5 Shows that Stand Out at the NYMF – 2013

The 10th Anniversary of the New York Musical Theatre Festival is upon us!  Boy, it seems like just yesterday I was attending an orientation meeting for Season #1 when Altar Boyz made it’s debut and I was thinking, “Really?  They’re going to acronymn-it to NYMF?  Sounds weird.”

Well, not only did they shorten it to NYMF, they stretched their run out a decade!  And the fest is still going!

And that 10th anniversary season starts tonight!  Start your musical theater engines, because you’ve got shows to see!

We get a lot of invites to NYMF shows.  And every year, before the start of the season, I take a gander at the shows featured in the festival catalog and pick the five shows that stand out.  Reminder – these aren’t the five shows that are necessarily the best – these are the five shows that for whatever reason (and I’ll explain that reason below) get me (and potential other audience members or producers) exited about learning more.  Take a look at last year’s to see what I mean.

Alright, let’s get to the five.  Here they are, in no particular order (wait, that’s a lie – they are in alpha order):

1.  Bend In the Road

The first eight words in the Bend blurb are, “The beloved literary classic, Anne of Green Gables . . . “

Nothing sets a musical off in the right direction better than good strong source material with a good solid brand.  The Producers of Bend knew that was going to be their selling point, and since the title of the musical wasn’t Anne of Green Gables (which I kind of wonder why), they smartly led with it in their description.

Another four words in the first sentence that got me?  ” . . . for the whole family.”  Family musicals (which I define as appealing to both the young folk and the adults – not just one or the other) are in, so Bend has a big potential market.

2.  Castle Walk

They had me at Fred and Ginger.

Castle Walk is a show-biz-story about RKO’s making of The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, which starred the aforementioned dance duo.  And, well, you just can’t go wrong with that kind of dance as a selling point for your show.  Of course, now, you have to deliver.

3.  God’s Country

God’s Country sounds like an adaptation as well, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out if it is one.  It isn’t mentioned in the description, but it takes place in 1871, which screams adaptation . . . which is also the same year that this novel of the same name takes place, although the hero names are different.  Huh.

Anyway, what got me about God was the Irish flag in the logo and the “Irish spirit.”  Ever since I saw a workshop of a musical version of Molly Maguires back in the 90s, I thought the Irish sound and the Irish people were perfect for a musical.  Sure, we had The Pirate Queen, but that came up short . . . so there’s still a lot of room for a big, fat Irish hit.  Could God’s Country be it?

4.  Life Could Be A Dream

In today’s troubling Off-Broadway times, if you can get a show to run longer than 6 weeks, you deserve a place in the Off-Broadway Hall of History.  Well, Roger Bean’s musical, The Marvelous Wonderettes, ran a heck of a lot longer than 6 weeks after in opened in September of 2008 (which was not a very good economic year, if you remember correctly) and closed in January of 2010!

With that kind of track record, you can’t help but be interested in Roger’s next entry into the market, and that’s the similarly structured Life Could Be A Dream.   This time, instead of a cast of ladies singing familiar tunes, the show features dudes singing doo-wop.  Oh, and it comes to the NYMF as a winner of a Best Musical Award from LA Weekly.  Awards are always great Producer and Audience bait, so this one got my attention twice.

5.  Volleygirls

Ok, so sports musicals are always a challenge . . . I’ve even blogged about how they don’t work.  But you know my ol’ saying . . .  as soon as you make a rule, something comes along to break it.  And hey – since Rocky is on its way, why not a Volleyball musical?  The other reason I like it, is that its description reads classically familiar – like the movie A League of Their Own, with the washed up coach leading a group of misfits.  Oh, and VGs also stars the funny-in-everything-she-does Susan Blackwell . . . who is worth the price of admission alone.


So those are this year’s five!  And let me tell you, it wasn’t easy picking just a handful, so I’d make sure you head on over to NYMF.org and check ’em all out for yourselves.  There are some great looking shows with kick-a$$ casts in this year’s season, and it all starts tonight.  Go see some!


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Looking to learn how to get your show to stand out?  Here are two quick tips:

1 – Read Seth Godin’s book The Purple Cow, my bible to product development and marketing.

2 – Take my Get Your Show Off The Ground seminar, which I guarantee will give you a bunch of great takeaways on how to get your show to stand out at the Fringe, NYMF, and on Broadway!  Take the seminar today.

  • Alida says:

    “Anne of Green Gables: The Musical” is a well-loved Canadian show celebrating its 50th anniversary this year — and it’s a trademarked title. I’ve heard some buzz about this new adaptation, and am excited to see it, and given the repetition of the idea of bends in the road in all 9 of the Anne books, it sounds like a well-chosen title that gives me a good feeling for the way it plays into the source material.

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  • Wayne Paul says:

    Okay Ken. Here’s our pitch for you to consider:

    Compelling & beautiful & full of surprises…

    SAMARITANS, Or Where Is Sylvia?

    At 4 a.m., Sidney leaves Senior Hollows in search of his late young wife, seeking her at their former home, but the reluctant Samaritans there—a young married couple with a lifelong secret—refuse to let him in/side. Sidney’s determined. All is disturbed.

    SAMARITANS stars Broadway veteran Michael H. Ingram, New Jersey gem, Kevin Sebastian, and Tiger’s Heart’s own Quinn Warren.

    Written by Wayne Paul Mattingly & directed by Houston bright star, Melissa Flower.

    Click on our web site for pics, info, etc.

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    2013 Labute New Theatre Festival. semi-finalist
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  • The plots of the two God’s Countrys aren’t any more similar than the characters’ names.

  • just for the record, from the so-called “golden age of Broadway,” I think one of the absolute most lovely scores ever written was for the “Irish” musical “Finian’s Rainbow.”

    why am I writing this? I have no idea. But I’m posting it anyway.

  • Beth D. says:

    So those are the 5 that stand out to you; any predictions on the 5 you think will be best?

  • Adam Kern says:

    Hi Ken! I hope you’ll come see The Water Dream as well – beside having an amazing cast, we’ve got a script and score that will knock your socks off!

  • Roger says:

    Will someone please write an honest review about Homo the Musical. I was so disappointed and I wasn’t the only one – because all the press items are about David Drake directing it and not about the play itself. Seriously, that is one lousy show… and I am in the majority of unfortunate ticket holders who would have appreciated a heads up.. oh and that poor, talented cast… it was like watching Dame Helen Miren do a snuff film. Insufferable tragedy.

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