Titles for the National Alliance for Musical Theatre’s 27th Annual Festival of New Musicals this fall will include Jeff Talbott & Will Van Dyke‘s Imagine Harry, Duncan Sheik & Kyle Jarrow’s Noir, The Q Brothers‘ Othello: The Remix and more, the musical theatre trade organization announced on July 6. Staged readings of eight new musicals will be presented in front of producers, agents, artistic directors and other industry professionals Oct. 15-16 at Off-Broadway’s New World Stages. The festival represents a major marketplace for emerging projects.
The industry event discovers new musicals and presents them in 45-minute reading presentations over two days. All production costs are underwritten by NAMT, at no cost to the writing teams. The non-profit NAMT funds the Festival entirely through donations, sponsorships and contributions.
A committee of 15 theatre professionals selected the 2015 musicals out of 223 blind submissions. The musicals are Costs of Living (book, music & lyrics by Timothy Huang); Imagine Harry (music & lyrics by Will Van Dyke, book & lyrics by Jeff Talbott); The Last Queen of Canaan (book by Harrison David Rivers, lyrics by Rebekah Greer Melocik, music by Jacob Yandura); Legendale (music by Andrea Daly, book & lyrics by Jeff Bienstock, story by Bienstock & Daly); lift (book & lyrics by Daryl Lisa Fazio, music by Aaron McAllister); Noir (music & lyrics by Duncan Sheik, book & lyrics by Kyle Jarrow); On the Eve (story by Michael Federico, Shawn Magill & Seth Magill, music & lyrics by Shawn Magill & Seth Magill, book by Michael Federico); and Othello: The Remix (book, music & lyrics by The Q Brothers).
Casting for each musical and further programming details will be announced soon.
Here’s a look at the projects and writers finding a voice in the 2015 NAMT Festival of New Musicals:
Music & lyrics by Will Van Dyke
Book & lyrics by Jeff Talbott
“When Tucker was 8, Harry was his imaginary friend. Now Tucker’s grown up, and Harry has left the biz — two lost guys trying to figure out the little things. Like life. Can they help each other before it’s too late? Imagine Harry is a musical for grown-ups about the very tricky business of growing up.”
Imagine Harry was a semi-finalist for the 2015 O’Neill National Musical Theater Conference and a finalist for the 2014 Rhinebeck Writers Retreat. This will be the first industry presentation of this show. New songs by the team will also be heard this fall in an evening at 54 Below. Clips from a demo of songs from the score are heard on Van Dyke’s website.
Will Van Dyke is a New York-based musical theatre writer and music director. His compositions include Winnie The Pooh Kids (Disney), The Lion King Jr. & Kids (Disney), The Devil’s Bitch (Playbill) and The Girls I’ve Like Liked (Ars Nova). Upcoming musicals include Magnificent Climb (with Rick Elice), Wintersong (with Jeff Talbott) and Writing Kevin Taylor (with Josh Halloway). Will orchestrated Andrew Lippa’s show The Life At The Party (Menier Chocolate Factory). Will’s albums Chasing the Day, Writing Kevin Taylor, Daylight, Constant and Make The Season Bright (co-written with Matt Doyle) and his single Another Time are available wherever digital music is sold. Visit willvandyke.com.
Jeff Talbott’s play The Submission was the inaugural recipient of the Laurents/Hatcher Award in 2011 and was produced Off Broadway by MCC Theater. It received the Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award for Best New American Play in 2012. The play was a semi-finalist for the 2010 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. His play A Public Education was a finalist for the 2015 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. His plays have had workshops and readings at TACT/The Actors Company Theatre (A Public Education, All the Stars in the Midnight Sky, The Gravedigger’s Lullaby), MCC and Pioneer Theatre Company. He lives in New York City and writes musicals with Will Van Dyke (Imagine Harry and Wintersong). They are releasing an EP of new songs called “A View of the River” this fall.
COSTS OF LIVING
Book, music & lyrics by Timothy Huang
“Based on a true story, Costs of Living chronicles the lives of two immigrant cab drivers who come to New York for the American dream but instead find a nightmare scenario. Set to a rock and pop theatre score, featuring a predominantly Asian-American ensemble.”
