The often starry presentations (representing excerpts of show, lasting under 45 minutes) are sponsored by NAMT producers, theatres and other members and are seen by NAMT folk and invited theatre industry people. The festival is not open to the public. Casting and creative personnel will be announced in coming weeks.
Among authors whose work will be heard this year are veterans Andrew Lippa, David Kirshenbaum, Amanda McBroom, Daniel Goldfarb, Jack Heifner, Paul Gordon and newcomers new to the scene.
The festival is seen as a vital marketplace for musicals, whether that means a property is picked up by a not-for-profit to continue the development of a show, or a producer or investor gets a first look at a property.
NAMT executive director Kathy Evans said in a statement, "We have a wonderful slate of musicals this year, by a diverse group of writers, some of whom are returning Alumni Festival Writers. We are building on the momentum of past Festivals, and are excited that our members — some of the leading musical theatre producers in the world — as well as several hundred invited musical theatre industry experts can come together to help these writers find future productions. We like to think of NAMT's Festival of New Musicals as the Cannes Film Festival for the theatre industry."
Past NAMT Festival highlights include Summer of '42, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Princesses, Honk!, I Love Your Because, Caraboo – Princess of Javasu, Ace and The Drowsy Chaperone, among others. According to NAMT, "Since 1989, the Festival has presented over 175 musicals and 300 writers, and 75 percent of these shows had subsequent productions, tours and licensing agreements."
The eight selections being showcased in reading format in the 2006 Festival of New Musicals are:
Dangerous Beauty, book by Jeannine Dominy, lyrics by Amanda McBroom, music by Michele Brourman, adapted from the screenplay "The Honest Courtesan," written by Jeannine Dominy, released as the film "Dangerous Beauty," inspired by the scholarly book, "The Honest Courtesan" by Margaret Rosenthal."Dangerous Beauty is inspired by Renaissance courtesan and poet Veronica Franco. When Veronica's love, Marco, submits to a political marriage, her impoverished mother lays out her options: marriage, improbable without dowry; the convent; or becoming a courtesan. Veronica's beauty, wit, and skill with verse win her success, patronage, and the enmity of rival poet Maffio. Veronica and Marco reconcile, only to be pulled apart by war, jealousy, and duty. As Venice is ravaged by hardship and plague, popular sentiment, seeking a scapegoat, turns against the courtesans. The Inquisition arrests Veronica for witchcraft. Refusing the hypocrisy of false repentance and confession, Veronica defies the court, making an impassioned plea for the equality of women, and the sacredness of love." Lyrics are by Golden Globe winner (for the song "The Rose") Amanda McBroom (Heartbeats, NAMT Festival 1992) , and music by Johnny Mercer Songwriter award winner Michele Brourman (I Married Wyatt Earp, Heartbeats).
Emma, music, lyrics and book by Paul Gordon, based on the novel by Jane Austen. "In early 19th century England, Emma Woodhouse, endowed with wealth, beauty and prestige, attempts to arrange a wealthy marriage for her poor friend Harriet, a young girl with questionable origins. In the process she disregards her own feelings and everyone else's. A series of scheming escapades ensue as Jane Austen's characters deliver us delicious irony while the seemingly trivial events provide social observation and profound moral significance." Creator Paul Gordon was nominated for a 2000 Tony Award for composing the music and lyrics to the Broadway musical Jane Eyre.
Jerry Christmas, music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, book by Daniel Goldfarb. "It's 1961, and after three flops, funny man Jerry Barron is in need of a hit. His family is keeping secrets and losing patience. And he's wallowing in despair. Luckily, Maury Mintz calls and offers him the chance of a lifetime: to put his family on the air on live television in a Christmas special called 'JERRY CHRISTMAS!' Only problem is, they're Jewish. As Jerry wrestles with his career, his family, his identity, and his faith, one major question looms — will the special put Jerry back on top?" Music and lyrics are by Drama Desk and Richard Rodgers Award winner Andrew Lippa (The Wild Party, A Little Princess) and book by Daniel Goldfarb (Modern Orthodox, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, Party Come Here).
