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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.  

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This month we chatted with Giovanna Sardelli, the Director of New Works at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley. Next month TheatreWorks goes into rehearsals for The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga, written by Min Khang and based on Manga Yonin Shosei by Henry Yoshitaka Kiyama, translated as The Four Immigrants by Frederik L. Schodt. This production is being supported by a Production Grant from the National Fund for New Musicals, and the show has previously been supported by a Writers Residency Grant.
From a tumultuous earthquake to an exhilarating world’s fair, this new musical chronicles the adventures of four endearing Japanese immigrants in a world of possibility and prejudice: turn-of-the-twentieth-century San Francisco. Driven by an infectious vaudeville and ragtime score, the quartet pursues their American Dream despite limited options in the land of opportunity.
TheatreWorks has been developing The Four Immigrants for some time now—tell us a little bit about how the piece first made its way to TheatreWorks.
Leslie Martinson, our Associate Artistic Director and the director of the upcoming production, has a gift for seeing the potential in artists, like Min Kahng, whom she has known for years, and also for seeing the potential in stories. So when Min shared his idea for The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga, Leslie was instantly intrigued by the story and by the unique way Min wanted to tell the story. She brought the show to TheatreWorks as part of our Writers’ Retreat where we were all introduced to the musical and excited by what it could become.

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New Work in Progress: Onegin

The Musical Stage Company, formerly known as Acting Up Stage Company, is preparing to open a production of the new Canadian musical Onegin, written by Amiel Gladstone and Veda Hille. We reached out to find out more about the production and The Musical Stage Company as a whole.
A thrilling, contemporary adaptation of Pushkin’s timeless poem and Tchaikovsky’s renowned opera, Onegin features a high-energy musical score to tell a sweeping tale of unrequited love, infatuation and intrigue.  When the young and innocent Tatyana falls in love with the self-obsessed aristocrat Onegin, he firmly rejects her, arousing passionate love letters, noble duels and second chances.
What is The Musical Stage Company’s history with new works, and how does this new production of Onegin fit into your overall commitment to new works development?
On top of our regular season of programming which features contemporary musicals from around the world, we have commissioned nearly a dozen new Canadian musicals in the last five years, and produced six new Canadian musicals at home and abroad. Additionally, we have pioneered programs to support Canadian writers including training programs, commissioning programs and our new Crescendo Series which brings one writer into residence with our organization for three years alongside a commitment to produce one of their new musicals each year of their residency.
Giving Onegin its second production and bringing it to Toronto audiences for the first time helps advance our goal of sharing new Canadian works with local audiences. Our belief that we can subsequently champion Onegin across Canada and beyond through our production (we have already confirmed a tour to Canada’s National Arts Centre in Ottawa in September) reinforces our priority to shepherd new Canadian musicals around the world.

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This month we chatted with Charlie Sohne and Tim Rosser, the writers of 2013 Festival Show The Boy Who Danced on Air. The show is about to have its New York premiere with Abingdon Theatre Company.
Winner of The 2016 San Diego Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Original Score, The Boy Who Danced on Air is a modern-day love story set in rural Afghanistan. Paiman and Feda have spent their young lives as dancers in the world of bacha bazi, where wealthy men take in boys from poor families, train them to dance at parties, and often abuse them. The two boys’ chance meeting changes the course of their lives and sets them on a journey to find their independence in this musical fable about love, tradition, morality and the strength of the human spirit.
The last time we checked in with you both, you were preparing for your world premiere at Diversionary Theatre in San Diego—what was the response to the show in California?
Charlie: It went well!  It’s a terrifying thing to put something you’ve been working on for years in front of a paying audience for the first time—particularly for us, given the sensitivity of the subject matter in our show.  So it was really wonderful that both audiences and critics responded well to it and seemed to get what we were doing.  And the show received the San Diego Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Original Score, which was a wonderful bonus.

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New Work in Progress: Fredericia Teater

Søren Møller, the creative producer at Fredericia Teater in Denmark, has been bringing NAMT Festival shows to Europe for innovative productions. This month, we reached out to him to learn more about the theatre’s history, and his process working with new musicals.
Fredericia has a long history of producing new musicals; how does this relate to the theatre’s mission, and what have been some of your favorite shows to produce?
Our mission is to produce new musicals only. All works are either developed here, co-developed or have never played Denmark before.

