FROM THE ROAD: A Coast to Coast Summer

One of my favorite parts of my job is getting the chance to visit our members around the country.  There is no better way to take the pulse of the industry and help discover new ways for us to serve our members than to meet them on their home turf, see their shows and meet their staffs.  Summer is the busiest travel time for the NAMT staff because it is when the number of shows skyrocket in our member theatres.  My summer was filled with 10 productions (7 of them premieres),  2 workshops and 6 readings from New York to California, from Vermont to Tennessee.  We a few Festival shows and National Fund for New Musicals (NFNM) grant recipients along the way.

Here is the quick rundown (NAMT member theatres and Festival shows are bolded blue):


Los Angeles, CA- World premiere of Los Otros at Center Theatre Group 
San Diego, CA- World premiere of Nobody Loves You (NAMT Fest ’12, past NFNM Project Development Grant) and Scottsboro Boys at The Old Globe, world premiere of Hands on a Hardbody at La Jolla Playhouseand the chance to sit in on a rehearsal for Harmony, Kansas (NFNM Production Grant, past Writers Residency Grant) at Diversionary Theatre.
New York, NY- World premiere of February House (past NFNM Project Development Grant) at The Public Theater, reading of Suprema (NFNM Writers Residency Grant) at Ars Nova and Speargrove Presents (NFNM Writers Residency Grant) at New York Theatre Barn

Connecticut- Readings of When We Met and String at The O’Neill Theatre Center, production of Mame at Goodspeed Musicals

New York, NY- Production of Triassic Parq (by Festival alumnus Marshall Pailet) produced by Amas Musical Theatre and New Musical Development Foundation at SoHo Rep  
East Haddam, CT- Final dress of Carousel at Goodspeed Musicals
Poughkeepsie, NY- Workshop of Murder Ballad (by Fest alumna Julia Jordan) at Vassar Powerhouse


Rhinebeck, NY- Reception for Beatsville (NAMT Fest ’08) at Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Palo Alto, CA- TheatreWorks Festival of New Works with readings of Being Earnest and Triangle (NAMT Fest ’12) and a developmental production of The Trouble With Doug (NAMT Fest ’10)


New York, NY- Reading of notes to MariAnne (NAMT Fest ’11) at New York Theatre Workshop
Weston, VT- World premiere of Pregnancy Pact (NAMT Fest ’11) at Weston Playhouse Theatre Co.  
Crossville, TN- Regional premiere of Golden Boy of the Blue Ridge (NAMT Fest ’11) at Cumberland County Playhouse
New York, NY- Broadway Bound concert at Merkin Hall featuring songs from Watt?!? and The Dogs of Pripyat, both from the 2011 Festival 

And I am pretty sure I am missing a few.

I got a lot more out of these trips than a wallet full of receipts and slight confusion as to my time zone.  I was fortified in my belief that our members and alumni are creating, producing and exploring the best musical theatre in the country.  They are continually engaging, challenging and building audiences through their great work.  They are not resting on their laurels but pushing forward.

It is very hard to find a show today that does not have the NAMT stamp somewhere on it…and that makes me very proud to be just a small part of any show that adds to the crazy tapestry of musicals across the country.  The great work continues all over the country, and I’m the lucky one who gets to take in at least a fraction of it.

Branden Huldeen
New Works Director

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Festival Shows in the News



An interview with John Fionte, New Works Director at Cumberland County Playhouse, about their upcoming production of 2011 Festival show Golden Boy of the Blue Ridge, by Peter Mills and Cara Reichel, playing Aug. 23-Oct. 26.

A pitch-dark comedy with the kick of moonshine, Golden Boy of the Blue Ridge transplants J.M. Synge’s classic The Playboy of the Western World to 1930s Appalachia. Bluegrass music and backwoods mayhem abound in this coming-of-age story about a slapdash murder, a whirlwind romance and a most unlikely hero.

What drew Cumberland County Playhouse to Golden Boy of the Blue Ridge?
Producing Director Jim Crabtree first became aware of Golden Boy in 2009 through the authors’ agent, and he asked me to pay particular attention to it when the show was presented in the 2011 Festival. We both felt that Golden Boy‘s rural Appalachian setting, combined with its bluegrass score, made the show something worth investigating.
Why is it a great show for your audience?
The Cumberland Plateau is a part of rural Appalachia. This region is fiercely proud of its rich musical heritage…and of the Scots-Irish roots of its culture. Peter Mills’ compelling score celebrates both the contemporary bluegrass musical idiom, along with that music’s deep Celtic roots. Additionally, our audience loves shows with onstage musicians, as is evidenced by the perennial popularity of Smoke on the Mountain, which is in its 19th consecutive year here at the Playhouse. Golden Boy of the Blue Ridge has all of that, and it’s fresh, new and exciting. I hope it appeals to Smokefans and beyond.
Are there any special approaches you are taking to the show?
Just as Pete and Cara wrote a play that’s an intricate blend of the traditional and the contemporary, I’ve tried to give equal weight to both of those things in terms of the production. The choreography, staging, design aesthetic… all those choices are firmly grounded in Synge’s Playboy of the Western World, but filtered through a contemporary eye. I’ve also been careful to always consider Golden Boy‘s Irish roots. While it’s not particularly present in Playboy, Synge was part of an Irish literary tradition that was steeped in a sense of enchantment, of magical realism. I’ve tried to bring a sense of that to Golden Boy.
What are you most excited about when Golden Boyfinally hits your stage?
I’m eagerly anticipating that first audience reaction. Golden Boy is so full of things that our rural Tennessee audiences love; but it’s also full of surprises, of fresh new sights and sounds. I think it will be an electric experience.
Why should people check out the Playhouse and Golden Boy?
Cumberland County Playhouse is truly a gem that’s nestled in a rural part of the country, so it remains undiscovered to some people. It’s always a joy to hear first-time patrons express their surprise and delight to find such professionalism and exceptional production values in a small town. I hope that audiences will experience the same sense of excitement and delight when they experience Golden Boy of the Blue Ridge for the first time. It’s really a remarkable musica,l and it deserves to be discovered by a much wider audience.

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Introducing this year's writers....Part 2

Yesterday, you got to meet the 4 of the writing teams and now it is time to meet the other 4 teams! These are the teams who will present their work on October 27 and 28 at New World Stages on Stage 3 as part of our 23rd Annual Festival of New Musicals.
Don’t forget to register before Sunday!

Book & Lyrics by Julia Jordan, Music & Lyrics by Adam Gwon
Directed by Joe Calarco, Music Direction by Andy Einhorn

Book by Jill Abramovitz & Leah Napolin
Music by Aron Accurso, Lyrics by Jill Abramovitz
Directed by Peter Flynn, Music Direction by Brad Haak

Book by Peter Mills & Cara Reichel
Music & Lyrics by Peter Mills
Based on “The Playboy of the Western World” by J.M. Synge
Directed by Gordon Greenberg, Music Direction by Eli Zoller

by Dan Lipton & David Rossmer
Directed by Jeremy Dobrish, Music Direction by Chris Fenwick

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