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Theater News: National Alliance for Musical Theatre

Theater News: National Alliance for Musical Theatre

National Alliance for Musical Theatre (Betsy King Militello, Executive Director) is thrilled to announce the line-up of new musicals for their 32nd Annual Festival of New Musicals, on Thursday, November 19 and Friday, November 20, 2020. Due to the pandemic, the Festival will be reimagined and shared online through Broadway On Demand. The NAMT Fall events will kick off on Tuesday, November 17, with the Fall Conference, followed by the Festival of New Musicals on November 19 & 20.

Registration for industry members is free and will open soon at www.namt.org/festival. The public can also receive passes to the Festival through a donation to NAMT, which will be available at a later date through Broadway on Demand.

Now in its 32nd year, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre’s Festival of New Musicals attracts theatre producers from around the world to discover eight new musicals over two days. Production costs are underwritten by NAMT. As a non-profit organization, NAMT funds the Festival entirely through donations and sponsorships. 

The Festival has introduced musical theatre producers to 268 musicals and 512 writers from around the world. As a direct result of the Festival of New Musicals, more than 85% of the musicals presented have gone on to subsequent readings, workshops, productions, tours, been licensed, and/or recorded on cast albums. Some past Festival shows include The Ballad of Klook and Vinette, Benny & Joon, Come From Away, Darling Grenadine, The Drowsy Chaperone, Gun & Powder, Interstate, It Shoulda Been You, Lempicka, Ordinary Days, Striking 12 and Thoroughly Modern Millie, among many others. 

This year, a committee of 20 theatre professionals selected eight new musicals out of a record-breaking 349 submissions. The musicals they chose for the 32nd Annual Festival are: 

Co-Founders (Book & Lyrics by Beau Lewis, Adesha Adefela & Ryan Nicole; Music by Jodie Ellis, Brian Watters & Budo), Cowboy Bob (Co-Created by Molly Beach Murphy, Jeanna Phillips & Annie Tippe; Music & Lyrics by Phillips, Book & Additional Lyrics by Murphy, Additional Music by Alex Thrailkill), The Consoling Mechanism (Book, Music & Lyrics by Josh Franklin), Eastbound (Book & Music by Cheeyang Ng, Book & Lyrics by Khiyon Hursey), Hart Island (Book & Lyrics by Michelle Elliott, Music & Lyrics by Danny Haengil Larsen), Lizard Boy (Book, Music & Lyrics by Justin Huertas), Obeah Opera (Book, Music & Lyrics by Nicole Brooks) and On This Side of the World (Music and Lyrics by Paulo K Tiról, developed with Noam Shapiro). 

In a statement, Betsy King Militello, Executive Director of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, said, “Celebrating new work and emerging voices feels even more significant and vital this year. With a record-breaking year of submissions, we know there are countless stories to be told, reflecting a tremendous breadth of perspectives, ideas and experiences. We are thrilled to share a reimagined Festival digitally—we are shaping our Fall Events to be a place for the field to gather and experience new musicals in ways we never have before. We look forward to welcoming the industry to our full digital Festival programming, and the general public to our online Festival stream.”  

Casting for each musical and further programming details will be announced soon.

Co-Founders Book & Lyrics by Beau Lewis, Adesha Adefela & Ryan Nicole; Music by Jodie Ellis, Brian Watters & Budo

Co-Founders is the story of two unlikely partners chasing impossible entrepreneurial dreams. Esata, a black woman from Oakland, and Conway, a small town college dropout, take on the most competitive startup accelerator in Silicon Valley—where the privileged make a killing while the people across the bridge grind to survive. 

Beau Lewis is an Emmy-winning writer, producer, viral media expert and entrepreneur from Seattle. Lewis’ music videos have over 250-million views online and his work has been featured in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Fortune and on Good Morning America. He is the CEO of Rhyme Combinator, the media company dedicated to championing positive entrepreneurial culture. He co-founded and sits on the board of GoldieBlox, the award-winning children’s multimedia company challenging gender stereotypes with the world’s first girl engineer character. Lewis graduated from Stanford with a BS in Engineering and a focus in international relations from Oxford. 

