Announcing the 31st Annual Festival of New Musicals

We are thrilled to announce the line-up of new musicals for the 31st Annual Festival of New Musicals, which takes place on Thursday, October 24 and Friday, October 25, 2019.

Now in its 31st year, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre’s Festival of New Musicals attracts theatre producers from around the world for this industry-only event to discover eight new musicals presented in 45-minute concert presentations over two days. All production costs are underwritten by NAMT, at no cost to the writing teams. As a non-profit organization, NAMT funds the Festival entirely through donations, sponsorships and contributions. 

The Festival has introduced musical theatre producers to 260 musicals and 491 writers from around the world. As a direct result of the Festival of New Musicals, more than 85% of the musicals presented have gone on to subsequent readings, workshops, productions, tours, been licensed, and/or recorded on cast albums. Some past Festival shows include The Ballad of Klook and Vinette, Benny & Joon, Come From Away, Darling Grenadine, The Drowsy Chaperone, Gun & Powder, It Shoulda Been You, Lempicka, Ordinary Days, Striking 12 and Thoroughly Modern Millie, among many others.

This year, a committee of 17 theatre professionals selected eight new musicals out of 219 blind submissions. The musicals they chose for the 31st Annual Festival are:

Hi, My Name is Ben (book & lyrics by Scott Gilmour, music by Claire McKenzie), Interstate (book, lyrics & music by Melissa Li, book & lyrics by Kit Yan), Iron John: an american ghost story (music & book by Jacinth Greywoode, lyrics & book by Rebecca Hart), Lautrec at the St. James (music by Julianne Wick Davis, book & lyrics by John Dietrich), One Way (Music by Ben Bonnema, Lyrics by Christopher Staskel, book by Ben Bonnema & Christopher Staskel), SeaWife (music & lyrics by The Lobbyists, book by Seth Moore, directed & developed by Liz Carlson), Simon & Jorge Pay Their Student Loans (book, music & lyrics by Jesse Gage) and Teeth (book by Michael R. Jackson & Anna K. Jacobs, music by Anna K. Jacobs, lyrics by Michael R. Jackson).

In a statement, Betsy King Militello, Executive Director of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, said:

We are excited to share these extraordinary shows and writers with our membership. This year’s Festival of New Musicals will take us from humorous to haunted and from California to Mars. There is truly something for everyone in this astonishing lineup of new musicals.

On behalf of the Festival Committee, Co-Chairs Pamela Adams, General Manager, Atlantic Theater Company, and Yuvika Tolani, Associate Producer, The Public Theater, stated:

We are grateful to the hundreds of writers who shared their work through 200-plus submissions this year. The incredible range of musical theatre voices inspired us and we are thrilled to share these eight new musicals with audiences this fall.

Casting for each musical and further programming details will be announced soon.


Hi, My Name is Ben

book & lyrics by Scott Gilmour, music by Claire McKenzie

“Hi, my name is Ben. I can’t talk but I can hear.”

A true, New York story of how one man changed the lives of those around him, without ever speaking a word. Using just his notepad, pen and open heart, Ben turned a neighborhood of strangers into a community of friends, before finally encountering a miracle of his own.

CLAIRE MCKENZIE, composer, and SCOTT GILMOUR, book writer/lyricist, make up the writing partnership Noisemaker. Both graduates of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, they have worked throughout the UK and internationally creating innovative, original work to challenge the expectations of musical theatre. In 2016 Noisemaker was chosen as New Voices by Walt Disney Imagineering and NMI Inc. and, most recently, won the award for Unique Business of the Year at the 2018 Scottish Business Awards.

Noisemaker credits include; Hi, My Name is Ben (Goodspeed Musicals), The Snow Queen, Little Red and the Wolf (Dundee Rep), My Left/Right Foot (NTS/Edinburgh Fringe – Winner of Best Music at Critics’ Awards in Scotland 2019, Fringe First, Herald Angel Award), Legend Trippers (National Youth Music Theatre/The Other Palace), Atlantic: A Scottish Story (Edinburgh Fringe – Winner of Herald Angel Award), Forest Boy (NYMF, Arcola Theatre, The Other Palace) and their new choose-your-own-adventure musical The Girl Who (AMTP at Northwestern University, Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival).



book, lyrics & Music by Melissa Li, book & lyrics by Kit Yan

Interstate is an Asian-American road trip musical about Dash, a transgender spoken word performer who embarks on his first national tour with his best friend Adrian, a lesbian singer-songwriter. Their political and personal music inspires Henry, a trans teenage blogger living in a small town in Kentucky, to make a series of life-changing decisions. A parallel story about two trans people at different stages of their lives, the musical explores love, family and masculinity in the age of social media.

