Initial Casting Announced for FESTIVAL OF NEW MUSICALS, 10/27; Hannah Elless, Mamie Parris, Jonah Platt and More!

New York, New York: National Alliance for Musical Theatre (Betsy King Militello, Executive Director) is thrilled to announce the first round of casting for the 28th Annual FESTIVAL OF NEW MUSICALS, which takes place on Thursday, October 27 and Friday, October 28, 2016 at New World Stages (340 West 50th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues). The Festival will kick off on Wednesday, October 26 with its celebrated concert, The 46th Minute, which features songs from Festival shows you will not get to hear in the 45-minute presentation.

Registration for industry members is free and now open at 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).

This year's casts come from Broadway, TV and film and include such notable performers as Hannah Elless (Broadway: Bright Star, Godspell), Mamie Parris (Broadway: Cats, School of Rock), Jonah Platt (Broadway: Wicked), Caissie Levy (Broadway: Wicked, Les Miserables, Ghost), Eric William Morris (Broadway: Coram Boy, Mamma Mia!), Dana Steingold (Broadway: Godspell, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Brynn O'Malley (Broadway: Wicked, Honeymoon in Vegas), Gerard Canonico (Broadway: Spring Awakening, American Idiot), Ali Stroker (TV: "Glee," Broadway: Spring Awakening), Teal Wicks (Broadway: Wicked, Finding Neverland), Ciara Renée (Broadway: Big Fish, Pippin) and Ahmad Maksoud (TV: "Blacklist;" Regional: This Time, The Life Model). The casting director for the NAMT Festival is Michael Cassara Casting. Current cast lists can be found below.

Now in its 28th year, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre's FESTIVAL OF NEW MUSICALS attracts theatre producers from around the world for this industry-only event to discover eight new musicals presented in 45-minute concert presentations over two days. All production costs are underwritten by NAMT, at no cost to the writing teams. As a non-profit organization, NAMT funds the Festival entirely through donations, sponsorships and contributions.

The Festival has introduced musical theatre producers to 236 musicals and 448 writers from around the world. As a direct result of the FESTIVAL OF NEW MUSICALS, more than 85% of the musicals presented have gone on to subsequent readings, workshops, productions and tours, been licensed, and/or recorded on cast albums. Some past festival shows include the Broadway-bound Come From Away (Spring 2017), The Drowsy Chaperone, It Shoulda Been You, Striking 12, Ordinary Days, Thoroughly Modern Millie, among many others.

This year, a committee of 14 theatre professionals selected eight new musicals out of 193 blind submissions.

BENNY & JOON book by Kirsten Guenther, music by Nolan Gasser, lyrics by Mindi Dickstein

Director: Jack Cummings III (Transport Group's Once Upon a Mattress)

Music Director: Charity Wicks (Billy Elliot: The Musical)

Cast: Hannah Elless (Broadway: Bright Star, Godspell), Colin Hanlon (TV: "Submissions Only", "Modern Family;" Regional: Dot, tick, tick... BOOM!), Andrew Kober (TV: "House of Cards", Broadway: She Loves Me, Les Miserables, Hair), Mamie Parris (Broadway: Cats, School of Rock), Zak Resnick (TV: "Lovestruck, The Musical", "American Graffiti" and "American Idol"), Andrew Samonsky (Broadway: The Mystery of Edwin Drood, South Pacific), Tally Sessions (Broadway: School of Rock, Falsettos, Big Fish), Natalie Toro (Film: Santa Baby; Broadway: A Tale of Two Cities, Les Miserables)

Benny has taken care of his sister Joon since their parents died over a decade ago. Now in his early 30s and Joon in her early 20s - not much has changed. A mechanic with his own garage, Benny feels he is a master at managing the life they've ended up with, including Joon's psychological troubles. But when they take in a strange young man named Sam, everything changes. This musical based on the MGM movie explores the challenge of navigating life and love in an imperfect world.

Kirsten Guenther (book) began her writing career in Paris, where she penned the popular weekly column, "The Sexy Expat" about an American navigating/dating the French. Book and lyrics: Little Miss Fix-it (seen on NBC). Book: Measure of Success (Rockefeller Grant), Mrs. Sharp (Richard Rodgers Award); The Cable Car Nymphomaniac (Bay Area Theatre Award Nominee) and Out of My Head (Steele Spring Stage Rights). She has written sketches for celebrities including James Franco, Jared Leto, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Kathie Lee & Hoda, Steve Buscemi, Deion Sanders and Queen Latifah. Kirsten was a Dramatist Guild Fellow and a Disney/ASCAP participant. MFA: NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.

