The National Alliance for Musical Theatre has announced the 10 musicals to be presented in excerpted form in its two-day 2001 Festival of New Musicals in Manhattan, Sept. 23 24.
The cuttings are sponsored by the works' lead producers who are NAMT members who gather annually to scout new work and discuss shared concerns of their producing organizations. Presentations are at the Douglas Fairbanks Theater and the John Houseman Theater on 42nd Street and are not open to the general public. The showcase days usually result in shows being presented in regional theatres throughout the world.
The 2001 festival presentations are:
Actor, Lawyer, Indian Chief, book by David Bell, music and lyrics by Craig Carnelia: "A heartfelt story of an aged television cowboy, a popular movie star and a lawyer who gets caught in the middle."
Great Expectations, book and lyrics by John Jakes, music by Mel Marvin: "A faithful adaptation of the powerful Dickens novel," following an August production by Goodspeed Musicals. I Sent a Letter to My Love, book and lyrics by Jeffrey Sweet, music by Melissa Manchester, based on the novel by Bernice Rubens: "A romantic chamber musical about a middle-aged woman who places a want to correspond" ad in the local newspaper, that her own brother answers."
Letters From 'Nam, by Paris Barclay, based on "Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam" edited by Bernard Edelman: "Adapted from actual letters of soldiers during the war, this rock musical carries an undeniable ring of emotional truth."
Making Tracks, concept and book by Welly Yang, book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, music by Woody Pak: "The lives of six Asian American generations unfold to a contemporary rock score as dynamic as the subject matter."
The Mystery of the Dancing Princesses, book, music and lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner: A family show "about a young prince who solves a mystery and wins the hand of a princess."
Palm Beach, book by Robert Cary and Benjamin Feldman, music by David Gursky, lyrics by Robert Cary: "A musical comedy inspired by classic 1930s screwball films with a humor that is as fresh and surprising as the plot twists."
The Screams of Kitty Genovese, libretto and story by David Simpatico, music by Will Todd: "A sung through contemporary look into the true story of the stabbing of a woman in a parking lot and the 38 neighbors who watched form their windows."
UG, book by Jim Geoghan, music by Rick Rhodes, lyrics by Vivian Rhodes: A "theatrical spoof of cave dwellers who decided to put on a play for a rival tribe."
When the Rains Come, book by Ann Mortifee and David Feinstein, music by Ann Mortifee and Edward Henderson, lyrics by Ann Mortifee: "Family dynamics of prejudice and forbidden love are brought to life through the stunning voices of South Africa's diverse peoples."
The National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT), founded in 1985, is the only national service organization for musical theatre. Its membership includes theatres, booking and presenting organizations, universities and independent producers. Located throughout 32 states, Canada, Finland, Spain and the United Kingdom, member companies vary substantially in size, structure, and purpose, reflecting the increasing diversity of the field, according to NAMT. "Their common bond is a shared commitment to preserve and enhance musical theatre as the art form that is America's contribution to world theatre."
NAMT's mission "is to advance musical theatre by providing leadership and promoting artistic excellence, communication, advocacy, collaboration, financial stability, education, audience development and relevance."
The Festival of New Musicals was created in 1989 to provide members "with a forum to celebrate the new musicals that were being produced and presented around the country." In its time, the fest has introduced musical theatre producers to 115 musicals and 230 writers from around the world. More than two-thirds of the shows have gone on to subsequent productions and tours, been printed in publishers' catalogues, and recorded on cast albums. Past festival shows include Stephen Schwartz's Children of Eden, Kirsten Childs' The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin, and George Stiles and Anthony Drewe's Honk!
Presentations, which are performed twice over the course of the festival, are 30 or 60 minutes in length and are conducted in accordance with Actors' Equity Staged Reading guidelines. Member theatres and industry people on the mailing list and special guests make up the audience.
Sponsors and lead producers in 2001 are American Musical Theatre of San Jose, Apt. 4A Productions, Fifth Avenue Musical Theatre Co., Goodspeed Musicals, Mill Mountain Theatre, North Shore Music Theatre, Pittsburgh CLO, Radio City Entertainment, Stage One, TheatreWorks and Village Theatre. For information about NAMT and its festival, call (212) 265-5376 or visit www.namt.net.
— By Kenneth Jones