The ninth annual New York Musical Theatre Festival is off and running. The festival presents thirty musicals in just under three weeks. Alumni of NYMF include [title of show], Next to Normal and the Broadway-bound Chaplin. My favorite NYMF alumni was the off-Broadway With Glee (which I saw in a post-Festival run). I haven't covered the Festival before and was only able to schedule 9 of the thirty shows. I decided to keep a journal of what it's like to see 9 musicals in three weeks, sometimes two a day. Actually, it's quite a bit like the last three weeks of April on Broadway. Everyone rushes to open before the Tony cutoff so some weeks you will go to the theatre 3-4 times.
Friday, July 13, 2012 - At my first Festival outing (I saw Himself andNora , a pleasant experience - see review below) I happened to be sitting next to veteran stage actor, Tony Lo Bianco. During the first act I noticed his chin dropping to his chest briefly. At intermission we were speaking and he was talking about seeing two shows in one day. He had just taken his grandchildren to see Mary Poppins that afternoon. I guess he could be forgiven for nodding off briefly. Mr. Lo Bianco nodded at me approvingly as we were standing up to leave at the end. I guess he liked it.
Saturday, July 14, 2012 - I started my day with a sarcastic tweet about how i was seeing Stuck and Trouble, the Musical, both in the same day. I said it sounded like a "disaster" of a day. What started out as sarcasm ended up being prophetic. I'm sorry to report that I liked neither. Both had some nice touches but fell far short when it came to the complete package. Stay tuned for my review coming up some time in the next day. It was a lovely day though to eat outdoors in the theatre district between shows.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - I'm sorry to say, life has gotten so busy that I have actually had to cancel my tickets to one of the NYMF shows, Rio. My apologies to those folks but working a full-time job and writing a blog can take its toll.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 - When I review shows at something like the NYMF, I look at them quite differently than I do a multi-million dollar Broadway production. The festival is a place to explore, take chances and nurture new talent.
This was driven home yesterday when I received an email that made my day. It was from Brett Boles, the author of Foreverman. I enjoyed his show but had some issues with clarity around a specific character and shifts between time periods. Brett thanked me for my constructive criticism.
This has been my first time covering the NYMF and it has been exhilarating. The excitement while attending this festival rivals the excitement of the last two weeks of April on Broadway. Those are the last two weeks of the Tony Award eligibility period. The producers cram all their productions into those last two weeks so that they will be fresh in the Tony Nominating Committees mind.
I have two more shows to go this week and that's it until next year. Congratulations to the folks at NYMF. They have done an excellent job of producing the Festival this year. It was very well organized and for the most part, had made some terrific selections for this year.
Sunday, July 29, 2012 - The 2012 Festival is now over. It ended with Awards for Excellence being given. You can view those awards here.
Here is a round-up of my reviews from the 2012 New York Musical Theatre Festival. If you would like more information on the festival, click here.
In the new musical, Living With Henry at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, Christopher Wilson (who has written the book, lyrics and music) has settled on a fresh narrative perspective for his post-apocalyptic AIDS crisis musical. Henry in the title refers to Henry Ignatius Vaillancourt (Dale Miller). He is Wilson's physical manifestation of HIV as a central character in the musical. This doesn’t work as well as it could, primarily due to the musical’s direction.
Being immortal is the subject matter of my latest outing at the 9th New York Musical Theatre Festival. The musical Foreverman, with music, lyrics and book by Brett M. Boles takes place over the course of almost 200 years and tells its story by going back and forth in time between the mid 1600s and the mid 1800s. This is the most ambitious work I have seen at the festival this season.
|The encore production of Central Avenue Breakdown at this year's New York Musical Theatre Festival sizzles. It has a varied and textured jazz-inspired musical score by Kevin Ray. Under the musical direction of Jonathan Smiththe band smokes. The musical appeared at last year's Festival and has since gone to the Daegu International Music Festival in South Korea.|
|Being immortal is the subject matter of my latest outing at the 9th New York Musical Theatre Festival. The musical Foreverman, with music, lyrics and book by Brett M. Bolestakes place over the course of almost 200 years and tells its story by going back and forth in time between the mid 1600s and the mid 1800s. This is the most ambitious work I have seen at the festival this season.|
|The not-so-new musical Baby Case by Michael Ogden at the New York Musical Theatre Festival first had its premiere in 2001 at the Arden Theatre Company in Philadelphia. While it isn't all perfect, it has the most potential of the four shows I have seen thus far at this year's Festival. It could use a nip and a tuck but by and large this makes for an interesting musical.
|Trouble the Musical at the New York Musical Theater Festival should really have been named Trouble, a Troubled Musical. With a book by Michael Alvarez and music, lyrics and vocal arrangements by Ella Grace, this musical has very little to recommend it.|
|The concept of the new musical Stuck, based on the premise of six strangers "stuck" on a subway train that stopped mid-tunnel, sounded like an interesting premise. I'm sorry to say it didn't pan out that way.|
|Himself and Nora features a book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Brielle. The show possesses a polish and finesse normally associated with a piece that has had more time to iron the kinks out. Granted, this musical did have a previous workout at The Old Globe in San Diego.|