Among the more highly anticipated offerings is Re-Animator: The Musical, based on the 1985 cult classic film. The stage version is directed and co-adapted by Stuart Gordon -- the same man who helmed and co-wrote the screenplay for the film. "For years, people kept suggesting that it would make a great musical, but I thought it was an absurd idea and would just laugh," says Gordon.
However, he was convinced of the viability of the project after discovering what he describes as "the strangely off-kilter work of Mark Nutter." Not only has the composer written songs for the show, he's set nearly the entire production to music. Gordon quips, "It should be called Re-Animator the Operetta, but no one would show up."
Another of the musical's assets is the casting of George Wendt -- perhaps still best known for his work as Norm on Cheers -- who plays several roles in the production. "George is an old friend from my days as a theater director in Chicago," says Gordon. "And he actually produced one of Mark Nutter's earlier musicals, so when I told him we were developing a musical version of Re-Animator he was all about it."
One cautionary note for audiences: there is a tremendous amount of stage blood involved, and even a "splash zone" at the front of the house. "Cleaning up the blood has scared off a couple of venues," admits Gordon. "But the blood formula is completely stain-proof and washable and yes, we do have a plan for quickly cleaning up the theater after each performance. As a former Boy Scout, I always try to leave my campsites as I found them."
Another director at NYMF, Jeremy Dobrish, expounds on the requirements of being part of the festival as he preps for Baby Case, which is based on the kidnapping of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh's baby in the early part of the 20th Century and the murder trial and media circus that ensued.
"Part of the director's job is to figure out how to tell this story with very limited resources and time," he notes. "You have to store your set in a closet, and break it down and set it up for every performance; you have a rep plot of lights; you only have a few hours of tech time." And yet, he sees all this as an opportunity more than a limitation. "It forces you to find what is essential in the storytelling," he says.
As for the subject matter, Dobrish sees the incident as a precursor to more recent high-profile trials. "I think people have an insatiable need to get into the private lives of celebrities, and revel in their misfortune," he states.
In addition, Michael Ogborn, who wrote the show's score and book, has chosen an unusual structure for the musical. "One of the things that's fascinating about the show is that there is no protagonist," says Dobrish. "Every few minutes Michael gives us a new angle on the story, a new plot twist, a new character. It's a fantastically inventive way to tell such a complicated story."