National Alliance for Musical Theatre Announces Directors and Music Directors For the 35th Annual FESTIVAL OF NEW MUSICALS

New World Stages

October 26-27, 2022

New York: National Alliance for Musical Theatre (Betsy King Militello, Executive Director) is proud to announce the creative teams for the 35th Annual FESTIVAL OF NEW MUSICALS, which takes place on Thursday, October 26 and Friday, October 27, 2023, at New World Stages (340 West 50th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues).

Now in its 35th year, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre’s FESTIVAL OF NEW MUSICALS is a must-attend event for theatre producers, presenters and developers from around the world. This industry-only festival offers the chance to discover eight new musicals presented in 45-minute concert presentations over two days. As a non-profit organization, NAMT funds the Festival entirely through donations, sponsorships and contributions which underwrite all production costs.

Directors for this year’s Festival include Rebecca Aparicio (Latinx Playwrights Circle), Dev Bondarin (Associate Artistic Director, Prospect Theater Company), Catie Davis (Broadway/Tour: Beetlejuice), Bo Frazier (Chicago: tick, tick…BOOM!), Kimille Howard (Artistic Director, Lucille Lortel Theatre’s NYC Public High School Playwrighting Fellowship), Jess McLeod (Woolly Mammoth BOLD Resident Director), Leora Morris (Alliance Theatre: Ride the Cyclone) and Abbey O’Brien (Broadway: Waitress, Jagged Little Pill).

Music Directors for this year’s Festival include Kurt Crowley (Broadway: Hamilton, Freestyle Love Supreme), Andrea Grody (Broadway: The Band’s Visit), Jesse Kissel (Broadway: ChicagoThe Visit), Lily Ling (Broadway: How to Dance in Ohio), Anessa Marie (Off-Broadway: White Girl in Danger), Patrick Sulken (Off-Broadway: Little Shop of Horrors) and Alyssa Kay Thompson (Broadway: 1776).

The Festival will also welcome eight participants to the Festival Observership for Early-Career Directors. This Directing Observership provides artists from underrepresented groups with the opportunity to join the musical theatre development process through each step of building a staged reading presentation. The 2023 cohort includes Cooper Ellis, Abigail Holland, Nikki Mirza, Aidan Pauer, Tah-Janay Shayoñe, Joyah Love Spangler, Tyra Ann-Marie Wilson and Wanye’ Yoakum.

Thomas Bertron and India Shanelle will join the Festival producing team as Line Producers.

The Festival has introduced musical theatre producers to nearly 300 musicals and over 500 writers from around the world. As a direct result of the FESTIVAL OF NEW MUSICALS, more than 85% of the shows presented have gone on to subsequent readings, workshops, productions or tours; been licensed; and/or recorded on cast albums. Some past Festival shows include Come From Away, Lempicka, The Drowsy ChaperoneLizard Boy, Teeth, Benny & JoonDarling Grenadine, Ordinary Days, Striking 12, It Shoulda Been You, Interstate and Thoroughly Modern Millie, among many others.

Free Registration for industry members is now open at

This year, a committee of 18 theatre professionals selected eight new musicals out of 575 submissions—the Festival’s largest submission pool ever. The musicals chosen for the 35th Annual Festival are:

Fallout (Music & Lyrics by Dmitry Koltunov, Book by David Goldsmith), Fountain (Book, Music & Lyrics by Christopher Anselmo & Jared Corak), Fountain of You (Book & Lyrics by Tasha Gordon-Solmon, Music by Faye Chiao), Mija (Music & Lyrics by Anna Gilbert and Gaby Moreno, Book by Evynne Hollens & Rebecca Tourino Collinsworth), Never Be King (Music by Charlie H. Ray & Sam Columbus, Book & Lyrics by Charlie H. Ray), The Oscar Micheaux Project (Working Title) (Music by Alphonso Horne, Lyrics by Jesse L. Kearney Jr. & Peter Mills, Book by Jesse L. Kearney Jr. & Cara Reichel, Additional Music by Peter Mills), Wonder Boy (Book, Music & Lyrics by Jaime Jarrett), Yoko’s Husband’s Killer’s Japanese Wife, Gloria (Book by Brandy Hoang Collier, Lyrics by Clare Fuyuko Bierman, Music by Erika Ji).

