Blog

NAMT News

Festival Show Update: String

This month, we caught up with Adam Gwon and Sarah Hammond, the writers of 2014 Festival show String to chat about the work they’ve done on the show in the past few years, and to learn more about the show’s upcoming world premiere with NAMT member Village Theatre. Gwon is also a Festival alum for his 2011 show Bernice Bobs Her Hair and his 2008 show Ordinary Days.
String has had quite the journey since it appeared in the 2014 Festival! What was the response to String like after the Festival?
For the first couple days after the Festival, people would stop us in the street to tell us how much they liked the show. That was a thrill. It was the first time we really showed it off in New York to a big swath of industry folks so it was encouraging to see it get the laughs, and then learn how much it hooked people. In typical NAMT fashion, it also led to other professional opportunities for us—we were invited to places like McCarter Theatre and Feinstein’s/54 Below, and, of course, the Village Theatre in Seattle, which is how we wound up answering your questions while in tech for our world premiere!

Read More

Blog

NAMT News

New Work in Progress: Penn State Musical Theatre

This month, we chatted with John Simpkins, the Director of NAMT member Penn State Musical Theatre in University Park, PA about the school’s new commissioning program. The school just presented its first full production of a show developed through the program, and will be holding a concert reading of their most recent commissioned show next month.
Penn State Musical Theatre started a commissioning program for new musicals a few years ago. Can you tell us a little about Penn State’s history with new work and what inspired this program?
Penn State Musical Theatre has always been open to new work—and has done readings and workshops along the way inspired mostly by professional relationships and a desire to meaningfully connect the students to writers and process wherever possible. When I got to Penn State in 2015, one of the things I began was our New Musicals Initiative, whose key component is the commissioning program. The inspiration for this unique commissioning idea was driven by finding the intersection of multiple objectives. For the writer, we hope to give each team a safe and creative place to think write, collaborate, and experiment with talented young artists who hunger for opportunity and will apply the fullness of their artistic souls to everything they do. For the training process, there is no better way to teach character development and the ability to engage with new works than to have a new musical forming around and with the students every year. And for the collaborative engine of 21st century musical theatre, we are very proud to commission shows to add to the repertoire and even continue on as co-producers in the professional journey of some of the projects.

Read More

Next, we chatted with Mark Hoebee, the Producing Artistic Director  at NAMT member Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ about the theatre’s upcoming world premiere of The Sting, by Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone, Fest ’04), Mark Hollmann (The Girl, The Grouch, and The Goat; Fest ’91) and Greg Kotis. The musical is based on the 1973 film of the same name.

New musicals are the key focus of Paper Mill Playhouse’s mission; tell us a little more about that mission, and what makes Paper Mill such a special place to develop new work.

A key part of our mission is to foster a creative environment for advancing the art form. We strive to be as supportive and collaborative as possible during the arduous process of premiering a new work. That means committing all of the resources of our organization including a skilled and dedicated staff, a state-of-the-art facility, and the best stage crew in the business. It’s also an advantage to be so close to New York City, which enables the artists involved in our productions to maintain a “home base.”  Our mission also stresses developing future theater lovers, and what better way to do that than to present new work.  Our audience becomes part of that birthing processthey get to see it first!

Read More

Blog

NAMT News

Festival Show Update: Sam's Room

This month, we caught up with the Sam’s Room writing team to find out what work the group has been doing on the show since October and to find out more about their reading at NAMT member Red Mountain Theatre Company’s inaugural Human Rights New Works Festival. Sam’s Room was featured in the 2017 Festival and the writing team is made up of Dale Sampson, Trey Coates-Mitchell, Caitlin Marie Bell and Marc Campbell. 

What has the post Festival response to Sam’s Room been like?
The response has been extremely positive and broadly helpful and we were confident in the presentation. What we weren’t expecting were so many opportunities from different angles. The Sam’s Room story and the way we tell it happens to involve eclectic communities outside of the theatre, such as the pop music industry, the National Speech and Debate Association, and the special needs community. NAMT not only catapulted us into the business side of the project, but gave us wonderful introductions into these other worlds as well.

