NAMT Announces 22nd Annual Festival of New Musicals 10/21-22


The National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT) has announced the selections for its 22nd Annual Festival of New Musicals taking place on Thursday, October 21 and Friday, October 22, 2010 in New York City.

At NAMT's Festival, New York City's longest-running musical theatre festival, theatre producers from around the world come together for this industry-only event to discover 8 new musicals presented in 45-minute staged readings over two days. Since 1989, the Festival has presented over 230 musicals and 420 writers, and almost 80% of these shows have found subsequent productions, tours, licensing agreements, and/or cast albums as a direct result of the Festival.

NAMT's Festival of New Musicals will present works by 21 writers, including five Richard Rodgers Award winners (Nathan Christensen, Scott Either, Jeff Hughes, John Jiler and Scott Murphy), 3 Jonathan Larson Award winners (Nathan Christensen, Daniel Maté, Scott Murphy), a recipient of the Harold Arlen Award (Georgia Stitt), a Kleban Award winner (John Jiler), a Fulbright Grant recipient (Will Aronson), and a 10-time Jeff Award Winner (David H. Bell).

NAMT Executive Director Kathy Evans said, "We are proud to provide these writers with the opportunity to present their musicals to the industry people who can make a difference for their show and their careers. We are eternally grateful to our funders and sponsors, who fully underwrite the costs of our Festival, so that the writers have no financial burden and can focus on their work. I can't wait for those electrifying 2 days, when 100 artists and 700 producers gather to find the musicals of the future."

The musicals selected for this year's Festival are:

Book & Lyrics by John Jiler

Music by Georgia Stitt


SYNOPSIS - A teenage boy unearths a dark family secret as he searches for his long-lost father through the bewildering landscape of post-WWII America... where innocence has vanished, and the simple melodies of Kern and Berlin have been replaced by the dizzying energy of jazz and the birth of rock-and-roll.

Big Red Sun was the winner of the Harold Arlen Award from ASCAP, and has been developed at ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop, and TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, and was presented at Oklahoma City University.


Book & Lyrics by David H. Bell
Music by Jeremy Cohen
Co-Created by Aaron Thielen

SYNOPSIS - A musical that follows the journey of Dick, a streetwise kid, and his gang of bootblacks trying to "make it through the day." The backdrop of the show is Five Points New York in 1876, where Dick rescues a young English girl, who through a series of unfortunate circumstances, is abandoned by her devious step-father and his compatriots. The show follows Dick and the boys trying to protect Mary and reunite her with the only family she has left, her Grandfather. Loosely based on the writings of American writer Horatio Alger, this musical deals with the great distance between the American mythology and the much darker and more ominous truth about life in the tenements of the time.

The Bowery Boys was created and developed by the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, Illinois, who provided multiple table reads and, in the summer of 2008, sponsored a three week workshop at the American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University. The show had a full production at the Marriott Theatre in December 2008 and was nominated for three Jeff Awards including Best New Work.


Book & Lyrics by Nathan Christensen
Music by Scott Murphy

Based on the book by Lois Lowry

SYNOPSIS - 12-year-old Jonas lives in a perfect world, without pain, conflict or loneliness. But after being assigned to carry the memories of life before "Sameness," an ability learned from a mysterious man called the Giver, Jonas must choose between his perfect community and a world that contains both beauty and pain.

The Giver was given a two-week developmental workshop by Theatreworks/USA in 2006, followed by an additional week of developmental work in 2007. CAP21 sponsored a series of table readings in 2008 and 2009, followed by a concert reading in 2009.


Book by Robert Cary & Benjamin Feldman
Music by David Gursky
Lyrics by Robert Cary
Based on the MGM motion picture written by Robert Dunn and Paul Guay & Stephen Mazur

By Special Arrangement with MGM On Stage, Darcie Denkert and Dean Stolber


Synopsis - Sexy female con artist Max Connor marries eligible bachelors, refuses them sex, and then discovers them in bed with a younger woman - leading to hefty annulment settlements. But the "other woman" is actually Max's daughter Page, who's in on the con. Then Page breaks the cardinal rule: she falls in love.

The NAMT Festival presentation will be the premiere of Heartbreakers.


Music by Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer and Alan Stevens Hewitt
Lyrics by Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer and Tim Maner
Book and Additional Music by Tim Maner

Conceived by Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer and Tim Maner

SYNOPSIS - A rock roadshow retelling of the bloody legend of America's first and favorite axe-wielding double-murderess and Victorian hometown girl, Lizzie Borden. Featuring four fierce rocker girls and a live band, this driving musical reveals why Lizzie took up that axe and how she became an American folk hero.

