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Announcing the 32nd Annual Festival of New Musicals

We are thrilled to announce the line-up of new musicals for our 32nd Annual Festival of New Musicals, on Thursday, November 19 and Friday, November 20, 2020. Due to the pandemic, the Festival will be reimagined and shared online through Broadway On Demand. The NAMT Fall events will kick off on Tuesday, November 17, with the Fall Conference, followed by the Festival of New Musicals on November 19 & 20.
Registration for industry members is free and will open soon at www.namt.org/festival. The public can also receive passes to the Festival through a donation to NAMT, which will be available at a later date through Broadway on Demand.
Now in its 32nd year, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre’s Festival of New Musicals attracts theatre producers from around the world to discover eight new musicals over two days. Production costs are underwritten by NAMT. As a non-profit organization, NAMT funds the Festival entirely through donations and sponsorships.
The Festival has introduced musical theatre producers to 268 musicals and 512 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, Interstate, It Shoulda Been You, Lempicka, Ordinary Days, Striking 12 and Thoroughly Modern Millie, among many others.
This year, a committee of 20 theatre professionals selected eight new musicals out of a record-breaking 349 submissions. The musicals they chose for the 32nd Annual Festival are:

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We are thrilled to announce 12 awards granted from the Frank Young Fund for New Musicals. The Frank Young Fund for New Musicals (FYFNM) is a major funding program to support NAMT member not-for-profit theatres in their collaborations with writers to create, develop and produce new musicals. Now in its 12th year, this year the Fund is providing grants totaling $72,000 to organizations across the country.
NAMT Executive Director Betsy King Militello stated: “Every year we are excited to support our member theatres as they work to develop innovative and provocative new musicals.  While the development paths may look different at this moment in American Theater, we continue to be incredibly honored to provide grants to member organizations for their support of extraordinary writers telling important stories. With these grants, we have now awarded 165 grants totaling $614,500 to NAMT members across the country through the Frank Young Fund for New Musicals. These projects will join a growing list of significant new musicals supported by this program.”
Frank Young Fund grants of $5,000 to $10,000 to support full productions have been awarded to:
Atlantic Theater Company (New York NY) for a production to be announced, with funding from The Hollywood Pantages, a Nederlander Organization.
East West Players (Los Angeles, CA) for Interstate by Melissa Li and Kit Yan, with funding from the Alhadeff Family Charitable Foundation. Interstate was featured in NAMT’s 2019 Festival of New Musicals.
Olney Theatre Center (Olney, MD) for A.D. 16 by Bekah Brunstetter and Cinco Paul, with funding from The Hollywood Pantages, a Nederlander Organization. A.D. 16 was featured in NAMT’s 2018 Festival of New Musicals.
Seattle Rep (Seattle, WA) for XY by Oliver Houser, with funding from The Hollywood Pantages, a Nederlander Organization. XY was featured in NAMT’s 2018 Festival of New Musicals.
Frank Young Fund grants of $2,000 to $5,000 to support a workshop or reading have been awarded to:
Ars Nova (New York, NY) for The Last Medicine Show by Sammy Miller & Kevin Armento.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater (Chicago, IL) for It Came from Outer Space by Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair, with funding from the ASCAP Foundation Irving Caesar Fund.
Music Theatre of Madison (Madison, WI) for Ten Days in A Madhouse by Karen Saari and Jennifer Hedstrom.
Playwrights Horizons (New York, NY) for Miss Step by Kit Yan and Melissa Li with funding from the ASCAP Foundation Irving Caesar Fund. Yan and Li and Festival alumni for Interstate (Fest ’19).
Prospect Theater Company, Inc. (New York, NY) for Peter and the Wave by Timothy Huang. Huang is a Festival alum for American Morning (fka Costs of Living, Fest ’15)
Theatre Now New York, Inc. (New York, NY) for Golem Owned A Tropical Smoothie by Ethan Crystal and Garrett Poladian.
