I've got a soft spot in my heart for The New York Musical Theatre Festival.
The NYMF was our midwife on Altar Boyz, and without her, it would have been an even tougher birth than it was.
Our baby is almost 5 years old now (tear, tear). It seems like just yesterday that Matthew, Mark, Luke, Juan and Abe were taking their first few steps at The Puerto Rican Travelling Theatre (remember when Cheyenne Jackson played Matthew?).
You'll have to excuse me. When the new NYMF shows start their pre-festival roll out every September, I get pretty nostalgic . . . AND excited. Altar Boyz was 'blessed' with such good fortune after the NYMF, as was N2N, TOS and a whole bunch of other great abbreviated titles. There is such possibility each and every year! Going to see NYMF shows is like going to Florida for baseball's spring training . . . everyone is wondering who the breakout player is going to be?
I decided to cruise through the NYMF catalog this year and dog-ear some shows that caught my attention, just like I did for the Fringe.
In alpha order, here are the shows to keep your eye on, IMPO (in-my-producer-opinion).
Fantasy Football wins the award for the most press received by any festival show ever. Thanks to this super clever idea that juxtaposes two worlds that seemingly don't go together (musical theater and football), FF has gotten themselves on CNBC, and in Sports Illustrated, ESPN Magazine, The LA Times, The Philadelphia Enquirer and more. Will a musical theater fan go to a musical about football? Will a football fan go to a musical? Those questions remain, but I for one will be in the audience eager to find out the answer.
One year after winning the Outstanding Musical award at the Fringe, the writers of Perez Hilton Saves The Universe are back with something that feels more commercial, yet surely still has a comic bite. Broadway vets like Sarah Saltzberg and Clarke Thorell are just a couple members of the high-profile cast. It's also directed by Alex Timbers (of The Piven Monologues fame). They've even got some of the ROA producers on board already. Summer may be over, but Camp season may be just beginning.
I hate the title. Scratch that. I love the title, but it's a pitchman's worst nightmare (or does that make it your greatest asset?). Regardless of the amount of cussing in the title – or in the show – something feels indie-cool about FUE. Combine that with its simple rock and roll girl-meets-boy story, and I'm curious.
We had 5 people onstage for our NYMF show. Hurricane has almost 30. I often tell festival producers to produce small shows, because they come off better. Well, in true "embrace your flaw" fashion, the Hurricane producers have come out saying they are proud to present a show with "the biggest cast ever seen on a NYMF stage." There are Broadway vets, kids, and even a couple of ghosts. Oh, and I've gotten three unsolicited recommendations to see this show. There's some sort of storm brewing . . . and I want to see what it is.
I've been a fan of Matt Sklar and Chad Beguelin since I heard their demo to The Rhythm Club a decade ago. They've since gotten The Wedding Singer on the boards, and are also the writers of the much anticipated Elf movie-to-musical. They've taken a detour from big, fat, commercial shows to write a small and quirky musical about a Messiah. In lesser hands, I'd steer clear . . . but this I wanna see . . . and hear.
What are you seeing? I hope you're seeing at least one. If you wanna be a producer, the NYMF is where you need to be. The next generation of shows and artists are all here showing their wares. Even if you're not ready to pick up a show on your own yet, you should go . . . and play Fantasy Broadway. Ask yourself, "Which show would you produce?"
Write it down.
Then watch what happens with that show over the next year.
And then you'll think, "That could have been my kid."
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