An early version of Lizzie Borden was seen at the Ohio Theatre, produced by Tiny Mythic Theatre Company, followed by a full production at HERE. In 2006, with the encouragement and support of producers Hillary Richard and Peter McCabe, the piece was re-visited, workshopped and expanded into a full-length two-act musical, which premiered at the Living Theatre in 2009. This production was named in The Advocate's "Top Ten of 2009" and was nominated for three Drama Desk Awards.


Conceived by Larry Dean Harris
Book by Martin Casella & Larry Dean Harris
Lyrics by Mark Winkler
Music by Phillip Swann
Additional Music by Jim Andron, Michael Cruz, Marilyn Harris, Emilio Palame, Joe Pasquale and Larry Steelman

SYNOPSIS - Everyone's got a secret at Mary's Hideaway, an underground nightclub in sexy, sultry, repressive 1953 Hollywood. Inspired by film noir and driven by a sizzling jazz score, this story of five very ambitious people is about finding the courage to be who you are. You just need to...Play It Cool.

Play It Cool was first presented as a full production at the Celebration Theatre (nominated for numerous awards including a GLAAD Award), followed by readings at the Zipper Theatre, Snapple Theatre and the York Theatre. The 2008 production at the New York Musical Theatre Festival was nominated for a GLAAD Award and NYMF Awards.


Music by Scott Ethier
Book & Lyrics by Jeff Hughes


SYNOPSIS - Set in the six months leading up to Rosa Parks' historic ride on a Montgomery bus, Red Clay uses a new jazz and gospel-infused score to tell the story of the ordinary Americans who changed this nation in extraordinary ways.

Red Clay was the recipient of the 2009 Richard Rodgers Award and received a co-produced workshop with Queens Theatre in the Park and Playwrights Horizons in the fall of that year. It will have a staged reading this August as part of TheatreWorks Silicon Valley's New Works Festival


Book & Music by Will Aronson
Book & Lyrics by Daniel Maté

SYNOPSIS - The Trouble With Doug is a contemporary comedic reimagining of Kafka's Metamorphosis in which a happy, healthy young man transforms inexplicably into a giant talking slug. Thrust together awkwardly under the same roof, Doug, his family, and his fiancée all struggle to understand and respond to this strangest of crises.

A staged reading of The Trouble With Doug was presented at Goodspeed Musicals' Festival of New Artists in January 2008. CAP 21's Professional Theatre Company presented a public reading in November 2008 and a workshop production in June 2009. Originally Produced at CAP21/THE SHOP.

The 22nd annual Festival of New Musicals is overseen by Festival Artistic Director and NAMT New Works Director Branden Huldeen and General Manager Lisa Dozier. The location for this year's Festival will be announced shortly.

The FESTIVAL OF NEW MUSICALS is funded entirely by contributions to the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, a not-for-profit organization, and is supported in part by a generous award from the National Endowment for the Arts and by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency.

The NAMT Festival of New Musicals has a history filled with many successes. Among the most well known Festival highlights are the Tony Award winners The Drowsy Chaperone and Thoroughly Modern Millie; off-Broadway successes such as last season's Vanities, A New Musical (Second Stage) and Ordinary Days (Roundabout Theatre Co.), See Rock City and Other Destinations opening this month at the Transport Group, I Love You Because, Songs for A New World, Striking 12, Summer of '42; and regional hits like Ace, Children Of Eden, Emma, Harold and Maude, Honk!, Meet John Doe and Tinyard Hill.

Admission to the FESTIVAL OF NEW MUSICALS is by invitation only for the industry. The general public can obtain free, stand-by tickets the day of the Festival.


