That could mean one of two things:
A) I'm a little wimpy.
B) It's time for NYMF!!!
Despite what my older step-brothers would say, the answer is definitely B. Yep, the beginning of the Fall season mean it's time for Producers to go shopping for new musicals at the New York Music Theatre Festival, the same festival where Altar Boyz got its lift-off.
Like I do every year, I just sifted through the NYMF listings and picked five shows that stood out to me based on their blurb. It was a tough task this year, because there were a lot of nifty musicals looking to get picked up for a bigger stage. But here are my top five (remember – these are not judgements on the shows themselves, but only what shows popped out to me as being interesting based on their blurbs):
Central Ave is about 2 Jazz musicians, in LA, in the '40s, trying to make it. I mean come on, you had me at Jazz. But any story about musicians trying to make it just seems perfect for a musical treatment. It's just easier for the authors to get the audience to buy into having sung music tell the story, when sung music is part of that story. Just ask the authors of Jersey Boys, Phantom of the Opera, and even Rent.
Full disclaimer: Date was a part of last year's Davenport Theatrical Reading Series . . . but I'm not picking it here just because it's good to see something we helped birth grow up . . . I'm picking it for the same reason we picked it back then. It takes a simple setting–a speed date–and makes it exceptionally theatrical, with each character musicalizing their lives with the other in their minds. It seems fun, funny, and easy to produce for all those theater in the world looking for relationships shows to follow up I Love You, You're Perfect, etc.
Take a true-to-life Broadway story, add characters like Ziegfeld, Fanny Brice and a ghost, and then toss in a cast that features Rachel York, Michael Hayden and Daisy Eagan and I'm clicking that 'Buy Tickets' button. (I wonder if Daisy would remember that I asked her for her autograph outside the St. James theater when I was 18 . . . and she was like 8). Anyway, embarrasing story aside, this show is taking itself seriously, and I'll bet they've got a serious advance sale because of it.
I haven't even read the book and this just feels like a musical. And when an potential audience can imagine the musical in their mind, they are that much more inclined to buy a ticket. The only tricky part of working with beloved material like Austen's is . . . your audience has high expectations, so you best deliver, or your word-of-mouth will suffer.
Kissless is high school comedy about an "awkward misfit (who) is forced to live with an uber-jock." There is comedy in contrast, and it's got a little Glee going on, so already it has my attention . . . but that's not what got Kissless on my list. Kissless spoke to me by using its blurb to not only to tell the story of the show, but to tell the story of the people behind the musical. The blurb continues, "This production features a cast of Texas teenagers, descending upon the Big Apple with stars in their eyes, just enough money for a fake ID and an "I Heart NY" tattoo, and every intention of rocking your world." I mean, you want to stand up for them already, don't you?
Good luck to all the NYMFers . . . may your shows prove 1000x more successful than Altar Boyz.
For a full list of NYMF shows, visit www.nymf.org.
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