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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NAMT News

NEA Awards Grants to NAMT and Our Members

The National Endowment for the Arts has recently announced that it will award over $27 million in grants to fund artistic projects and research, with $3.28 million going to companies working in the field of Theater & Musical Theatre. Many NAMT members have been selected to receive grants in this cycle, including $55,000 to NAMT itself, in support of our Festival of New Musicals and Fall Conference. Congratulations to those members receiving grants in this round of NEA funding, including:
Ars Nova
Atlantic Theater Company
Diversionary Theatre
Horizon Theatre Company
The Lark
NAMT
The Old Globe
Philadelphia Theatre Company
Playwrights Horizons
The Public Theater
Roundabout Theatre Company
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Theater Latté Da
Theatre Under The Stars
Village Theatre
ZACH Theatre
Congratulations to all, and thank you to the NEA for supporting arts organizations throughout the country! For a full list of the recipients, visit the NEA’s website. 

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We are thrilled to announce 18 awards granted from the National Fund for New Musicals, and five awards granted from the Innovation & Exploration Grant program. Now in its tenth year, this year the Fund is providing grants totaling $58,000 to organizations across the country. The Innovation & Exploration (I&E) Grant program, now in its second cycle, is providing grants totaling $7,000 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 135 grants totaling $481,000 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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Members in the News

NAMT in the News

NEA Awards Grants to NAMT and Our Members

The National Endowment for the Arts has recently announced that it will award over $25 million in grants to fund artistic projects and research, with just over $3 million going to companies working in the field of Theater & Musical Theatre. Many NAMT members have been selected to receive grants in this cycle, including $60,000 to NAMT itself, in support of our Festival of New Musicals and Fall Conference. Congratulations to those members receiving grants in this round of NEA funding, including:
Ars Nova
Atlantic Theater Company
Dallas Theater Center
Diversionary Theatre
Goodspeed Musicals
Horizon Theatre Company
The Lark
Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma
MCC Theater
NAMT
The Old Globe
Playwrights Horizons
Prospect Theater Company
The Public Theater
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley
Village Theatre
ZACH Theatre
Congratulations to all, and thank you to the NEA for supporting arts organizations throughout the country! For a full list of the recipients, visit the NEA’s website. 

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Festival Alumni in the News

Members in the News

Kirsten Childs Thinks Big

Kirsten Childs, a Festival alumna for The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin (Fest ’98) and Funked Up Fairy Tales (Fest ’12), is well known for her imaginative stories, and her latest musical certainly lives up to that reputation. Supported by a production grant from the National Fund for New Musicals, Childs’ Bella: An American Tall Tale had its world premiere at NAMT member Dallas Theater Center, and the production is now playing in New York at member theatre Playwrights Horizons. American Theatre recently published a feature on Childs, her latest production and her views on the theatre.

“The musical theatre form can lift you to such a wonderful place,” Childs testifies. “And it’s my personal and political goal to be uplifting, without needing to give people rose-colored glasses, without needing to let the truth be swept under the carpet, and without pretending that awful things don’t exist.”

Read the full profile the American Theatre website. Interested in learning more about how the project came to be? Check out our interview with Childs’ from last year.

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Members in the News

NAMT in the News

NEA Awards Grants to NAMT and Our Members

The National Endowment for the Arts has recently announced that it will award over $30 million in grants to fund artistic projects and research, with $3,505,000 going to companies working in the field of Theater & Musical Theatre. Many NAMT members have been selected to receive grants in this cycle, including $55,000 to NAMT itself, in support of our Festival of New Musicals and Fall Conference. Congratulations to those members receiving grants in this round of NEA funding, including:
The 5th Avenue Theatre
Ars Nova
Atlantic Theater Company
The Lark
Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma
The Old Globe
Playwrights Horizons
Portland Center Stage
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley
Village Theatre
ZACH Theatre
Congratulations to all, and thank you to the NEA for supporting arts organizations throughout the country! For a full list of the recipients, visit the NEA’s website. Watch the NEA’s video above to learn more about their impact on the arts in America.

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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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We are thrilled to announce eleven awards granted from the National Fund for New Musicals, 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 eighth year, the Fund will provide grants totaling $43,000 to twelve organizations across the country.
NAMT Executive Director Betsy King Militello stated: “We are honored and excited to support our member theatres as they work with this inspiring group of writers to develop these innovative and provocative new musicals.  With these grants, we have now awarded 88 grants totaling $358,500. These projects will join a growing list of important new musicals added to the canon with support from our National Fund for New Musicals.

