Now in its 15th year, the New York Musical Festival welcomes a new crop of productions, concerts, readings, and events to champion new work in American musical theatre. This year, the festival committee was even more selective about its programming, presenting only 12 full productions as opposed to last year’s nearly 30. While that means it’s easier to catch the festival’s full offerings than ever before, it can be tough to cram it all in if it’s not your job—and NYMF is a festival for average theatre fans and industry professionals alike. NYMF has also re-prioritized the showcase of unknown voices with big potential both onstage and in the writers’ room.
Here are the six shows you should pay extra attention to from NYMF 2018:
Week 1: July 9–15
Book and lyrics by Kit Yan and Melissa Li; music by Melissa Li
This musical combines pop-rock and poetry in a tale about two Asian-American performers who take their activist act, known as Queer Malady, on the road. When their work inspires transgender vlogger Henry, the misunderstood teen goes on a journey to meet his musical heroes in person. Think of it as a classic road trip story through a queer, Asian lens.
Week 1: July 10–14
Book by Rebecca Aparicio; music and lyrics by Stephen Anthony Elkins
Tony winner Wilson Jermaine Heredia (Rent’s original Angel) makes a return to the New York stage as the father of young Pedro. Based on true events, the Latin-flavored musical by the husband-and-wife team tells the story of a young boy sent to the U.S. to escape the dangers of Cuba and his survival of extreme culture shock and a dream of reuniting with his family. Expect groove-worthy tunes and a meaningful family story.
Thicket & Thistle’s What’s Your Wish?
Week 2: July 16–21
Book by Thicket & Thistle; music and lyrics by Kyle Acheson, Sam De Roest, and Corley Pillsbury
Consider this NYMF’s dose of fantasy. Told by a cast of wildly talented actor-musicians, What’s Your Wish? follows two friends and a test of the strength of their relationship after being sucked into a storybook. Think of it as a more daring musical Pagemaster.
Week 2: July 17–22
Book, music, and lyrics by Keith Harrison and Laura Nicole Harrison
Another married couple writing team presents this zany musical comedy about 12 emojis whose existence is threatened by a software update. Offbeat—in a good way—and entertaining, you’ll love the realness of the relationship between Female Police Officer and Female Construction Worker, the catchy songs, and the relatable crisis of an unknown future. (And there’s Lesli Margherita, too ;) )
The Gunfighter Meets His Match
Week 4: July 30–August 4
Book, music, and lyrics by Abbye Payne; choreography by Glitter Kitty Productions
This musical marks the dramatic and romantic offering of the bunch. Inspired by the short stories of Louis L’Amour, the story chronicles a gunfighter’s battle for his truest love. Accompanied by elaborate, lyrical choreography, this show is for those looking to be swept up in emotion.
Week 4: August 1–5
Book and lyrics by Patricia Loughrey; music and lyrics by Thomas Hodges
It’s 1962 and Laura falls in love while in her freshman year of school—with a woman. In a time when homosexuality was viewed as a health threat and a crime, the story examines how far Laura’s mother will go to protect her daughter when her fate is the consequence of the times in which she lives. With a robust score rooted in classical music, Sonata asks timely questions of love and identity.