Back to the 28th Annual Festival of New Musicals

Benny & Joon

2016 Festival

Jack Cummings III

Music Director
Charity Wicks

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

Contact for Rights

Bruce Ostler, Bret Adams, LTD:

Number of Acts: 2
Number of Principals (Male): 2
Number of Principals (Female): 2
Number of Chorus (Male): 3-4
Number of Chorus (Female): 1-3
Orchestra Breakdown:

8-12, as follows: 1-2 Keyboards, 1 Electric Guitar, 1 Bass Guitar, 1 Drums / Percussion, 1-2 Violins, 1 -2 Reed 1 (e.g. flute / clarinet), Reed 2 (e.g. clarinet/saxophone), Trumpet, (Trombone), (French Horn). The parenthesis is meant to indicate optionality.

Casting Needs:

The ideal is somewhere between 8-12 actors with doubling; it is also possible not to double and have a small ensemble to fill out group scenes.


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.

The committee was struck by the strong character writing in this adaptation of the MGM film, and by the sensitivity with which the authors have expanded on its themes of mental health. We appreciate how Benny & Joon manages to deepen and update its source, even as it honors the spirit of the original.

- Festival Committee

Development History

Benny & Joon first received a private developmental 29-hour reading in January, 2013 (Ripley Grier Studios, New York), followed by a two additional private developmental 29-hour readings in February and November, 2014 (Pearl Studios, New York). A private, developmental lab was held at the Transport Group in September, 2015.  Further development occurred at the Running Deer Musical Theater Lab (June 2014) and at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley Writer’s Retreat (January 2016).

Festival Successes

World Premiere September 7-Oct 22, 2017 official press opening September 15, 2017), Old Globe Theatre, San Diego; announced East Coast premiere Paper Mill Playhouse, April 4 – May 5, 2019.

5 Things You Should Know

  1. Our artistic journey started with Nolan, who was invited to choose a title from a list of MGM movies they wanted to make into musicals; he chose Benny & Joon, drawn to its quirky characters and heart-pulling story. Mindi and Kirsten joined soon after, equally enchanted by this unique tale of a brother and a sister making their way in 1990s Spokane, Washington.
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