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Tanya Shaffer & Vienna Teng's THE FOURTH MESSENGER to Bring Buddha Legend to NYMF

Tanya Shaffer & Vienna Teng's THE FOURTH MESSENGER to Bring Buddha Legend to NYMF

New York Musical Festival and 4M Productions will present the East Coast premiere of THE FOURTH MESSENGER, a contemporary Western re-imagining of the Buddha legend featuring a flawed, female Buddha figure, as part of the New York Musical Festival.

The production, which begins performances on Tuesday, July 18th at The Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street) includes book and lyrics by Tanya Shaffer and music and additional lyrics by Vienna Teng, and is directed by Broadway director Matt August (Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas: the Musical). Performances will continue through July 23rd. For more about the show, visit nymf.org/fourthmessenger.

In the tradition of the classic rock music Jesus Christ Superstar, THE FOURTH MESSENGER is a captivating, visionary fusion of spirituality and theatricality which asks the provocative question: What if the Buddha were a woman, living in our times? Loosely inspired by the life of the historical Buddha, THE FOURTH MESSENGER imagines a modern-day "awakened one," a world-famous spiritual teacher named Mama Sid. When Raina, a young woman on a mission to reveal Mama Sid's hidden past, arrives at her meditation center, Sid's carefully constructed world starts to fall apart. At once epic and intimate, comic and profound, the musical explores what it means to be both enlightened and human.

Vienna Teng's layered harmonies and intricate, haunting melodies bring the piece vividly to life, adding depth and resonance that linger long after the lights come up.

THE FOURTH MESSENGER premiered at the Ashby Stage in Berkeley, California in 2013, where it enjoyed a completely sold-out run and across-the-board critical acclaim.

Tanya Shaffer (book and lyrics) is a San Francisco based writer whose plays have been produced by Berkeley Repertory Theatre, San Diego Repertory Theatre, A Contemporary Theatre, TheatreWorks, and the Eureka Theatre, and have toured more than 40 cities in the U.S. and Canada. She has also co-written two shows for the Tony-Award-winning San Francisco Mime Troupe. Her solo show Let My Enemy Live Long! ran for six sold-out months in the Bay Area and was awarded a Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award for solo performance. Her play Baby Taj, which premiered at TheatreWorks in 2005, was selected by the San Francisco Chronicle, the Sae Jose Mercury News, and the Oakland Tribune as one of the Top Ten Shows of the Year and nominated for a National Theatre Critics Association Steinberg Award for the best play to premiere that year outside of New York City. It has since been published by Samuel French, Inc. She's also the author of the critically acclaimed travel memoir, Somebody's Heart is Burning: A Woman Wanderer in Africa. Her stories and essays have appeared on Salon.com and in numerous anthologies. She recently completed a four-year residency at the San Francisco Playwrights' Foundation.

Vienna Teng (music and additional lyrics) is a singer, songwriter, and pianist who has released four studio albums and one live album on the Virt and Rounder labels. Her 2013 album AIMS received four independent music awards, including best adult contemporary album, the most any artist has ever received in a given year. AIMS debuted at #4 on Billboard's Heartseekers Albums Chart and was included in the Best of 2013 lists of the Huffington Post, NJ Star-Ledger, and Glide Magazine. Her albums Waking Hour and Warm Stranger both reached the top five of Amazon's bestseller list, and she won the 2010 Independent Music Awards' Vox Pop vote for her album Inland Territory. She has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, NPR's Weekend Edition, CBS's Early Show, and CNN's News Night with AaRon Brown, and has toured with Joan Baez, Brandi Carlile, Duncan Sheik, Madeleine Peyroux, Joan Osborne, Sarah Harmer, Marc Cohn and the Indigo Girls, among others. In addition to her performing and composing career, Vienna is currently studying at the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan, and will graduate with an MBA/MS this May. She is a native of Saratoga, California, and holds a Computer Science degree from Stanford University.