KIT YAN is a Yellow American New York-based artist, born in Enping, China, and raised in the Kingdom of Hawaii. Kit is a 2019 Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellow, 2019 Lincoln Center Theater Writer-in-Residence, a 2019 MacDowell Colony Fellow, 2019-2020 Musical Theatre Factory Maker, and a 2019-2020 Playwright’s Center Many Voices Fellow. Works include Interstate, which won Outstanding Lyrics at the 2018 New York Musical Festival, and Queer Heartache, which won five awards at the Chicago and SF Fringe Festivals. Their work has been produced by the American Repertory Theater, the Smithsonian, Musical Theatre Factory, the New York Musical Festival, and Diversionary Theatre. They have been a resident with the Civilians, Mitten Lab, 5th Avenue Theatre and the Village Theatre.

MELISSA LI is a composer, lyricist, performer and writer based in New York and Baltimore. She is a recipient of the Jonathan Larson Award, a Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellow, a 2019 Lincoln Center Theater Writer-in-Residence, a 2019 Musical Theatre Factory Maker, a 2019 MacDowell Colony Fellow, and a former Queer|Art|Mentorship Fellow. Musicals include Interstate (New York Musical Festival, Winner Outstanding Lyrics), Surviving the Nian (The Theater Offensive, IRNE Award Winner for Best New Play 2007) and 99% Stone (The Theater Offensive). Her works have received support from The 5th Avenue Theatre, The Village Theatre, Musical Theatre Factory, National Performance Network, New England Foundation for the Arts, Dixon Place and others.


IRON JOHN: an american ghost story

music & book by Jacinth Greywoode, lyrics & book by Rebecca Hart

Welcome to the little Southern town of Good, Alabama. It’s wild, woodsy, down-home…and very, very haunted. One hundred years ago, a love triangle ended in an act of racist violence that seems to repeat in every generation—until now. This dark and lyrical tale pits good old-fashioned American denial against the redemptive power of facing your truth.

REBECCA HART is a performer, composer and writer based in NYC. On stage: SWEAT (Public Tour), The Revolutionists (CT Critics Circle Award), Midsummer (TheaterWorks Hartford – CT Critics Circle Nom.), Rimbaud in NY (The Civilians @ BAM), Microcosmos (The Civilians), and frequent gigs with her six-piece altfolk band. Writing/composing credits include: Microcosmos and Rimbaud in NY (Civilians), GLORIA (Woolly Mammoth – Helen Hayes Nomination), The Cabaret at the End of the World (NY Innovative Theatre Award), Aaron Jafferis’ How to Break (NAMT 2014), Iron John (2019 O’Neill Semifinalist, NYU staged workshop), and her album The Magician’s Daughter. Civilians Associate Artist, MFA NYU GMTWP.

JACINTH GREYWOODE is a Brooklyn-based composer of classical and theater music whose work has been performed throughout the Americas and in Europe and Africa by such groups as the Calidore String Quartet, So Percussion and The Civilians. Jacinth has also performed as singer and pianist at such venues as the Apollo Theater, Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center and the Greene Space at WNYC. Recent writing credits include Iron John (2019 O’Neill NMTC semifinalist; staged workshop at NYU); G’day, Ivan!Master (American Opera Projects); and White Raven, Black Dove (commissioned by Cerise Jacobs/White Snake Projects, Boston 2022).


Lautrec at the St. James

music by Julianne Wick Davis, book & lyrics by John Dietrich

March 1899 – French artist, Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, passes out in a gutter and is kidnapped. He awakes in the Chateau St. James, an asylum. Triggered by his imagination and a need to understand his downfall, the St. James continuously transforms around Lautrec into an intoxicating and provocative world—one that inspires yet may destroy him.

JULIANNE WICK DAVIS: (composer/lyricist) Larson Award 2012; 2018 Billie Burke Ziegfeld Award. Southern Comfort (NAMT 2012) (music), with Dan Collins (book and lyrics) – The Public Theater (Lortel Nomination), Barrington Stage Company, CAP21; Trevor (music) with Collins (book and lyrics) – Writers Theatre (Jeff Award); The Pen (music) with Collins (book and lyrics); The Willard Suitcases (book, music & lyrics), American Shakespeare Center Fall 2019; Lautrec at the St. James (music) with John Dietrich (book and lyrics). Dramatist Guild Fellow, York Theatre’s NEO 9, Sundance Fellow at UCross. MFA, NYU Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.