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Festival Show Update: Southern Comfort

This month, we checked in with Festival Alumni Julianne Wick Davis and Dan Collins about their 2012 Festival Show, Southern Comfort, heading to The Public Theater this February for an Off-Broadway run. Southern Comfort is also a past recipient of NAMT’s National Fund for New Musicals grant, having received a Production grant at Barrington Stage Co., a Project Development grant at CAP21 and a Writers Residency Grant at Playwrights Horizons.
Based on the Sundance Award-winning documentary, this heartwarming musical about a group of transgender friends living in rural Georgia is, at its core, a love story between their patriarch, Robert Eads, and newcomer Lola Cola. Through a unique folk and bluegrass-inspired score, the musical chronicles a year in the lives of this unique American family as they courageously defy the odds by simply remaining on the land to which they were born, reminding us that home is where we find comfort in our skin.

What work have you been doing on the show since your production at Barrington Stage Co. (BSC) a couple of years ago?
We learned so much from the excellent and generous audiences and team at BSC.  Based on the reception and feedback, we have been (and continue to) make adjustments to scenes and music throughout the piece.  Many of the changes are subtle and, observed individually, might only be obvious to those very familiar with the previous incarnations of the script, but we feel that the aggregate will significantly strengthen and clarify the story.  This includes replacing at least one of the existing musical numbers in the show with a new song, as well as new orchestrations throughout.  Also, we are not ignoring the fact that since we originally created and presented the piece, there has been an incredibly encouraging growth in awareness around the subject matter.  So, while the narrative will not change (as it is adapted from the documentary and the events still occur in 1998), we know we are speaking to a more informed audience, which we are taking into consideration as we continue to work through the script.We are all very excited that Southern Comfort will be seen Off Broadway this winter at The Public Theater.  How will this production differ from your previous presentations? 
One of the significant changes with regard to the current production will be in the casting.  With this production, we have been able to make a wider outreach in order to include transgender actors and we are so excited and grateful for that opportunity!  Beyond casting, we are working with our brilliant director, Tom Caruso, and the amazing design team he has assembled in order to deepen and expand the visual and technical aspects of the production.  We’ve been fortunate to work with a team that is always so respectful and thoughtful in their approach and, as a result, the presentations have always seemed to grow organically out of, and into, the presentation space.  The fact that this space will now be the iconic and uniquely intimate Anspacher Theater is all the more thrilling and we can’t wait to see the many beautiful ways that Tom and the designers make it a home for Southern Comfort!Are there any parts of the show you are excited to explore in this new production? 
We are so excited about each of the above-referenced points; the casting, the rewrites, the orchestrations and the design.  In addition to each of those things, we simply look forward to expanding our collaboration to include the incredible team at The Public.  The deep wealth of knowledge and support (not to mention the incredible history!) within those walls is irresistibly inspiring.  We truly look forward to continuing to share our thoughts and ideas with this new community of collaborators as we know the result is going to bring even more potency and life to the piece.  So, in short, we are just really excited to explore absolutely everything in the context of this overwhelmingly inspiring environment and community!
What moments in the show are you excited about sharing with a New York City audience? 
We’re excited to share every moment of the show with today’s NYC audience as the whole atmosphere around the subject has changed significantly since our last production.  In previous productions, we occasionally witnessed reactions to the subject matter that were not always positive and did not allow those audience members to connect fully to the story.  We’re grateful for the current opportunity to see many more moments speak to a wider audience and resonate like they never have before.
Why should everyone head to The Public this winter to see Southern Comfort
Our musical about Robert Eads and his chosen family is universal.  Although the subject matter may seem specific to its community, it ultimately is about family and home.  The Public has embraced our show in the most beautiful and relevant way possible and we’re confident that audiences will find themselves and their own family in the story.

For more information about Southern Comfort, visit The Public Theater’s website.

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A guest post from Kyle Jarrow, book writer and co-lyricist for this year’s show Noir, written with Duncan Sheik. Kyle was previously part of the NAMT Festival in 2009 with his show Hostage Song written with Clay McLeod Chapman.  

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An interview with Kent Nicholson, Director of Musical Theatre and Literary Associate at Playwrights Horizons, about their upcoming production of Far From Heaven, with a book by Richard Greenberg, Music by Scott Frankel and Lyrics by Fest alumnus Michael Korie (Blanco– ’89). The show is a recipient of one of NAMT’s National Fund for New Musicals Production Grants.