Costs of Living originated as a second-year project in the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop in 2010. It was a selection of the 2011 ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop and the 2012 BMI Master Class moderated by Stephen Sondheim. It received a full workshop in 2012 through the New York Theatre Barn. Nominations: 2014 Jerry Bock Award, 2013 Weston New Musical Award, and the 2014 American Harmony Prize (Curtain Call). Finalist: 2012 Fred Ebb Award and 2011 American Harmony Price. Winner: 2015 New American Musical Award (B-Side Productions) and 2013 Jerry Harrington Award (BMI).
Composer-lyricist Timothy Huang‘s recent works include: Peter and the Wall (DG Fellowship, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat), A Relative Relationship (2013 Sound Bites Festival Winner: Best Musical), Timothy Huang: Chinese or Crazy? (NYTB), and Crossing Over (NAAP). Other works include: LINES: A Song Cycle (NYMF), The View from Here (Talkinbroadway.com’s Top 10 Cast Albums of 2006) and Death and Lucky (MacDowell Fellowship). Timothy is the recipient of a 2013 Jerry Harrington Award, a 2012 Fred Ebb Award finalist and a 2012-2013 Dramatist Guild Fellow.
THE LAST QUEEN OF CANAAN
Book by Harrison David Rivers
Lyrics by Rebekah Greer Melocik
Music by Jacob Yandura
“Set in 1937 rural Virginia, The Last Queen of Canaan follows Cora Skye, an uncompromising landowner, and Ginny, her restless granddaughter. When Kay, a Northern do-gooder, descends on the property to collect Cora’s story for the WPA, she unwittingly instigates a confrontation that will leave all three women forever changed.”
The Last Queen of Canaan was developed as part of New York University’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing program (2011), Rhinebeck Writers Retreat (2011), the Yale Institute for Musical Theatre (2013), Northern Stages’ New Works Now Series and Theater Latté Da’s NEXT: New Musicals in the Making Series (2015).
Harrison David Rivers is the winner of a GLAAD Media Award, a McKnight Fellowship for Playwrights, a Many Voices Jerome Fellowship (Playwrights’ Center), a Van Lier Fellowship (New Dramatists), an Emerging Artist of Color Fellowship (New York Theatre Workshop), the New York Stage & Film’s Founders Award and has been a finalist for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. He is a Usual Suspect at NYTW and an alumnus of the Emerging Writers’ Group at the Public Theater. He received his BA from Kenyon College and earned an MFA in playwriting from Columbia University.
Rebekah Greer Melocik’s current projects with collaborator Jacob Yandura include Feral (book by Victor Lesniewksi), based on John Bishop’s Borderline; and a commission from New York City Children’s Theater, Wringer, based on the novel by Jerry Spinelli. Recent recognitions include: Ars Nova’s two-year UNCHARTED residency, the 2014 Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals, The York Theatre’s NEO 2014 residency, 2013 Yale Institute for Music Theatre, the 2012-2013 Dramatists Guild Fellowship, the 2012 Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, Cap21’s Writers Residency and ANT Fest 2013 (The Fearful Earful). BA: University of Southern California; MFA: NYU.
Jacob Yandura’s current projects with collaborator Rebekah Greer Melocik include Feral (book by Victor Lesniewksi) based on John Bishop’s Borderline and a commission from New York City Children’s Theater, Wringer, based on the novel by Jerry Spinelli. Recent recognitions include: Ars Nova’s two-year UNCHARTED residency, the 2014 Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals, 2013 Yale Institute for Music Theatre, the 2012-2013 Dramatists Guild Fellowship, the 2012 Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, Cap21’s Writers Residency and ANT Fest 2013 (The Fearful Earful). BA: Kenyon College; MFA: NYU.
Music by Andrea Daly
Book & lyrics by Jeff Bienstock
Story by Bienstock & Daly
“Andy’s favorite way to escape his humdrum life is an online game full of magic and monsters called ‘Legendale.’ When a once-in-a-lifetime tournament is announced, Andy dreams of victory, but finds himself stuck competing as a cow maiden — the lowliest character in the game. He curses his fate, until the fantasy becomes real and Andy and his avatar must both discover their inner warrior. An original, contemporary musical comedy with a pop-infused score, Legendale blends romance, adventure and virtual reality.”
After extensive meetings throughout 2012, the writing of Legendale began in earnest in 2013. In December of the same year, Jeff and Andrea were invited up to East Haddam, Connecticut for a two-week residency at Goodspeed Musicals’ Writers Colony. An informal reading of the first act took place at Goodspeed in February 2014. Legendale‘s first full-length reading was presented at Ripley Grier studios in New York City in November 2014.