Ryan Nicole Austin is a Grammy-nominated polymath who finds her most fulfilling experiences at the intersection of art and activism. Her California State Assembly-recognized career in music and media empowers community. Ryan is featured on TEDx San Francisco, ESPN’s NBA at Christmas with Daveed Diggs, and has performed for Google, Sony, LinkedIn, Apple and Barack Obama. Ryan has led workshops, directed and been the playwright-in-residence at New York’s Public Theater (BARS workshop), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, California Shakespeare Theater and American Conservatory Theater. Ryan holds a BA in Sociology and Political Science from San Diego State University. 

Adesha Adefela started acting in musical theater at age five, starring alongside her mother Deltrina Johnson, a Beach Blanket Babylon alum. She continued starring in musicals produced by community theaters in her hometown, Oakland, CA. As a teen, she was to sign with Atlantic records, but in an effort to uphold her personal values, she became an independent artist. That decision led to nominations, sold-out shows in the San Francisco Bay Area, co-starring in a reality TV show produced by Warner Brothers, becoming a Billboard-charted artist, and sharing the stage with famous acts Jazmine Sullivan, Carl Thomas, Ledisi, Goapele and more. 

Cowboy Bob Co-Created by Molly Beach Murphy, Jeanna Phillips & Annie Tippe; Music & Lyrics by Phillips; Book & Additional Lyrics by Murphy; Additional Music by Alex Thrailkill

Directed by Annie Tippe

Music Directed by Alex Thrailkill

You wouldn’t look twice at Peggy Jo. She was a good daughter, always tipped well at restaurants, but disguised as “Cowboy Bob” in a fake beard and a ten-gallon hat, she was the slickest bank robber Texas has ever known. Making her get-away in a sky blue 1975 Pontiac Grand Prix, she was a modern-day bandit stealing thousands and evading detection for more than a decade. With a score that’s equal parts Riot Grrrl rage and Texas two-step twang, this tale of a small-town legend spurs a discontented chain-restaurant waitress to buck routine, take life by the reins and let it ride. 

Molly Beach Murphy’s plays include The Air Got Thick; IKE; Big Ben in the Red Dirt Desert. With core collaborators Annie Tippe and Jeanna Phillips, Molly co-creates experimental musicals such as Cowboy Bob, with two new pieces in early development. Molly’s work has been developed with New York Theatre Workshop, New York Stage & Film, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Ars Nova, the Alley Theatre, Page 73, The Civilians’ R&D Group, The Orchard Project, Ucross Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers’ Fund, Yale Institute for Music Theatre, Village Theatre Festival of New Musicals, Pipeline Theatre Company. Page 73 Playwriting Fellowship Semi-finalist; Drama League Beatrice Terry Resident; New Georges Affiliated Artist. Published works in Vol. 1 Brooklyn, The Hairpin, Santa Ana River Review, and American Theatre Magazine. www.mollybeachmurphy.com

Jeanna Phillips makes and performs music and theatre for folks of all ages. Music for theatre: Cowboy Bob, with Molly Beach Murphy and Annie Tippe (Village Theatre, New York Stage and Film, Ars Nova, NYTW Adelphi Residency, Polyphone Festival); what’s this called, this spirit? with Alex Thrailkill (Ars Nova, Dixon Place); Cooking to me is Poetry with New Saloon (Galapagos Art Space); POE (The Morgan Library). She was selected as a 2019/2020 New Victory Labworks artist and was a member of Fresh Ground Pepper’s 2019/2020 Playground PlayGroup. Her clown-cabaret alter ego Andréa Lloyd Webber has wreaked havoc at Caveat, Ars Nova, La MaMa, Dixon Place, Littlefield, and Liberty Hall at the ACE Hotel. Alumna: The Civilians R&D Group, Yale Institute of Music Theatre. BFA NYU Experimental Theatre Wing. jeannaphillips.com