Julian Po, book and lyrics by Andrew Barrett, music by Ira Antelis. "Julian Po is a modern day musical myth. This rollicking, yet cautionary tale of Man's greatness combines the traditional musical theatre form with the sounds of Americana blue-grass and mountain music. Julian Po begins with 'The Muses,' a four piece, strolling mischievous band invoking the day when a strange man mysteriously arrives in an even stranger middle-American town. His presence causes the sleepy lives of the Townspeople to awaken; from the Town Mayor to the Town Barber to the youngest Town member, no one's life is ever the same once they meet Julian Po." Andrew Barnett is a TV writer. Ira Antelis is a pop and theatre composer.
One Step Forward, music and lyrics by Leslie Arden, book by Berni Stapleton with Leslie Arden & Timothy French, conceived by Timothy French."It's 1945, World War II has just ended, and the battle-scarred boys are returning home to women who have had their first taste of independence. Bea and Ben are reluctant lovers, both unwilling to surrender their single status. Helen and Charlie find their love and trust tested by lies and accusations instigated by John, the boy thwarted in love and life. As Helen, Bea and their best friend Shirley keep their promise to conceal the interracial love between Maggie and Brad, all the characters learn to face the challenges that life has to offer in this new and changing world." One Step Forward was created by a Canadian team of collaborators including composer Leslie Arden (Jefferson Award winning The House of Martin Guerre), award winning author Berni Stapleton, and director/choreographer Timothy French.
Piece, music and lyrics by Scott Alan, book by Tara Smith. "Upon returning to her childhood home following the passing of her mother, Katherine Mathews, finds herself clinging to the memories of her past; engaging in conversations she's had with her mother at the ages of 17, 26 and 35. In a soaring musical full of unexpected recollections, Katherine pieces together the patterns of a life filled with promise and compromise, third strikes and second chances, and always, a mother's unconditional love."
Sunfish, book and lyrics by Michael L. Cooper, book and music by Hyeyoung Kim. "Based on a Korean folk tale, Sunfish is the magical story of Aheh and the fantastical lengths she will travel to restore her Blind Father's sight. Aheh's adventures take her to the bottom of the ocean and beyond, in a theatrical world where anything can — and does — happen. This timeless story of love and sacrifice is given a touching and hilarious spin as a modern family musical." The work was created by recent NYU Musical Theatre Writing graduates Michael L. Cooper and Hyeyoung Kim.
Vanities – A New Musical, book by Jack Heifner, music and lyrics by David Kirshenbaum, based on the play by Heifner. "Chronicling the comic journey of three vivacious Texas teens from cheerleaders to sorority sisters to housewives, liberated women and beyond, this tangy tale of coming-of-age in the '60s and '70s is a musical voyage racing through an era that had to be lived to be believed. Vanities offers a snapshot-sharp portrait of the lives, loves, disappointments, and dreams of best friends caught up in times that are a-changin'." Composer-lyricist David Kirshenbaum penned The Summer of '42 and Party Come Here). Jack Heifner had a major New York and regional hit with the three-actress non-musical Vanities in the late 1970s and '80s.
Of the eight shows selected last year for the 2005 Festival, six have already secured world-premieres or developmental productions across the country including Ace (St. Louis Rep and Cincinnati Playhouse), Caraboo (Goodspeed Musicals), I Love You Because (Off-Broadway and regionally), Meet John Doe (Carousel Dinner Theatre, The Hartt School, Goodspeed Musicals, and Ford's Theatre), Party Come Here (New York Musical Theatre Festival) and River's End (New York Musical Theatre Festival).
The Festival of New Musicals is funded by contributions to the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, a not-for-profit organization, and is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Founded in 1985 and based in New York City, The National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT), is the only national service organization dedicated exclusively to musical theatre.
"Located throughout 33 states and six countries, the 141 member organizations share a commitment to nurture the creation, production, and recognition of new musicals and classics. Last season, NAMT members cumulatively staged over 23,000 performances attended by over 17 million people and reached revenues of over $510 million."
For more information, visit www.namt.org.