Village Theatre (Issaquah, WA) for The Homefront by Jenny Stafford and Sam Salmond.
The recipients were selected by a distinguished panel, moderated by Gigi Bolt, the former Director of Theater and Musical Theater at the National Endowment for the Arts. The panelists were Kwofe Coleman, Managing Director of The MUNY; Emma Fassler, New Works Consultant for McCoy Rigby Entertainment; Michel Hausmann, Artistic Director of Miami New Drama; Ricardo Khan, director, writer and Co-Founder/Artistic Director Emeritus Crossroads Theatre Company; Mitchell Marcus, Artistic & Managing Director of The Musical Stage Company; Julia Meinwald, composer and NAMT Festival Alumna; and Michelle Yaroshko, Vice President, Professional Licensing of Concord Theatricals.
Additionally, the Frank Young Fund for New Musicals has awarded each of the following member organizations $500 to $2,000 for Writers Residency Grants over the past year:
11th Hour Theatre (Philadelphia, PA) for Bordello by Barbara Bellman & Emilliano Messiez.
Atlantic Theater Company (New York, NY) for Dream Empire by Tom Donaghy & Emily Gardner Xu Hall.
Goodspeed Musicals (East Haddam, CT) for an untitled piece by Grace McLean.
New York Theatre Barn (New York, NY) for The Helena Project by Debra Barsha & Sheilah Rae.
Olney Theatre Center (Olney, MD) for OKUNI by Naomi Iizuka & Paul Hodge.
Philadelphia Theatre Company (Philadelphia, PA) for Dear Shirley by Kristen Bair & Kevin Hammonds.
The Public Theater (New York, NY) for The Storyteller by K’naan Warsame.
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley (Palo Alto, CA) for Untitled Asian-American Senior Sex Scandal Murder Mystery Musical by Min Kahng.
Transport Group Theatre Company (New York, NY) for SPLIT by Michele Lowe & Zoe Sarnak.
Village Theatre (Issaquah, WA) for XY by Oliver Houser. XY was featured in the 2018 Festival of New Musicals.
The Frank Young Fund for New Musicals has supported the development of many musicals over the last 12 years, including A Strange Loop by Michael R. Jackson at Playwrights Horizons; Soft Power by David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori at both Center Theatre Group and The Public Theater; Renascence by Dick Scanlan and Carmel Dean at Transport Theatre Group; The Band’s Visit by David Yazbek and Itamar Moses at Atlantic Theater Company; When We’re Gone (fka Mortality Play, NAMT Fest ’16) by Alana Jacoby and Scotty Arnold at Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma; Bella: An American Tall Tale by Kirsten Childs at Playwrights Horizons and Dallas Theater Center; Ordinary Days (NAMT Fest ’08) by Adam Gwon at Adirondack Theatre Festival; Far From Heaven by Michael Korie, Scott Frankel and Richard Greenberg at Playwrights Horizons; The Circus in Winter (NAMT Fest ’12) by Ben Clark, Hunter Foster and Beth Turcotte at Goodspeed Musicals; and Southern Comfort (NAMT Fest ’12) at all three grant levels, at Playwrights Horizons, CAP21 and Barrington Stage Company; among many others.
The National Alliance for Musical Theatre, founded in 1985, is a national service organization dedicated exclusively to musical theatre. Our mission is to be a catalyst for nurturing musical theatre development, production, innovation and collaboration. Our 240 members, located throughout 32 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 over 250 musicals launched by NAMT’s annual Festival of New Musicals are Benny & Joon, The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin, Children of Eden, Come From Away, The Drowsy Chaperone, Gun & Powder, Honk!It Shoulda Been You, LempickaStriking 12, Ordinary Days, Thoroughly Modern Millie, We Live In Cairo and many others, representing almost 500 writers.
NAMT thanks the following foundations, government agencies and organizations for their ongoing support of our programs: The Alhadeff Family Charitable Foundation, The Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York Creative Spaces Grant, ASCAP Foundation Irving Caesar Fund, BMI Foundation, The Hargrove Pierce Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, The Hollywood Pantages, Lucille Lortel Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, Noël Coward Foundation, The Rodgers and Hammerstein Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Ted Snowdon Foundation, and Anonymous donors.

