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At Tuesday's opening night performance of “Cabaret” at Merry-Go-Round Playhouse, Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival Director Ed Sayles had audience members looking forward to next year.

The 2013 season will include five shows at Merry-Go-Round Playhouse and two at Auburn Public Theater — a different lineup from the festival's first-year performance schedule. In addition, the festival will bring back a second run of The PiTCH, which features shows still in the development stage performed at Theater Mack behind the Cayuga Museum of History & Art.

The current festival season featured six shows at the playhouse in Emerson Park and three shows at APT. Next season, the festival will showcase only seven musicals at both venues to accommodate longer runs of individual shows, Festival Marketing and Development Manager Emily Thomas said.

“We're really excited about all of the shows that we're doing next year,” Thomas said. “And the change in schedule is to accommodate longer runs to bring more people in the community and to each performance.”

The Merry-Go-Round lineup includes the return of “Singin' In The Rain,” a popular favorite and a loved classic that will have real rain, Thomas said. “Legally Blonde,” “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” and “Cats”  are also included in the 2013 season and are completely new to the venue.

“We really wanted to bring people something fresh and I think we've done that,” Thomas said. “'Legally Blonde' has a fantastic storyline, 'CATS' is a beloved show that we're thrilled to have the opportunity to do and 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes' will be back on Broadway this year, so getting the rights for it was something we are really happy about.”

“Hank Williams Lost Highway” will round out the season at MGR in Emerson Park and mirrors the story of Williams' life and music. “If you liked 'Ring of Fire,' you'll love this show," Thomas said.

Auburn Public Theater will house two of the festival's shows —“Great American Trailer Park Musical,” a show that promises a lot of laughs and the world premier of “Neurosis,” a new production that local theater goers may have already had a taste of.

“Neurosis,” was showcased this year at "The PiTCH," an interactive show created by Sayles that lets the audience weigh in on the creative process. The show centers on “lovable loser Frank” and his best friend, his neurosis.

“It's a show that really takes a look at all the little things that happen in your head,” Thomas said. “And it follows Frank as he struggles to overcome his biggest obstacle which is himself.”

Taking the premier season into account was a big part of choosing the festival's second season, Thomas said.

“A couple of things we learned this year is that people love to laugh and that became our focus for Auburn Public Theatre,” she said. “We also learned that there is an appetite for The PiTCH — so that validated the idea and what we created in our first year.”

The successful first year of The PiTCH at the Theater Mack has already prompted the festival to begin accepting new work submissions to be considered for next season. Submissions can be made online at www.fingerlakesmtf.com/2012-season/the-pitch/.

More importantly for Thomas, the festival was a clear indication that they were on the right track in working toward a community driven group of events for people from all over to come to.

“We've learned that people will come out to see different shows and that they have an appetite for classic Broadway and new works,” Thomas said. “To say that we produced nine musicals and two new works and have it all come to fruition has been a dream. And basically our festival concept was validated and it's an exciting season for us.”

The creation and use of other theaters in the area continues to be part of the festival's plan, but work to build a new theater downtown in conjunction with Cayuga Community College has been delayed. The theater was slated for a spring 2013 opening downtown, but legal proceedings have delayed construction. CCC officials have said that the theater completion will happen no sooner than fall 2013.

Staff writer Sistina Giordano can be reached at 282 -2237 or sistina.giordano@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter at CitizenGiordano.

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