NOLAN GASSER (music) is a composer, pianist, and musicologist-notably, the architect of Pandora Radio's Music Genome Project. He holds a Ph.D. in musicology from Stanford University. His compositions have been performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, etc. Current projects include an opera, The Secret Garden; a film score, All-Stars; and a forthcoming book, Why You Like It: The Science and Culture of Musical Taste. Nolan is the subject of a documentary highlighting his collaboration with Memorial Sloan-Kettering hospital to provide personalized musical therapy for cancer patients. He recently delivered a TEDx talk on the nature and source of our musical taste.

Mindi Dickstein (lyrics) is a lyricist, librettist, and playwright. Lyrics: Little Women (Broadway, MTI, Sh-k-boom), Faerie Tale (Rhinebeck), Snow In August (American Harmony Prize). Book and lyrics: Trip (Playwrights Horizons Steinberg Commission), Beasts and Saints (ASCAP Workshop), Notes Across A Small Pond (Bridewell Theater, London), By The Numbers (Prospect Theater). Book: Toy Story - The Musical (Disney). In concert: Lincoln Center's "Hear and Now: Contemporary Lyricists" and 54 Below. Her monologue, Starving To Death In Midtown, was performed internationally in support of Climate Change awareness in 2015. Honors include a Larson Award and a Second Stage Klinsky Award. MFA and faculty: NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. Member of ASCAP and The Dramatists Guild

JOE SCHMOE SAVES THE WORLD, book, music and lyrics by Brett Ryback

Director: Christian Barillas

Cast: Jonah Platt (Broadway: Wicked), Nawaf Nooruddin

Set amidst the 2011 Arab Spring, Joe Schmoe Saves the World tells the parallel stories of an indie rock duo in America and a pair of Iranian students in Tehran. Raging against conformity, fear, and the status quo, two young women risk everything to change the world through their art.

Brett Ryback is an actor, composer, and writer. His plays and musicals include: Liberty Inn: The Musical (Ovation nominations Best Book, Best Music/Lyrics); Darling (Weston Playhouse New Musical Award, featured on NBC's "The Apprentice"); The Tavern Keeper's Daughter (Best Musical, Pasadena Weekly); and Just a Little Critter Musical (First Stage Children's Theater). His musical Joe Schmoe Saves the World was selected for the ASCAP/Dreamworks Musical Theatre Workshop. His plays Weïrd & A Roz By Any Other Name are both published in "The Best American Short Plays 2007-2008." He is currently writing two new musicals: Passing Through and Nate the Great.

LEMPICKA, book & lyrics by Carson Kreitzer, music by Matt Gould

Director: Griffin Matthews (Invisible Thread)

Cast: Jennie Harney (Broadway: The Color Purple), Adam Hyndman (Regional: Christmas Carol, Hello Dolly, Hairspray), Caissie Levy (Broadway: Wicked, Les Miserables, Ghost), Steven Rattazzi (TV: "The Venture Bros.," "The Family"), Zak Resnick (TV: "Lovestruck, The Musical", "American Graffiti" and "American Idol"), Michael McCorry Rose (Broadway: Wicked, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder), Rhyn Saver (NY: A World to Win; Regional: The Sound of Music),

Gabrielle Stravelli (Metropolitan Room, Feinstein's/54 Below)

Set in Paris against the backdrop of the rising fascist tide, Lempicka follows the artist Tamara de Lempicka as she flees the Russian Revolution, transforming herself from penniless refugee to rising star of the art world. But when she falls into a forbidden love affair- with her muse, Rafaela- will she lose it all, again?

Matt Gould (music) is a recipient of the Richard Rodgers Award (2012 and 2014), The Jonathan Larson Award, and ASCAP's Dean Kay and Harold Adamson Awards. His musical Invisible Thread (fka Witness Uganda) had its NY premiere at 2econd Stage Theatre and its world premiere at ART. His upcoming original works include The Family Project for LA's Center Theatre Group, and Baby Girl with Pulitzer Prize winner Paula Vogel. Matt has performed his work around the world in Uganda, Mauritania, Japan, and across the US. A graduate of Boston University's College of Fine Arts, Matt is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer at schools and universities. @FakeMattGould

Carson Kreitzer (book & lyrics) is the recipient of a 2016 Jonathan Larson Grant for Lempicka. Current projects include Capital Crime!, a play with songs set in Gilded Age New York. She has received support from NYSCA, the NEA, TCG, and the Mellon and Toulmin Foundations, as well as two Jerome and three McKnight Fellowships at the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis. She is an alumna of New Dramatists, an affiliated artist with New Georges and Clubbed Thumb, and was the first Playwrights of New York (PoNY) Fellow at the Lark. Her collection, SELF DEFENSE and other plays, is available from No Passport Press.

