A Little Princess One of Eight NAMT Festival Selections

Eight new musicals have been selected for the National Alliance for Musical Theatre's (NAMT) 17th Annual Festival of New Musicals, which will be held at Dodgers Stages (340 W. 50th St., between 8th and 9th Avenues) on Sunday, September 25th and Monday, September 26th.

With the names of newcomers and accomplished veterans mingled together as the shows' creators, the eight musicals were chosen out of a pool of over 100 applicants. In Ace (book and lyrics by Robert Taylor and Richard Oberacker, music by Oberacker), which is set in 1952, a 10 year-old boy receives a model airplance and with it "embarks on a series of heroic and haunting World War I and World War II adventures, revealing his own true identity, the secrets of his past, and the key to his future," states a press release. Based on a true story, Caraboo, Princess of Javasu (book by Marsha Norman--'night, Mother, The Secret Garden, lyrics by Beth Blatt--The Mistress Cycle, music by Jenny Giering--The Mistress Cycle), tells the tale of Mary Baker, an Englishwoman who transforms herself into an exotic princess--she "manages to fool the scientists who are sent to examine her, and convince the nobles who gather to celebrate her."

The Funkentine Rapture (book by Lee Summers and Ben Blake, music and lyrics by Summers) is set in the '70s. "When an aspiring funkmaster reaches for the stars, he's caught in an uproarious battle between good and evil, funk and disco, Kentucky fried and Harlem's catfish surprise." I Love You Because (book and lyrics by Ryan Cunningham, music by Joshua Salzman) is a musical about the perils of the dating world--"a comedy that explores the rules and nuances of dating because sometimes love is learning how to love someone, not in spite of their differences, but because of them." Meet John Doe (book by Andrew Gerle and Eddie Sugarman, lyrics by Sugarman, music by Gerle) is based on the classic Frank Capra film in which a reporter causes a scandal by publishing a phony letter from a "John Doe" who plans to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge to protest the nation's ills.

The Latin-flavored Party Come Here (book by Daniel Goldfarb--Modern Orthodox, music and lyrics by David Kirshenbaum) features "a nervous groom, a statue of Christ, and a 500-year-old Jewish caveman (who) converge to make miracles happen during a tropical storm on one magical night in Rio." River's End (book and lyrics by Cheri Koons, music by Chuck Larkin. It's based on the true story of "a daredevil couple who vanished on their honeymoon to the Grand Canyon in 1928, while attempting to run the entire length of the Colorado River in a boat they built themselves. River's End weaves together two completely different scenarios of what might have happened to the couple, with two pairs of actors playing Glen and Bessie Hyde."

A Little Princess (book and lyrics by Brian Crawley--Violet, music by Andrew Lippa--The Wild Party, John & Jen) is perhaps the most buzzed-about of the octet. Based on the classic Frances Hodgson Burnett novel, the musical is the story of young Sara Crewe's relegation from rich girl to servant and how she "counters all headmistress Miss Minchin's best efforts to degrade her with the grace and virtue of a little princess."

Since 1989, NAMT's Festival of New Musicals has introduced theatre producers to more than 170 musicals and 300 writers from around the world. More than three-fourths of these shows have found subsequent productions, tours and licensing agreements. Past festival highlights have included the Tony Award-winner Thoroughly Modern Millie, Princesses, Honk!, Songs for a New World, Summer of '42 and The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin.

As a direct result of last year's 16th Annual Festival, held in October 2004, five of the festival's eight shows presented secured productions: The Drowsy Chaperone (Ahmanson Theatre, November 2005), The Flight of the Lawnchair Man (Goodspeed Musicals, May 2005), The Girl in the Frame (Goodspeed Musicals, November 2005), Striking 12 (TheatreWorks Palo Alto, December 2004) and Winesburg, Ohio (The Arden Theatre Company, October 2005).

Also on Sunday, September 25, NAMT will present its Songwriter Showcase featuring an additional 8 to 10 emerging writers in musical theatre. The event will be hosted by Rachel Sheinkin, Tony Award-winner for Best Book of a Musical for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and a writer of Striking 12, which was presented at NAMT's 2004 Festival of New Musicals.

Admission to the Festival of New Musicals is by invitation only and closed to the general public. For more information, visit www.namt.net.

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