New Work in Progress: Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival

This month, we checked in with Brett Smock, the Producing Artistic Director at Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival, a brand new NAMT member. Located in Auburn, NY, FLMTF has an exciting summer of new works lined up, including From Here to Eternity, a new musical with music by Stuart Brayson, lyrics by Tim Rice (Fest ’94, Tycoon) and book by Bill Oakes, and a festival featuring seven new musicals. Keep reading to learn more about this member’s exciting new works program! 

Can you tell us about Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival’s relationship with new works development throughout the years?
The Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival was launched in 2012 to create a haven for musical theatre as an art form and to cultivate economic and artistic revitalization in the Finger Lakes region.  Operating on three stages, in two cities, the Festival produces new musicals, reimagined classics and fosters writers and creative teams of musicals in their earliest stages of development.

What are some of the new works FLMTF is developing this year?
2016 stands to be a very special year for the Festival.  Of our eight-show season, four of those shows are new musicals.  We will produce the North American premiere of Tim Rice’s From Here to Eternity [written with Stuart Brayson and Bill Oakes], followed by the regional premiere of Treasure Island [by Brett Smock, Carla Vitale and Corinne Aquilina] and a new production of Tenderly, The Rosemary Clooney Musical.  On our stage in Rochester, we will produce Austen’s Pride: A New Musical of Pride and Prejudice [by Lindsay Warren Baker and Amanda Jacobs].  I am thrilled to be able to create development opportunities for these new works and to have the works crafted by such stellar creative teams.

How did these four new musicals find their way to FLMTF? 
I saw Eternity in London and was very taken with the power of the piece.  Hailed as one of the best modern American novels and adapted into an Academy Award winning film, this piece wraps its arms around you.  I reached out and began a conversation with Tim about being the launch customer for the show in the US. We have been working on the show for a year and are excited for it to bow here in Auburn. I saw Austen’s Pride at NYMF in 2011 and admired its witty intelligence and its take on the traditional story of Pride and Prejudice. I’m excited to share it with audiences here as we launch our Rochester operation with this new romantic musical comedy.  Treasure Island had its world premiere at the Arkansas Rep in 2013 and we’re excited to continue the show’s development and introduction to the larger commercial marketplace here at the Festival.  And Tenderly has just recently been released for licensing through TRW.  Unlike the traditional jukebox musical, this show is a poignant look into the life and success of one of our greatest singers of all time, Rosemary Clooney.

Tell us a little about the PiTCH presentations. How does this program tie in to FLMTF’s mission, and how do your audiences react to the presentations?
It gives us great pride to have given visibility and development opportunities to 47 musicals to date!  We offer seven writing teams a week’s residency wherein we provide them with a dedicated venue, housing, r/t transportation, marketing support, tech support and an enthusiastic and engaged audience.  The teams can work on any aspect of their show that they choose and they perform material for three different audiences at the end of their week.  Audiences have embraced the distinct experience of The PiTCH and have enjoyed the interaction with creative teams at the talk-back sessions immediately following the presentations. To foster writing teams is at the very core of our commitment to new works. I believe that the genesis of great musicals begins with great writers.

Why should everyone find their way to Upstate New York this summer to check out the exciting new work happening at FLMTF?
If you’ve never visited the Finger Lakes, you’re missing out.  Lovingly titled “the new Hamptons,” the Finger Lakes region is an idyllic retreat that boasts gorgeous lakes, breathtaking countryside, stellar wineries and award-winning craft breweries, signature retailers, boating, fishing and all kinds of recreation and of course, Broadway in the Finger Lakes.  I hope to meet and welcome many of you—my colleagues and peers at other member theatres. Come visit us this season!

For more information, visit FLMTF’s website.

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