Annie Tippe is a director and creator of new work, film and music theatre. Recent: Premiere of Dave Malloy’s Octet at the Signature Theatre (Lortel Award for Best Direction, SDC Callaway Award Finalist) and Ghost Quartet (Premiere, The Bushwick Starr, etc…), Leslye Headland’s Cult of Love (Premiere, IAMA Theatre Company), Bess Wohl’s Continuity (Goodman Theatre), Molly Beach Murphy + Jeanna Phillips’ Cowboy Bob (Village Theatre; New York Stage and Film), James + Jerome’s INK (w. Rachel Chavkin, Under the Radar/Met Museum) and The Conversationalists (Bushwick Starr). Former Ars Nova Director-in-Residence, Drama League Directing Fellow, Williamstown Directing Corps. www.annietippe.com

The Consoling Mechanism Book, Music & Lyrics by Josh Franklin

Music Directed by Meg Zervoulis

Can our deepening commitment to technology also strengthen the bonds of human connection? In a world increasingly intertwined with artificial intelligence and virtual reality, The Consoling Mechanism‘s dynamic pop score, and the poignant-yet-humorous book pulls back the curtain on a family struggling to recover from unexpected loss.

Josh Franklin is an accomplished and well-rounded artist. He is the composer/lyricist for Royal Blood, a hip-hop Vampire musical comedy; Jack: A Moral Musical Tale, and is the sole writer of The Consoling Mechanism, a story about a girl struggling with her new reality as a person with disabilities. His acting credits include: Broadway: The Prom, Anything Goes, Ghost, Legally Blonde and Grease; Off Broadway: Cyrano with Peter Dinklage. Tours: Bob Gaudio (Jersey Boys), Danny Zuko (Grease), Chad (All Shook Up) and Billy Crocker (Anything Goes), which garnered him a Helen Hayes Award nomination. Albums: Josh Franklin and Spent.

Eastbound Book & Music by Cheeyang Ng; Book & Lyrics by Khiyon Hursey

Directed by Desdemona Chiang

Music Directed by Nate Hopkins

Eastbound is a new bilingual musical about the unexpected meeting of two brothers from opposite sides of the world, their quests for survival, and the power of choice. The musical is told through the soundscape of a contemporary score amalgamated with traditional Chinese folk music and Mandopop.

Born and raised in Singapore, Cheeyang Ng is an award-winning singer-songwriter who writes at the intersection of queer, Asian and immigrant stories. They have performed around the world and are the first Singaporean to headline a concert at Joe’s Pub and Millennium Stage at Kennedy Center. Creator of The Lunar Collective and podcast East Side Story, they have won multiple vocal awards across Asia. Other works in development include MĀYĀ (Live & In Color, Hypokrit) with Eric Sorrels. Select credits: Eric H Weinberger Librettist Award, Eugene O’Neill National Musical Theater Conference Finalist, ASCAP Foundation Lucille & Jack Yellen Award. www.cheeyang.com. @cheeyangmusic

Khiyon Hursey is a writer and composer based in Los Angeles and New York. He is the recipient of the ASCAP Foundation’s Irving Burgie Scholarship, Bart Howard Songwriting Scholarship, and the Lucille and Jack Yellen award, a 2016 NAMT Writers Residency Grant, a 2016-2017 Dramatists Guild Musical Theater Fellowship, 2017 Space on Ryder Farm Residency, 2018 Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project residency, 2019 ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop with Stephen Schwartz, 2019 Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, the 2020 Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals and the 2020 Stephen Schwartz Award. 

Hart Island Book & Lyrics by Michelle Elliott; Music & Lyrics by Danny Haengil Larsen

Music Directed by Jason Yarcho

Hart Island is an inspiring tale of an immigrant woman fighting for her child and the unexpected compassion of a disillusioned inmate who is the only person who can help her. This hauntingly beautiful musical observes two people on the edge of society as they change each other’s lives forever.

Michelle Elliott has written seven musicals with collaborator, Danny Haengil Larsen, including Cloaked, for which she was the recipient of the Kleban Prize for Most Promising Librettist. Michelle and Danny also received a Jonathan Larson Award for Cloaked, as well as a Richard Rodgers Development Award for their first musical, The Yellow Wood, which was also featured in NAMT’s 2009 Festival of New Musicals. Michelle is a graduate of NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. www.elliottlarsenmusicals.com. Michelle and Danny are currently working on a new musical, Country Radio, with Emily Saliers, one of the Indigo Girls.

