The National Alliance for Musical Theatre has announced the line-up of directors and initial casting for its 29th annual festival, which will be presented October 19–20 at New World Stages. As previously reported, this year’s festival will showcase eight new musicals, selected out of 240 blind submissions, with a roster of songwriters, book writers, and lyricists that includes David Darrow, Daniel Zaitchik, Niko Tsakalakos, Imani Uzuri, Oran Eldor, and more.
Stars tapped to perform in this year’s NAMT include Felicia Boswell (Shuffle Along, Motown), Adam Chanler-Berat (Next to Normal, Peter and the Starcatcher, Amélie), Juwan Crawley (Aladdin), Alyse Alan Louis (Amélie), Ken Marks (Dear Evan Hansen, Spiderman: Turn off the Dark), Ben Mayne (The View Upstairs), Eric William Morris (Coram Boy, Mamma Mia!), Ciara Renée (Big Fish, Pippin), Will Roland (Dear Evan Hansen), George Salazar (Godspell, The Lightning Thief), and Emily Walton (Peter and the Starcatcher, August: Osage County).
The lineup of directors includes May Adrales (Vietgone), Stephen Brackett (Buyer & Cellar), Jaki Bradley (Good Men Wanted), Matt Cowart (Sunset Boulevard), Kristin Hanggi (Rock of Ages), Sarna Lapine (Sunday in the Park with George), Jonathan McCrory (HandsUp), Lonny Price (Sunset Boulevard), and Andy Sandberg (Application Pending).
Additional casting and further programming details will be announced soon. The casting director for the festival is Michael Cassara, CSA.
Every year, the industry-only event presents new works in development to producers and artists from around the world. Musicals at the festival are presented in 45-minute concert presentations over two days only.
In the festival’s history, over 85 percent of the shows have gone on to have subsequent readings, workshops, productions, licensing deals, and more. Past musicals to have passed through NAMT’s doors include Come From Away, The Drowsy Chaperone, It Shoulda Been You, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and more.
From musicals with mythical proportions, to tales inspired by real-life events, see below for the complete 2017 lineup, as billed by NAMT:
Book, music, and lyrics by Daniel Zaitchik
Darling Grenadine is a serio-comic musical about Harry, a fanciful jingle composer, and his precarious relationships with his girlfriend Louise, his brother Paul, and his Labrador Retriever (...also named Paul). Told with a rich contemporary score and a wink to the classic MGM musical, Darling Grenadine explores the friction between romance and reality, bitter and sweet, serving something magical, moving, and boldly new.
Music and lyrics by Niko Tsakalakos, book and lyrics by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb
Fall Springs is a semi-charming, cash-strapped town that sits directly on top of America’s largest reserve of cosmetic essential oils. It has big dreams, but at what cost? With new fracking techniques being recklessly implemented, the ground beneath Fall Springs is crumbling. Boulders, sheds, and the occasional bartender are being swallowed into the ground. And that’s only the beginning.
Girl Shakes Loose
Music and lyrics by Imani Uzuri, book and lyrics by Zakiyyah Alexander, poetry by Sonia Sanchez
Girl Shakes Loose is a three-city coming of age journey. Girl finds herself in New York, unemployed, suddenly single and must figure out where she’s going and why she keeps making the same mistakes. It’s up to Girl to figure out where home is and how (and if) she’ll get there.
Klook's Last Stand
Book by Ché Walker, music by Omar Lyefook and Anoushka Lucas, lyrics by Walker and Lucas
Klook is a drifter who's gotten too old to drift. Vinette is on the run but she doesn't know what's chasing her. Together, they make a tentative stab at love and happiness until the past catches up with them and dashes their newfound hope. Tough, tender, funny and poignant, Klook's Last Stand will grab you from the inside out. Soulful music combined with a witty, moving story makes this a mesmerizing theatre experience.
Book and lyrics by Marcus Stevens, music by Oran Eldor
In Persephone, a myth is raised from the dead, the gods are celebrities hounded by the paparazzi, and their saga is set to a pop/rock score. Teenage Persephone longs for independence from her mother Demeter, but her wish gets distorted when she finds herself trapped in the Underworld by Greece’s perennial bad boy, Hades. What follows is an off-beat, emotionally-charged coming-of-age story for ancient and modern times.
Book, music, and lyrics by David Darrow
Albert, a sixth grader, has a monster living in his basement. When it captures his father, he enlists his brave new friend, Cassie, and together they embark on an epic journey to save his Dad and his family. The Passage is a coming-of-age story about two imaginative children confronting a reality stranger than anything they could imagine.
Book by Kent Staines, lyrics by Akiva Romer-Segal, music by Colleen Dauncey
Prom Queen is inspired by the incredible, true story of Marc Hall, the Canadian teenager who took the Catholic School Board to court when they refused to let him attend prom with his boyfriend. In this fun and uplifting musical, Marc has to learn to be his own hero and fight for the right to be himself.
Book by Dale Sampson with Trey Coates-Mitchell, music and lyrics by Caitlin Marie Bell, Marc Campbell and Dale Sampson
This pop concert dramedy follows Sam, a teenager in 1998 with nonverbal special needs, on his path to find a way to communicate. Shifting between cruel reality and pop star fantasy, Sam’s Room powerfully reveals the universal struggle with communication by giving a voice to someone who’s never had one.
The festival officially kicks off October 18 with its celebrated concert, The 46th Minute.
Registration for industry members is free and now open at NAMT.org/festival. The public can also receive passes to the festival through a donation to NAMT. There is also a day-of standby line for the general public for free admission (based on availability).