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This month we chatted with Lori Bales, an Associate Professor at Millikin University and the director of the school’s New Musical Workshop. Millikin is currently in rehearsal for their 10th Annual New Musical Workshop, featuring works by Sam Carner and Derek Gregor, as well as songs by Festival alumni Michael Kooman and Chris Dimond (Fest ’11, Dani Girl; Fest ’14, The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes).
This year Millikin University is celebrating its 10-year anniversary of producing new works—can you tell us about the history of your program?
We’d like to send out a big thank you to Scott Guy, Elise Dewsberry, and John Sparks for their support in our start-up year. In 2007 we piloted our program in collaboration with New Musicals Inc. (formerly ANMT) followed by a collaboration with Theatre Building Chicago in 2008. My initial inspiration for this program was in a breakout group at the 2004 NAMT Conference, moderated by John Sparks. In 2009 we began working with solo writing teams Michael Kooman and Chris Dimond, and Jeff Thompson and Jordan Mann. We’ve had the privilege of collaborating with many other truly gifted writers: Adam Gwon and Sarah Hammond, Andrew Lippa, Marissa Michaelson, Amy Engelhardt and Marc Acito, Joshua Salzman and Ryan Cunningham, and Millikin alums Derek Hassler and his partner Landon Braverman, and Joshua Streeter and his partner Ryan Laney. We are currently workshopping two shows with Sam Carner and Derek Gregor. In celebration of our ten-year anniversary, Michael Kooman and Chris Dimond will join us for a retrospective cabaret celebrating their canon of work. In addition to developmental workshops/residencies we also provide fully realized developmental productions on our mainstage season. To date we’ve produced Golden Gate by Kooman and Dimond and String by Gwon and Hammond.

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Festival Show Update: Beatsville

Beatsville, written by Wendy Wilf and Glenn Slater, appeared in the 2008 NAMT Festival. The show is now preparing for its world premiere in a co-production with NAMT member the 5th Avenue Theatre and Asolo Rep Theatre. This month, we caught up with the writers to hear about the work they’ve done on the piece since the Festival leading up to this premiere.

What was the response to Beatsville like after the 2008 Festival?
We had a great Festival—our cast was spectacular, and made the show look fantastic—and we received a hugely gratifying outpouring of interest from various theatres and organizations who wanted to help us take the next step forward. We sort of fumbled the ball a little—we felt that we still had some writing to do, and weren’t sure what that next step should be, and then we got swept up in other projects. Luckily for us, when we were finally ready to move forward, there was still a lot of goodwill in the community from people who remembered it from the Festival, and they proved instrumental in helping us get the show back on track.

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Festival Show Update: The Fabulous Fitches

The Fabulous Fitches (formerly known as Palm Beach), written by Robert Cary, Benjamin Feldman and David Gursky, has evolved quite a bit since it was presented in NAMT’s Festival in 2001. This month, we checked in with the team to see where the piece is now.

What was the initial reaction to The Fabulous Fitches when it was first presented at the 2001 Festival?
The response was wonderful, and it actually brought the show to the attention of William Morris (now WME), who have represented it ever since.
What developmental work have you done on the show since it was at the NAMT Festival?
The show has had a production (at La Jolla Playhouse in 2005) and several developmental readings, based on what we learned and wanted to explore further in the show.
How has the show evolved in the years since the Festival, and what message does the show hold for audiences today?
The Fabulous Fitches was, in its original form, an homage to screwball Hollywood comedies of the 1930s, in the vein of Bringing Up Baby or My Man Godfrey.  Over time, however, we realized that—while the screwball genre helped dictate the tone of the show—what we were really talking about was the American Dream:  who gets to live it?  And to whom is it denied?  We began to ask ourselves, “Who really has a place at the American table?”.  And then we put that question through the lens of a brisk 30s-style musical comedy, played very much for laughs.
What have been some of the joys and challenges for you as a writing team as the show has seen more development?
It’s always a joy to continue to have a relationship with a show that is so personal, for all three of us, and which is also the first thing we wrote as a team.  The challenges have to do with the fact that the show isn’t really like a lot of other shows, and thus harder to “pitch”—it’s funny and accessible, but it’s political, too, and it doesn’t come with a pre-sold “name brand” which makes it immediately clear what to expect.  On the other hand, that may prove one of its assets; it’s very much its own thing.
What would you like to see as a next step for the show?
The show imagines a tremendously wealthy titan of industry, who controls many brands, deciding to run for political office despite having no real qualifications other than his fame and money—seriously.  So, despite the first draft being written several years ago, it’s become surprisingly (I’d even say shockingly) topical.  It’s also about people thinking one group can lay exclusive claim to “real” American values; again, more topical than we ever imagined it would be by 2016.  We had a wonderful developmental reading with Josh Prince directing this summer, and we’d like to find a home for a full production.  It seems like the right time, to say the least.