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New Work in Progress: Distant Thunder

Next, we chatted with Michael Baron, the Producing Artistic Director at NAMT member Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma. The company is about to open the world premiere of Distant Thunder by Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Shaun Taylor-Corbett and Chris Wiseman. Lyric Theatre has received a grant for this production from the Frank Young Fund for New Musicals.
Darrell Waters, a successful young attorney, returns to his childhood home in Montana to broker a deal that can benefit the impoverished Blackfeet Nation. He soon faces his reclusive father about their painful past and grapples with the paradigm of what it means to be Native American in the United States. Cultures collide and unite through music, dance, stories and faith as we witness the dawning of a Distant Thunder.

What is Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma’s history with new works, and how does this new production of Distant Thunder fit into your overall commitment to new works development?
Lyric began our New Works Initiative in 2014 with a production of Triangle (NAMT Fest ’12) by Tom Mizer and Curtis Moore. Our audiences still talk about that show and the excitement of having a new work given a full production here in Oklahoma. I felt it was important that Lyric not only produce new productions of musicals from the canon but that we contribute to it as well. The value of having composers in residence working on their material and having a full production outside of the critical eye of New York has been thrilling to the artists and our audiences alike. Subsequent new musical premiere highlights have included Adam Gwon and Julia Jordan’s Bernice Bobs Her Hair (NAMT Fest ’11), Doug Cohen and Dan Elish’s Mann…and Wife (now titled The Evolution of Mann), and Alana Jacoby and Scotty Arnold’s When We’re Gone (fka Mortality Play, NAMT Fest ’16). Since Oklahoma is home to 39 nations, Lyric is a perfect theatre to premiere Distant Thunder. Lyric will be able to nurture and develop the production in an arena of artistic safety and in a geographic area that embraces multiple tribes.

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Festival Show Update: Interstate

Last month, we checked in with Melissa Li and Kit Yan about their 2019 Festival show Interstate. The show is about to have its world premiere at Mixed Blood Theatre.
What has the post-Festival response to Interstate been like?
It’s been an abundant and joyous time post-NAMT Festival! We’ve been able to meet a lot of new friends and develop new relationships with theaters, producers and artists. We’re in the midst of figuring out our next steps, but there is a lot of support, enthusiasm and interest in the show!

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Festival Show Update: The Wicker Husband

This month we checked in with Rhys Jennings and Darren Clark about their 2018 Festival show The Wicker Husband. The show is about to have its world premiere at The Watermill Theatre.
What was the post-Festival response to The Wicker Husband like after the 2018 Festival?
The response to The Wicker Husband after the Festival in 2018 was overwhelming. The story of a young woman falling slowly in love with a man made of wood seemed to capture people’s hearts and imagination. We ended our NAMT Festival presentation with the burning of her husband (which serves as the end of act one in the full story) so people were keen to know what happened next!

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New Work in Progress: Underscore Theatre Company

Next, we chatted with Whitney Rhodes, the Artistic Director at NAMT member Underscore Theatre Company. In addition to an upcoming world premiere production of Notes & Letters by Annabelle Revak, the company is also producing the 6th Annual Chicago Musical Theatre Festival next month.
New musicals are the key focus of Underscore Theatre Company’s mission; tell us a little more about that mission, and what opportunities are offered to writers and composers through Underscore’s programs. 
Underscore is committed to the development of new musicals and supporting writers in their process of realizing their show from the very beginning stages to an early production. Our programming includes developmental readings and workshops; Writer’s Nights, in which writers gather to share new material and gain feedback from one another in a safe and communal environment; our Tiny Store Front Concert Series which offers themed concerts featuring new musical theater music as an opportunity for additional artist exposure; and of course our annual Chicago Musical Theatre Festival and two mainstage productions that bookend our seasons.