JOHN DIETRICH: Director/Choreographer/Writer including 17 years with Radio City Entertainment. Director/Choreographer for the world-famous Rockettes / Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Book Writer/Lyricist: Things As They Are (Composer: Jonathan Comisar), New York Musical Theatre Festival Next Link Selection, Best of Fest Award winner; Only Anne (Composer: Will Buck), Rhinebeck Writer’s Retreat, Goodspeed Festival of New Musicals; Lautrec at the St. James; The Last War (Composer: Julianne Wick Davis); The Nureyev Project (Composer: Will Buck). He has written/directed for Walt Disney Entertainment, Dolly Parton & Dollywood Entertainment. Education: MFA, NYU Tisch School of the Arts: Musical Theatre Writing; MA, NYU Gallatin: Musical Theatre Structure/Directing Theory; BM (Music), University of Wisconsin.


One Way

music by Ben Bonnema, lyrics by Christopher Staskel,

book by Ben Bonnema & Christopher Staskel

When Naomi becomes a finalist for the first one-way mission to Mars, she must choose: pursue her ambition or stay on Earth with the woman she loves. With a soaring, contemporary score, One Way is a moving portrait of how our choices affect those closest to us.

BEN BONNEMA is a Jonathan Larson Award-winning composer-lyricist. Theatre: The Apple Boys with Jonothon Lyons (“Clever, catchy songs” –The New Yorker, HERE Arts Center), Boys Who Tricked Me (Musical Theatre Factory, “heart-healing musical theatre” -Joshua Barone of the New York Times), One Way with Christopher Staskel (Goodspeed Musicals’ Johnny Mercer Writers Colony), The Lost Girl with Arianna Rose, Sleep No More (additional sound design and composition). New Media: Peter Panic with James Marion (Adult Swim Games, two million downloads). Film: Mary Poppins Returns (Music Associate to Marc Shaiman, Best Score Oscar Nom.). Ben holds an MFA from NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.

CHRISTOPHER STASKEL is a writer and musical theatre lyricist-librettist. Recent projects include One Way (Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals; Rhinebeck Writers Retreat) with Ben Bonnema and The Firebird (2014 NMTC/O’Neill finalist) with Lisa Whitson Burns. He was a 2015 Kleban Prize finalist and a winner (with Max Mamon) of New York City Center’s Sondheim Remix contest, which granted him the surreal opportunity to rap for Stephen Sondheim. He holds a BFA in Music Theatre from Elon University and an MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU Tisch.



music & lyrics by The Lobbyists, book by Seth Moore, directed & developed by Liz Carlson

SeaWife is a haunted tale of the high seas. Both historical and pointedly modern, the sumptuous and energetic music of The Lobbyists guides us through Seth Moore’s world of whale hunts, ghosts and adventure to ask: “Can humanity save itself from its own devouring?”

SETH MOORE is a polyartist who works in theater, film, visual art and music. His play Jonesin’ was produced by The University of Michigan; it won the 2008 McIntyre Prize, the Naomi Saferstein Literary Award and The Avery Hopwood Award for Drama. In 2009, his play The Man With America Skin also received the McIntyre Prize and The Hopwood Award and was produced for The Araca Project in 2012. Other Writing: Ghosts in the Tapestry (The Claque); Catch (Cincinnati Fringe); Wolf Inside (WNYC). He makes films with his company, Sheep Eats Wolf, and is a frequently commissioned muralist and Illustrator.

LIZ CARLSON is a director and producer of new work. She is currently in her fourth season as the Artistic Producer for New York Stage and Film. Prior to NYSAF, Liz worked as a freelance director and served as the Artistic Director of Naked Angels. She has directed at Ars Nova, The Dramatists Guild, EST, The Flea, Keen Company, Manhattan School of Music, MTC, The New Group, Playwrights Horizons, The Playwrights Realm, Signature Theatre Company, Studio 42, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and more. MFA, The New School for the Performing Arts. Alumna of the Drama League Directors Project.

