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Overview

October 27 - 28, 2016

New World Stages 340 W 50th Street, New York, NY

The 28th Annual Festival of New Musicals was presented at New World Stages in New York City on October 27 & 28, 2016.

Over the course of two days, 45 minute cuts of eight new musicals were presented to over 600 industry professionals.  Selected from a blind review process of over 190 submissions, this year’s Festival celebrated what’s next in musical theatre and the incredible stories and artists that are leading the way.

This year’s Festival attendees saw:

  • Perspectives from inside political and social revolutions, spanning decades and continents
  • Reimagining history with new musical styles, weaving rock-and-roll into the plagued dark ages and contemporary pop into pre-WWII Europe
  • Intimate coming-of-age stories and large adaptations of heartfelt classics

Musicals

Benny & Joon

Director
Jack Cummings III

Music Director
Charity Wicks

Cast
Hannah Elless, Colin Hanlon, Andrew Kober, Mamie Parris, Zak Resnick, Andrew Samonsky, Tally Sessions and Natalie Toro

Ideal Cast Size: 8-12
Ideal Band Size: 8-12
Style: Romantic Comedy

Synopsis

Benny has taken care of his sister Joon since their parents died over a decade ago. Now in his early 30s and Joon in her early 20s – not much has changed. A mechanic with his own garage, Benny feels he is a master at managing the life they’ve ended up with, including Joon’s psychological troubles. But when they take in a strange young man named Sam, everything changes. This musical based on the MGM movie explores the challenge of navigating life and love in an imperfect world.

More about Benny & Joon

Joe Schmoe Saves The World

Director
Christian Barillas

Music Director
Joe Kinosian

Cast
Krystal Joy Brown, Adante Carter, James Crichton, Ana Marcu, Samantha Massell, Nawaf Nooruddin, Jonah Platt and Nasia Thomas

Ideal Cast Size: 8
Ideal Band Size: 8
Style: DanceRock Drama

Synopsis

Set amidst the 2011 Arab Spring, Joe Schmoe Saves the World tells the parallel stories of an indie rock duo in America and a pair of Iranian students in Tehran. Raging against conformity, fear, and the status quo, two young women risk everything to change the world through their art.

More about Joe Schmoe Saves The World

Lempicka

Director
Griffin Matthews

Music Director
Annastasia Victory Kuporosova

Cast
Eden Espinosa, Jennie Harney, Adam Hyndman, Michael McCorry Rose, Jessica Molaskey, Steven Rattazzi, Zak Resnick, Lindsay Roberts, Rhyn Saver and Gabrielle Stravelli

Ideal Cast Size: 12-16
Ideal Band Size: 5-8
Style: Pop/Rock Musical Experience

Synopsis

Set in Paris against the backdrop of the rising fascist tide, Lempicka follows the artist Tamara de Lempicka as she flees the Russian Revolution, transforming herself from penniless refugee to rising star of the art world. But when she falls into a forbidden love affair— with her muse, Rafaela— will she lose it all, again?

More about Lempicka

The Loneliest Girl In The World

Director
Michael Berresse

Music Director
Richard Silverstein

Cast
Robert Ariza, Sam Heldt, Eric William Morris, Brynn O'Malley, Dana Steingold and Pearl Sun

Ideal Cast Size: 6 (3M, 3F)
Ideal Band Size: 4 (Piano, trumpet, electric bass, drums)
Style: Whimsical Comitragedy

Synopsis

The Loneliest Girl in the World charts the rise and fall of beauty queen-turned-pop star-turned-spokeswoman-turned-cultural crusader Anita Bryant and her biggest fan, Tommy, who seals her fate, and the fate of the gay rights movement, with a single banana creme pie.

More about The Loneliest Girl In The World

When We're Gone (fka Mortality Play)

Director
Michael Perlman

Music Director
Mike Pettry

Cast
Alex Boniello, Joshua Boone, Gerard Canonico, Nicholas Christopher, Kathryn Gallagher and Charlie Pollock

Ideal Cast Size: 6
Ideal Band Size: 4-6
Style: Rock Drama

Synopsis

Mortality Play is a new musical about a 16-year-old in 1349 trying to be a rock star in plague-ridden London. This modern take on a medieval morality play follows a young man’s struggle to decide between what he wants to do and what he believes the world needs of him.