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Festival Show Update: Gun & Powder

Last month, we checked in with Angelica Chéri and Ross Baum about their 2018 Festival show Gun & Powder. The show is about to have its world premiere at Signature Theatre in Virginia
What did you discover about Gun & Powder after presenting it in the 2018 Festival, and what work have you done on the show since then?
Through our NAMT presentation we were able to hone in on the collective identity of our ensemble. Our initial approach had been to assemble a group of people who appeared to have some stake in the history of Mary & Martha Clarke, but they weren’t clearly defined. After the NAMT Festival, we chose to solidify our ensemble as a core group of ancestors, called the “Kinfolk,” ostensibly having a conversation around the family dinner table, letting the audience in on their intimate shared narrative. In January 2019 we spent two wonderful weeks at the Johnny Mercer Colony at Goodspeed, crafting these rewrites in preparation for our Signature production.
What have you been doing to prepare for the world premiere production, and what has your partnership with Signature looked like?

In addition to the Mercer Colony, we spent time working together in New York and Los Angeles—our two respective coasts—writing new songs, connecting ensemble moments with our new framework, fleshing out character arcs and incorporating other notes from our growing team of collaborators. Our partnership with Signature has been really exciting so far—they have been very supportive of our vision and helped us to assemble a dream cast and creative team. They’ve also included us in key conversations around marketing and context for the prominent messages of the show.
Tell us a little bit about the creative team that’s been put together for this world premiere, and what you are most looking forward to in the rehearsal process.
We have the brilliant Robert O’Hara (Slave Play, Bootycandy) as our director with choreography by Byron Easley (Slave Play), music direction by Darryl Ivey (Shuffle Along), set design by Jason Sherwood (Emmy winner for RENT: Live), costume design by Dede Ayite (Secret Life Of Bees, American Son), lighting design by Alex Jainchill (BLKS), and orchestrations by Tony-nominee John Clancy (Mean Girls, Fun Home) and Scott Wasserman (Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen).
 
We are most excited to see Gun & Powder come to life because we know it is going to be nothing like the versions we have envisioned in our heads for the past five years, especially with a creative team of such amazing artists. We are also thrilled to see what our fabulous cast is going to bring to the story because we will undoubtedly discover so much from this group of smart, talented actors. We are eager to see how the show will morph and grow in the bodies of living, breathing human beings.
What do you hope is next for the show, and how can NAMT members who are interested in its future development get involved now?

Our ultimate goal is to take the show to Broadway, and we have begun to assemble a powerful producing and general management team—some of whom we met directly through the NAMT Festival!—to help chart the journey. We would welcome the support of NAMT members who are interested in our show. Feel free to get in touch!
Why should people plan a visit to the DC area to check out the world premiere?
We were so delightfully overwhelmed by the outpouring of positive feedback from the NAMT community after our presentation and we would love the opportunity to share the full story with you all!
 
For more information about Gun & Powder, and to purchase tickets to the upcoming production, please visit the Signature Theatre website.

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New Work in Progress: Americano!

Next, we spoke with Michael Barnard, Producing Artistic Director, and Vincent VanVleet, Managing Director, at NAMT member The Phoenix Theatre Company about their upcoming new musical Americano!, written by Barnard, Jonathan Rosenberg and Carrie Rodriguez. The musical is set to open at the end of January.
Americano! is based on the real life story of DREAMer Tony Valdovinos. His parents move the family from Mexico to the U.S. looking for a safer and more prosperous future when Tony is only two—but they never share their undocumented status with him. He is shocked to be turned down by the Marines as an illegal immigrant when he tries to enlist on his 18th birthday. Americano! traces Tony’s search for identity as he struggles to fit into a world where the only home he has ever known is suddenly ripped away.
What is The Phoenix Theatre Company’s history with new works, and how does this production of 
Americano! fit into your overall commitment to new works development?
The Phoenix Theatre Company has a long history of new work development, as well as a growing Festival of New American Theatre—recent world premieres include Lucky Star, Unbeatable, Dream a Little Dream, Love Makes the World Go ‘Round, When You Wish, Cookin’s a Drag and Sisters in Law. Five years ago, we made a serious commitment to increasing the tempo of new work development, and we are thrilled to say we have not only met, but exceeded expectations. Americano! was created entirely within our new work development program, and will have its world premiere on our Mainstage on January 31, 2020, as part of our 100th anniversary season. It is a human story about a DREAMer and his family—a young man devoted to this country and seeking his place in America. It comes at a very relevant time.