Andrea Daly is a composer, songwriter and singer based in Brooklyn. Her multi-genre output spans pop, theatre and classical, with influences ranging from Regina Spektor to Stephen Schwartz to Aaron Copland. A Michigan native, Daly received her PhD in Composition from Stony Brook University in NY, where she was honored with the prestigious five-year Graduate Council Fellowship, the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and The Ackerman Award for Excellence in Music. Andrea is an alumna of both the Goodspeed Musicals Writers Colony in Connecticut and the Mercer Songwriters Project in Chicago. She has a publishing contract with Warner/Chappell Music.
Jeff Bienstock was born in Santa Monica, California and has a Masters in Composition from NYU. His first musical, The Morning After/The Night Before, was produced in the 2010 Fringe Festival and won an award for Outstanding Music and Lyrics. In 2012, Jeff received a Sloan Foundation Grant to co-create The Bone Wars for the Ensemble Studio Theatre. Jeff participated in the Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project, where he met future collaborator Andrea Daly. He is an alumnus of the BMI Musical Theatre workshop and his work has been performed at the Laurie Beechman, Ars Nova and elsewhere.
Book & lyrics by Daryl Lisa Fazio
Music by Aaron McAllister
“In a blue collar Ohio town, 8-year-old Ethan falls through the ice and is miraculously saved with no known hero. When the boy, who not long ago lost his dad, insists it was a ‘birdman,’ his family grapples with faith and hope as the community watches the mystery unfold.”
Lift — or lift, lowercase, as the creators prefer to characterize it — began in 2007 as the first collaboration between playwright Daryl Lisa Fazio and composer Aaron McAllister. It took part in the York Theatre Company’s Developmental Reading Series in 2008 and had an industry reading in NYC in 2010. It was also a semifinalist for the 2010 NYMF’s Next Link Project and a finalist for the 2011 Fulton Theatre Discovery Project. In 2013, a dramatically new draft of lift was developed at Coastal Carolina University in a weeklong workshop that culminated in a fully staged public reading.
Daryl Lisa Fazio is a playwright and theatre graphic designer hatched in Mississippi. Her plays include Split in Three (world premiere, Florida Rep), Greyhounds (Off Broadway) and Georgia Out of My Mind (Minnesota Fringe Festival), as well as the musical POPart (NYMF) with composer Aaron McAllister. Her latest project, Free Spirits, is a commission for Horizon Theatre in Atlanta. Daryl studied Acting at Northwestern University, got her MFA in Graphic Design from the University of Memphis, is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and lives in Atlanta, GA. Visit darylsplays.com and darylfazio.com.
Aaron McAllister is the resident musical director and conductor at The Fulton Theatre. He has musically directed and conducted more than 70 musicals around the country and is a highly sought after vocal coach/performance clinician. As a composer, Aaron has written the scores to two additional original musicals (POPart and Blackout), which have been developed around the country including Off Broadway and has contributed songs, arrangements and orchestrations to several other original theatrical works. He is a graduate of SUNY Geneseo (BA in vocal performance and conducting) and the University of Maryland (MM in conducting).
Music & lyrics by Duncan Sheik
Book & lyrics by Kyle Jarrow
“A heartbroken man never leaves his apartment, consoled only by the music on the radio. Through the thin walls, he hears almost every word of the couple next door — and before long, his eavesdropping becomes an obsession. Soon he finds himself drawn into a web of lust, lies, deceit and danger. Noir is a lush and mysterious new musical inspired by radio plays and classic film noir.”
Noir was developed in part at Rhinebeck Writers Retreat and at the Joop van den Ende Academy in Hamburg, Germany. It received a reading at Playwrights Horizons and a workshop presentation as part of New York Stage & Film’s Powerhouse Theatre season in Summer 2015.
Kyle Jarrow is a Brooklyn-based writer who creates work for the stage, film and TV. His work includes A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant (OBIE Award), Hostage Song (NAMT 2010), Love Kills, Whisper House (also with Duncan Sheik), as well as the upcoming Fallout (with Nick Blaemire) and Ana and the American Dream (with Josh Schmidt). Kyle wrote the film Armless, which was an official selection of Sundance Film Festival. Kyle plays in the rock band Sky-Pony alongside his wife, actress Lauren Worsham. They’ll be releasing their album Beautiful Monster (Knitting Factory Records) in November. Visit www.landoftrust.com.
