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  • Writer's pictureUnderscore Theatre

Big news for Underscore!

CHICAGO (April 10th, 2018) – Underscore Theatre is pleased to announce plans for a new performance space, a new musical workshop series, as well as changes to its leadership.

This spring, Underscore will begin renovations on a new, year-round venue at 4609 N. Clark St. in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. The 50-seat, black box theatre will be ready for performances in summer 2018.

Underscore will be also be launching a new musical workshop series to complement the annual Chicago Musical Theatre Festival and its mainstage productions. The company will begin presenting staged and off-book musical in fall 2018. Submissions are open immediately by contacting Laura Stratford at

Finally, Laura Stratford, who has served as the company’s Founding Executive Director for over six years, will transition to Co-Artistic Director, joining Alex Higgin-Houser. Additionally, Emily Cox joins Underscore as the company’s new Managing Director.


Laura Stratford (Co-Artistic Director) is an actress, librettist and lyricist who has served as the Executive Director of Underscore Theatre Company since its founding in 2011. She also acts as the Executive Producer of the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival and volunteers as a teaching artist with Storycatchers Theatre to help young people in detention settings turn stories from their lives into musicals performed by their peers. With Underscore, she has produced over 50 new musicals in six years; as a writer, she has seen five of her own musicals produced by companies around Chicago, including Underscore, the EX-Pats and CPA Theatricals. She is the librettist for The 57th Annual Math Sum-It, a new musical recently published by Theatrical Rights Worldwide.

Emily Cox (Managing Director) is a versatile performer, choreographer, marketing director, creative consultant, teaching artist, director and producer – she is thrilled to be adding the role of Marketing Director with Underscore Theatre to her experience! Since her arrival in 2014, “Emma” has established herself as an active arts advocate throughout the Chicagoland area. She served as Director and Lead Teaching Artist with the Chicago Opera Theater Educational Outreach program, entitled Chicago Opera Theater for Teens. She is a writer and editor for Opus Atlas, Modern Singer Magazine, and Scapigliatura Magazine. She has served as Marketing Associate with Kokandy Productions, Marketing and Advertising Director for Scapigliatura Magazine and Managing Producer of the Scapi Summer Sessions. Ms Cox is an active member of Opera on Tap, the Chicago Vocal Arts Consortium and New Brew Chicago. An enthusiastic supporter of new music, Emily was deeply involved in the world premiere of Colorado composer Previn Hudetz's opera Salem: 1692, in correlation with the Fort Collins Art Commission and the Bas Bleu Theater. Emma directed, produced and starred as Margaret Scott in this production, and was deeply honored to be a part of it. In 2016, Ms. Cox worked in conjunction with local composer Christopher Preissing and NONOpera in a the world premiere of his immersive opera project, "Thunder, Perfect Mind", as well as an audiobook project entitled "In Search of Marietta Black". In the summer of 2017, Ms Cox acted as Production Manager for the Summer Music Series with Scapigliatura Magazine. The Series featured twenty-two individual concerts across the Chicagoland area, involving over 100 local artists and world-premiering 27 newly-composed works.

About Underscore Theatre Company

Founded in 2011, Underscore Theatre Company is a team of producing artists dedicated to exploring stories of power and resonance through a musical lens; fostering the development of new musicals; and bolstering Chicago’s role as a national leader in musical theatre. Since its creation, Underscore has produced 44 new musicals in Chicago. Underscore is proud to be Chicago's home for new musicals.

Pictured: Laura Stratford and Emily Cox

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