THE LOBBYISTS (Tommy Crawford, Eloise Eonnet, Alex Grubbs, Will Turner, Tony Aidan Vo, and Douglas Waterbury-Tieman) are an NYC-based band and theater company that creates and performs original music and innovative music-theater. The group takes its name from the lobby of The Flea Theater, where the founding members met in 2012 while working on the Drama Desk-nominated These Seven Sicknesses. Since then, the group has played many iconic venues in New York, such as Joe’s Pub, Rockwood Music Hall and Mercury Lounge, and toured to various locations in the northeast. As a theatrical and songwriting collective, the group’s work has been developed with NY Stage & Film, Cape Cod Theatre Project, Ars Nova, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, Playwrights Realm and Musical Theatre Factory. The group’s debut theatrical piece, SeaWife, was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music and Outstanding Lighting in a Musical in 2016. New and upcoming projects include The Golden Spike with Don Nguyen. Stay in touch and learn more at and @thelobbyistsnyc.


Simon & Jorge Pay Their Student Loans

book, music & lyrics by Jesse Gage

In life, we face many seemingly unanswerable questions.  Why are we here?  How does WIFI work?  Why has there never been a stoner bromance rock musical about the impending student loan crisis and ever-growing income inequality gap?  Well, ask no more. Behold: Simon & Jorge Pay Their Student Loans. 

JESSE GAGE is an NYC-based musical theatre writer and veteran of the Bleeker Street music scene, often found wheeling his upright piano around the West Village. His television credits include Fox, NBC, BBC, PBS and a bevy of Brazilian soap operas. After writing the cult hit Oklahomo: Enforcer of Justice (NYMF 2010), he was awarded a musical theate fellowship at NYU/Tisch, and in 2016 and 2017 was recognized by Barrington Stage Company as one of the “ridiculously talented writers you should know (but probably don’t).” Jesse lives in Coney Island with his amazing wife Marlena and son Jonah Blue. 



book by Michael R. Jackson & Anna K. Jacobs,

music by Anna K. Jacobs, lyrics by Michael R. Jackson

Adapted from the 2007 Sundance Award-winning indie horror film by Mitchell Lichtenstein, Teeth tells the story of Dawn O’Keefe, an evangelical Christian teen with a powerful secret: she has teeth in her vagina. When the men in Dawn’s life try to exploit her, she is forced to choose between survival or destruction.

ANNA K. JACOBS is a Brooklyn-based composer, lyricist and librettist. In addition to Teeth (O’Neill Musical Theater Conference), her musicals include POP! (Yale Rep, Pittsburgh City Theatre, Studio Theatre), Harmony, Kansas (Diversionary Theatre), Anytown (George Street Playhouse), Echo (The Gallery Players, MTF), Kaya: Taste of Paradise (NY Film Academy) and Stella and the Moon Man (Sydney Theatre Company/Theatre of Image). Currently, she and playwright Anna Ziegler are collaborating on a new musical for Barbara Whitman Productions and Grove Entertainment. Anna is the proud recipient of the 2018 Eric Salzman Award for New Music Theater Composition and 2016 Billie Burke Ziegfeld Award. MFA NYU-Tisch.

MICHAEL R. JACKSON holds a BFA and MFA in playwriting and Musical Theatre Writing from the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. As a songwriter, he has seen his work performed everywhere from Joe’s Pub to NAMT. He wrote lyrics and co-wrote book for the musical adaptation of the 2007 horror film Teeth with composer and co-book writer Anna K. Jacobs. He wrote book, music and lyrics for the musicals White Girl In Danger and A Strange Loop (2019 world premiere at Playwrights Horizons in co-production with Page 73 Productions). Awards and associations include a New Professional Theatre Festival Award, a Jonathan Larson Grant, a Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award, an ASCAP Foundation Harold Adamson Award, a Whiting Award and a Dramatist Guild Fellowship. He has commissions from Grove Entertainment & Barbara Whitman Productions and LCT3.


Online registration for the Festival is now open.

Attendance Eligibility

The Festival is free and open to theatre industry professionals and major donors to NAMT. We define an industry member as anyone currently working professionally in the theatre who can aid in the development of the shows or writers we present. You will be asked to state your affiliation with one of the professional organizations/groups/unions, such as TCG, The Broadway League, LORT, ART/NY, etc., in order to register for the Festival. If you meet this criterion, you must register, but no invitation is required (subject to space and availability). If you do not, you may also register with our online form and make a donation to NAMT.

Public standby lines form prior to each presentation, for which no prior registration is required. Standby seating is not guaranteed.

Festival Passes

There are four different passes available for the Festival, each with its own level of access and benefits outlined in the chart below. Industry members who are not members of NAMT will be asked to select their pass level when they register. Although a General Pass to the Festival is free to industry professionals, your tax-deductible contribution allows the Festival of New Musicals to create a nurturing environment for the discovery, development and advancement of the new works, at no cost to the writers participating.