Duncan Sheik‘s selected theatre credits: Spring Awakening (eight 2007 Tony Awards and Grammy Award), American Psycho (2016 Broadway debut), Because of Winn Dixie (Delaware Theatre Company, 2015), Whisper House (The Old Globe, 2011), Alice by Heart (National Theatre London, 2012). Other works currently in development include Nero and The Nightingale. Recorded works: Legerdemain (Fall 2015), Covers 80s (2011), Whisper House (2009), WhiteLimousine (2006), Daylight (2002), Phantom Moon (2001), Humming (1998), Duncan Sheik (Grammy Nomination, 1996).
ON THE EVE
Music & lyrics by Shawn Magill & Seth Magill
Book by Michael Federico
Story by Michael Federico, Shawn Magill & Seth Magill
“As bombs explode outside, a theatre company staves off impending apocalyptic doom by performing a sci-fi musical about Marie Antoinette’s first time-traveling hot air balloon. As the dictatorial Talking Man turns the story into a celebration of stereotypes, the company fights back. Soon the play bleeds into reality, reviving hope for survival.”
On the Eve was first produced in a staged-reading workshop in 2011, advancing to a 10-show production at the Margo Jones Theatre in Dallas in 2012, earning year-end best mentions by D Magazine, Theatre Jones, Dallas Voice and Dallas Observer. The 2013 DFW Theatre Critics Forum awarded it “Best New Play or Musical” and “Best Creative Contribution for Score.” In 2014, a 23-show professional premiere production was held at Theatre Three Dallas, reaching 2014 year-end best lists for D Magazine and Dallas Culture Map and receiving The Column Awards’ “2014 Steve Lovett Award for Outstanding New Work by a Local Playwright.”
Shawn Magill has recently worked as composer and executive music producer for feature film Sunny In The Dark, as music director for A Christmas Carol at The Dallas Theater Center, as composer/sound designer for Nocturne at Second Thought Dallas and as composer/producer for her solo-piano album, The Imaginations of Man. Shawn is a co-founder of indie-rock band Home By Hovercraft, whose nationally acclaimed LP Are We Chameleons? features music from On The Eve. The DFW Theatre Critics Forum awarded her honors as playwright and composer/performer for On The Eve. Shawn serves as Director of Product at Chideo, The Charity Network.
Michael Federico has worked as a playwright and actor in Dallas, Chicago and Austin. His produced plays include Talent Show 1989, Ben Franklin: A Metal Opera (co-written with Cameron Cobb & Spencer Driggers) and Propaganda! His cosplay/dance-club version of Faust (co-written with Jeffrey Schmidt) premieres in Dallas this October. He has served as an Artistic Company Member of Dallas’s Kitchen Dog Theater since 2007 and is a recipient of multiple Dallas/Fort Worth Theatre Critics Forum Awards both as a playwright and actor.
Seth Magill is a co-founder of indie-rock band Home By Hovercraft, whose nationally acclaimed LP Are We Chameleons? features music from On The Eve. Seth received DFW Theatre Critics awards as a playwright and actor for his work in On The Eve. A member of the Actors’ Equity Association, Seth was last seen as “Fred” in Dallas Theater Center’s production of A Christmas Carol, as “Chase Spacegrove” in On The Eve at Theatre Three Dallas and in many memorable roles with Dallas Children’s Theater, Kitchen Dog Theater and Shakespeare Dallas. He has his BFA in Acting from Southern Methodist University.
OTHELLO: THE REMIX
Book, music & lyrics by The Q Brothers (GQ and JQ)
“Following an acclaimed international tour and triumphant homecoming to sold-out audiences in Chicago, this fresh urban take on Shakespeare’s tragedy is spun out and lyrically rewritten over original beats by The Q Brothers — America’s leading re-interpreters of Shakespeare through hip-hop. Whether you’re looking for a rockin’ night of rhythm and rhyme or a new way to think about Shakespeare, Othello: The Remix delivers an intense, high energy spin like no other.”