Tell us a little bit about the genesis of this project and what inspired The Phoenix Theatre Company to develop the project through to full production.
The spark for Americano! was struck during a chance conversation at a wedding almost five years ago. Jason Rose, owner of a prominent Scottsdale public relations, public affairs and events firm, approached us (Producing Artistic Director Michael Barnard and Managing Director Vincent VanVleet) with his vision for the project. Michael co-authored the book with Jonathan Rosenberg, whose most recent musical, 33 1/3 – House of Dreams, broke box office records at the San Diego Repertory Theatre earlier this year. Recommendations led to an amazing partnership with critically acclaimed, award-winning Austin singer/songwriter Carrie Rodriguez. Sergio Mendoza is our arranger, a native of the Arizona border town of Nogales and the founder of indie rock band Calexico and Orkesta Mendoza. The project is a collaboration with Jason Rose and Quixote Productions, and Broadway producer Ken Davenport has signed on as Executive Producer.
Americano!
 is a story for these times and all times, designed to challenge preconceived notions and remind us that America’s strength has always been that we are a nation of immigrants. It is a magical alchemy of robust storytelling and driving Latin score—a hot new production with broad public appeal, humanizing the people at the heart of this hot-button controversy.
What makes The Phoenix Theatre Company the perfect place to produce this show now?
At a time of great divide within our country, Americano! could not be more relevant or align more perfectly with our mission to inspire hope and understanding. We have high hopes for this production—we could see it going to other regional theatres, possibly as a tour, and ultimately launching as a commercial production in New York.
New works programs like ours are crucial to achieving gender parity in the American theatre canon—something we are working consciously to achieve. Americano! showcases the talent of an amazing female composer and lyricist—Carrie Rodriguez. It’s incredibly important for us to reflect the complexity of the human experience and the vitality of our collective community if we want American theatre to attract new audiences. Carrie melds fiery fiddle playing, electrifying vocals and a fresh interpretation of new and classic songs with an “Ameri-Chicana” attitude. Her sound is a Texas-bred twist on Mexican Ranchera songs, creating music for a culturally blended world. She has been profiled in many publications, including Rolling Stone, The New York Times, The Times of London and The New Yorker.
Why should everyone book their flights to Arizona to catch this show?

The show is ripped right out of today’s headlines and Arizona sits at ground zero. This is a stellar cast and creative team, and we’ve birthed something truly new and remarkable that is a true expression of our shared experience. Get ready to be moved, because in the end we are all dreamers.
 
For more information about Americano!, and purchase tickets to the production, visit The Phoenix Theatre Company’s website.

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This month we caught up with Michael Kooman and Chris Dimond about their 2014 Festival show The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes. The show recently had its world premiere at Village Theatre, and released a cast album, which is now available for purchase. In addition to …Howard Barnes, the pair also penned the 2011 Festival show Dani Girl.
What was the post Festival response to The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes when you presented the show in 2014?
Oh, you know, people were rioting in the streets, starting political revolutions and such. It was like The Rite of Spring, if The Rite of Spring were an abbreviated, 45-minute musical.  🙂
Seriously though, we had a lot of fantastic responses to the Festival presentation. We learned a ton about the show by presenting it in that manner, and the experience generated a number of opportunities for both the show itself, and for our broader careers. In fact, one of the reasons we ended up getting hired to write the songs for VAMPIRINA is because two Disney executives saw that presentation.
…Howard Barnes had its world premiere at Village Theatre last year—how did the production go, and what was the most exciting part of getting to put the show on its feet?
The Village production was the culmination of the eight-year journey we’ve gone on with this show, and it was absolutely thrilling. It’s a show for a big cast and Village gave us all the resources we needed to make this show come to life. Plus, we had an absolutely fantastic team to collaborate with. It was a complete joy to be in the room from beginning to end.
It’s always thrilling to watch a show come to life on stage, but for us the most exciting part is how much the show itself grows through the process. We learned a ton during the production process, and the show improved immensely as a result. 
One of our favorite parts of the process are the challenging rewrites that have to happen as a show moves from the page to the stage. For instance, in tech we discovered that we had a 30-second scene change that needed to be covered right after the second song. We had a day to write something that felt necessary and fun and that didn’t just mark time. It ended up being one of our favorite moments of the show, and it all came out as a result of the process of being in production and learning what the show needs in order to be fully realized on stage. (It’s the last half of track two on the album, if you’d care to listen further…)

