Because its festivals aren’t open to the general public, recognition for NAMT has remained limited to those in the know. For them, the value of NAMT festivals is clear: The organization supplies the venue, all technical support, a consulting producer from its membership, a casting director and discounted rehearsal-space rental, not to mention access to the press and the audience. Equity determines a 29-hour rehearsal and performance period for the staged reading. Actors receive $100, directors and stage managers get a small stipend, and the show’s writers can distribute CDs and copies of their scripts to the very people who can actually give a new musical some legs.
“NAMT is a kind of champion for the writer,” Evans says. “We try to make the marketplace personal by providing the interaction between writers and producers.” NAMT offers its festival alumni writers a network system: They have access to their own section of the website and can communicate with NAMT’s member producers. NAMT also functions as a liaison throughout the year. A member theatre (such as 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, TheatreWorks in California, North Shore Music Theatre in Massachusetts or the Human Race Theatre Company in Ohio) might contact NAMT and say, “I’m looking for a new musical with a cast of four.” With its huge directory of past festival offerings, NAMT can immediately offer suggested titles and contact information.