Read More

Members in the News

NAMT in the News

NEA Awards Grants to NAMT and Our Members

The National Endowment for the Arts has recently announced that it will award over $25 million in grants to fund artistic projects and research, with just over $3 million going to companies working in the field of Theater & Musical Theatre. Many NAMT members have been selected to receive grants in this cycle, including $60,000 to NAMT itself, in support of our Festival of New Musicals and Fall Conference. Congratulations to those members receiving grants in this round of NEA funding, including:
Ars Nova
Atlantic Theater Company
Dallas Theater Center
Diversionary Theatre
Goodspeed Musicals
Horizon Theatre Company
The Lark
Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma
MCC Theater
NAMT
The Old Globe
Playwrights Horizons
Prospect Theater Company
The Public Theater
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley
Village Theatre
ZACH Theatre
Congratulations to all, and thank you to the NEA for supporting arts organizations throughout the country! For a full list of the recipients, visit the NEA’s website. 

Read More

Over the summer, NAMT member New Musicals Inc. conducted a series of interviews with producers and writers of new musical theatre. The interviews were originally streamed live during the 2017 Stages Musical Theatre Festival, and are now being released on NMI’s online musical theatre writers resource center. NAMT’s executive director Betsy King Militello was featured as part of the broadcast, and her video interview is now available! Check out the interview to learn more about NAMT, our new works programs and more. Visit NMI’s website to see other videos from the series.

Read More

Blog

NAMT News

New Work in Progress: Queensbury Theatre & Unlock'd

Next, we checked in with Marley Singletary, the Producing Executive Director at new NAMT member Queensbury Theatre in Houston, TX about their new works program. We also chatted about Queensbury’s upcoming regional premiere of Unlock’d, by Derek Gregor and Sam Carner.

What is Queensbury Theatre’s mission, and how does new works development fit into that mission?

Queensbury Theatre exists to serve the diverse community and culture of West Houston by providing exceptional theatrical entertainment and education while creating an environment where Houston artists and teachers can do meaningful work.

Read More

Blog

NAMT News

Festival Show Update: Darling Grenadine

This month, we chatted with Daniel Zaitchik, the writer of 2017 Festival Show Darling Grenadine to find out what work he’s been doing on the show since October and where the show’s going next. Darling Grenadine previously received a Production Grant from the National Fund for New Musicals for Goodspeed Musicals’ 2017 production.

Read More

Blog

NAMT News

New Work in Progress: Pittsburgh CLO & Up and Away

This month, we chatted with Mark Fleischer and Van Kaplan, respectively the Producing Director and Executive Producer at Pittsburgh CLO, about their new works program. We learned more about the program’s history, their upcoming festival of new works, and their spring world premiere musical, Up and Away, written by Kevin Hammonds and Kristin Bair. The PCLO new works festival will have its inaugural season this spring in conjunction with the NAMT Spring Conference.

Read More

Festival Alumni in the News

Festival Shows in the News

Members in the News

NAMT News

Time Magazine: The Top 10 Plays and Musicals of 2017

This week, Time Magazine released their list of the Top 10 Plays and Musicals of 2017, and two musicals in the NAMT family made the list! Come From Away (NAMT Festival ’13) by Irene Sankoff and David Hein and The Band’s Visit (NFNM Cycle 8 Production Grant recipient) by David Yazbeck and Itamar Moses respectively claimed the fourth and second spots on the list.
Both shows have been supported by NAMT members throughout their development processes. After its 2013 Festival presentation, Come From Away was first produced at La Jolla Playhouse with Junkyard Dog Productions, both NAMT members. The Broadway production claims seven NAMT members as producers, including Junkyard Dog Productions, Michael Rubinoff with Sheridan College, Nancy Nagel Gibbs, Spencer Ross, Yonge Street Theatricals, Wendy Gillespie & La Jolla Playhouse. The Band’s Visit received a Production Grant from the National Fund for New Musicals for its Off Broadway production at NAMT member Atlantic Theater Company, and bookwriter Itamar Moses is a NAMT Festival alumnus for his 2012 Festival show Nobody Loves You. Additionally, two plays produced by NAMT member The Public Theater were included in the list, including their production of Sweat which was named the number one play of the year.

