Musicals

(click one for details)


MICROCOSMOS

Words: Rebecca Hart
Music: David Kornfeld

Originally developed as part of the Civilians R&D Group 2018-2019, Microcosmos is an explosive and lyrical rock odyssey into the hidden galaxies of the mind.

Based partly on our own neurodiverse lives (epilepsy and Tourette's), we are asking questions about creativity, sanity, and what we consider "normal."

Civilians Blog Post

Productions:

  • Civilians R&D Findings Series 2019


HAYMARKET

Words: Alex Higgin-Houser
Music: David Kornfeld

The exhilarating true story of Chicago’s infamous Haymarket Affair. Anarchist labor leaders clash with a brutal police force in a battle for survival, and violent rebels armed with dynamite threaten to destroy the labor movement before it starts. The most important untold story in American history, brought to life by a company of twelve stellar actor-musicians, singing and playing through the folk, Americana and bluegrass score.

Productions:

  • Iris Theatre 2018 (London)

  • Underscore Theatre 2018 (Chicago)

    • Jeff Award Winner:

      • New Musical

    • Nominee:

      • Production (Musical)

      • Director (Nick Thornton)

      • Music Director (Robert Ollis)

      • Leading Actress (Bridget Adams-King)

      • Ensemble

  • Underscore Theatre 2016

    • Jeff Award Nominee:

      • New Musical

      • Lighting

Press:

“Kornfeld, whose prospects are exceptionally bright, is headed to New York this fall. I suspect I’ll be writing his name again...This is a very accomplished suite of songs.” - CHRIS JONES, CHICAGO TRIBUNE ★★★

“The score for “Haymarket” is a real beauty, with everything from songs designed to marshal the masses, to sophisticated love songs, to the mocking “Order of the Gallows” (when the women whose husbands are imprisoned pin symbolic nooses to their lapels). Riffs from “La Marseillaise” are tossed in for good measure, too. I can’t deny I’d like to hear it all again…There is so much heart and truth in this production” -HEDY WEISS, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES

“This is a story not only of historical significance but one with a sweep and grandeur worthy of musical theater. There’s the political struggle and violence of Les Mis, the rigged trial of a Scottsboro Boys, the class consciousness and racial struggles of Ragtime...Kornfeld’s melodies and harmonies have the simpler structures of folk music of the era but are lovely and accessible, while Higgin-Houser provides very solid and frequently funny lyrics...A very significant show” -JOHN OLSON, CHICAGO THEATRE BEAT ★ ★ ★

“One of the finest new musicals mounted on a Chicago stage in years!...Haymarket is proof positive that the American musical is, indeed, in good hands!...Sparkling...This show has so much promise – don’t miss it!” -CHICAGO CRITIC

“The music in the second act is outstanding. It goes from one strong number to another...One of the other things that’s very powerful about The Anarchist’s Songbook is the use that the show makes of relevant musical traditions. So there’s singing that evokes the male German chorale style of singing, there’s a lot of string folk associated with the labor movement, there’s accordion music which goes with the sort of Irish and Polish members of the working class, and I just found that exceptionally thoughtful and powerful as we tell a story, because we have tendency to think about the working class as a single entity, and this musical olio evokes the multiplicity of people and kinds of people who were involved in the movement...it’s a very lilting score, a very lovely score, and particularly apt for the show.” -THE DUELING CRITICS

“People who would like [Haymarket] are people who like awesome women of the noose, circus trials, and dynamite. I think people should definitely go see this show. It was a super fascinating story and I hope everyone will go see it.” -ADA GREY

“Melodies are infectious and spot on” -PERFORMINK

“Glimpses of greatness abound.” -CHICAGO READER


57th National Mathlete Sum-It

Book: Laura Stratford
Lyrics: Alex Higgin-Houser
Music: David Kornfeld
Concept: Larry Little

The almost all-girl high school math team from Waukesha, Wisconsin, has lost – and then won – the regional math competition. They are off to compete in the National Math SUM-IT. These smart and funny whiz kids must unite to solve difficult math problems without getting distracted by teen drama and pressures.

Always witty, sometimes uproarious, this is the story of girls becoming women – conquering anxiety and rivalry, finding a way to affirm themselves as individuals and as team-members, learning to win at math… and at life!