Danny Haengil Larsen is a composer, lyricist, librettist, and orchestrator. His musicals, co-written with Michelle Elliott, include Hart Island, Maiden Voyage, Cloaked, The Yellow Wood, and several musicals for young audiences. Awards include The Jonathan Larson Award, the Richard Rodgers Award, NYMF Best Music Award, the Daryl Roth Award, and the Kleban Prize. Their musical web series The Hinterlands was nominated for 4 IAWTV awards. Danny is currently working on a new semi-autobiographical show, The Pain in My Gay-Mormon, Half-Korean Ass. His orchestrations have been professionally produced. MFA from The Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at NYU. www.elliottlarsenmusicals.com

Lizard Boy Book, Music & Lyrics by Justin Huertas

Directed by Brandon Ivie

Trevor feels like a freak—which is not helped by the green lizard skin he grew after a bizarre childhood accident. When one fateful night sets him on a journey of mythic proportions, Trevor must decide if he’ll become the hero of his own story in this thrillingly original musical.

Justin Huertas is an award-winning playwright, composer-lyricist and actor. His first original musical Lizard Boy world-premiered at Seattle Rep, toured to San Diego’s Diversionary Theatre, and had two industry readings in NYC. Justin then wrote The Last World Octopus Wrestling Champion (additional music by Steven Tran) for ArtsWest Playhouse & Gallery and Lydia & the Troll (co-created by Ameenah Kaplan) for Seattle Rep. He composed music and lyrics for The Lamplighter (co-authored by Sara Porkalob and Kirsten “Kiki” deLohr Helland) and for Book-It Repertory Theatre’s adaptation of Howl’s Moving Castle. Justin is currently under commission at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Obeah Opera Book, Music & Lyrics by Nicole Brooks

Obeah Opera is a hand-clapping, foot-stomping, spirit-lifting, magical musical sensation unlike any other opera before. Steeped in Black music, sung entirely a cappella by a powerful all-female cast, Obeah Opera reveals the story of the legendary Salem witch trials from the fascinating perspective of Caribbean slave women. 

In the performing arts world, Nicole Brooks is beyond a triple-threat. Her extensive accomplishments include: filmmaker, director, performer, singer, playwright, composer, curator, teacher and ‘art-ivist.’ Brooks has devoted over 20 years producing innovative content (for the stage and screen), with a focus on narratives that illuminate the peoples of the African Diaspora. In 2012, Brooks officially added playwright to her list of talents. Her debut theatrical work Obeah Opera—which she created, wrote, composed and performs in—has received critical acclaim and several award nominations throughout its various incarnations in Toronto, Canada between 2009 and 2019. 

On This Side of the World Music & Lyrics by Paulo K Tiról

Developed & Directed by Noam Shapiro

Music Directed by Steven Cuevas

Stories of overseas workers, young lovers, and gossipy church ladies. Snapshots of undocumented immigrants, millennial princesses, and first-generation Americans. In On This Side of the World, six actors give voice to Filipino immigrants navigating old lives and new beginnings, as a one-way ticket sends them on a journey 8,000 miles from home.

Paulo K Tiról is a composer, lyricist, and book writer from Manila, Philippines. He is currently a Dramatist Guild Foundation Fellow and was an artist-in-residence at Access Theater with director Noam Shapiro. His projects include music and lyrics for On This Side of the World (NAMT Festival 2020, Prospect Theater Company’s IGNITE series, Access Theater); book, music and lyrics for Called; and orchestrations for Ma-Yi Theater Co.’s Felix Starro. His work has been presented at Joe’s Pub, Barrington Stage and more. Training: Berklee, NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program (full-tuition scholarship), BMI. www.paulophonic.com.