Founded in 1985, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT) is a national service organization dedicated exclusively to musical theatre. NAMT's mission is to nurture the creation, development, and production of new musicals and to provide a forum for musical theatre professionals to share resources and exchange information. Our 150+ members, located throughout 35 states and abroad, are some of the leading producers of musical theatre in the world and include theatres, developmental organizations, higher education groups, presenting companies, and independent producers. Last season, NAMT members cumulatively staged over 15,000 performances attended by 11 million people. NAMT has presented its annual FESTIVAL OF NEW MUSICALS since 1989. The Festival is "for those in the know" and makes "a major impact on the world of musical theatre," according to American Theater Magazine, and brings together leading theatre producers and musical theatre writers. NAMT's other programs include conferences, new works summits, and a granting initiative, the National Fund for New Musicals, which supports the development and production of new musicals. For more information, visit

NAMT is very grateful to the following organizations whose contributions support our mission to nurture the creation, development, and production of new musicals:

The Ann Palmer Foundation, ASCAP Foundation Irving Caesar Fund, BMI Foundation, Dubose and Dorothy Heyward Memorial Fund, The Dramatists Guild Fund, The Mackintosh Foundation, Music Theatre International, Stacey Mindich Productions, National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, The Rodgers and Hammerstein Foundation, and The Shubert Foundation.


John Jiler's (book & lyrics) plays have been seen coast to coast, from the O' Neill to the Kennedy Center to Seattle Rep. Jiler received both the Richard Rodgers Award and the Kleban Librettists' Award for his musical Avenue X, and the Weissberger Prize from New Dramatists for his play Sour Springs. Literary works include, Sleeping With The Mayor (a New York Times "Most Notable Book') and Dark Wind, called "a classic" by the Village Voice. His current projects are a one-man show, Explicit Vows (Playwrights HorizonsThe Flea Theatre), and two new plays; Channel, in development with Labyrinth Theatre, and Sirocco, at The Actor's Studio.

Georgia Stitt (music) wrote the musicals The Water, Sing Me A Happy Song and Mosaic, and is currently writing Hello! My Baby with Cheri Steinkellner and Devil In A Blue Dress with Walter Mosley. Her album, This Ordinary Thursday, and her song cycle, Alphabet City Cycle, are both available from PSClassics and iTunes. Georgia has published several choral pieces and wrote two songs for the MTV movie The American Mall. She is represented on the solo albums of Susan Egan, Lauren Kennedy, Daniel Boys, Kevin Odekirk and Caroline Sheen. She has music degrees from Vanderbilt and NYU and currently lives in Los Angeles.


David H. Bell (book & lyrics) is an alumnus of the 2001 NAMT Festival of New Musicals for Actor, Lawyer, Indian Chief. His work in Chicago Theatre, where he is associated with the Marriott Theatre (over 30 Productions) and the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre (The Three Musketeers, Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, The Comedy of Errors), has earned him 35 Jeff Award nominations (winning the coveted award 10 times) and 2 After Dark Awards. David served as the Artistic Director of Historic Ford's Theatre in Washington D.C., and Associate Artistic Director of Atlanta's Alliance Theatre. David's work has earned him 4 Carbonall nominations (Florida), a Dramalogue Award (L.A), 5 AJC Awards (Atlanta), an Atlanta Circle of Dramatic Critics Award, a Laurence Olivier Nomination (London), 2 National Endowment Awards, 3 Helen Hayes nominations (winning 1), (Washington D.C.), The Mac and Bistro Awards (NYC), and several National and International writing awards for creating Hot Mikado. He has worked on Broadway, Off Broadway, London, Paris, Berlin, Carnegie Hall, National and International tours, The Kennedy Center, Long Wharf Theatre, and, done the Atlanta sequence of the closing ceremonies of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. David is currently a professor of Music Theatre at Northwestern University.

Jeremy Cohen (music) As a composer, arranger, music director and actor, he has worked at the Kennedy Center, Alliance Theatre, Marriott Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, New York's La MaMa Theatre and NYMF, among others. Most recently, Jeremy served as the musician for the Kennedy Center's production of Master Class. Jeremy is a native of New York and a proud graduate of Northwestern University.

Aaron Thielen (co-creator) is the Artistic Director for Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire IL. Currently, Aaron and Michael Mahler are writing a new musical titled Hero, which had a public reading at The Marriott Theatre and is slated to be presented in 2011. He also co-wrote and Artistic Directed the Marriott Theatre's Jeff Award winning hit The All Night Strut- A Fascinating Rhythm. Associated with the Marriott Theatre since 1995, he was a featured actor in more than 20 productions, choreographed Marriott's hit production of Forever Plaid, and was instrumental in facilitating the theatre's expansion in 2001. He co-founded a theatre company in Milwaukee dedicated to community outreach.