For more information about The Fabulous Fitches, contact Susan Weaving at WME.
Photo: Leo McKnight’s chorus girls (L-R: Taryn Darr, Jennifer Evans and Erica Piccininni) entertain the crowd in The Fabulous Fitches, the world premiere production at La Jolla Playhouse. Photo credit: Ken Howard

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New Work in Progress: Scrooge in Love!

This month, we chatted with Daniel Thomas, the Executive Director at 42nd Street Moon, and Dyan McBride, the show’s director, about their upcoming production of Scrooge in Love!, written by Larry Grossman (Fest ’95, Paper Moon), Kellen Blair and Duane Poole (Fest ’14, Beautiful Poison). 42nd Street Moon produced the world premiere of the musical last year.
What happened after A Christmas Carol? The day after that fateful Christmas we join Ebenezer Scrooge as he journeys to find his long-lost love Belle. Along the way he’s helped by some old friends and new ghosts! Scrooge in Love! had its smash hit World Premiere at 42nd Street Moon in 2015, and the theatre is pleased to bring back this joyous holiday tale that’s perfect for the entire family.
What is 42nd Street Moon’s mission, and how does new works development fit into that mission?
42nd Street Moon celebrates and preserves the art and spirit of the American Musical Theatre. We contribute to its evolution and continuing vitality by presenting intimately produced performances of classic and rarely performed musical works. Through our productions, educational programs, and community outreach, we are committed to increasing the awareness and appreciation of the rich heritage and cultural perspective of the musical theatre and its vast influence on the world stage.
As we approach our 25th Anniversary, we are aware that the vitality of musical theatre is as dependent on shepherding the next generation of classic musicals as it is on preserving the rich heritage of shows that have come before. This is the third premiere or semi-premiere we have been involved with, and each experience has reinforced this belief.

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NFNM Show Update: Teen Sniper

Dallas Theater Center recently received a Writers Residency grant for a musical written by Rajiv Joseph and Bill Sherman, currently titled Teen Sniper. Lee Trull, Director of New Play Development at DTC, spoke with us about the Residency process.

Tell us a bit about the Untitled Teen Sniper Project and how Dallas Theater Center got involved with the piece.
Rajiv Joseph and Bill Sherman (plus the wonderful Kirsten Childs) wrote a musical for us a few years back titled Fly. It was an updated story of Peter Pan directed by Jeffrey Seller. We were amazed by the work of all three writers (we just produced the world premier of Bella by Kirsten which will be seen soon at Playwrights Horizons). We also have a close relationship with Meredith McDonough of Actors Theatre of Louisville. She worked on Fly By Night with us and directed Book Club Play a few years later. She’s become a dear friend of mine and a member of the DTC family. Meredith reach out to us with the idea of co-commissioning Bill and Rajiv to write a new musical. We jumped at the chance!
How does this process fit into DTC’s overall commitment to new works development?
DTC is committed to inspiring our diverse community by creating experiences that stimulate new ways of thinking and living. Teen Sniper (which is a working title — I think it’s already changed twice!) takes a funny and humane look at a not-to-distant dystopian world dominated by racial and economic tension and a callous disregard for human life. It asks fundamental questions about gun violence, empathy and America’s place in the world. The music is extraordinary, the characters are vibrant and its themes are modern. It’s exactly the kind of risky new work that DTC has a track record of developing.

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NFNM Show Update: The Band's Visit

The Band’s Visit, written by David Yazbek and Itamar Moses (Fest ’12, Nobody Loves You), will receive its world premiere at Atlantic Theater this Fall, supported in part by a Production Grant from the National Fund for New Musicals. We reached out to Annie MacRae, the Atlantic’s Associate Artistic Director, and Itamar to learn more about the show’s history and this upcoming production. 
What is Atlantic’s history with new musical development? How does this tie into the theatre’s overall mission?
Annie MacRae: It is Atlantic’s mission to produce great plays simply and truthfully by utilizing an artistic ensemble. Over our 30-year history, commitment to this mission has led to some exciting new plays from Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Pulitzer Prize-winning Between Riverside and Crazy to Dominique Morisseau’s Skeleton Crew. At the same time, we’ve been working to build upon past world premieres like Patty Griffin’s 10 Million Miles and the iconic Spring Awakening to become a home for musical theater in NYC. In the past three years, we’ve developed and produced great projects like Martha Clarke’s reimagining of The Threepenny Opera and premieres of Found by Eli Bolin, Hunter Bell, and Lee Overtree and These Paper Bullets! by Billie Joe Armstrong and Rolin Jones. We’ve also produced several one and two-week workshops of musicals to help develop thrilling projects from the ground up.

