The National Alliance for Musical Theatre has announced the complete cast for the 2016 Festival of New Musicals, which will take place October 27-28 at New World Stages. Joining the previously announced Broadway, TV, and film performers will be Nicholas Christopher, who is set to take over the role of Washington in Hamilton on Broadway, and Newsies actor Corey Cott.
Now in its 28th year, the industry-only event showcases new works for theatre producers from around the world. Musicals at the festival are presented in 45-minute concert presentations over two days only.
Also newly announced: Robert Ariza (Spring Awakening), Krystal Joy Brown (Big Fish, Motown The Musical), Peter Bartlett (She Loves Me, Something Rotten!), Judy Gold (Clinton the Musical), Jeff Kready (A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder), Samantha Massell (Fiddler on the Roof), and Jessica Molaskey (Sunday in the Park with George, Parade).
They join the previously announced Hannah Elless (Bright Star, Godspell), Mamie Parris (Cats, School of Rock), Jonah Platt (Wicked), Caissie Levy (Wicked, Les Miserables), Eric William Morris (Coram Boy, Mamma Mia!), Dana Steingold (Godspell, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Brynn O'Malley (Wicked, Honeymoon in Vegas), Gerard Canonico (Spring Awakening, American Idiot), Ali Stroker (Spring Awakening), Teal Wicks (Wicked, Finding Neverland), Ciara Renée (Big Fish, Pippin), and Ahmad Maksoud (Blacklist). The casting director is Michael Cassara Casting.
Included in the slate for NAMT is a new musical by Carson Kreitzer and Matt Gould titled Lempicka; a rock musical by Musical Theatre Factory favorites Alana Jacoby and Scotty Arnold; a new George Stiles, Anthony Drewe, and Elliot Davis collaboration; as well as the newest work by the Larson Award-winning songwriting team Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk, the duo behind Henry and Mudge.
The complete list of new musicals, as billed by NAMT, are outlined below:
Benny & Joon
Book by Kirsten Guenther (Little Miss Fix-it), music by Nolan Gasser, as seen on the TED stage, and lyrics by Mindi Dickstein (Little Women on Broadway)
Benny has taken care of his psychologically troubled sister Joon since their parents died over a decade ago. Benny is now in his early 30s, and Joon in her early 20s, but, ten years on, not much has changed. A mechanic with his own garage, Benny feels he is a master at managing the life they’ve ended up with. But when they take in a strange young man named Sam, who is like a modern Buster Keaton, everything changes. This musical based on the MGM movie explores the challenge of navigating life and love in an imperfect world.
Joe Schmoe Saves the World
Book, music, and lyrics by Brett Ryback (Liberty Inn: The Musical)
Joe Schmoe Saves the World tells the parallel stories of an indie rock duo in America and a pair of Iranian students in Tehran. In places where artistry and female perspective are shut out, the two young women at the center of the story fight to have their voices heard. Raging against conformity, fear, and the status quo, they risk everything in an attempt to change the world through their art.
Book and lyrics by Jonathan Larson Grant winner Carson Kreitzer, and music by Matt Gould (Invisible Thread)
Set in Paris against the backdrop of the rising fascist tide, Lempicka follows the artist’s path through the chaotic upheavals of the 20th century. Fleeing the Russian Revolution as a nineteen-year-old bride, Tamara lands in Paris, a penniless refugee, and transforms herself into a rising star of the art world. But when she falls into a forbidden love affair with a prostitute—the breathtakingly beautiful Rafaela – she is forced to choose. As her world is about to shatter, will she risk it all in pursuit of love and art, or cling to the security of money and fame?
The Loneliest Girl in the World
Book and lyrics by Gordon Leary, and music by Julia Meinwald, the duo who wrote Pregnancy Pact
Anita Bryant always knew that she was destined for greatness. So did her biggest fan, Tommy, a young gay man who, like Anita, was searching for himself. As Anita reinvented herself as a beauty queen, a singer, a spokeswoman, a professional homemaker, and a cultural crusader, Tommy discovered his sexuality and his political voice. When they find themselves on opposite sides of the battle for gay rights, Tommy and Anita’s journeys of self-discovery collide with a single pie to the face.
Book and lyrics by Alana Jacoby (Trivøya Gold), and music by Muiscal Theatre Factory founding member Scotty Arnold
Mortality Play is a rock musical about Todd, a 16-year-old in 1349 London trying to justify his desire to make art in a time of great need. The plague has just broken out, claiming his friend and bandmate John as one of its first victims. John’s ghost becomes a guide as Todd tries to balance his responsibilities as a son, boyfriend, doctor’s apprentice, and aspiring rock star. The show is a modern take on a medieval morality play that follows a young man’s struggle to decide between what he wants to do and what he believes the world needs of him.
Music by George Stiles (Mary Poppins), lyrics and book by Anthony Drewe (Travels With My Aunt), and book by Elliot Davis (Loserville)
After the untimely death of his mother, impoverished Robbie is left running her launderette in London’s most colorful district, Soho. Constantly under the cheaply manicured thumbs of his two lap-dancing step-sisters, Robbie pays the rent by reluctantly accepting money from sugar daddy admirer, Lord Bellingham. Life gets more complicated when Robbie embarks on a secret romance with high-profile and highly-engaged Mayoral candidate, James Prince. Their worlds collide when Prince throws a cocktail party for his benefactors – chief amongst whom is Bellingham. Robbie, Prince, and his fiancée Marilyn, are left to fight for a fairytale ending.
The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown
Book, music, and lyrics by Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk
Sitting in a car with the keys in her hand, 18-year-old Samantha Brown telescopes back to a time before her world fell apart. Memories of Kelly, her impetuous, daring best friend, haunt her. When Kelly was killed in a car wreck, Sam lost not only her best friend but also the part of herself that was learning how to take risks. Now, paralyzed by fear and inertia, Sam must make a decision. Will she wait for her parents to drive her to college or will she drive away into a future she can’t imagine?
We Live in Cairo
Book, music, and lyrics by Patrick and Daniel Lazour, the brothers who wrote The Grand Room
We Live in Cairo is about a new generation faced with the aftermath of revolution. Three years after the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, and the tumultuous events immediately thereafter, six young Cairenes gather to celebrate the homecoming of their friend from the United States. We Live in Cairo focuses on the disillusionment that set in after the Arab Spring’s most promising revolution failed, but simultaneously highlights the inspired and tenacious spirit of the Egyptian youth – students who risked their lives to change their country.
The Festival is overseen by NAMT new works director Ciera Iveson and festival general manager Lisa Dozier King. Registration for industry members is free and now open at namt.org/festival. The public can also receive passes to the Festival by making a donation or standing in line on the day of performances.