The Q Brothers’ Othello: The Remix was commissioned for the Globe to Globe Festival by Shakespeare’s Globe, Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Richard Jordan Productions. Since its world premiere as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, it has toured widely, captivating audiences at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Australia, Germany, South Korea, Poland, New Zealand and United Arab Emirates. Over the years, it has garnered tremendous acclaim and honors, including Edinburgh’s Musical Theatre Matters Awards for Best New Musical Theatre Show and Best Lyrics, as well as a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Ensemble.
GQ co-created, co-directed, and starred in the original productions of A Q Brothers Christmas Carol and Funk It Up About Nothin’. G also co-wrote and starred in the Off Broadway smash hit The Bomb-itty of Errors. Along with his brother and the other Bomb-itty guys, G wrote and starred in a hip-hop/sketch comedy TV show, “Scratch and Burn” (MTV). G’s screen credits include the movies Drumline, Taxi, I Think I Love My Wife and Werner Herzog’s Rescue Dawn. He wrote, directed and starred in the film Just Another Story (Showtime), has had prominent roles in “Chicago PD” (NBC), “Boston Public” (Fox), “Numbers” (CBS) and co-starred in the one-hour drama “Johnny Zero” (Fox) and John Herzfeld’s pilot, “S.I.S” (Sony). Together with his brother JQ, he recorded The Feel Good Album of the Year. Originally from Chicago, he received his BFA from the Experimental Theatre Wing of Tisch School of the Arts at NYU.
JQ made his Off Broadway debut when he laid down the beats as DJ/Composer for the smash Shakespearean “ad-RAP-tation,” The Bomb-itty of Errors. Along with his brother, GQ, he co-created, co-directed, composed and starred in the original productions of A Q Brothers Christmas Carol and Funk It Up About Nothin’. J co-wrote and starred in the hip-hop/sketch comedy TV show, “Scratch and Burn” for MTV. For his brother’s film, Just Another Story (Showtime), he created the score and original soundtrack. J produced the solo hip-hop album Foul Mouth Poet under his moniker J.A.Q., and other albums including Smashing (The Grommits), The Good Thief (Postell), Go Strong And Call It Awesome! (Stop, Revolt) and The Feel Good Album Of The Year (The Q Brothers). He was the lead singer of Them vs. Them, a Chicago rock band, and is currently co-host (with oldest brother TQ) of “Smallflower TV,” a video blog about natural health and body care based on Merz Apothecary, the other family business.
The National Alliance for Musical Theatre, founded in 1985, is a national service organization dedicated exclusively to musical theatre. Their mission is to advance musical theatre by nurturing the creation, development, production and presentation of new musicals, and to provide a forum for musical theatre professionals to share resources and exchange information. Our 200 members, located throughout 34 states and abroad, are some of the leading producers of musical theatre in the world and include theatres, presenting organizations, higher education programs and individual producers. Among the 228 musicals launched by NAMT’s annual Festival of New Musicals are Thoroughly Modern Millie, Children of Eden, Honk!, The Drowsy Chaperone, It Shoulda Been You, Songs for a New World, I Love You Because, Striking 12, Vanities, Ordinary Days and many others, representing 420 writers.
The NAMT Festival of New Musicals is overseen by NAMT new works director and festival producing director Branden Huldeen and festival general manager Lisa Dozier King.
The 2015 Festival Committee is co-chaired by Mara Isaacs, Octopus Theatricals (NJ) and Paige Price, Theatre Aspen (CO). Committee members include: Bob Alwine, Goodspeed Musicals (CT); Carlos Armesto, Theatre C (NJ); Amy Corcoran, Dallas Summer Musicals (TX); Keith Cromwell, Red Mountain Theatre Co. (AL); Dana Harrel, Disney Creative Entertainment (CA); Megan Larche Dominick, The MUNY (MO); Robert Lee, NYU Tisch School of the Arts- Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program (NY) and NAMT Festival Alumnus Writer; Jacob Padrón, The Public Theater (NY); Michael Rubinoff, Canadian Music Theatre Project at Sheridan College (ON); Greg Schaffert, Greg Schaffert Productions (NY); Stephanie Yankwitt, Barrington Stage Co. (MA); and chair emeritus Kelley Kirkpatrick, Center Theatre Group (CA).
Admission to the staged readings is intended for NAMT members and special guests, but the public can also receive passes to the Festival through a donation to NAMT. There is also a day-of stand-by line for the general public for free admission (based on availability).
Betsy King Militello is executive director of NAMT. Visit www.namt.org for more information.