What was the first inspiration for The Band’s Visit?
Itamar Moses: The project originated with our producer Orin Wolf, who acquired the stage rights to the film from Eran Kolerin, the filmmaker. He asked me to take a look at the film — which I’d heard of but never seen — and of course I loved it, because it’s great, and I immediately saw why Orin thought it might make a good stage musical. So then David Yazbek, who also saw the potential, and I were hired to do the adaptation.

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New Work in Progress: From Page to Stage

This month, we chatted with Katy Lipson, the Company Director/Producer at Aria Entertainment, about their upcoming new musical showcase, From Page to Stage. Featuring readings and showcases of new and developing musicals, this year’s group of musicals includes a show written by Festival alumni Hyeyoung Kim and Michael Cooper (Fest ’06, Sunfish) and one by Elliot Davis, who will be featured in this year’s Festival with Soho Cinders.
 
What is Aria Entertainment’s mission, and how does From Page to Stage fit into that larger picture?
Aria Entertainment is passionate about commissioning, developing and producing new musical theatre. Over the past four years as we have built the company, we have produced over 35 productions many of which have been world premieres or UK premieres of new international musicals. In 2013, I created the From Page to Stage season of new musicals as a platform for creators of new musicals. This was my opportunity to find new writers and give them development opportunities, as well as to introduce audiences to the process.

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Festival Show Update: How to Break

How to Break was presented at the 2014 Festival. We reached out to Rebecca Hart, Aaron Jafferis and Yako 440 to find out what work they’ve been doing on the show since the Festival. How to Break will be presented in Village Theatre’s Festival of New Musicals in August.

What was the response to How to Break like after the 2014 Festival?
Many folks said How to Break moved and excited them personally, but was perhaps not right for their audiences. As the musical theatre landscape changes, we’re hopeful the villagers waving to us from that landscape will be getting closer and closer.

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New Work in Progress: Broadway Bounty Hunter

This month, we chatted with Branden Huldeen, the Artistic Associate & Director of New Play Development at Barrington Stage Company, about their upcoming production of Broadway Bounty Hunter, by Joe Iconis (Fest ’11-Bloodsong of Love), Lance Rubin and Jason “SweetTooth” Williams. This production has received a Production Grant from NAMT’s National Fund for New Musicals.

How did Broadway Bounty Hunter first make its way to Barrington Stage Co.?
Julie Boyd (our Artistic Director) and Megan Nussle (Literary Associate) saw a reading produced by Rhinebeck Writers Retreat last year and fell in love with the show.  Joe has a long relationship with BSC and they knew that this show would be a great addition to our season.

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This month, we chatted with Giovanna Sardelli, the Director of New Works at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, about their upcoming New Works Festival, held annually in Palo Alto. Read more about their festival, which this year coincides with NAMT’s Roundtable on Education & Outreach, being held at TWSV. 
Can you tell us a little about the history of TheatreWorks’ New Works Festival and what your goals are for the program?
The Festival began 15 years ago as a way to introduce our audiences to works in development and to get them excited about the process of making theatre. It is our goal to provide the artists we invite to TheatreWorks with a safe environment in which to explore and create – one that supports their vision. As our audiences are an invaluable part of the process, it is our goal to provide them an opportunity to engage with art and artists in a way they might not otherwise be able to do.
How does TWSV select shows for the festival?
Primarily we take submissions from agents. We also reach out to literary managers and artistic directors for suggestions since we all have works we love that we aren’t able to support – in fact I have several right now if anyone wants suggestions! Also we rely upon writers with whom we have a relationship to suggest other artists and shows. They are wonderful advocates for each other.

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Festival Show Update: Legendale

Andrea Daly and Jeff Bienstock have been hard at work since presenting Legendale in the 2015 Festival. We checked in with them to find out what’s been happening for the show since the Festival, and what’s coming up next.

What has the post Festival response to Legendale been like?
The most common reaction we got was “I never expected to enjoy a musical about video games this much!” Since we tried to write a show that would appeal to everyone, it was really encouraging to receive a positive response from people who knew nothing about Legendale‘s subject matter. Overall, the NAMT Festival didn’t just meet our expectations, it blew them away.