THE LONELIEST GIRL IN THE WORLD, book & lyrics by Gordon Leary, music by Julia Meinwald

Director: Michael Berresse (Broadway's [title of show])

Music Director: Rich Silverstein (NAMT Festival's Costs of Living; Hangar Theatre's Spring Awakening)

Cast: Sam Heldt (Regional; Hair, Next To Normal), Eric William Morris (Broadway: Coram Boy, Mamma Mia!), Brynn O'Malley (Broadway: Wicked, Honeymoon in Vegas), Dana Steingold (Broadway: Godspell, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Pearl Sun (Broadway: If/Then, Next To Normal)

The Loneliest Girl in the World charts the rise and fall of beauty queen-turned-pop star-turned-spokeswoman-turned-cultural crusader Anita Bryant and her biggest fan, Tommy, who seals her fate, and the fate of the gay rights movement, with a single banana creme pie. This new musical reunites Leary and Meinwald after their 2011 Festival of New Musicals premiere with Pregnancy Pact.

Gordon Leary (books & lyrics) is a Brooklyn-based book writer and lyricist. With Julia Meinwald, musicals include Pregnancy Pact (2012 Weston Playhouse, 2011 NAMT Festival, 2011 YIMT), Disappeared (2009 Lincoln Center Directors Lab, 2008 Prospect Theater Dark Nights), Something Blue (2014 NYTB), and REB + VoDKa + ME (2015 Civilians' FINDINGS Series.) Other musicals include Cheer Wars (2009 Richard Rodgers Award) and Across the River (2013 Seoul Musical Festival, 2009 Daegu International Musical Festival.) 2009-10 Dramatists Guild Fellow, 2013-14 Uncharted (Ars Nova), 2015-16 R&D Group (The Civilians), 2016 Playground Playgroup (Fresh Ground Pepper.) BA: Vassar. MFA: NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.

Julia Meinwald'S (music) other musicals with Gordon Leary include Pregnancy Pact (2012 premiere production at the Weston Playhouse, 2011 NAMT Festival and Yale Institute for Musical Theatre selection), REB + VoDKa + ME (Civilians R&D Group 2015-2016), Galaxy Comics (2014 United Airlines in-flight programming), and Disappeared (2009 Lincoln Center Directors Lab). Julia was a participant in the New Dramatists Composer Librettist Development Program, the Dramatists Guild fellowship, American Lyric Theatre residency, Ars Nova's Uncharted group, the Civilian's R&D Group, and Fresh Ground Pepper's Playground Playgroup. She holds a BA in Music from Yale and an MFA from NYU's GMTWP.

MORTALITY PLAY, book & lyrics by Alana Jacoby, music by Scotty Arnold

Director: Michael Perlman (At The Table, Assoc. Dir. Fiasco's Into the Woods)

Cast: Gerard Canonico (Broadway: Spring Awakening, American Idiot), Kathryn Gallagher (Broadway: Spring Awakening)

Mortality Play is a new musical about a 16-year-old in 1349 trying to be a rock star in plague-ridden London. This modern take on a medieval morality play follows a young man's struggle to decide between what he wants to do and what he believes the world needs of him.

Alana Jacoby (book & lyrics) is a lyricist, bookwriter and playwright from Newtown, CT. She graduated from Brown University with honors in playwriting in 2008, and earned her MFA from NYU's Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program in 2011. Her work has been performed at Ars Nova, Joe's Pub, 54 Below, and the Barrington Stage Company, and her musicals Mortality Play and Trivøya Gold have been developed at the Yale Institute for Music Theatre and the Musical Theatre Factory. She works as a teaching artist for the Roundabout Theatre Company, and is a member of the Musical Theatre Factory and the Dramatists Guild.

Scotty Arnold (music) is a founding member of the Musical Theatre Factory. Music: Mortality Play (Joe's Pub, YIMT, Ars Nova), That Time We Found a Sasquatch in the Woods (Merry-Go-Round, MTF), Trivøya Gold (NYU Steinhardt, MTF, Adelaide Raleigh Productions), Lost & Found (Nautilus, NYU), Tereshkova (Music Theatre Company, IL). He is currently a writer-in-residence at CAP21, where he is developing a new musical with Jenny Stafford and Shelley Butler. BA: SCU, MFA: NYU; also: ANMT (CA) and New Dramatists (NY). He has completed residencies at Space at Ryder Farm, NY Stage and Film, and CAP21. Proud member: Dramatists Guild, ASCAP.