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


Music & Lyrics by Dmitry Koltunov
Book by David Goldsmith
                  Director: Dev Bondarin
                  Music Director: Andrea Grody
                  Directing Observer: Abigail Holland

A family of Ukrainian Jews flees the anti-Semitism of the Soviet Union in the aftermath of Chernobyl. They settle in Brighton Beach, NY, where Yasha, the youngest son, struggles to rescue his family from financial ruin during the tech boom of the early 2000s through the collapse of Lehman Bros in 2008.

Dev Bondarin (Director) (she/her) is the Associate Artistic Director of Prospect Theater Company. Directing: Prospect’s annual musical theater lab, Marguerite (with Cady Huffman), Caroline, or Change (AUDELCO Award: Outstanding Musical Revival) (Astoria Performing Arts Center), A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Festival 56), work with TheaterWorksUSA, The York, Queens Theatre, The Fire This Time Festival among others.

Andrea Grody (Music Director) (she/her) Broadway: The Band’s Visit, Tootsie, Suffs (upcoming). Off-Broadway/Regional: Suffs, Public Works’ As You Like It and The Tempest (all Public Theater), The Band’s Visit (Atlantic Theater Company), Assassins (Yale Repertory Theatre), Robin Hood and Unknown Soldier (Williamstown Theatre Festival). As writer/composer: Strange Faces. Creator of WordWaves ( B.A. Princeton University, M.A. Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.


Book, Music & Lyrics by Christopher Anselmo & Jared Corak
                  Director: Leora Morris
                  Music Director: Patrick Sulken
                  Directing Observer: Cooper Ellis

When her grandfather’s memory begins to fade, 12-year-old Andi must brave a looming hurricane and embark on a perilous odyssey through the oddities of Florida in search of the one thing that might save him: the Fountain of Youth. A raucous folk-rock celebration of the healing power of family folklore, Fountain looks at love and loss through the eyes of a child—and encourages us all to find the wonder in the weird.

Leora Morris (Director) (she/her) is a Canadian director whose work celebrates and foregrounds teens, children and babies. Recent credits: A Christmas Carol, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed, Ride the Cyclone, Crossing Delancey, Dancing Granny (Alliance Theatre); The Sound Inside, Knives in Hens, Orphans (Coal Mine Theatre). MFA Yale School of Drama.

Patrick Sulken (Music Director) (he/him) Currently: Associate Music Director of Little Shop of Horrors Off-Broadway. Broadway: Pretty Woman (MD), & Juliet, Beetlejuice, Mean Girls, Kinky Boots, Anastasia, Something Rotten!, Gigi. Off-Broadway: We Are the Tigers, Gigantic. Regional: Double Helix (Bay Street Theater), Fly (La Jolla Playhouse). National Tour: Peter and the Starcatcher.


Fountain of You
Book & Lyrics by Tasha Gordon-Solmon
Music by Faye Chiao
                  Director: Catie Davis
                  Music Director: Jesse Kissel
                  Directing Observer: Tyra Ann-Marie Wilson

When a thirty-something actress is suddenly aged out of the industry, she undergoes an unconventional spa procedure to get her old life back. But it sets her on a whole new path to achieve true power and equality…at a cost. Fountain Of You is an irreverently funny take on our preoccupation with youth, beauty and the patriarchal system underlying it all.

Catie Davis (Director) (she/her) is a NYC-based director who creates highly theatrical yet surprisingly human musical theater. Recent directing includes the world premieres of Indigo (Human Race Theatre Company) and The Magnificent Seven (Flint Rep). Broadway associate: BeetlejuiceMoulin RougeCompany. Current: Forget Me Not at Manhattan School of Music.   

Jesse Kissel (Music Director) (he/him) Broadway: ChicagoThe Visit, The Cher Show, Leap of Faith, Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, Cirque Du Soleil’s: Paramour, Bright Star, Ragtime (Avery Fisher Hall 15th Anniversary Concert). National/International Tour: Chicago. Regional: Kid Victory (Signature Theatre, DC), The Visit (Williamstown Theatre Festival), The Scottsboro Boys (Center Theatre Group, LA), Titanic, Cats (The MUNY). BFA Boston Conservatory, MM University of Cincinnati College – Conservatory of Music in Orchestral Conducting.


Music & Lyrics by Anna Gilbert and Gaby Moreno
Book by Evynne Hollens and Rebecca Tourino Collinsworth 
                  Director: Rebecca Aparicio
                  Music Director: Kurt Crowley
                  Directing Observer: Tah-Janay Shayoñe

Inspired by a true story, Mija is a new bilingual musical about survival, identity and the complexity of family, following characters between continents, decades and across generations. When Luisa leaves behind her sheltered life in the U.S. for Guatemala, she’s blindsided by a life-threatening pregnancy. In Oregon, Gabriela aches for grown-up life to start, but first she seeks to uncover secrets the adults around her deny.