Licensed by Theatrical Rights Worldwide

Productions:

  • Official Selection: NYMF 2017 [as Numbers Nerds]

  • TRU Workshop 2016

  • ITA Community Theatre Festival 2016

  • CMTF 2016

Press:

“Get ready Disney because Numbers Nerds is likely to be your next hit. Created in response to the call for more female roles available in the school and community theater circuit, this show succeeds in every way...David Kornfeld’s music is upbeat and makes the grade.” -TIMES SQUARE CHRONICLES

“The songs are the stand-out in Numbers Nerds. They do what great show tunes do – express a character’s inner emotional state in a way that allows the audience to feel what they’re feeling. Numbers Nerds definitely succeeds in its mission, and will be a staple in the high school and college repertory for the foreseeable future.” -FRONT ROW CENTER

“Our ears and minds are richly rewarded with the songs by Alex Higgin-Houser (lyrics) and David Kornfeld (music)...Indeed, the many elements in Numbers Nerds “add up” to a terrific little musical that others of its ilk can’t equal.” -NITE LIFE EXCHANGE


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You Wish!

Words & Music: Kyle Segar & David Kornfeld

Andy, a gay, black, aspiring-YouTube star, is in his last 2 weeks of high school. The show opens on the morning of Andy’s 17th birthday, a day when everything that can go wrong does. It’s the anniversary of his mother’s death, he breaks his camera, he finds out his dad is dating his teacher, and his mortal enemy/former best friend Freddy crushes his dreams of winning a life-changing video contest. This all leads to Andy making a birthday wish that transforms him into his favorite heartthrob: popstar sensation Christian Kane! As Andy navigates his new world looking like Christian (who happens to be white), the clock is ticking down to the big annual senior party: RAUNCH! Not only has Andy changed in this new Wish World, but so have his friends and family, everyone leading with personality traits that they may have hidden or suppressed in the real world. Andy, now more popular than ever, will host Raunch, where sex, lies and emotions all come to a head. Andy will be forced to come to terms with who he truly is inside and out and help those around him as well to create a new reality.

Whether it’s questions of identity, fears of moving on, or doubts about self-worth, this show asks, “If you could change, would you?”. Infused with a heart pounding pop/punk and contemporary R&B score, YOU WISH! will leave you singing new jams you’ll never forget!

Productions:

  • NYU Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, May 2018

  • In concert at Green Room 42, May 2019

Press:

“Save your money on a ticket to Be More Chill- I highly recommend you grab a ticket this Friday! This show is definitely going far, check it out now so you can say you did!” -BASSIST JARED GROS


Grounds: A Fresh-Brewed Musical

Words & Music: Laura Stratford, Alex Higgin-Houser & David Kornfeld

Grounds is the world's first indie-folk-rock-hip-hop musical (as far as we know). Actors are musicians, musicians play characters, and the audience is right in the cafe with us. Illuminated by bursts of shadow puppetry, this bittersweet, family-friendly comedy follows the proprietors and regulars of a doomed Minneapolis coffee shop and explores what happens to a community when we lose our home.

Under its former title, “Grind: the (Coffee Shop, Comic Book) Musical,” its first workshop in 2010 was produced by Theatre Undeclared (which later became Chicago's Underscore Theatre Company) and presented at KC Fringe, IndyFringe, Minnesota Fringe, and Chicago Fringe. It's latest incarnation was produced in April 2017 by Actors Training Center in Wilmette, IL, in association with Underscore Theatre Company. It featured a young cast of student actors working on their first new musical, as part of ACT's first new work development course.

Productions:

  • ATC Spring Musical Theatre Intensive 2017

  • Midwest Fringe Circuit 2010 [as Grind: the (Coffee Shop, Comic Book) Musical]

"The only thing that’s wrong with Grind: The Musical is that there isn’t time for more of it...stunning...a hell of a lot of fun." -TWIN CITIES DAILY PLANET ★★★★1/2

Press:

"A neatly packaged homage to the wide variety of creativity and human interaction that (forgive the expression) percolates daily in coffee shops around the world. Also, from the dinging of the bell over the invisible shop door to the funny coffee references in the script to the hand-lettered “practice encouraged” sign taped to the electric piano to the paint-spattered barista aprons to the dramatic red and blue lighting design to the exaggerated Minnesotan accent of one of the cameo characters, the show is filled with pleasures for fans of theatre craft. Also, my first down-my-face tears at the 2010 IndyFringe came during a song in this show when Coco and her brother, Dylan, remember their parent’s deaths and re-affirm their gratitude and support for each other." -INDY THEATRE HABIT

