Camille Claudel, Lawnchair Man, Winesburg, Ohio Part of National Alliance for Musical Theatre Fest, Oct. 3-4

News   Camille Claudel, Lawnchair Man, Winesburg, Ohio Part of National Alliance for Musical Theatre Fest, Oct. 3-4
The National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT) has announced its selections for the 16th Annual Festival of New Musicals. New works by Andre Pluess and Ben Sussman, Frank Wildhorn and Nan Knighton, and Robert Lindsey Nassif are Peter Ullian are in the mix.

The festival will be held at the new Dodger Stages, at 340 W. 50th Street (between Eighth and Ninth Avenues) on Oct. 3 and Oct. 4.

NAMT will also present its "Songwriter Showcase Sunday" evening, featuring 10-15 emerging musical theatre writers and hosted by Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz.

The most notable entry in the 2004 fest may be Camille Claudel, the new Frank Wildhorn-Nan Knighton musical about the tortured artist and lover of Auguste Rodin, which had a developmental run at Goodspeed Musicals' Norma Terris Theatre last summer. Linda Eder — composer Wildhorn's wife — starred in the title role and will repeat her duties. The show has been mentioned for Broadway. Gariel Barre will direct the workshop

Another show with an existing reputation is The Flight of the Lawnchair Man, by composer-lyricist Robert Lindsay Nassif and librettist Peter Ullian. It was first seen under Harold Prince's direction in 2000 as one of a trio of musical one-acts packaged as 3hree, which premiered at Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia in 2000 and played the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles in 2001. Recently, there was word that Prince is working on an expanded version of the one-act musical, The Flight of the Lawnchair Man, and that the show may be Broadway-bound following a regional presentation. No director is listed for the NAMT staging.

A third show, Winesburg, Ohio, by Eric Rosen and Andre J. Pluess and Ben Sussman, and based on Sherwood Anderson's 1919 novel about small town life, recently got its world premiere at About Face Theatre in Chicago. The other shows that have been selected for this year’s festival are: The Drowsy Chaperone, music by Greg Morrison, book by Don McKellar and Bob Martin, lyrics by Lisa Lambert (a cult hit in Toronto); The Girl in the Frame, music, book and lyrics by Jeremy Desmon (seen at Stoneham Theatre in Massachusetts); A Good Man, music by Ray Leslee, book and lyrics by Philip S. Goodman; Langston in Harlem, music by Walter Marks, book by Kent Gash, lyrics by Langston Hughes; Striking 12: The Groovelily Holiday Show, music, lyrics and book by Brendan Milburn, Rachel Sheinkin, and Valerie Vigoda.

Here's the breakdown of shows, with descriptions by NAMT.

  • Camille Claudel. "She was a famed sculptor and a mistress and muse to Auguste Rodin. Camille Claudel broke all the rules. She was feisty, funny, beautiful, and this musical reflects her humor and zest. As both lovers and artists, Rodin and Claudel tested the line between love and competition."
  • The Drowsy Chaperone. "Greg Morrison, Lisa Lambert, Bob Martin and Don McKellar created this soph twist-icated look at a classic (albeit fictional) 1920’s musical. Pampered Broadway starlet Janet VanDeGraaff chooses marriage over show business. Her producer, career sinking and indebted to gangsters, sets out to sabotage the nuptials. Ruses are played, hi-jinks ensue, and just before the plot spins completely out of control...everyone zeppelins down to Rio for a happy ending!"
  • The Flight of the Lawnchair Man . "Jerry Gorman is a not-very-special guy from Passaic, New Jersey, who longs to find his 'Jerriosity.' Then, he gets the idea to tie 400 helium-filled balloons to a Wal-Mart lawnchair. Strapping himself in, he launches himself 13,000 feet into the air, where he encounters Leonardo Da Vinci and Charles Lindbergh. Jerry finds himself faced with a choice: to land or to join the other greats of aviation in the sky."
  • The Girl in the Frame. "In brand-new picture frames, there is always a stunning photograph of an impossibly-beautiful woman—the girl in the frame. She’s sexy, she’s perfect, and she’s sitting on Alex’s couch. After a disagreement with his real-life fiancée, Alex embarks on a crazy roller-coaster affair with this fantasy woman. When soon-to-be-wife Laney stumbles upon his 'infidelity' she has some surprises of her own, calling into question the role of love, fantasy, and perfection in their relationship."
  • A Good Man. "Based on the award-winning novel by Jefferson Young set in 1946 Mississippi, this new blues musical is about an unlikely hero. A black tenant farmer living a quiet life, Albert Clayton has always wanted to live in a house painted white (although no tenant house has ever been painted that way). When he makes his dream a reality, it causes major friction with his white neighbors and other blacks in the community. Tensions mount, making Albert even more defiant. Then Albert's own wife turns against him in a harrowing and bloody act. Even then he does not back down - ultimately they join together, filled with love, hope, and possibility."
  • Langston in Harlem. "A music theatre piece made up of blues, jazz, spoken word poetry, rhythm and dance that evoke the state of mind that is Langston Hughes’ Harlem. This is not a typical book musical but rather a descendant of newer forms, a kind of musical montage in a dramatic format similar to Cats, Movin' Out, or Def Poetry Jam. Based on the writings of one of America’s foremost poets and using his poetry as lyrics, Langston in Harlem is a stirring and vivid portrait of the artist at the height of the Harlem Renaissance."
  • Striking 12: The Groovelily Holiday Show. "A funny, touching, uplifting hybrid piece of musical theatre in which the story is sung, played, acted, and dissected on a stage by an unusual rock band, GrooveLily. The show runs on three levels: a musical retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Match Girl; the story of a grumpy 30 something whose anti-holiday outlook is changed by a door-to-door saleswoman of holiday lights that combat seasonal affective disorder; and the interaction of the three musicians who frequently interrupt the proceedings."
  • Winesburg, Ohio. "Based on the classic American novel by Sherwood Anderson, this startling and unconventional musical journey explores what lies beneath the 'normal' exterior of a small American town. Developed by Chicago’s About Face Theatre and Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Winesburg, Ohio is both a portrait of an artist as a young man and a journey into the secret lives and twisted passions of his hometown’s everyday citizens. Backed by a score steeped in American folk music, the stories intertwine and unfold in a spellbinding and moving paean to following your dreams. " *

    Since 1989, NAMT's Festival of New Musicals has introduced musical theatre producers to 131 musicals and 268 writers from around the world. Past Festival shows have included Tony Award-winning Thoroughly Modern Millie, and Children of Eden, Songs for a New World, The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin, Summer of '42 and Honk!

    The mission of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre's Festival of New Musicals is "to expand the musical theatre repertoire by encouraging the production of new musicals; present works that are diverse in ethnicity, subject matter, style, and concept; discover new work and new voices; and nurture creative writing teams."

    The Festival is funded entirely by contributions to NAMT, a not-for-profit organization, and is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Admission is by invitation only to theatre producers.

    For more information, visit

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