Rates and Deadlines

The Festival is free and open to theatre industry professionals (see details below) or by donation to NAMT. NAMT members receive passes based on their member type (see details below).

Starting October 9, a $20 late registration administrative fee will be applied to all Festival registrations, including NAMT members.This fee helps to offset additional administrative support required during this busy time.

Online registration for the Festival ends on October 21. We strongly encourage you to register online so that we can have your badge ready, and to pick your schedule due to the possibility of individual readings closing due to capacity limits.

Walk-up attendees at New World Stages will be subject to a $30 fee.

NAMT Member Registration

NAMT member organizations receive a limited number of complimentary Premiere Passes and Select Passes (see chart above).

  • Institutional Voting members receive 4 Premiere Passes and 2 Select Passes
  • Independent Producer Voting members receive 2 Premiere Passes and 2 Select Passes
  • Academic, Developmental and International members receive 2 Premiere Passes and 1 Select Pass
  • Associate Members receive 1 Select Pass


The National Alliance for Musical Theatre, founded in 1985, is a national service organization dedicated exclusively to musical theatre. Their mission is to be a catalyst for nurturing musical theatre development, production, innovation and collaboration. 

Their 238 members, located throughout 33 states and abroad, are some of the leading producers of musical theatre in the world and include theatres, presenting organizations, higher education programs and individual producers. Among the 260 musicals launched by NAMT’s annual Festival of New Musicals are The Ballad of Klook and Vinette, Benny & Joon, Come From Away, Darling Grenadine, The Drowsy Chaperone, Gun & Powder, HONK!, It Shoulda Been You, Lempicka, Ordinary Days, Striking 12 and Thoroughly Modern Millie, among many others, representing 491 writers.


NAMT’s FESTIVAL OF NEW MUSICALS is the cornerstone of NAMT’s mission to nurture the development and production of new musicals. The Festival presents eight musicals in 45-minute presentations before an audience of over 600 industry professionals. In the short run, the Festival’s goal is to connect producers with writers, so that their shows can continue their development trajectory. The long-term goal is to expand the musical theatre repertoire, bringing new musical theatre to thousands of audience members around the world.

The 31st ANNUAL FESTIVAL OF NEW MUSICALS is overseen by NAMT New Works Director Ciera Iveson and Festival General Manager Dailey-Monda Management and General Management Consultant Lisa Dozier Productions.

The 2019 Festival Committee is co-chaired by Pamela Adams, General Manager, Atlantic Theater Co. (NY) and Yuvika Tolani, Associate Producer, The Public Theater (NY). Committee members include: Victoria Bussert, Director of Musical Theatre, Baldwin Wallace University Conservatory of Music (OH); Taneisha Duggan, Producing Associate, TheaterWorks Hartford (CT), Rick Edinger, Associate Professor of Music Theater, Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama (PA); Kate Galvin, Artistic Director, Cardinal Stage Company (IN); Marguerite Hannah, Associate Producer, Horizon Theatre (GA); Dana Harrel, Executive Creative Director, Disney Parks Live Entertainment (CA); Branden Huldeen, Artistic Producer, Barrington Stage Company (MA); Tim Kashani, Co-Founder/CEO, Apples and Oranges Arts (CA); Dan Murphy, Managing Director, Broadway Rose Theatre Company (OR); Danielle Karliner Naish, Finance & Operations Manager, 321 Theatrical Management (NY); Patrick Parker, Associate Artistic Director, Paper Mill Playhouse (NJ); Ann-Carol Pence, Co-Founder/Associate Producer, Aurora Theatre (GA); Matthew Schneider, Co-Owner/Producer, Creative Endeavor Office (NY); Søren Møller, Creative Producer, Fredericia Teater (DK), Chair Emeritus; and Adam Gwon (Alumnus Writer Representative), writer of Ordinary Days (Fest ’08), Bernice Bobs Her Hair (Fest ’11) and String (Fest ’14).

NAMT thanks the following foundations, government agencies and organizations for their ongoing support of our programs: The Alhadeff Charitable Foundation, The Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York Creative Space Grant, ASCAP Foundation Irving Caesar Fund, The Austin Community Fund, BMI Foundation, The Dubose and Dorothy Heyward Memorial Fund, The Hargrove Pierce Foundation, The Hollywood Pantages, Howard Gilman Foundation, The Lucille Lortel Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, The New York State Council on the Arts, The Shubert Foundation, The Ted Snowden Foundation, and Anonymous donors.

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