SOHO CINDERS, music by George Stiles, lyrics & book by Anthony Drewe, book by Elliot Davis

Director: Marcia Milgrom Dodge (Tony nom. Ragtime)

Music Director: Brad Haak (An American in Paris, Mary Poppins)

Cast: Ali Stroker (TV: "Glee," Broadway: Spring Awakening), Teal Wicks (Broadway: Wicked, Finding Neverland)

When impoverished launderette owner Robbie becomes romantically involved with engaged Mayoral candidate James Prince, his step-sisters become the least of his problems! James and Robbie's worlds collide forcing them to fight for their own fairy-tale ending in this hilarious, satirical twist on the classic Cinderella story.

George Stiles (music) with lyricist Anthony Drewe: Cameron Mackintosh/Disney's stage production of Mary Poppins; Honk! (Olivier Award for Best New Musical, NAMT Festival 1999); Travels With My Aunt; Just So; Betty Blue Eyes; Peter Pan - A Musical Adventure and their trilogy The Three Little Pigs (NAMT Festival 2013), Goldilocks And The Three Bears and The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Current: with Julian Fellowes - The Wind In The Willows (West End) and a new version of Half A Sixpence for Cameron Mackintosh. In development: Soapdish; Becoming Nancy. With lyricist Paul Leigh: Moll Flanders; The Three Musketeers (NAMT Festival 1999) and Tom Jones.

Anthony Drewe (lyrics & book) with composer George Stiles: Travels With My Aunt; Honk! (NAMT Festival 1999); Just So; Betty Blue Eyes; Peter Pan - A Musical Adventure; their trilogy The Three Little Pigs (NAMT Festival 2013), Goldilocks And The Three Bears, The Three Billy Goats Gruff and the new songs and additional lyrics for the Cameron Mackintosh/Disney's stage production of Mary Poppins. Current: The Wind In The Willows with Julian Fellowes for the West End; a new version of Half A Sixpence for Cameron Mackintosh. In development: Soapdish; Becoming Nancy. With composer Tony Hatch: The Card. With composer Dick Lee: A Twist of Fate.

Elliot Davis (book) Loserville (West Yorkshire Playhouse, Garrick, West End). Olivier Nominated for Best New Musical. Peter Pan (revised book), OUT THERE (Riverside Studios), Best Friends & Butterflies, (book & Music) TicketMaster Composer Award / Best New Musical Vivian Ellis Award. Current: What I Go To School For - The Busted Musical. In development: Rehab, Becoming Nancy. Radio: In another career stRand Elliot is a prolific music documentary maker for the BBC. Film: Elliot's first feature film screenplay commissioned by the BBC films in 2017 starring Geoffrey Rush. He is the inaugural recipient of the JJ Screenwriting Bursary in association with BAFTA.


Book, music & lyrics by Kait Kerrigan & Brian Lowdermilk

Director: Portia Krieger (Assoc. Director of Broadway's Fun Home)

Music Director: Paul Staroba

Cast: Ciara Renée (Broadway: Big Fish, Pippin), Morgan Keene (National Tour: Newsies)

When her best friend dies, Samantha Brown is paralyzed with grief and loses touch with the part of herself that was learning how to take risks. Now, she must wade through the memories of her senior year in order to take the first risk of her adult life.

Kait Kerrigan (lyrics, book) and Brian Lowdermilk (music) made their Off-Broadway debut with Henry and Mudge. Other projects include the immersive house party musical The Bad Years; Republic, a sung-through adaptation of Shakespeare's Henry IV set in Northern Ireland in the 1970s; and Unbound, based on the life story of Chinese dancer Zhongmei Li. Their first album Our First Mistake charted at #1 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter chart. Their latest album, Kerrigan-Lowdermilk Live, documents the concert tour that resulted from their breakout $35K kickstarter campaign. Together, they received the Larson Award and a Dramatists Guild Fellowship, and they have held residencies at McDowell, Johnny Mercer, Theatreworks and others. Kerrigan received the 2009 Kleban Award for libretto-writing. As a playwright, she has had her work developed at Page 73, where she was an Interstate 73 member; Primary Stages, the Lark, and Chautauqua Theatre Company. Lowdermilk received the Alan Menken Award and the Richard Rodgers Award for Red with librettist Marcus Stevens. Both are alumni of the BMI Musical Theatre Writing Workshop, co-founders of the start-up, and members of the Dramatist Guild and ASCAP.


