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5 Songs From the New York Musical Festival You Need to Hear

Here are the most exciting songs from NYMF 2019.

Gabrielle McClinton, Sarah-Anne Martinez, and Janet Krupin star in Leaving Eden, part of the 2019 New York Musical Festival.
(© ©2019 Michael Blase)

The annual New York Musical Festival (NYMF) begins on July 8. While the event features 10 fully produced new musicals this year, there are also several concerts and readings worth checking out. I've listened to the available music from this year's participating shows and selected five songs that I think you should hear before booking your tickets.


1. The Theme from Illuminati Lizards From Outer Space
As you might have guessed from the title and trippy music video, this musical by Yuri Worontschak and Paul Western-Pittard takes its inspiration from the world of Internet conspiracy theories. It's about a beauty queen who accidentally stumbles into a meeting of Illuminati Lizards scheming to colonize the planet. The earworm theme songs sounds like it could belong to a Saturday morning cartoon made especially for children living in compounds across rural Montana. If the casting of NYMF favorite Brian Charles Rooney is any indication, Illuminati Lizards is likely to be the camp spectacular of the festival.


2. "Tedious Sects" from Leaving Eden
You know Adam and Eve, but what about Adam and Lilith? Adam's unsubmissive first wife is the subject of this punk rock musical by Jenny Waxman, Ben Page, and Ada Westfall. In the above song, "Tedious Sects," Lilith tries to convince Adam that she is his equal and deserves a turn on top. She is expelled from Eden for her efforts. The song overflows with clever wordplay, with a din of sex humming just underneath the surface.


3. "Plato's Solo" from Brother Nat
In August 1831, Nat Turner led his fellow slaves in a rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia. Those events are the basis of this new musical by Allyssa Jones, Damien Sneed, Liana Asim, and Jabari Asim, which will receive three readings at the festival. The above blues number is sung from the perspective of a domestic slave, and it serves as a stinging refutation of the idea that his life is cushy and wonderful in the big house. Plato's simmering resentment provides context for an explosion of violence that still fascinates historians today.


4. "I'm Okay" from Buried
Composers Cordelia O'Driscoll and Tom Williams love The Last Five Years and Sweeney Todd, and they took inspiration from both for this new musical about two serial killers who meet and fall in love. While I can't vouch for the book, the music is surprisingly sophisticated as evidenced by the above track. Reminiscent of the music of Duncan Sheik, "I'm Okay" is mellow with a stealthy drive. It's the kind of song you can get lost in.


5. "Thorazine Shuffle" from Slide; A Tale of Mental Illness
Caren Tackett's concept album about schizophrenia will receive two concert performances in the opening days of the festival. Taking its name from a widely prescribed antipsychotic drug, "Thorazine Shuffle" is a rock 'n' roll patter song with memorable lyrics like, "I am an evolutional bitch / a revolutional itch / it's one electrocutional sitch / leaving one with a fun contusional twitch." This is brain chemistry, with a danceable beat.

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