What did you discover about the show after presenting it last October, and what work have you done on the show since then?
James Monroe Iglehart played our show’s antagonist at the Festival, and he brought up questions about his motivations that we couldn’t easily answer. As it turned out, the character needed a complete overhaul, and that change led us to hone and clarify a number of other characters as well. Since October, we’ve also been lucky enough to participate in two ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshops (in Los Angeles and New York), so the feedback from all three presentations has shaped our work quite a bit.

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Festival Show Update: LIZZIE

Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer, Tim Maner and Alan Stevens Hewitt recently began licensing their 2010 Festival show LIZZIE. Now that they’ve begun licensing the show, we wanted to check in with LIZZIE one last time to find out what this new step means for the show.
LIZZIE has had quite the journey since it appeared in the 2010 Festival! Can you tell us a little bit about the developmental path that brought the show to its current form?
SC: In the 2 years following NAMT, we did a developmental production at Village Theatre in Washington, a concert at Ars Nova in New York, and a co-production of Baldwin Wallace University and Playhouse Square in Cleveland, directed by Vicky Bussert who we met when she directed our NAMT presentation. All those productions were very different, and working with such different directors and actors was great for allowing us to see how the show worked and to zero in on things that needed to be sharpened. We did a lot of rewriting in those years, added a few new songs and reworked whole sections. And we changed the name of the show from Lizzie Borden to just LIZZIE.
Then we made the album! We always described LIZZIE as a concept album come to life, but it was just a way of talking about the show. There was no actual album. But in 2013, Alan completely orchestrated the show and produced the recording, which we approached more like a rock record than a cast album. At that point, the show really felt “finished” to us. (The album is on Broadway Records and is available as a CD, digital download, and vinyl.)
Since then we’ve had productions at TUTS in Houston, Portland Center Stage, Fredericia Teater in Denmark, and Ray of Light Theatre in San Francisco.

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This month, we checked in with Brett Smock, the Producing Artistic Director at Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival, a brand new NAMT member. Located in Auburn, NY, FLMTF has an exciting summer of new works lined up, including From Here to Eternity, a new musical with music by Stuart Brayson, lyrics by Tim Rice (Fest ’94, Tycoon) and book by Bill Oakes, and a festival featuring seven new musicals. Keep reading to learn more about this member’s exciting new works program! 
Can you tell us about Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival’s relationship with new works development throughout the years?
The Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival was launched in 2012 to create a haven for musical theatre as an art form and to cultivate economic and artistic revitalization in the Finger Lakes region.  Operating on three stages, in two cities, the Festival produces new musicals, reimagined classics and fosters writers and creative teams of musicals in their earliest stages of development.
What are some of the new works FLMTF is developing this year?
2016 stands to be a very special year for the Festival.  Of our eight-show season, four of those shows are new musicals.  We will produce the North American premiere of Tim Rice’s From Here to Eternity [written with Stuart Brayson and Bill Oakes], followed by the regional premiere of Treasure Island [by Brett Smock, Carla Vitale and Corinne Aquilina] and a new production of Tenderly, The Rosemary Clooney Musical.  On our stage in Rochester, we will produce Austen’s Pride: A New Musical of Pride and Prejudice [by Lindsay Warren Baker and Amanda Jacobs].  I am thrilled to be able to create development opportunities for these new works and to have the works crafted by such stellar creative teams.

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This month, we chat with Kirsten Childs about her new show Bella: An American Tall Tale, which will receive its world premiere next season in a co-production with Dallas Theater Center and Playwrights Horizons. The production has just received a NFNM Production Grant. Childs is a Festival Alumna from her shows The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin (Fest ’98) and Funked Up Fairy Tales (Fest ’12).
How did the idea for Bella: An American Tall Tale first come to you?
I was walking home to my apartment one day, and a couple was walking in the same direction ahead of me.  Much to the appreciation of all the men (and I mean ALL the men) passing by, the woman had an extravagantly zaftig African fertility goddess figure.  I actually slowed down to watch each and every man stop, turn and look at the woman as they passed her by.  Their spellbound behavior underscored for me the fact that women are being sold a fraudulent bill of goods as to what men find attractive in a woman.  Right then and there, I decided to make a larger-than-life tall tale about a heroine modeled after this modern day Venus.  And what better place to set a larger-than-life tall tale than the American Old West?

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