You have a cast album that dropped this Fall! Why did you make the decision to produce the album, and what did the production process look like?

At a certain point during rehearsals, we were like “Uhm…we need to preserve this. It’s too much fun.” So we did just that: the day after closing we went in the studio, while the energy was still fresh, and birthed this cast album. We were blown away by the talent and artistry of the actors and musicians from Seattle, and we’re happy to have captured for posterity them on this recording.
Why should everyone get their cast album now?
Because Lord knows we’re paying our rent with the .0067 cents per play we get on Spotify. 
But really, particularly for NAMT members and writers, this is the kind of show with an enormous number of theatre “easter eggs” in it. (True theatre nerds may want to look out for our favorite, a reference to a certain line from The Sound of Music about what Maria “caahn’t face”).
It’s a show that both celebrates and makes fun of theatre, in addition to being the journey of a man coming to terms with his vulnerability and finding the music and joy in his life. I think we can all use a little more of that these days… 
How can members interested in …Howard Barnes’ next steps get involved with the show now?
Anyone interested in the show can reach out to us directly at koomandimond@gmail.com.
You can purchase The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes’ soundtrack here, and for more information on the show, please visit Kooman and Dimond’s website.

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New Work in Progress: Scotland, PA

This month, we chatted with Festival Alum Adam Gwon (Fest ’08, Ordinary Days; Fest ’11, Bernice Bobs Her Hair; Fest ’14, String) and Jill Rafson, Director of New Play Development at NAMT member Roundabout Theatre Company, about the theatre’s upcoming world premiere production of Scotland, PA. The piece, written by Gwon and Michael Mitnick, is a Roundabout commission and will be opening next month. 
This deliciously dark new musical comedy, based on the cult film (and the bard’s Macbeth), springs to life in a sleepy Pennsylvania town (population 1,203—and dropping), where a burger-joint manager and his wife cook up a plan to super-size their lives. As their ambitions grow and the bodies fall, the couple finds out just how far they’ll go for a taste of the oh-so-tempting American dream.

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New Work in Progress: Hephaestus

Next, we spoke to Meghan Randolph, the Founder and Executive Director of Music Theatre of Madison, about their upcoming production of Hephaestus by Nathan Fosbinder. MTM will be producing the world premiere of the show this summer, which has received a Frank Young Fund for New Musicals Production Grant.
Hephaestus tells the story of the physically deformed, oft-forgotten Greek God of fire. Cast down to Earth by his mother, the jealous and powerful Hera, he reaches into his soul and identifies his strength as an artisan to win back his spot on Mount Olympus. Soaring contemporary music, beautiful costumes, and the Greek traditions of comedy and tragedy mesh together in this premiere that truly belongs to Madison.

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Festival Show Update: Fall Springs

This month, we chatted with Peter Sinn Nachtrieb and Niko Tsakalakos, the writers of 2017 Festival show Fall Springs. This summer, the show will receive its world premiere at NAMT member Barrington Stage Company, which received a production grant from our Frank Young Fund for New Musicals.
The town of Fall Springs is cash-strapped but sits directly on top of America’s largest reserve of cosmetic essential oils. The town has big dreams but at what cost? With new fracking techniques being recklessly implemented, the ground beneath Fall Springs is crumbling.

