Kerry Butler, Anthony Rapp, Danny Gurwin, Emily Skinner, Michael Hayden, Kathy Fitzgerald and Darius De Haas are among performers who will sing new — or newish — musicals at the National Alliance for Musical Theatre's 2002 Festival of New Musicals in Manhattan, Sept. 22 23.
The showcase of six shows, seen in 45-minute cuttings, is part of the larger long-weekend NAMT conference that lures professionals from musical theatre organizations all over the country. Panels and meetings about art and commerce specific to the world of musical theatre are offered to members, but it's the marathon of six shows seen in bare bones readings that is considered the conference's high point.
The readings, scattered in rep over two days, are held at the John Houseman Theatre and the Douglas Fairbanks Theatre. The NAMT fest is thought to be an important marketplace where composers, librettists and lyricist display their goods, often leading to regional productions.
The 14th Annual Festival of New Musicals will welcome: Ducks and Lovers, based on the play of the same name by Murray Schisgal, with book by Peter Gootkind and Marni Goltsman, with music by Gootkind. It "follows the hilarious collision of the corporate advertising world, a traditional gypsy family, and a duck." It was seen in development as part of a BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, the ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop and Dramatists Guild Musical Theater Development Program. It received its first full-staged production in Dallas, TX, in association with the Plano Repertory Theatre, in October 1995. It also had stagings at production at the Apple Tree Theatre in Chicago, as well as Sharon Stage in Connecticut and the Theatre Building in Chicago in 1998. Dan Foster directs a cast that includes Kerry Butler (Hairspray) and Danny Gurwin (The Full Monty).The Enchanted Cottage, based on the play of the same name by Arthur Wing Pinero, with book by Thomas Edward West, music by Kim Oler and lyrics by Alison Hubbard. In the work, a romantic favorite, "a crippled man turns able and an ugly woman turns beautiful" in the post World War I era." The Enchanted Cottage had a reading at The Ground Floor in New York in 1999. The authors of this piece were awarded the Richard Rodgers Award by the Academy of Arts and Letters for their work on their musical adaptation of Little Women. Parts of the Enchanted score have been heard in the BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. Will Pomerantz directs a cast that includes Emily Skinner (The Full Monty) and Michael Hayden (Carousel).Lil Budda, with words by Stephanie L. Jones, music by Janice Lowe, story by Lowe and Jones. "Lil Budda, a brash and sexy young music video dancer, is determined to be a star. Set against the surreal backdrop of an entertainment wasteland, this hip new musical explores race, female self exploitation, celebrity culture and individual happiness in millennial America." The authors began working on the piece in 2001 as their thesis project at the NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. It was featured in the 1st Festival of New Musical Works for the Theatre at Dixon Place in New York. Lil Budda is received further development this summer as part of the O'Neill Music Theatre Conference in Connecticut. Otis Sallid (Smokey Joe's Cafe) directs.Romeo & Juliet: The Musical, an adaptation of the Shakespeare play by Matthew Bennett, with music by Terrence Mann and Jerome Korman, originally conceived by Mann and directed here by Mann. "Centuries collide in William Shakespeare's immortal tale of love and innocence, when 'fair Verona' is fused with the rock energy of today." Romeo & Juliet: The Musical had a workshop production by Goodspeed Musicals in February 1999 and a full production at The Ordway in St. Paul in August 1999. Anthony Rapp (Rent) is Romeo.Running Man, the jazz-and-opera-infused chamber musical by Diedre Murray, Cornelius Eady and Diane Paulus, originally commissioned and produced by Music-Theatre Group. Paulus directs, as she did Off Broadway, were the score won an Obie Award (as did actor Darius De Haas, who again sings the title role). The work is inspired by the live of Murray's brother and is the story of a young African-American man who disappears. It first appeared on stage in a developmental workshop at Actors Studio Free Theater at Raw Space in New York City in June 1998. It had its world premiere in New York City at HERE Performing Arts Space in February 1999. The show won an OBIE for composition following its HERE production. It was produced at the Prince Music Theatre in Philadelphia in October 1999 and at the Duffin Theatre in Lenox, MA, in August 2000.
Thorstein Veblen's Theory of the Leisure Class, suggested by the economic theories of Thorstein Veblen, with book and lyrics by Charles Leipart and music by Richard B. Evans. "You have never met a professor quite like Thorstein Veblen, a man who uses unemployed actors as guinea pigs to prove his economic theories of the leisure class. This vaudevillian musical explodes with humor as it penetrates man's hunger for a life of money and power." The musical had its first public reading this summer as part of the Stages 2002 Festival at the Theatre Building Chicago. Kathy Fitzgerald (The Producers) is featured. For information about NAMT, visit www.namt.net.