More about When We're Gone (fka Mortality Play)

Soho Cinders

Director
Marcia Milgrom Dodge

Music Director
Brad Haak

Cast
Peter Bartlett, Brandon Contreras, Judy Gold, Jeff Kready, Chris McCarrell, Nora Schell, Aneesh Sheth, Ali Stroker, Kay Trinidad and Teal Wicks

Ideal Cast Size: 17-21
Ideal Band Size: 5
Style: Contemporary Musical Comedy

Synopsis

When impoverished launderette owner Robbie becomes romantically involved with engaged Mayoral candidate James Prince, his step-sisters become the least of his problems! James and Robbie’s worlds collide forcing them to fight for their own fairy-tale ending in this hilarious, satirical twist on the classic Cinderella story.

More about Soho Cinders

The Mad Ones (fka The Unauthorized Autobiography Of Samantha Brown)

Director
Portia Krieger

Music Director
Paul Staroba

Cast
Kevin Carolan, Corey Cott, Morgan Keene, Kecia Lewis and Ciara Renee

Ideal Cast Size: 5 (3W, 2M)
Ideal Band Size: 4 (Piano, Guitar, Violin, Harp)
Style: Chamber Musical Memory Play

Synopsis

When her best friend dies, Samantha Brown is paralyzed with grief and loses touch with the part of herself that was learning how to take risks. Now, she must wade through the memories of her senior year in order to take the first risk of her adult life.

More about The Mad Ones (fka The Unauthorized Autobiography Of Samantha Brown)

We Live In Cairo

Director
Kareem Fahmy

Music Director
Eli Zoller

Cast
Melis Aker, Ashkon Davaran, Layan El-Wazani, Pomme Koch, Ahmad Maksoud and Levin Valayil

Ideal Cast Size: 4 M, 2 W
Ideal Band Size: 4
Style: Musical Drama

Synopsis

In 2011, a group of students met in a small flat in Cairo. This was the beginning of Egypt’s greatest revolution. Armed with laptops and cameras, guitars and spray cans, these urban youth inspired millions of Egyptians to take to the streets and overthrow their president, Hosni Mubarak. We Live in Cairo tells of six revolutionaries coming of age in the today’s Middle East—facing their past, still searching for freedom.

More about We Live In Cairo

As of 10/10/16

Songwriters Showcase

THE FAMILY RESEMBLANCE by Masi Asare
HOW I PAID FOR COLLEGE by Marc Acito
WHAT I LEARNED FROM PEOPLE by Will Aronson (The Trouble with Doug, Fest ’10) & Hue Park
THE WHITE CITY by Avi Amon & Julia Gytri

Hosted by Kate Wetherhead
Directed by Amy Corcoran

Writers & Artists

Scotty Arnold

Music, When We're Gone (fka Mortality Play)

Scotty Arnold is a founding member of the Musical Theatre Factory. Music: Mortality Play (Joe’s Pub, YIMT, Ars Nova), That Time We Found a Sasquatch in the Woods (Merry-Go-Round, MTF), Trivøya Gold (NYU Steinhardt, MTF, Adelaide Raleigh Productions), Lost & Found (Nautilus, NYU), Tereshkova (Music Theatre Company, IL). He is currently a writer-in-residence at CAP21, where he is developing a new musical with Jenny Stafford and Shelley Butler. BA: SCU, MFA: NYU; also: ANMT (CA) and New Dramatists (NY). He has completed residencies at Space at Ryder Farm, NY Stage and Film, and CAP21. Proud member: Dramatists Guild, ASCAP. Scottyarnold.com

Elliot Davis

Book, Soho Cinders

Elliot Davis: Loserville (West Yorkshire Playhouse, Garrick, West End). Olivier Nominated for Best New Musical. Peter Pan (revised book), OUT THERE (Riverside Studios), Best Friends & Butterflies, (book & Music) TicketMaster Composer Award / Best New Musical Vivian Ellis Award. Current: What I Go To School For – The Busted Musical. In development: Rehab, Becoming Nancy. Radio: In another career strand Elliot is a prolific music documentary maker for the BBC. Film: Elliot’s first feature film screenplay commissioned by the BBC films in 2017 starring Geoffrey Rush. He is the inaugural recipient of the JJ Screenwriting Bursary in association with BAFTA.

Mindi Dickstein

Lyrics, Benny & Joon

Mindi Dickstein is a lyricist, librettist, and playwright.  Lyrics: Little Women (Broadway, MTI, Sh-k-boom), Faerie Tale (Rhinebeck), Snow In August (American Harmony Prize).  Book and lyrics: Trip (Playwrights Horizons Steinberg Commission), Beasts and Saints (ASCAP Workshop), Notes Across A Small Pond (Bridewell Theater, London), By The Numbers (Prospect Theater).  Book: Toy Story – The Musical (Disney). In concert: Lincoln Center’s “Hear and Now: Contemporary Lyricists” and 54 Below.  Her monologue, Starving To Death In Midtown, was performed internationally in support of Climate Change awareness in 2015.  Honors include a Larson Award and a Second Stage Klinsky Award. MFA and faculty: NYU Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program.  Member of ASCAP and The Dramatists Guild.