Rebecca Aparicio (Director) (she/her) is a Cuban-American bilingual director and writer based in NYC. As a director, she’s developed work with The Kennedy Center, American Repertory Theatre, Roundabout Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Gala Hispanic Theater, O’Neill Theater Center and more. She is a CRNY artist-in-residence of Latinx Playwrights Circle and board member of The Flea Theater and Rhinebeck Writers Retreat.

Kurt Crowley (Music Director) (he/him) As MD and keyboard player, previous work in theatre includes Hamilton, Freestyle Love Supreme, Bring It On and In The Heights. Executive music producer of tick, tick…Boom! and vocal supervisor on In the Heights (Warner Bros) and The Color Purple (Warner Bros). Arranger for Vail Dance Festival, Kennedy Center Honors, Somewhere (Hartford), Carmen La Cubana and Co-arranger of Azul (NAMT Festival). 


Never Be King
Music by Charlie H. Ray & Sam Columbus
Book & Lyrics by Charlie H. Ray
                  Director: Abbey O’Brien
                  Music Director: Alyssa Kay Thompson
                  Directing Observer: Aidan Pauer

Henry of Navarre never dreamed of being the King of France—until everything around him started mysteriously falling into place. Never Be King is a baroque meets pop-punk musical that asks how far we would go to be a footnote in someone else’s story. After all, history’s just a he-said she-said.

Abbey O’Brien (Director) (she/her) is currently the Global Associate Director & Choreographer of Waitress, the musical. She also just wrapped up her time as the Associate Director on the hit musical Moulin Rouge and as the Associate Choreographer on the acclaimed Broadway show, Jagged Little Pill. Directing credits: The Rocky Horror Show, Meet Me in St. Louis, 13 the musical, A Quarantine Cabaret. Choreography credits: Extraordinary (Directed by Diane Paulus), “SUGARLAND” (music video), much more. She is also the Director of Theatre at Perry-Mansfield. 

Alyssa Kay Thompson (Music Director) (she/her) is a New York-based music director, pianist and conductor. She recently was the Associate Music Director of the Broadway revival of 1776 and previously conducted the national tour of Waitress. Other favorite credits include Jersey Boys and SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical.


The Oscar Micheaux Project (Working Title)
Music by Alphonso Horne
Lyrics by Jesse L. Kearney, Jr. & Peter Mills
Book by Jesse L. Kearney, Jr. & Cara Reichel
Additional Music by Peter Mills
                  Director: Kimille Howard
                  Directing Observer: Wanye’ Yoakum

From silent pictures to the talkies, groundbreaking cinematic pioneer Oscar Micheaux battles the racism of Hollywood to bring Black stories to the silver screen…facing down censorship boards, financial ruin and family betrayal. Micheaux’s legacy as America’s first major Black filmmaker comes to syncopated and soulful life in this jazz musical. 

Kimille Howard (Director) (she/her) is a director, deviser, writer, filmmaker and Artistic Director of the Lucille Lortel’s HSPF Program. Recent credits: The Passion of Mary Cardwell Dawson, The Italian Girl, The Adventures of Honey and Leon, American Apollo, B.R.O.K.E.N Code B.I.R.D Switching, Quamino’s Map and more.


Wonder Boy
Book, Music & Lyrics by Jaime Jarrett
                  Director: Bo Frazier
                  Music Director: Anessa Marie
                  Directing Observer: Joyah Love Spangler

Jackson is recovering from a break-up, growing apart from his twin sister, and attempting to find a new normal in his identity as a transgender man. When he ingests an experimental drug and transforms into a superhero, he learns that protecting others is more complicated than he thought.

Bo Frazier (Director) (they/them) is a Baltimore-based theatre maker. Most recently they directed the all-TGNC tick, tick…BOOM! (BoHo Theatre), Botticelli in the Fire (First Floor Theater; Jeff Award Nom-Best Director). Bo has developed new work with Goodman Theatre, National Theatre London, London Theatre Workshop, Dixon Place and Iowa Playwrights Workshop.

Anessa Marie (Music Director) (she/her) is a music director, conductor, pianist, composer and orchestrator based in the NYC area. Broadway: Moulin Rouge, Chicago, Aladdin; Off-Broadway/Regional: White Girl in Danger (2ST), Far From Canterbury (World Premiere, Barnstormers), The Dark Lady (NMTC), Into the Woods (OOTB), A Beautiful Noise (Colonial), The Griswolds’ Broadway Vacation (The 5th Ave Theatre), Wonder Boy (The 5th Ave Theatre).


