Members of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, the trade organization for musical theatre producers, presenters, bookers, light opera companies and universities, will get a chance to see trimmed versions of 10 new musicals in readings during the NAMT conference in Manhattan, Sept. 24-25.
The 12th Annual Festival of New Musicals will be held at Off Broadway's Douglas Fairbanks Theatre and John Houseman Theatre on 42nd Street, and is only open to NAMT members and guests.
If you are a musical theatre writer, NAMT's annual Festival of New Musicals is one of the places you want your work to be seen, observers say. The festival is like an open marketplace where producers and presenters from the nation pick over new works as of they were fresh crops from the fields.
"It's a great place to be seen because there are so many theatre companies that come at one time," said New York composer Mike Shaieb, who has submitted work in the past. "It's one of the most visible places — there's such a large concentration of producers. You can get a lot of exposure in just two days...whereas [private] workshops don't guarantee [attendance]."
And the exposure is both national and local, from producers as far away as California and as close as Manhattan. The Festival is where New York producer Eric Krebs (It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues, Electra) first saw a reading of the Latino revue, Barrio Babies, which he'll produce in November at the John Houseman. The 2000 festival submissions totaled 147 and were evaluated by a committee of artistic directors from musical theatre organizations around the country. Readings are sponsored by member organizations.
The readings — one hour or 20-minute cuttings of full shows — include:
• Glimmerglass, based on James Fennimore Cooper stories and developed at Goodspeed-at-Chester, by Jonathan Bolt, Douglas J. Cohen and Ted Drachman. With David Lutken, Brian Sutherland, Kerry O'Malley.
• Lizzie Borden, seen at American Stage Company in New Jersey in 1998, the story of the infamous Massachusetts murder, by Christopher McGovern and Amy Powers. With original star Alison Fraser.
• Far From the Madding Crowd, based on the Thomas Hardy novel, by Gary Schocker and Barbara Campbell.
• Convenience, by Gregg Coffin (to be produced by Geva Theatre in Rochester, NY, in October 2000). With Melissa Rain Anderson and Jim Poulos.
• Barbara Schottenfeld's Hot and Sweet. With Catherine Cox, Liz Larsen and K.T. Sullivan.
• The Ark by Kevin Kelly and Michael McLean. With John Carter and Anne Kanengeiser.
• Cupid & Psyche, based on the myth, by Sean Hartley and Jihwan Kim.
• Joe!, a musical about an actor trapped in a musical, by Dan Lipton and David Rossmer. With Brain d'Arcy James, Mary Testa and B.D. Wong.
• Stephen M. Fisher's Mandela. With Rosena Hill, Alton White and Joel Robertson.
Past presentations have included Children of Eden by Stephen Schwartz, The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin by Kirsten Childs and Honk! by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.
"Out of our past 105 musicals that have been presented as part of the festival, more than two-thirds have gone on to subsequent productions," NAMT executive director Trudi Biggs said in a statement.
For information about the National Alliance for Musical Theatre.
-- By Kenneth Jones