

45 Minutes from Coontown
Created, Written, and Performed by Ben West
Musical Continuity and Arrangements by Fran Minarik
Direction and Musical Staging by Parker Esse
Music Direction by Evan Zavada

A new documentary musical, 45 Minutes from Coontown is a celebration of black musical theatre, tracing its history from the late-1800s through 1999, and featuring more than 30 songs almost exclusively by black writers. Coontown documents the story of an art form that grew amidst a nation’s racial prejudice, and the many African American authors who not only furthered the form itself, but were also instrumental in the development of the American popular song.

68 Ways to Go
Created, Written, and Performed by Ben West
Musical Continuity and Arrangements by Fran Minarik

A new documentary musical, 68 Ways to Go is a celebration and history of female musical theatre writers, from Clare Kummer and Anne Caldwell in the early-1900s to the emergence of Jeanine Tesori in the 1990s. 68 Ways will feature more than 30 songs with lyrics and/or music written by a woman.


Direct from Proctor’s 23rd Street Theatre for One Night Only: January 16, 1920

Created and Written by Ben West
Direction and Choreography by Shannon Lewis

On the eve of prohibition, at the dawn of the jazz, in the midst of segregation, on the brink of a historic election, and with women about to gain the right to vote, one legendary vaudeville house attempts to chase away the troubles of a troubled nation, with a mulatto entertainer, a brassy vamp, a neurotic comic, a tap dancing duo, and a female song-and-dance act.

Direct from Proctor’s is a prescient new musical giving vivid life to an iconic form of American entertainment and fusing it with documented articles of the day to illuminate this turbulent time in American history that has come to feel all too familiar.

Featuring songs by Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Creamer and Layton, James F. Hanley, Jack Yellen, Muriel Pollock, Maceo Pinkard, Gus Kahn, Grace Le Boy, and more.


February ’43

Created and Written by Ben West

In February 1843, music, comedy, and cork collided at the Bowery Amphitheatre, paving an audacious path toward the American musical. February ‘43 is a new documentary musical uncovering the sharp and spectacular history of the Minstrel Show, and celebrating the four talented individuals who inadvertently gave birth to this dark, daring, and dangerously powerful form of American popular entertainment.


Melodyland

Created and Written by Ben West

A new documentary musical about Chicago’s incredible theatrical and musical influence in the early-1900s.


During the initial incarnation of the company between 2009 and 2014, UMC’s projects included Unsung Carolyn Leigh for Lincoln Center’s American Songbook; Gatsby: The Songs in Concert at the New York Musical Festival; Make Mine Manhattan and The Fig Leaves Are Falling at the Connelly Theatre; and How Now, Dow Jones at the New York International Fringe Festival. UMC also held several readings of new adaptations of existing works, including Barefoot Boy With Cheek, Sounds Like Love, and Peggy-Ann.