Kerry Butler, Kate Shindle, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Andrew Durand and More Featured in 2011 Festival of New Musicals
By Michael Gioia
The National Alliance for Musical Theatre has announced initial casting for the eight new musicals selected to be part of the 23rd annual Festival of New Musicals, which will be presented Oct. 27-28 at New World Stages.
Kate Wetherhead (Legally Blonde) and Brynn O’Malley (Sunday in the Park with George) will star in Bernice Bobs Her Hair, based on the classic short story of the same name by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The musical features a book by Julia Jordan and music by Adam Gwon, with lyrics by Jordan and Gwon. Also in the cast are Steven Booth (Glory Days), Josh Breckenridge (The Scottsboro Boys), Kevin Carolan (Newsies), Olli Haaskivi, Olivia Oguma (Mamma Mia!), Adam Overett (The Light in the Piazza) and Casey Tuma (Annie). Joe Calarco directs with music direction by Andy Einhorn.
The Drama Desk-nominated Bloodsong of Love, Joe Iconis' rock 'n' roll musical theatre interpretation of the Spaghetti Western film genre, will star Rebecca Naomi Jones (American Idiot), Carrie Cimma (Lizzie Borden), Jeremy Morse (Bloodsong of Love), Lance Rubin and Jason Williams. John Simpkins directs with music direction by Brian Usifer.
Dani Girl, the inspiring and humorous story of a young girl's battle with a life-threatening disease, will star Kate Shindle (Wonderland), Rozi Baker (Shrek) and River Alexander (Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson). The musical features music by Michael Kooman and book and lyrics by Christopher Dimond. Scott Schwartz directs with music direction by Vadim Feichtner.
Tony Award nominee Kerry Butler (Catch Me If You Can) and Alex Brightman (Wicked) head the cast of The Dogs of Pripyat, which is based on the play of the same name by Leah Napolin about the true story of the dogs left behind in Pripyat after the Chernobyl meltdown in Russia in 1986. The musical features music by Aron Accurso, lyrics by Jill Abramovitz and book by Abramovitz and Napolin. Peter Flynn (artistic director of The Hangar Theatre) directs.
Anika Larsen (Xanadu) and Andrew Durand (Spring Awakening) are featured in Golden Boy of the Blue Ridge, based on J.M. Synge's classic Irish comedy The Playboy of the Western World. The musical is transplanted to 1930s Appalachia and set to a bluegrass-flavored score by Peter Mills, with a book by Mills and Cara Reichel. Gordon Greenberg directs with musical direction by Eli Zoller.
Haley Bond (Saint Ex), Charlie Brady (South Pacific) and Ken Triwush ("The Good Wife") will star in notes to MariAnne, an original pop-rock musical that explores the consequences of leaving someone you love. The musical features a book, music and lyrics by David Rossmer and Dan Lipton. Jeremy Dobrish directs with musical direction by Chris Fenwick.
Spring Awakening stars Phoebe Strole, Emma Hunton and Robi Hager, along with Emily Walton (August: Osage County), Krystina Alabado (American Idiot) and Ally Bonino are featured in Pregnancy Pact, a pop-rock musical inspired by the 2008 Time magazine article about a group of teens who made a pact to become single mothers together. The musical features a book and lyrics by Gordon Leary and music by Julia Meinwald. Drama Desk winner Mark Brokaw directs with musical direction by Rich Silverstein.
Steve Cosson, the founding artistic director of The Civilians, will direct WATT?!?, featuring a book and lyrics by David Javerbaum with music by Brendan Millburn. Watt?!? is a rock-musical telling of the heroic true story of James Watt, Ronald Reagan's Secretary of the Interior, who opened millions of acres of federal land for exploitation, banned the Beach Boys from July 4th festivities and was ultimately fired for referring to a five-person panel as "a black, two Jews, a woman and a cripple."
Additional staffing and casting will be announced shortly.
The industry-only event presents the eight new musicals in 45-minute staged readings over two days. Since 1989, the Festival has presented over 250 musicals and 475 writers; almost 75 percent of these shows have found subsequent productions, tours, licensing agreements and/or cast albums as a direct result of the festival including Thoroughly Modern Millie, Children of Eden, Honk!, The Drowsy Chaperone, Songs for a New World, I Love You Because and Striking 12, among others.
The Festival of New Musicals is funded entirely by contributions to the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, a not-for-profit organization, and is supported in part by a generous award from the National Endowment for the Arts and by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts.
The 2011 festival is overseen by NAMT's new work director and festival producing director Branden Huldeen and general manager Lisa Dozier. Betsy King Militello is the executive director of NAMT.
New World Stages is located at 340 West 50th Street. A limited number of tickets will be made available to the public for free on a standby basis. Registration for industry members is free and now open at www.namt.org.
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