Yoko’s Husband’s Killer’s Japanese Wife, Gloria
Book by Brandy Hoang Collier
Lyrics by Clare Fuyuko Bierman
Music by Erika Ji
                  Director: Jess McLeod
                  Music Director: Lily Ling
                  Directing Observer: Nikki Mirza

Did Yoko Ono really break up The Beatles? Was Gloria Abe Chapman somehow responsible for John Lennon’s murder? Why do all these egotistical white guys marry Asian women? That’s weird, right? These questions keep Ruby Okamoto up at night. She’s getting answers—even if she has to summon all of Asian America into her insomniatic fever dream.

Jess McLeod (Director) (she/her) is a New York-based director and social justice advocate specializing in risky new work about America. Woolly Mammoth BOLD Resident Director; Roundabout Refocus Project Curator; NYCLU Artist-In-Residence. Resident Director, Hamilton Chicago. Co-Chair (with Michael Korie), DGF Musical Theatre Fellows. 2nd Gen Korean/Filipina/Scottish American. 

Lily Ling (Music Director) (she/her) is a Chinese Canadian music director, conductor and educator. Broadway: How to Dance in Ohio (upcoming), Moulin Rouge, Hamilton. National Tours: Hamilton (Philip, And Peggy). Off-Broadway: john & jen (20th anniversary revival). International: The Lion King (Shanghai – Chinese language premiere).


The National Alliance for Musical Theatre, founded in 1985, is a not-for-profit organization serving the musical theatre community. Its mission is to be a catalyst for nurturing musical theatre development, production, innovation and collaboration. Their 220+ organizational members and 60 individual members, located throughout 33 states and eight countries 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 284 musicals launched by NAMT’s Annual Festival of New Musicals are Lizard Boy, Interstate, Lempicka, Darling Grenadine, Gun & Powder, Benny & Joon, Come From Away, The Drowsy Chaperone, HONK!, It Shoulda Been You, Ordinary Days, Striking 12 and Thoroughly Modern Millie, among many others, representing 525 writers.


The FESTIVAL OF NEW MUSICALS is the cornerstone of NAMT’s mission to advance the musical theatre field. Each year, the Festival presents eight shows before an audience of over 700 industry professionals, highlighting quality new works with a wide range of subjects and forms. With an explicit commitment to nurturing composers, lyricists and book writers of all identities and backgrounds, the Festival seeks to expand the musical theatre repertoire and advance the musical theatre art form.


The 35th ANNUAL FESTIVAL OF NEW MUSICALS is overseen by NAMT New Works Director Frankie Dailey and Festival General Manager Joey Monda. The Festival Team includes Festival Associate Producer Skye Cone Ivey and Associate General Manager Greg Kamp, as well as Festival Casting Director Michael Cassara, CSA.


The 2023 Festival Committee is co-chaired by Brannon Bowers of American Music Theatre Project (IL) and Sharon Fallon of Sharon Fallon Productions, Inc. (NY), with Chair Emerita Marguerite Hannah of Horizon Theatre (GA). Committee members include: Elissa Adams, Theater Latté Da (MN); Chris Alleman, Theatre SilCo (CO); Jen Bender, Paper Mill Playhouse (NJ); Dev Bondarin, Prospect Theater Company (NY); Anika Chapin, Signature Theatre (VA); Rick Edinger, Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama (PA); Ryan Morales Green, Latiné Musical Theatre Lab (NY); Michel Hausmann, Miami New Drama (FL); Branden Huldeen, Barrington Stage Company (MA); Jonathan McCrory, National Black Theatre (NY); Claudia de Vasco, Producer/Director/Arts Manager (TX); Brad Willcuts, Michigan State University (MI); Neen Williams-Teramachi, The 5th Avenue Theatre (WA); Chris Youstra, Olney Theatre Center (MD); and Robi Hager, (Alumni Writer Representative, writer of Little Duende (Fest ’21)).


NAMT thanks the following foundations, government agencies and organizations for their ongoing support of our programs:  The Alhadeff Family Charitable Fund, The Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York Access Micro-Grant/New York Creative Spaces Grant, ASCAP Foundation Irving Caesar Fund, BMI Foundation, The Capdevilla/Gillespie Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, The Hollywood Pantages, Lucille Lortel Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, The Rodgers and Hammerstein Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Ted Snowdon Foundation, and Anonymous donors.

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