NATHAN CHRISTENSEN (book & lyrics) is a bookwriter/lyricist from Bartlesville, OK. He received his BA in theater from BYU, and an MFA in musical theater writing from NYU. With composer Scott Murphy, he has a received a Jonathan Larson Award, a Richard Rodgers Award, a Daryl Roth Award and a Dramatists Guild Fellowship. Their musical, Broadcast, had a reading at Playwrights Horizons, and was produced at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Nathan lives in Tucson, AZ, where he studied entrepreneurship at the University of Arizona. He teaches playwriting, is a theater critic for Tucson Weekly and works as a freelance writer.

SCOTT MURPHY (music) received his MFA in musical theatre writing from NYU in 2004. He is currently writing music and lyrics for Meanwhile...on the other side of Mount Vesuvius, a musical commissioned by Yale Rep, with book by Jay Reiss, as well as songs for Magnus, a feature film. With Nathan Christensen, Scott is currently writing music for a new work for The Old Globe. In 2005, Scott was selected by Stephen Sondheim to receive the Marian Seldes/Garson Kanin award from the Theatre Hall of Fame. With Nathan Christensen, he received the Richard Rogers award, the Jonathan Larson award, and the 2004 Dramatist Guild Fellowship. Scott works as a teaching artist for Lincoln Center.


Robert Cary (book & lyrics) is co-author of the book and lyrics for Flashdance (West End 2010, UK National Tour, 2008-9); lyricist and co-author of the book for Palm Beach, written with longtime collaborators Ben Feldman and David Gursky (presented in the 2001 NAMT Festival and produced at La Jolla Playhouse, directed by Des McAnuff); co-author with Ben Feldman of Inventing Avi (Off-Bway, 2009); and director of the feature films Ira and Abby, Save Me, Anything But Love. Upcoming projects include Sharp Dressed Man, Stax, and the feature film My Owner's Wedding, written with Jonathan Tolins.

Benjamin Feldman (book) Wrote Danny and Faye (produced w/Tovah Feldshuh), and co-wrote NAMT Festival 2001 show Palm Beach. Also an Entertainment Attorney -- clients from Rabbit Hole (upcoming, w/Nicole Kidman) to Memphis (Bway, winner, "Best Musical" Tony Award), Ars Nova, and many theaters, producers and artists in television, theater and film. Published in the CTI Guide to Producing. Producer credits: Mae West's Sex, Trouble in Paradise and The Stand In on stage; Film: The Cutting Room, Another Gay Movie, Another Gay Sequel and The Understudy. Yale grad. Boards: The Hourglass Group, the Chase Brock Experience.

David Gursky (music) is the composer of Palm Beach (NAMT Festival 2001, La Jolla Playhouse 2005). Film: Ira & Abby. In addition to his composing work, David has conducted the Broadway productions of Finian's Rainbow, White Christmas, The Producers, Young Frankenstein, Jane Eyre, and Dame Edna: The Royal Tour. Television: Wonder Pets. Pianist: many NYC shows, Radio City, several Encores! productions, The Kennedy Center Honors, and three original Broadway cast recordings. Education: B.A. Yale College.


STEVEN CHESLIK-DEMEYER (music, lyrics and conceiver) has worked as a writer, composer, and filmmaker for three decades. Through the 1980s and '90s in New York, he wrote and performed music in several experimental productions, including adaptations of Frankenstein and The Scarlet Letter. From 1992 to 2002, he wrote and performed with the neo-vaudeville queer country duo, Y'all, which performed in coffeehouses, churches, and clubs across the U.S. and in Europe and appeared on MTV and Comedy Central. Steven made a documentary about the final years of Y'all, Life in a Box, which premiered in the San Francisco International Film Festival in 2005.

Alan Stevens HEWITT (music) Spring Awakening-Bass (Orig. B'way Prod. & 1st Natl Tour); Everyday Rapture-Bass (Second Stage); Brecht's Baal-Composer, Musical Director, Piano, Guitar (Looking Glass Theatre); The Signal Corps (; Big Mess Cabaret/Orchestra-Bass (; The Low Road ( BM in Composition from Mannes/The New School where he studied with Robert Cuckson. ASH is originally from Philly and lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

TIM MANER (lyrics, book and conceiver) has written, directed, musical directed and produced over 20 original music/theater works including Frankenstein, with composer Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer; The Hawthorne Project, a trilogy of multi-layered multi-media events adapted from Nathaniel Hawthorne's three American novels, with writer/adaptor Elizabeth Banks; and The Opera Project, a trilogy of new wave operas, with composers Matthew Pierce and Fred ho and writer Ruth Margraff. He is a founding member of the critically acclaimed Tiny Mythic Theatre Company and the award-winning arts center HERE. With them, his theatrical producing/presenting history spanned hundreds of productions over 10 years.