"Grind: The Musical works, thanks to a score that's a mashup of Broadway, beat-boxing, spoken word and spirituals...keeps us laughing and listening and sends the audience out with a smile." -PIONEER PRESS

"The musical score is beautifully orchestrated and, most of the time, actually played by David Kornfeld who is also the character Dylan in the show. He pulled off being an actor, accompanist, and writer without missing a beat." -STANFORD PERKINS


Pr0ne: a Hardcore, Amateur Musical

Words: Laura Stratford, Alex Higgin-Houser, Brendan Siegfried & David Kornfeld
Music & Orchestrations: David Kornfeld

The darkly comedic Pr0ne: A Hardcore, Amateur Musical explodes the world of a single pornographic video, asking the question, “If we could step into the frame and see that person for who she really is, her hopes, her dreams, her challenges, past, present or future, what would we find?” What happens when we take that person who has been objectified and re-personify her? The plot follows Jessica Harrison, a young woman struggling to find her place in the film industry, as the country discovers her secret: that she is the unnamed, possibly exploited, young woman in an adult “casting couch” video at the heart of a highly sensationalized legal battle. As Jessie struggles to decide how to testify, her brother and his demented college roommate quest to clear her name and reunite their family.

Productions:

  • CMTF Developmental Lab 2015

  • Underscore Theatre 2013 [as Pr0ne: the Casting Couch Musical Comedy]

Press:

“The young writers succeed in saying something and being an authentic voice of their generation...We must admire the guts and sheer abandon of the young Underscore Theatre Company in creating this frequently entertaining, intentionally outrageous and subversive original musical...In telling [Jessie's] story, Pr0ne explores porn with an uninhibited and raunchy honesty...For its two hours of stage time, [the] writers...set new records for explicit gross-out humor in a musical comedy not written by someone with 16 years of a hit Comedy Central TV series on their resume. But like The Book of Mormon’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Pr0ne’s take musical theater conventions and use them to subversive ends.” -CHICAGO THEATRE BEAT ★★★


Liberal Arts: the Musical!

Words: Laura Stratford, Alex Higgin-Houser, Brendan Siegfried & David Kornfeld
Music & Orchestrations: David Kornfeld

Five freshmen and one senior navigate their way through life, love and deconstruction theory at Secular Liberal Arts College (SLAC), only to find that their expensive education has left them flush with student loans and short on, well, “practical experience.” Meet Kevin, Natalie, Brandon, Neil, Sam and Moxie as they delve into “Bromance,” get “Sexiled” and try, once and for all, to figure out the “Derivative of Love.”

Think of it as a bitter valentine to the liberal arts, by liberal artists, with music you’ll never forget.

Productions:

  • Underscore Theatre 2012

  • Carleton College 2008

Press:

“The music is engaging and original.” -CHICAGO THEATRE BEAT

“On the surface, the music is catchy, clever, and endearing. Though these are all wonderful qualities, the songs contain more under the surface than their unpretentious air readily divulges.” -COMPOSER ALEKSANDR BRUSENTSEV


Spa Fire! The Children of the One Percent

Words & Music: Laura Stratford, Alex Higgin-Houser, Brendan Siegfried & David Kornfeld

Earning standing ovations at the Abbie Hoffman Died for our Sins festival, this hilarious one-act musical introduces us to four very well-to-do twenty-somethings...trapped behind a spa...which is on fire. With no smart phones, no clothes and no demonstrable life skills, what's an heir or heiress to do?

Productions:

  • Underscore Theatre “Stuck” Festival 2013

  • Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins Festival, 2013

Press:

“This is literally the best thing I've ever seen.” -NEW YORK TIMES

“Totally worth the $199 ticket price plus $12 service fee. In fact, you should give them a tip.” -A REAL PERSON

“I felt so bad for these rich kids that I quit the movement.” -(FORMER) OCCUPY WALL STREET ACTIVIST

“Who are you? How did you get this number?” -HAROLD PRINCE


Other compositions

which have been recorded, performed, or received awards or recognition.

Incidental Theatre Music

Jazz

  • Upcoming Year One album by the Hip Young Gunslingers Big Band features "Centipede," "Dis Position," and my 2010 ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Showcase Finalist, "¡Levántate!"

  • Don't Touch That Dial (Commissioned for "Beyond The Hype" podcast by Megan Hafner)

  • Sixty Years Young

CONCERT