The National Alliance for Musical Theatre, the trade group of musical theatre producers and producing organizations, has announced the lineup for its 14th Annual Festival of New Musicals, to be presented at its Sept. 22-23 conference in Manhattan.
Off-Broadway's lauded 1999 musical, Running Man, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, is among shows that will receive excerpted staged readings. The NAMT fest is thought to be an important marketplace where composers, librettists and lyricist display their goods, often leading to regional productions.
Running Man is based on the life of composer Diedre Murray's brother. Story and music are by Murray, with text by Cornelius Eady. Diane Paulus directs.
"The disappearance of a young African American man is told through an explosive convergence of jazz, opera, and chamber music," according to the NAMT announcement. The musical was commissioned, developed and presented by Music-Theatre Group. 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.
The NAMT fest also includes:
- 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 first presented as part of a BMI Showcase in 1993 and 1995, as well as the ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop and Dramatists Guild Musical Theater Development Program in 1995. 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.
- 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.
- 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 receiving further development this summer as part of the O'Neill Music Theatre Conference in Connecticut.
- 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. "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.
- 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 will have its first public reading this summer as part of the Stages Festival at the Theatre Building Chicago.
The NAMT fest will also include the NAMT/ASCAP Songwriter Showcase, a special event will feature snapshots of new musicals and introductions to musical theatre writing teams. Selected excerpts will be announced at a later date. The NAMT conference Sept, 21-22 will be held at Radio City Music Hall, and the Sept. 22-23 festival readings — often featuring Broadway talent — will be presented at the John Houseman and Douglas Fairbanks Theatre, on 42nd Street.
For information about NAMT, visit www.namt.net.
— By Kenneth Jones