Anthony Drewe

Book & Lyrics, Soho Cinders

Anthony Drewe: With composer George Stiles: Travels With My Aunt; Honk! (NAMT Festival 1999); Just So; Betty Blue Eyes; Peter Pan – A Musical Adventure; their trilogy The Three Little Pigs (NAMT Festival 2013), Goldilocks And The Three Bears, The Three Billy Goats Gruff and the new songs and additional lyrics for the Cameron Mackintosh/Disney’s stage production of Mary Poppins. Current: The Wind In The Willows with Julian Fellowes for the West End; a new version of Half A Sixpence for Cameron Mackintosh. In development: Soapdish; Becoming Nancy. With composer Tony Hatch: The Card. With composer Dick Lee: A Twist of Fate.

Nolan Gasser

Music, Benny & Joon

Nolan Gasser is a composer, pianist, and musicologist—notably, the architect of Pandora Radio’s Music Genome Project. He holds a Ph.D. in musicology from Stanford University. His compositions have been performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, etc. Current projects include an opera, The Secret Garden; a film score, All-Stars; and a forthcoming book, Why You Like It: The Science and Culture of Musical Taste. Nolan is the subject of a documentary highlighting his collaboration with Memorial Sloan-Kettering hospital to provide personalized musical therapy for cancer patients. He recently delivered a TEDx on the nature and source of our musical taste.

Matt Gould

Music, Lempicka

Matt Gould is a recipient of the Richard Rodgers Award (2012 and 2014), The Jonathan Larson Award, and ASCAP’s Dean Kay and Harold Adamson Awards. His musical Invisible Thread (fka Witness Uganda) had its NY premier at 2econd Stage Theater and its world premiere at ART. His upcoming original works include The Family Project for LA’s Center Theatre Group, and Baby Girl with Pulitzer Prize winner Paula Vogel. Matt has performed his work around the world in Uganda, Mauritania, Japan, and across the US. A graduate of Boston University’s College of Fine Arts, Matt is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer at schools and universities. @FakeMattGould

Kirsten Guenther

Book, Benny & Joon

Kirsten Guenther began her writing career in Paris, where she penned the popular weekly column, “The Sexy Expat” about an American navigating/dating the French. Book and lyrics: Little Miss Fix-it (seen on NBC). Book: Measure of Success (Rockefeller Grant), Mrs. Sharp (Richard Rodgers Award); The Cable Car Nymphomaniac (Bay Area Theatre Award Nominee) and Out of My Head (Steelespring Stage Rights). She has written sketches for celebrities including James Franco, Jared Leto, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Kathie Lee & Hoda, Steve Buscemi, Deion Sanders and Queen Latifah. Kirsten was a Dramatist Guild Fellow and a Disney/ASCAP participant. MFA: NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.

Alana Jacoby

Book & Lyrics, When We're Gone (fka Mortality Play)

Alana Jacoby is a lyricist, bookwriter and playwright from Newtown, CT. She graduated from Brown University with honors in playwriting in 2008, and earned her MFA from NYU’s Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program in 2011. Her work has been performed at Ars Nova, Joe’s Pub, 54 Below, and the Barrington Stage Company, and her musicals Mortality Play and Trivøya Gold have been developed at the Yale Institute for Music Theatre and the Musical Theatre Factory. She works as a teaching artist for the Roundabout Theatre Company, and is a member of the Musical Theatre Factory and the Dramatists Guild.

Kait Kerrigan

Book & Lyrics & Music, The Mad Ones (fka The Unauthorized Autobiography Of Samantha Brown)

Kait Kerrigan made her off-Broadway debut with Henry and Mudge in 2006 with composer Brian Lowdermilk. Other projects with Lowdermilk: The Bad Years, Republic, Unbound, Flash of Time, Wrong Number and The Woman Upstairs and two albums: Our First Mistake and Kerrigan-Lowdermilk Live. Her plays have been developed by Page 73, Chautauqua Theatre Company, Primary Stages, and the Lark. They include Imaginary Love, Disaster Relief, and Transit. Awards: Kleban, Jonathan Larson, Dramatists Guild Fellowship. Alumna of Barnard College and the BMI Musical Theatre Writing Workshop, co-founder of the start-up NewMusicalTheatre.com, and member of the Dramatists Guild and ASCAP.

