The 10th Annual New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) takes place July 8-28 at various locations in Manhattan. There are 57 events this year, ranging from cabaret performances to full productions. You could never see them all, so how can you ever decide which shows to see? Easy: You make your choices based on the titles!
Here are the seven most eye-catching ones:
Aussies love musical theater. So naturally, Australia must have a pretty vibrant cabaret scene, right? You can see two of its many stars in this one-night-only double bill. The first hour, Amelia Ryan: A Storm in D Cup features Ryan riffing on her life as an exotic dancer and bad driver. Ryan also parodies the work of composers such as fellow Australian and Drama Desk Award winner Tim Minchin and Rodgers & Hammerstein. The second hour, Cabaret: The Complete Unauthorized Biography, stars 2012 Australian Cabaret Showcase winner Bradley McCaw tracing cabaret back to its roots: 19th century Paris.
Speaking of the 19th century, it seems that no era produces more fruitful material for musical theater. DC-based composers Debra Buonaccorsi and Steve McWilliams take aim at The Brontës, the English-literature talent family composed of Charlotte (Jane Eyre), Emily (Wuthering Heights), Anne (The Tenant of Wildfell Hall), and their less famous brother, Branwell, who made this creepy painting of the sisters. A cast of nine sings about Brontë family drama (on the page and off) in this sharp satire. Diaereses are complimentary with every performance.
A show about gays in a musical theater festival? How original! you might be thinking as you skeptically roll your eyes and toss back a highball. But hold on! This isn't just any musical about gays: It's about gay ALIENS! When an extraterrestrial from the planet Homo infiltrates conservative middle America disguised as a suburban housewife, all hell breaks loose in this rock-and-roll musical from composer Gina Volpe and book writer Lola Rock'N'Rolla.
Remember Harry and the Hendersons, the 1987 movie about a big friendly sasquatch that is taken in by one American family? It was nice and all, but it would have been so much better as a musical. Thankfully, Phil Darg has written Sasquatched! When gentle giant Arthur the Sasquatch befriends young Sam in Columbia National Park, everyone learns a valuable lesson about human-Sasquatch relations. Maybe John Lithgow can star in the Broadway transfer.
Song cycles are super serious. For the uninitiated, a song cycle is a collection of unrelated songs, usually written around a theme, performed on stage with a few actors and minimal set. They're great if you are a talented female singer who knows how to belt her face off in a nuclear explosion of schmaltz and emotion. Casting directors will be hearing tearful renditions of "Stars and the Moon" from Jason Robert Brown's Songs for a New World or "Anytime" from William Finn's Elegies at musical theater auditions until the end of time. That is why Stuart McMeans wrote this irreverent and grammatically incorrect send-up of song cycles. Four performers sing songs about terrible first dates and love at first sight in this plotless wonder of a show.
In this seminar/performance, award-winning librettist and screenwriter Sammy Buck asks, "What do Mrs. Lovett and Darth Vader have in Common?" Buck contends that classic screenplay structure lends itself to memorable characters and singable moments in musical theater. Do you agree? Do you think he's full of crap? Either way, you should check out his workshop.
Here's a provocative title. Occupy NYMF? Hardly. This is a zany Gilbert & Sullivan-style operetta about Frederick Freemarket, a musical conductor who suddenly inherits his uncle's $12 billion Wall Street investment company. He quickly learns, however, that being a titan of Wall Street is not all that it's cracked up to be. Charles Veley has written all new lyrics set to Arthur Sullivan's timeless music. Blessed be the public domain.
Tickets officially went on sale for NYMF on Monday, June 17. Go get yours now.