Cathy Whitaker seems to be the picture-perfect wife and mother in 1957 suburban Connecticut. But roiling beneath the surface, secret longings and forbidden desires cause her world to unravel, with incendiary consequences. With a lush score that is both jazz-inflected and hauntingly lyrical, Far From Heaven is a powerful story of romance, betrayal and intolerance, as a woman grapples with her identity in a society on the verge of upheaval.
Image: Kelli O’Hara in Far From Heaven at Williamstown Theatre Festival



Far From Heaven is a Playwrights Horizons’ commission. What came first: the project or the writers?
The writers came first. It was their idea. Scott Frankel and Michael Korie had talked with Richard Greenberg about working on something together during the run of Grey Gardenson Broadway. In their subsequent discussions, Far From Heaven came up as a project they all admired that they thought could have a new life as a musical. They came to us with the idea and we thought it was a good one.

Why choose to musicalize Far From Heaven and why were Scott, Michael and Richard the right team for the job?
The film is an exploration of the nostalgia we have for “simpler” times. Those times have a dark side, a side that forces people to live in denial of their own prejudices and desires. The film places its main characters on the edge of the ’50s bleeding into the social consciousness of the ’60s. Shot in a melodramatic style, as an homage to Douglas Sirk, it contains all the elements of a great musical: inner emotional lives, strong plotting, a simple character arc. The lushness of the film’s visuals have translated into a lushness in Scott Frankel’s score. In transforming the story from one medium to another, we feel that we have the ability to continue to explore the themes, that the film begins to explore and dig a little deeper into the characters’ emotional lives.

This is your theatre’s second time at bat with Korie and Frankel. What draws Playwrights Horizons to their work and why are they a good match with your audience and mission?
Our focus at Playwrights is always on the writers, and our mission includes composers and lyricists as writers. We focus on writer driven work, which tends to mean that the projects we produce are the ideas and province of the writers’ obsessions with the world. Scott and Michael have brought us many of their projects. Obviously, some of any producing decision is an aesthetic one, meaning we simply like their work. But beyond that we find that artist-driven work tends to move the form forward and explore the boundaries of what the form can be. Grey Gardenscreated a narrative out of documentary source material, and Far From Heaven is almost operatic in its approach to the material. They’re still musicals, but they play with the form in artistically challenging ways.

The show was recently at Williamstown Theatre Festival before coming to Playwrights Horizons. How has the show changed and grown over this process?
The piece went through some significant tweaking during the reading and production process. While the plot is generally a given and hasn’t changed much, how many scenes we keep from the movie, how we elide them together and where we choose to place our focus has shifted a lot, as has the amount of underscoring and music. Some characters have been made significantly smaller than they are in the film. And we learned a great deal from the Williamstown audiences. The opportunity to see the piece in a fully realized production prior to coming into NY, while we still have a chance to make significant changes, not just in the text, but also design and approach, is invaluable.

What will change as the show heads to the Playwrights Horizons stage?
You’ll have to come and see!

Why should people come see Far From Heaven on West 42nd Street?
Our space is unique in that is equipped pretty well for musicals and yet it is small and intimate. This is a grand show in many ways and the opportunity to see something of this size in a house as intimate as ours is rare. It’ll be a special experience.

For more info about Far From Heaven, please visit www.playwrightshorizons.org. 

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Congratulations to the 7 member theatres selected to receive grants from 
our National Fund for New Musicals this year. In the last 4 years, the Fund has given out 45 grants totaling $197,000. 

Production Grants of $10,000 have been awarded to:
Diversionary Theatre(CA) for Harmony, Kansasby Bill Nelson & Anna K. Jacobs
Playwrights Horizons (NY) for Far From Heavenby Scott Frankel, Richard Greenberg & Michael Korie (’89–Blanco)
TheatreWorks (CA) for Wheelhouseby Gene Lewin, Brendan Milburn (’04–Striking 12, ’11–Watt?!?) & Valerie Vigoda (’04–Strking 12).
Project Development Grants between $2,000-$3,000 have been awarded to:
American Musical Theatre Project at Northwestern University (IL) for The Verona Project by Amanda Dehnert.
Center Theatre Group (CA) for a new musical about urban superheroes by Matt Sax.
Dallas Theatre Center (TX) for Stagger Lee by Justin Ellington, Will Power & Daryl Waters.
Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre at University of Oklahoma for Something Wicked This Way Comes by Neil Bartram and Brian Hill (both, ’07–The Story of My Life).
A special thanks to all of our National Fund for New Musicals donors including Stacey Mindich Productions, The Alhadeff Family Charitable Foundation, The ASCAP Foundation Irving Caesar Fund and everyone who contributed in honor of our former Executive Director Kathy Evans.
If you are interested in contributing to the National Fund, please contact Executive Director Betsy King Militello. Donations of all sizes help grow the Fund and provide more grants to new musicals across the country.

Congratulations to all of the members and artists involved in these exciting projects! 

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