In May 2008, a benefit concert version, featuring Donna Murphy, Christian Borle, and a host of guest stars, sold out Town Hall. Interest in the piece was rekindled. Mr. Zippel submitted it to the National Alliance for Musical Theater for a showing in its industry-only festival of new musicals.
“The festival committee reviews blind,” explained Branden Huldeen, the alliance’s director for new works. “Someone very smart said of this show: ‘This script is so funny. I love the score, it’s like an old-fashioned Cy Coleman musical written for kids.’ When we told him at the meeting, he was floored.”
“Pamela’s First Musical” got its shot in the October 2008 festival. The dimensions of the show became clearer: Fourteen performers were onstage, not as many as a full production would require. And the sets and costumes needed for the musical within a musical Pamela attends with her aunt seemed daunting.
“It was a hard sell in 2008,” Mr. Huldeen said. “People weren’t buying big musicals.”