The stupefying boredom of forgotten hamlet in the Israeli desert, where the residents are jolted out of their trance-like existence by a visiting band of Egyptian musicians. The inhabitants of a remote rocky island off the coast of Canada warmly embrace the passengers of 38 jets stranded there in the wake of 9/11… In this most polarized of years, a number of the best productions celebrate man’s shared humanity and the possibility of even the most entrenched enemies finding common ground and a path forward.

Visit the Time Magazine website to see the full list.

Read More

Blog

NAMT News

New Work in Progress: The Woman in Question at AMTP

This month, we chatted with Brannon Bowers (Producing Director) and David H. Bell (Artistic Director) at the American Music Theatre Project (AMTP) at Northwestern University about their program as a whole, and the next musical they will present, The Woman in Question, written by Peter Eldridge and Festival Alumna Cheryl Coons (Fest ’94, Phantom of the Country Opera; Fest ’05, River’s End). Later, we check in with Cheryl to learn more about the process from her perspective.

Read More

Blog

NAMT News

Festival Show Update: 5 Things You Should Know

Do you want to know more about the shows in the 29th Annual Festival of New Musicals? See the Five Things each show’s writing team wants you to know before you come to the Festival!

Read More

Blog

NAMT News

New Work in Progress: KPOP

Ars Nova‘s upcoming production of KPOP, written by Jason Kim, Helen Park and Max Vernon and produced in association with Ma-Yi Theater Company and Woodshed Collective, is not to be missed. We reached out to Jason Eagan, Ars Nova’s Artistic Director, to learn more about the show and what audience members can expect when they experience the show for themselves. KPOP previously received a NFNM Writers Residency Grant at Ars Nova.
How did KPOP first find its way to Ars Nova?

KPOP began more than four years ago! Woodshed Collective’s Artistic Director (and KPOP‘s director) Teddy Bergman invited me to lunch to share his fascination with the burgeoning Korean Pop music industry and shared the seeds of an idea to create a massive immersive show based on the phenomenon. I was immediately taken with the idea and eventually commissioned Woodshed, along with bookwriter Jason Kim and Helen Park and Max Vernon to write music and lyrics. Since then an incredible array of wildly talented collaborators have assembled around this project and we’ve become collectively obsessed with translating the behind-the-scenes craft of K-Pop into an immersive theatrical experience.

Read More

Blog

NAMT News

Festival Show Update: The Mad Ones

This month we caught up with Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk, the writers of 2016 Festival show The Mad Ones (formerly known as The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown). This November The Mad Ones will receive an off-Broadway run with new NAMT member The Prospect Theater Company, preceded by a concert with NAMT member Philadelphia Theatre Company. We talked with Kait and Brian about what’s been happening with the show since the Festival and how they’re preparing for this next exciting step.

What was the post Festival response to The Mad Ones like?
We had a powerful response to the piece. It’s a show that people in the industry have heard songs from for a long time so I think there was a lot of interest in seeing what the show was about. It was exciting for us to have the songs seen in context and have the piece feel like more than the sum of its parts. We were able to make connections with lots of theaters that might be interested in doing the show down the line as well as develop a few new relationships with champions of the piece.

Read More

Last week, Variety took a look at Apples and Oranges Arts‘ new works program, THEatre ACCELERATOR to dig into the unique way that this NAMT member is looking at new musical development. The Accelerator uses Silicon Valley entrepreneurial techniques to speed up the new musical development process. Variety spoke with Tim Kashani, Apples and Oranges’ co-founder, to get some further insight into the program’s creation and its goals.

Read More

Blog

NAMT News

New Work in Progress: Goddess

Every year Theater Latté Da’s NEXT Festival introduces their audiences to new musicals. We reached out to Peter Rothstein, Theater Latté Da’s artistic director, to learn more about a show featured in this year’s Festival, Goddess, written by Saheem Ali, Jocelyn Bioh, Mkhululi Z. Mabija and Michael Thurber. The show was recently selected to receive a Writers Residency Grant from NAMT’s NFNM.