Carson Kreitzer

Book & Lyrics, Lempicka

Carson Kreitzer is the recipient of a 2016 Jonathan Larson Grant for Lempicka. Current projects include Capital Crime!, a play with songs set in Gilded Age New York. She has received support from NYSCA, the NEA, TCG, and the Mellon and Toulmin foundations, as well as two Jerome and three McKnight Fellowships at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis. She is an alumna of New Dramatists, an affiliated artist with New Georges and Clubbed Thumb, and was the first Playwrights of New York (PoNY) Fellow at the Lark. Her collection, SELF DEFENSE and other plays, is available from No Passport Press.

Daniel Lazour

Book & Music, We Live In Cairo

Daniel Lazour has collaborated on four musicals with his brother Patrick, supplying the music and co-authoring the libretto. The two’s most recent musical We Live in Cairo, centering on the youth in Egypt’s 2011 revolution, was selected for the 2015 O’Neill National Music Theatre Conference and received the 2016 Richard Rodgers Award. Daniel’s other works include an opera scene (Bach and the Boy), a song cycle (Expat), and a string quartet (Chacarera), which all premiered at Columbia University. Daniel has spent time at SPACE on Ryder Farm and Rhinebeck Writers’ Retreat writing and composing on piano and guitar. He studied music composition at Columbia University. He is a 2015-16 Dramatists Guild Fellow.

Patrick Lazour

Book & Lyrics, We Live In Cairo

Patrick Lazour is a writer, lyricist and playwright. With his brother Daniel, he has written and produced four musicals including The Grand Room, which was developed and performed at the Robsham Theater Arts Center at Boston College in 2013. We Live in Cairo, about the youth movement during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution was developed at the O’Neill National Music Theatre Conference and most recently received the Richard Rodgers Award. Patrick has developed work with his brother at Rhinebeck Writers’ Retreat and SPACE on Ryder Farm and is a 2015-16 Dramatists Guild Fellow. He holds a B.A. in political science and theater from Boston College. He lives in New York City.

Gordon Leary

Book & Lyrics, The Loneliest Girl In The World

Gordon Leary is a Brooklyn-based bookwriter and lyricist. With Julia Meinwald, musicals include Pregnancy Pact (2012 Weston Playhouse, 2011 NAMT Festival, 2011 YIMT), Disappeared (2009 Lincoln Center Directors Lab, 2008 Prospect Theater Dark Nights), Something Blue (2014 NYTB), and REB + VoDKa + ME (2015 Civilians’ FINDINGS Series). Other musicals include Cheer Wars (2009 Richard Rodgers Award) and Across the River (2013 Seoul Musical Festival, 2009 Daegu International Musical Festival). 2009-10 Dramatists Guild Fellow, 2013-14 Uncharted (Ars Nova), 2015-16 R&D Group (The Civilians), 2016 Playground Playgroup (Fresh Ground Pepper). BA: Vassar. MFA: NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. www.omfgordon.com

Brian Lowdermilk

Book & Lyrics & Music, The Mad Ones (fka The Unauthorized Autobiography Of Samantha Brown)

Brian Lowdermilk made his off-Broadway debut with Henry and Mudge in 2006 with librettist Kait Kerrigan. Other projects with Kerrigan: The Bad Years, Republic, Unbound, Flash of Time, Wrong Number and The Woman Upstairs and two albums: Our First Mistake and Kerrigan-Lowdermilk Live. Additional musicals include Dr. Wonderful and Her Dog (with Lauren Gunderson) and Red (with Marcus Stevens). Awards: Jonathan Larson, Alan Menken, Richard Rodgers, Dramatists Guild Fellowship. Alumnus of NYU and the BMI Musical Theatre Writing Workshop, CEO of the start-up NewMusicalTheatre.com, and member of the Dramatists Guild and ASCAP.

Julia Meinwald

Music, The Loneliest Girl In The World

Julia Meinwald‘s other musicals with Gordon Leary include Pregnancy Pact (2012 premiere production at the Weston Playhouse, 2011 NAMT Festival and Yale Institute for Musical Theatre selection), REB + VoDKa + ME (Civilians R&D Group 2015-2016), Galaxy Comics (2014 United Airlines in-flight programming), and Disappeared (2009 Lincoln Center Directors Lab). Julia was a participant in the New Dramatists Composer Librettist Development Program, the Dramatists Guild fellowship, American Lyric Theatre residency, Ars Nova’s Uncharted group, the Civilian’s R&D Group, and Fresh Ground Pepper’s Playground Playgroup. She holds a BA in Music from Yale and an MFA from NYU’s GMTWP. www.juliameinwald.com.