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New Work in Progress: Because of Winn Dixie

Next, we spoke to Donna Lynn Hilton, Producer, and Anika Chapin, Artistic Associate, at Goodspeed Musicals, about their upcoming production of Because of Winn Dixie by Duncan Sheik (Fest ’15, Noir) and Nell Benjamin (Fest ’03, Sarah, Plain & Tall), based on the original book by Kate DiCamillo. NAMT members attending the New Works Roundtable this summer will have to chance to see the production.
In a Southern town filled with lost souls, a new leash on life is just around the corner when a preacher and his daughter take in a mutt named Winn Dixie. The beloved, award-winning novel about a quirky community learning to get along now sings for the first time in this uplifting new musical.

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Festival Show Update: Darling Grenadine

This month, we chatted with Daniel Zaitchik, the writer of 2017 Festival show Darling Grenadine. This summer, there will be a production of Darling Grenadine at The Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, IL, and a New York production at Roundabout Theatre’s Underground is scheduled for this winter. Below, we talk to Daniel about the upcoming productions and the work that’s happened on the show since we spoke to him last.
Harry is a charming songwriter whose fanciful view of the world rivals the Technicolor of any MGM classic. But as Harry floats through the kind of Manhattan life that dreams are made of, he suddenly finds himself confronted with the idea that a dream may be exactly what it is. And reality isn’t nearly as beautiful.

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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).

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Festival Show Update: XY

Last month, we chatted with Oliver Houser, the writer of 2018 Festival show XY. The musical has a variety of upcoming opportunities, including a public reading at member Chicago Shakespeare Theater this month.
Chris can’t shake Christine. She’s with him everywhere he goes, staring back when Chris looks in the mirror. But when Chris falls in love, the divide between then and now begins to blur. XY is a musical drama about accepting the past and coming home to the most unfamiliar of places: ourselves.

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We are thrilled to announce 11 awards granted from the Frank Young Fund for New Musicals (formerly known as the National Fund for New Musicals), and six awards granted from the Innovation & Exploration Fund. Now in its 11th year, this year the Frank Young Fund for New Musicals (FYFNM) is providing grants totaling $70,000 to organizations across the country. The Innovation & Exploration Fund (I&EF) is providing grants totaling $12,000 to organizations nationwide.
NAMT Executive Director Betsy King Militello stated: “We are honored and excited to support our member theatres both as they work to develop innovative and provocative new musicals, and as they explore ideas to create new best practices in the field. With these grants, we have now awarded 162 grants totaling $563,000 to NAMT members across the country. These projects will join a growing list of important new musicals and initiatives supported by NAMT’s granting programs.”

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Festival Show Update: We Live in Cairo

We also chatted with Patrick and Daniel Lazour, the writers of 2016 Festival show We Live in Cairo. The musical is about to have its world premiere at the A.R.T. in Boston; the production opens on May 14.
Inspired by the young Egyptians who took to the streets in 2011 to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak, this world premiere musical follows six revolutionary students armed with laptops and cameras, guitars and spray cans as they come of age in contemporary Cairo. Winner of the Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater, We Live in Cairo moves from the jubilation of Tahrir Square through the tumultuous years that followed. As escalating division and violence lead to a military crackdown, the revolutionaries of Tahrir must confront the question of how—or even whether—to keep their dreams of change alive.
 

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Last month, we chatted with Dave Steakley, the producing artistic director at NAMT member ZACH Theatre. ZACH is about to open a production of 2017 Festival show The Ballad of Klook and Vinette, formerly known as Klook’s Last Stand, written by Ché Walker, Anoushka Lucas and Omar Leyfook. Dave told us a little about what to expect from the upcoming production, and why everyone should make their way to Texas and check it out.
Tender, funny and incredibly moving, this contemporary new love story will grab you from the inside out. Klook and Vinette are two lost souls trying to find themselves in one another. Against all odds and with the past at their heels, together they make a tentative stab at happiness. This is a seductive musical about inevitability and the thrill of falling in love. 