Noam Shapiro is a New York-based director and the Producing Artistic Director of Three Hares. He is the SDC Foundation’s 2020 Kurt Weill/Harold Prince Directing Fellow, a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, a former MTC Directing Fellow, a Drama League First Draft Resident Artist, and a winner of OPERA-America’s Robert L.B. Tobin Director-Designer Prize. Noam has developed work with the Drama League, Ensemble Studio Theatre, the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, Access Theater, The Lark, New Dramatists and Fresh Ground Pepper. He also has guest directed at Yale, Johns Hopkins and Columbia. BA Yale. www.noamshapiro.com

The National Alliance for Musical Theatre, founded in 1985, is a national service organization dedicated exclusively to musical theatre. Their mission is to be a catalyst for nurturing musical theatre development, production, innovation and collaboration. Their 245 members, located throughout 33 states and abroad, are some of the leading producers of musical theatre in the world and include theatres, presenting organizations, higher education programs and individual producers. Among the 268 musicals launched by NAMT’s annual Festival of New Musicals are The Ballad of Klook and Vinette, Benny & Joon, Come From Away, Darling Grenadine, The Drowsy Chaperone, Gun & Powder, HONK!, Interstate, It Shoulda Been You, Lempicka, Ordinary Days, Striking 12 and Thoroughly Modern Millie, among many others, representing 512 writers.

NAMT’s Festival of New Musicals is the cornerstone of NAMT’s mission to nurture the development and production of new musicals. The Festival presents eight musicals before an audience of over 800 industry professionals. In the short run, the Festival’s goal is to connect producers with writers, so that our shows can extend their development trajectory.  The long-term goal is to expand the musical theatre repertoire and advance the musical theatre art form.

The 32nd Festival of New Musicals is overseen by NAMT New Works Director Ciera Iveson and Festival General Manager Dailey-Monda Management. 

The 2020 Festival Committee is co-chaired by Dana Harrel, formerly of Disney Parks Live Entertainment (CA), and Yuvika Tolani, Associate Producer, The Public Theater (NY). Committee members include: Brannon Bowers, Producing Director, American Music Theatre Project (IL); Taneisha Duggan, Producing Associate, TheaterWorks Hartford (CT); Charles Duke, Musician and Music Director (NY); Rick Edinger, Associate Teaching Professor of Music Theatre, Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama (PA); Kate Galvin, Artistic Director, Cardinal Stage Company (IN); Marguerite Hannah, Associate Producer, Horizon Theatre (GA); Branden Huldeen, Artistic Producer, Barrington Stage Company (MA); Tim Kashani, Co-Founder/CEO, Apples and Oranges Arts (CA); Jonathan McCrory, Artistic Director, National Black Theatre (NY); Dan Murphy, Managing Director, Broadway Rose Theatre Company (OR); Danielle Karliner Naish, General Manager, RCI Theatricals (NY); Olivia O’Connor, Manager of New Work Development, Pittsburgh CLO (PA); Patrick Parker, Associate Artistic Director, Paper Mill Playhouse (NJ); Lisa Rubin, Artistic & Executive Director, Segal Centre for Performing Arts (QC); Phil Santora, Executive Director, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley (CA); Alexis Williams, Associate Artistic Director, Playwrights Realm (NY); Pamela Adams, General Manager, Atlantic Theater Co. (NY), Chair Emerita; and Michael Kooman (Alumnus Writer Representative), writer of Dani Girl (Fest ’11) and The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes (Fest ’14).

NAMT thanks the following foundations, government agencies and organizations for their ongoing support of our programs: The Alhadeff Family Charitable Foundation, The Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York Creative Space Grant, ASCAP Foundation Irving Caesar Fund, The Austin Community Fund, BMI Foundation, The Dubose and Dorothy Heyward Memorial Fund, The Hargrove Pierce Foundation, The Hollywood Pantages, Howard Gilman Foundation, The Lucille Lortel Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, The New York State Council on the Arts, The Noël Coward Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Ted Snowdon Foundation, and Anonymous donors.

Broadway On Demand is the principal industry-led livestream platform housing performance and theatre education programming, and the preferred choice of top Broadway artists, producers, educators and professionals. In addition to a growing list of live-captured Broadway shows that can be viewed on demand, Broadway On Demand is partnering with individual artists, concert series, brick-and-mortar performance venues, and producing entities around the world to be able to continuously offer the widest array of archived and live streaming events, including everything from exclusive performances to backstage access to masterclasses, and much more. Thanks to a unique licensing interface, ShowShareä, approved middle school, high school, college, community and professional theatre productions utilize the platform to stream to their audiences.

Events

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

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