Can you tell us a little about the history of Theater Latté Da’s NEXT Festival and what your goals are for the program? How does the program tie into Latté Da’s mission?

NEXT is Theater Latté Da’s new work festival showcasing three works that stretch the boundaries of musical storytelling. It officially began in the spring of 2013. Each show receives two or three public readings with time for the writers to implement changes between each presentation. Following each performance is an in-depth conversation between the audience, playwrights, composers, lyricists and directors, facilitated by a dramaturg.
Latté Da’s mission is to create new connections between story, music, artist, and audience by exploring and expanding the art of musical theater. As our world changes, so does our need to produce work that reflects that evolution. NEXT is a significant part of Latté Da’s investment in the bold future for American Musical Theater.

Read More

Blog

NAMT News

Festival Show Update: Benny & Joon

This month we caught up with the team from 2016 Festival show Benny & Joon: lyricist Mindi Dickstein, composer Nolan Gasser and librettist Kirsten Guenther. This September Benny & Joon will have its world premiere at NAMT member The Old Globe. We talked with the team about what’s been happening with the show since the Festival and how they’re preparing for this next exciting step.

What was the post Festival response to Benny & Joon like? 
The post Festival response to Benny & Joon was wonderful. We could not have been happier or more grateful for the exposure our participation in NAMT’s 28th Festival gave us. There was interest from theaters around the country, which was beyond our wildest expectations. Eric Keen-Louie, Associate Producer at The Old Globe, saw our presentation and loved it, which was a key factor in their offer of a full production to open their 2017-2018 season. We have spent the last few months furiously rewriting in preparation for this very exciting opportunity.

Read More

This month we caught up with Brett Ryback, the writer of Joe Schmoe Saves the World, which was featured in our 2016 Festival. This summer Brett will be workshopping Joe Schmoe… at Indiana University Bloomington. We reached out to find out where the show is now, and what he hopes is next for the show.

What did you discover about the show after presenting it last October, and what work have you done on the piece since then?
What an innocent time it was back in October! I knew the show dealt with important issues, but truth be told there was a part of me—the part that thought Hillary Clinton would be our president—that thought a show about women pushing back against being silenced, and the urgent need for artists to speak out in a political world might feel unnecessary. And then November happened. So the largest discovery has been how timely this piece turned out to be.
From a more technical standpoint, the work I’ve done since then has been to further condense the script. I’ve continued to find places where fat can be trimmed, additional parallels can be made between the two story lines, and scenes can be condensed in order to heighten the dramatic drive of the show.

Read More

Blog

NAMT News

New Work in Progress: Trails

At the end of the summer, Broadway Rose Theatre Company is opening Trails, written by Christy Hall, Jeff Thomson and Jordan Mann. We chatted with Dan Murphy, the Managing Director at Broadway Rose, to learn more about the theatre’s history producing new works and how this show is expanding upon that history.
After a dozen years of silence, an unexpected meeting between childhood friends Mike and Seth leads the pair to fulfill a promise made in their youth: to hike the Appalachian Trail together. As they traverse the 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine, powerful memories surface, leading the men to confront their past, themselves, and the haunting secret that kept them apart for so long.
What is Broadway Rose Theatre Company’s history of producing new works and how does this production of Trails fit into your theatre’s mission?
From our very first season 26 years ago we have been producing new work. Sharon Maroney, artistic director, wrote an original musical based on a children’s book entitled The 3 Little Pigs & Freud, the telling of the story of the three pigs as told from the wolf’s perspective to his therapist. Over the years we have produced original children’s musicals as well as several jukebox musicals now licensed through Select Entertainment. Some NAMT Festival selections include I Love You Because, Band Geeks!Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Drowsy Chaperone, and in 2011 we produced the world premiere of Ripper with book, music, and lyrics by Duane Nelsen (Festival 2009).

