The New York Musical Theatre Festival is back with over 45 productions, readings, concerts, and special events. How does one choose what to see? You could start with the titles. We've put together seven of our favorites here, with a little bit of background information on the shows in case they are as intriguing to you as they are to us.
NYMF takes place at various locations (mostly in the Pershing Square Signature Center) from July 7-27. One of the largest musical theater festivals in the world, NYMF has played host to hundreds of shows, three of which (Chaplin, Next to Normal, and [title of show]) have gone on to Broadway runs.
This year's festival features celebrities, future flops, and more Australians than you can shake a stick at. Check out seven of the most eye-grabbing titles below:
Like a musical version of a crazy new Ben & Jerry's flavor, this one combines two subjects that have become favorites across the city's multiple summer theater festivals: zombies and strippers. With a book and dance-music score by Mark LaPierre, Zombie Strippers promises to be "part fast-paced farce, part sweet-friendship story, all sexy and hilarious." As far as we're aware, this show has nothing to do with the 2008 Jenna Jameson film of the same name. A horror story set in a graveyard over the course of one spooky night, Zombie Strippers previously headlined the 2010 New York Cringefest.
Finally, there's a musical about America's favorite ex-president and his (maybe) soon-to-be-president spouse. (We just don't talk about them enough!) Australian brothers Paul and Michael Hodge are the creative team behind this musical that could be alternately titled Two Bills, One Hillary. Seriously, there are two of them: Karl Kenzler (Mary Poppins) stars as W.J. Clinton, the empathetic lip-biting man from Hope that America fell in love with in 1992. Duke Lafoon plays Billy, the knee-slapping horndog we came to know over the course of his presidency. Dust off your soiled blue dresses! This is your opportunity to relive the '90s with Ken Starr, Newt Gingrich, and, of course, Monica Lewinsky.
With a magazine, an eponymous brand of chai tea at Starbucks, and her OWN 24-hour cable network, Oprah Winfrey is another American in desperate need of more exposure. Thankfully, Australian composing team Rachel Dunham and Shannon D. Whitelock are here with a high-energy pop score that's all about the Queen of daytime TV. Dunham stars as Oprah in the retrospective episode to end all retrospective episodes. Like Tom Cruise, you may just want to jump up on the furniture in feigned joy.
From 24-hour weepy self-help to the 24-hour news cycle, this show has to be about the scourge of cable news, right? Wrong! Propaganda! is about a secret government agency that works tirelessly to clean up political scandals. (If such an office exists, they're not doing a very good job.) It comes from the composing team of Taylor Ferrera and Matt Webster, who previously collaborated together on Kingdom Come. Spy games and tap-dancing abound in what the creators describe as "the ultimate tribute to the power of musical theater."
Falling into a wiki-hole is when you go on Wikipedia to look something up and follow your curiosity through a trail of links to a completely unrelated topic. This happens to us all the time, and considering the amount of time modern Americans spend on the Internet (Oh, hello…), we bet it happens to you too. But what if you could actually physically fall into the black hole that is cyberspace? Frank Ceruzzi, Blake J. Harris, and Trent Jeffords ask this terrifying question in Wikimusical, a heartwarming show about brotherly love and cuddly kitten memes.
6. Everything's Coming Up Profits — The Golden Age of Industrial Musicals
Did you know that Tony-winning composer Jason Robert Brown regularly writes the score for State Farm Insurance's industrial show? It's true. Bock & Harnick, Kander & Ebb: Plenty of Broadway composers have supplemented their income with lucrative jobs writing motivational music for the attendees of corporate conventions. Steve Young and Sport Murphy chronicle obscure-even-for-this-guy musicals like The Bathrooms Are Coming (for the 1969 American-Standard show) and Ford-i-fy Your Future (Ford Tractor, 1959) in their book Everything's Coming Up Profits. This special author event features audio clips and films. The best part: It's 100% free.
Paging all Broadway investors: This may be the one you want to attend. Director Marc Eardley has curated an evening of songs from proposed film-to-stage transfers that probably shouldn't make it out of the workshop phase. Titles include The King's Speech: A Royal Musical, Schindler's List, and Mommie Dearest: The Epic Joan Crawford Musical. I would actually like to see that last one. And now that Faye Dunaway has some free time, this might the perfect time for Joan to take Broadway.