Matt August (director) recently directed the critically acclaimed Geffen Playhouse production of Gospel According to Jefferson, Dickens and Tolstoy: Discord and the Falcon Theatre production of The Trouble We Come From, produced by Garry Marshall. On Broadway, he directed How the Grinch Stole Christmas (and 10 Nat'l Tours, Pantages Theatre, Madison Square Garden); Other Broadway as Associate Director for Jack O'Brien: Henry IV, Imaginary Friends, Invention of Love, Full Monty (Nat'l Tours). Off Broadway: Two Gentlemen of Verona (The Acting Company and Nat'l Tour); Sixteen Wounded (Cherry Lane Theatre). Regional: Two Gentlemen of Verona, Pig Farm, Time Flies, Food Chain (Old Globe Theatre); Much Ado About Nothing, In the Heights (Pioneer Theatre Company); Intelligence Slave, The Real Dr. Strangelove, Speech and Debate, 40th Anniversary Gala (LA Theatre Works); LiberTy Smith, Christmas Carol (5 seasons) Meet John Doe as Co-Author (Ford's Theatre); Baby Taj (TheatreWorks); Fourth Messenger (Ashby Stage); Complete History of America Abridged, All in the Timing, Tempest (Hanger Theatre); Sixteen Wounded (with Martin Landau, Long Wharf Theatre); Full Monty (Australian Tour); Short Film: How to Get to Candybar; Upcoming: Dracula (LATW); Gospel/Discord (Arizona Theatre Co.); Two Dollar Bill (Pioneer); Grinch (Grand Ole OpryHe is a member of the SDC LA Ad Hoc Committee and is a Drama League Fellow, Oregon Shakespeare Killian Fellow, Robert Wilson Watermill Fellow and Panavision New Filmmaker Grant recipient. He splits his time between LA and NYC and holds an MFA from CalArts.

THE FOURTH MESSENGER features orchestrations by Ryan O'Connell, choreography by Natalie Malotke, set and costume design by Elizabeth Caitlin Ward, lighting design by Nick Solyom, sound design by Shannon Slater, and music direction by Jesse Lozano.

Performances of THE FOURTH MESSENGER are 7/18 at 8PM, 7/20 at 9PM, 7/21 at 5PM, 7/22 at 1PM, and 7/23 at 9PM at the Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row, 410 W. 22nd Street. Tickets for THE FOURTH MESSENGER are available at www.nymf.org/festival/2017-events/fourth-messenger. The NYMF PASS is another way to experience the New York Musical Festival. To purchase a pass, visit www.nymf.org/festival/tickets/#NYMFPASS. The running time is approximately 2 hours, including intermission.

The New York Musical Festival nurtures the creation, production, and public presentation of stylistically, thematically, and culturally diverse new musicals to ensure the future vitality of musical theater.

Now in its fourteenth year, the Festival is the premier musical theater event in the world. The preeminent site for launching new musicals and discovering new talent, the Festival provides an affordable platform for artists to mount professional productions that reach their peers, industry leaders, and musical theater fans. More than 90 Festival shows have gone on to productions on and Off-Broadway, in regional theaters in all 50 states, and in more than 24 countries worldwide. Festival alumni have received a wide array of awards including the Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize. In 2013, NYMF received a special Drama Desk Award in recognition of its work "creating and nurturing new musical theater, ensuring the future of this essential art form."

NYMF is the flagship program of National Music Theater Network, Inc., a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization. 2017 NYMF is sponsored by The City of New York Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment, PRG, TheaterMania, Clear Channel Outdoor and the Village Voice, and is supported, in part, in part, by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

The NYMF PASS is a great way to experience The New York Musical Festival. Witha NYMF PASS, you can get into the theater before individual ticket holders. Passes also offer the exclusive ability to book tickets before they go on sale to the public. Individual tickets on sale now.

The 2017 New York Musical Festival will take place July 10 - August 6.

For more information, visit www.nymf.org.

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