Read More

American Theatre has a great report on NAMT member La Jolla Playhouse’s new audience engagement program, initiated in 2015 with a Building Audiences for Sustainability grant from the Wallace Foundation. Since receiving the grant, the Playhouse has used their resources to create and sustain programs that will allow them “to build an audience that is more reflective of San Diego.” Through interviews with staff and board members, increased patron participation and commissioning new works, the Playhouse has been hard at work on making this immersive community engagement effort one that will have a direct and lasting impact on the theatre’s work.

Read More

Last month, Lake Dillon Theatre Company opened both their summer season and a brand new performing arts center. Covered by both the Summit Daily and The Know, the new performance space is the result of a partnership between LDTC and the town of Silverthorne, CO. The partnership began in 2013 when the town realized that the theatre’s need to expand meshed perfectly with the town council’s goal of developing a thriving downtown. Now, the $9 million Silverthorne Performing Arts Center is up and running, featuring three new performance spaces.

Read More

We are thrilled to announce the line-up of new musicals for the 29th Annual Festival of New Musicals, which takes place on Thursday, October 19 and Friday, October 20, 2017 in New York.
Now in its 29th 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.

Read More

The Portland Press Herald recently wrote a feature about two Maine-based NAMT members, Ogunquit Playhouse and Maine State Music Theatre. The article highlights the extraordinary changes that both Ogunquit and MSMT have made in recently, through expanding their seasons, programming new work, bringing in big-name talent and much more. In response to audience demand, both theatres have focused on creating Broadway-level productions, a focus that has paid off both in ticket sales and in reputation.

Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold of Brunswick, who writes and edits for the online theater website Broadway World, said both theaters have transitioned into the 21st century with their sophistication and technological savvy while retaining some of their mid-20th century appeal. New York has noticed, and that recognition is reflected in both the quality of the creative talent working in Maine as well as the number of premieres both theaters take on.

To read the whole article and learn more about the work Ogunquit and MSMT are doing, visit the Portland Press Herald‘s website.

Read More

Blog

NAMT News

New Work in Progress: Deathless

Goodspeed Musicals is in rehearsal for their upcoming world premiere of Deathless, written by Zack Zadek. We chatted with Donna Lynn Hilton, the Line Producer at Goodspeed, to learn more about the musical’s history, current production and hopes for the future.
The Serling family is taking its annual road trip to Niagara Falls, but this time they’re saying goodbye to Mom. Along the way, memories of past trips, old wounds and family secrets are navigated in a not-too-distant future where no one dies of disease. For daughter Hayley, the journey means facing the big questions of life and death.
How did Goodspeed’s relationship with Zack Zadek first begin, and what about Deathless inspired you to produce the show? 
We first became of aware of Zack and his work in the fall of 2015 when Zack was nominated to participate in the 2016 Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed.  The Mercer Colony, created at Goodspeed five years ago with support from the Johnny Mercer Foundation nurtures the work of writers, composers and lyricists of all backgrounds and in all stages of their careers, by providing a safe haven for creative work and collaboration.  Zack applied and was quickly invited to attend the Colony in February of 2016 with his project Deathless.  Each day during their colony residence, writers are given the opportunity to gather for a communal breakfast and again each evening, to share their work and to exchange thoughts and ideas.  Otherwise, they are free to spend each day in the manner that best suits their individual projects and writing styles.  Along the way, we strive to provide each project with individual support that best suits their needs.  On the final day of his residency, Zack requested that several other writers join him in a very casual read through of his completed script of Deathless.  At the last minute, I was invited to sit in on the reading.  My presence that day wasn’t a given. The Colony is very much by, and for, the writers participating and if Zack didn’t want to expose his work, we wouldn’t ask him to.  But in this case, Zack was comfortable and invited me to stop by.  So on a snowy Saturday morning in February, I wrapped up and trundled into town…and I am very glad that I did so.  The reading—while completely cold, with five other writers reading scene and Zack performing the songs—was transformative.  I left that reading and called Michael Gennaro…”You gotta read this piece.”  He did and had a similar reaction to my own…we were off.  

Read More