Brett Ryback

Book & Lyrics & Music, Joe Schmoe Saves The World

Brett Ryback is an actor, composer, and writer. His plays and musicals include: Liberty Inn: The Musical (Ovation nominations Best Book, Best Music/Lyrics); Darling (Weston Playhouse New Musical Award, Featured on NBC’s “The Apprentice.”); The Tavern Keeper’s Daughter (Best Musical, Pasadena Weekly); and Just a Little Critter Musical (First Stage Children’s theatre).  His musical Joe Schmoe Saves the World was selected for the ASCAP/Dreamworks Musical Theatre Workshop. His plays Weïrd A Roz By Any Other Name are both published in “The Best American Short Plays 2007-2008.” He is currently writing two new musicals: Passing Through and Nate the Great.

George Stiles

Music, Soho Cinders

George Stiles: with lyricist Anthony Drewe: Cameron Mackintosh/Disney’s stage production of Mary Poppins; Honk! (Olivier Award for Best New Musical, NAMT Festival 1999); Travels With My Aunt; Just So; Betty Blue Eyes; Peter Pan – A Musical Adventure and their trilogy The Three Little Pigs (NAMT Festival 2013), Goldilocks And The Three Bears and The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Current: with Julian Fellowes – The Wind In The Willows (West End) and a new version of Half A Sixpence for Cameron Mackintosh. In development: Soapdish; Becoming Nancy. With lyricist Paul Leigh: Moll Flanders; The Three Musketeers (NAMT Festival 1999) and Tom Jones.

Selection Process

Submit your show to next year's Festival!


Festival 15 Flow Chart copy 2For our 28th Annual Festival of New Musicals, NAMT received 193 submissions from around the world. The submitted shows were at all the different stages of development, from shows that have never had more than a table reading to ones that have had multiple regional productions.  Our process to filter the field of 193 down to the eight you will see at the Festival started in early January and was completed in mid-June. The evaluation process is carefully crafted and executed to ensure that we are able to present an exciting and varied, top-notch Festival each year.

NAMT assembles a 15-person committee composed of NAMT Members and co-chaired by two members from across the world to represent the membership and the industry in the selection of the Festival. Each member sits on the committee for 2-3 years.  The Festival selection process is overseen by the Festival Producing Director, who moderates the two committee meetings; neither she nor other NAMT staff members, however, express opinions or vote on which shows are selected for the Festival.  All committee members are required to sign a Code of Integrity that outlines expected conduct as well as our need for confidentiality and transparency throughout the process.

Our evaluation process is blind, meaning the materials sent to the committee for review do not contain the writers’ names, agent names or development history of the project.  The committee members do not know if a show is written by someone still in high school or by a winner of multiple Tony® awards; they know only the work that is on the page and on the demo cd.  This blind process is key to the integrity of the Festival selection process, and we rigorously maintain the blind nature of the evaluation process at every step along the way.

Our evaluation process has three phases:

Round 1 (January-March)

  • A 20-page excerpt and demo is evaluated by three members of the Festival Screening subcommittee (a group of additional NAMT members brought on to help with the volume in this initial round)
  • About one-third of the shows are selected to move on, based on the scores given to them by the evaluators

Round 2 (March-May):

  • Each show sent on to this round is fully read and evaluated by four members of the Festival Committee
  • The Committee has a full-day meeting to select the shows that are the strongest contenders for the Festival, based not only on the scores on their evaluations, but also on the excitement and passion for each piece expressed by committee members at this in-person meeting.
  • Around 20 shows are selected to become semi-finalists for the Festival.

Round 3 (May-June):

  • The chair emeritus (the prior year’s senior chair) of the committee returns for this round to add a fresh pair of eyes and ears.
  • Writers are permitted to submit revisions of the script or demo for this final review.
  • All semi-finalist shows are read and evaluated by the entire committee.

The Committee has a full-day meeting to select the eight shows that will make the best Festival, including shows at all stages of development and of all shapes, sizes, styles and topics.

We continuously refine our selection process to ensure that we are always sharply focused on selecting great musicals that showcase the variety of voices writing today. Through the Festival, we look forward to welcoming more wonderful new musicals into the greater musical theatre canon. We know that you will be inspired and moved by this year’s selections, and we are excited to share with you what is next in new musicals.