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New Work in Progress: Life After

Next, we chatted with Barry Edelstein, the Erna Finci Viterbi Artistic Director at NAMT member The Old Globe in San Diego, CA about the company’s upcoming US premiere of Life After by Britta Johnson. Life After was previously co-produced by NAMT members The Musical Stage Company and Yonge Street Theatricals. The Old Globe production is produced by special arragement with Yonge Street Theatricals.
Grieving the recent loss of her famous father, 16-year-old Alice begins to question the events surrounding his death and sets out to uncover what really happened on the night that changed her family forever. Britta Johnson’s Life After is a bittersweet, witty and life-affirming new musical that explores the mess and beauty of loss and love. Through the vivid imagination of a young woman looking for the facts, we find a more complicated truth instead. 
 

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Festival Show Update: Benny & Joon

This month, we chatted with with Mindi Dickstein, Nolan Gasser and Kristen Guenther, the writers of 2016 Festival show Benny & Joon. The show is about to open a production at NAMT member Paper Mill Playhouse, the show’s second production following the world premiere at The Old Globe. We chatted about what has changed since the world premiere and the process of getting to a second production.
 
Based on the 1993 film starring Johnny Depp and Mary Stuart Masterson, this new musical is a smart, funny, tender-hearted celebration of love: between children and parents; romantic partners; friends; and, most of all, siblings. The pair at the heart of the show are Joon, a young woman dealing with mental illness, and Benny, the big brother who’s determined to take care of her. When a charmingly eccentric stranger comes into their lives, he throws their carefully calibrated world off-kilter—maybe for the better. Large in emotional scope and artistic ambition, Benny & Joon embraces a difficult subject with warmth, honesty, and wit.
 

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New Work in Progress: Marie, Dancing Still

Next, we chatted with Bill Berry, the Producing Artistic Director at NAMT member The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, WA about the company’s upcoming premiere of Marie, Dancing Still – A New Musical, written by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. Marie, Dancing Still is set to begin previews on March 22. 
In 19th-century Paris, an era of groundbreaking artistry, a girl named Marie dreams of being the next star of the ballet. Despite the odds of her hard-scrabble life, she scrimps, saves and steals in pursuit of her ambitions. But when fate leads her to the studio of Impressionist Edgar Degas, she unknowingly steps into immortality—becoming the inspiration for his most famous sculpture ever: Little Dancer.

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Alumni Show Update: Fall of '94

This month, we chatted with with Ellen Fitzhugh (Paper Moon, Fest ’95), Joseph Thalken (Was, Fest ’03; Harold and Maude, Fest ’03) and Ashley Robinson, the writers of Fall of ’94. The show is about to receive a reading at Red Mountain Theatre Company’s Human Rights New Works Festival. We chatted about the musical’s development and what they’re looking forward to learning through their participation in the Human Rights New Works Festival.
Fall of ’94 is a very personal coming-of-age story of five 12-year-old children in rural Union, South Carolina. Set during the unfolding of the Susan Smith tragedy, the eyes of the world were on this small mill town. While the kids focus on perfecting their annual Halloween spook house, the excitement of a media frenzy consumes everyone around them and brings the town’s dark secrets to the surface. Just down the hill from where they are building their spook house, the answers to the Nation’s questions lay in John D. Long Lake. Fall of ’94 asks what effect events of violence and an atmosphere of racial tension have on children and young people.

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New Work in Progress: Men With Money

This month, we chatted with Ann-Carol Pence and Anthony Rodriguez, co-founders and respectively the Associate Producer and Producing Artistic Director at NAMT member Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville, GA about the company’s world premiere of Men With Money, written by Bill Nelson and Joseph Trefler. Men With Money is set to open on March 7. 
Louis, Max, and Sonny are charming, young and eligible bachelors looking to marry their way from rags to riches. This romantic romp is full of dreams, schemes and lavish musical numbers set in the golden age mecca of Manhattan in the 1950’s, with a twist. It’s an alternative gleaming, fabulous and mighty Big Apple. And two of our leading men are looking for husbands, oh my!

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