Book, music & lyrics by Patrick & Daniel Lazour

Director: Kareem Fahmy (NYTW's Usual Suspect)

Music Director: Eli Zoller

Cast: Melis Aker (Film: Zer, My Gay Roommate; Regional: Love in Afghanistan), Layan El-Wazani (Film: Boxed In. Regional: Mame, West Side Story), Ahmad Maksoud (TV: "Blacklist;" Regional: This Time, The Life Model)

In 2011, a group of students met in a small flat in Cairo. This was the beginning of Egypt's greatest revolution. Armed with laptops and cameras, guitars and spray cans, these urban youth inspired millions of Egyptians to take to the streets and overthrow their president, Hosni Mubarak. We Live in Cairo tells of six revolutionaries coming of age in the today's Middle East-facing their past, still searching for freedom.

Patrick Lazour is a writer, lyricist and playwright. With his brother Daniel, he has written and produced four musicals including The Grand Room, which was developed and performed at the Robsham Theater Arts Center at Boston College in 2013. We Live in Cairo, about the youth movement during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, was developed at the O'Neill National Music Theater Conference and most recently received the Richard Rodgers Award. Patrick has developed work with his brother at Rhinebeck Writers Retreat and SPACE on Ryder Farm and is a 2015-16 Dramatists Guild Fellow. He holds a B.A. in political science and theater from Boston College. He lives in New York City.

Daniel Lazour has collaborated on four musicals with his brother Patrick, supplying the music and co-authoring the libretto. The two's most recent musical We Live in Cairo, centering on the youth in Egypt's 2011 revolution, was selected for the 2015 O'Neill National Music Theater Conference and received the 2016 Richard Rodgers Award. Daniel's other works include an opera scene (Bach and the Boy), a song cycle (Expat), and a string quartet (Chacarera), which all premiered at Columbia University. Daniel has spent time at SPACE on Ryder Farm and Rhinebeck Writers Retreat writing and composing on piano and guitar. He studied music composition at Columbia University. He is a 2015-16 Dramatists Guild Fellow.

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. Their 200 members, located throughout 32 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 236 musicals launched by NAMT's annual Festival of New Musicals are Broadway-bound Come From Away (Spring 2017), 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 448 writers.

NAMT's FESTIVAL OF NEW MUSICALS is the cornerstone of NAMT's mission to nurture the creation, development and production of new musicals. The Festival presents eight musicals in 45-minute presentations before an audience of over 600 industry professionals. In the short run, the Festival's goal is to connect producers with writers, so that their shows can continue their development trajectory. The long-term goal is to expand the musical theatre repertoire, bringing new musical theatre to thousands of audience members around the world.

The 28th ANNUAL FESTIVAL OF NEW MUSICALS is overseen by NAMT New Works Director Ciera Iveson and Festival General Manager is Lisa Dozier King.

The 2016 Festival Committee is co-chaired by Paige Price, Theatre Aspen (CO) and Robert Lee, NYU Tisch School of the Arts-Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program (NY) and NAMT Festival Alumnus Writer. Committee members include: Pamela Adams, Atlantic Theater Co. (NY); Bob Alwine, Goodspeed Musicals (CT); Carlos Armesto, Theatre C (NY); Victoria Bussert, Baldwin Wallace University (OH); Amy Corcoran, Aria Entertainment (UK); Keith Cromwell, Red Mountain Theatre Co. (AL); Ian Eisendrath, The 5th Avenue Theatre (WA); Lori Fineman, The Transport Group (NY); Kate Galvin, 11th Hour Theatre Co. (PA); Lucas McMahon, Alchemation (NY); Michael Rubinoff, Canadian Music Theatre Project at Sheridan College (ON); Alumni Writer Representative, Janice Lowe (Composer of Lil Budda, Fest '02); and chair emerita Mara Isaacs, Octopus Theatricals (NJ).

NAMT thanks the following foundations, government agencies and organizations for their ongoing support of our programs: ABE Charitable Foundation, The Alhadeff Charitable Foundation, The Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York Creative Spaces Grant, ASCAP Foundation Irving Caesar Fund, BMI Foundation, The Noël Coward Foundation, The Dubose and Dorothy Heyward Memorial Fund, The Frederick Loewe Foundation, Friars Foundation, The Hollywood Pantages, National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, The Rodgers and Hammerstein Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, and Anonymous donors.

NAMT thanks Platinum Sponsors The Musical Company and Universal Stage Productions for their support of the Festival.


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