Martin Casella (book) Plays: The Irish Curse (Off Broadway, London, Edinburgh, Dublin, FringeNYC- Outstanding Playwriting Award); Scituate, George Bush Goes To Hell, Grand Junction, Desert Fire, Beautiful Dreamer, Paydirt, Mates (L.A. Weekly, Drama-Logue Awards). Musicals: Saint Heaven, Paper Moon (NAMT Festival 1995), Happy Holidays, Taking Care of Mrs. Carroll, DOO-DAH!. Screenplays: One Night Stand. Upcoming: Free Money¸ musical about the invention of credit cards; Miss Maude, a play about photographer EuGene Smith; Tom's Dad, a film for director Lass Hallstrom starring Patrick Dempsey; and film Busted Jesus Comix. Taught playwriting at Cal Arts and Harvey Milk High School in NYC. WGA, Dramatists Guild, SAG and AEA.

Larry Dean HARRIS (conceiver and book) is the Los Angeles Regional Representative of the Dramatists Guild of America, a founding member of Playwrights 6 and a long-term board member of Celebration Theatre, where Play It Cool premiered: earning him an Ovation Award nomination for Best World Premiere Musical. He is also an LA Weekly Award nominee for Best Playwriting for his drama Bible Stories. Other plays include Like an Old Song (starring Sammy Williams) and The Prodigal Father (starring Max Gail). Harris is currently performing excerpts from his upcoming solo piece Witness to the Bizarre.

PHILLIP SWANN (music) is the composer of The People vs. Friar Laurence, The Man Who Killed Romeo and Juliet (nominated for three Jeff awards), and DeLEARious (2009 Garland Award winner for Best New Score). Other musicals include In a Booth at Chasen's, Trombone, Neil Simon's Fools- The Musical and Shakespeare's Greatest Hits. A former staff songwriter and producer for DreamWorks, Swann's songs have been heard on television, film and have been recorded by such artists as Clay Aiken, Lee Ann Womack, Blake Shelton and Lee Greenwood. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, theatre educator, Amanda Swann.

Mark Winkler (lyrics) is a platinum award winning singer/lyricist who has had over 150 of his songs recorded by such artists as Dianne Reeves, Lea Salonga and Liza Minnelli. He is the co-writer of the musical review Naked Boys Singing! in its 11th year playing Off Broadway. He is the creator/co-writer of Too Old for the Chorus which is now being published by Samuel French and he is the co-writer/bookwriter of the musical Bark! which is now touring the country. His CD of original jazz songs Till I Get It Right was named one of the best CDs of 2009 by "Jazz Times Magazine".


SCOTT ETHIER (music) has written music for The Third Miracle (with Jeff Hughes and Richard Vetere) and Raw Impressions's Dreams This Way. His concert music has been featured on American Public Radio's Performance Today and performed by VocalEssence, the Cape Ann Symphony, and the Macon Symphony orchestra (where he was composer-in-residence). His choral piece, A Mother's Carol (Clay Zambo, lyrics), will be published by Boosey & Hawkes later this year. He has been a Dramatists Guild Musical Theatre Fellow, a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, a member of the BMI Musical Theater Workshop, and a recipient of the American Composers Forum's Continental Harmony grant.

JEFF HUGHES (book & lyrics) was the recipient of the 2009 Richard Rodgers Award for Red Clay. He is the author of the plays Shore Points, A Good Tavern and In the Jersey City Moonlight, which will receive its world premiere in June 2011. He is a former member of the BMI Workshop and was a Dramatists Guild Fellow in 2005-2006. He is the writer of, currently under the auspices of the Chicago Tribune. He is from Kearny, New Jersey.


Will Aronson (book & music) is the composer My Scary Girl, winner of last year's Outstanding New Musical award at NYMF. My Scary Girl also earned Best Small Stage Musical at Korea's 2009 Musical Awards, after a five-month limited run in Seoul. Other work includes music for Mary Testa's Sleepless Variations and William Finn's Songs of Innocence and Experience, as well as vocal arrangements for the upcoming Finn/Lapine musical Little Miss Sunshine. Will is the recipient of a Fulbright grant, an ASCAP Loewe Scholarship, and a Baryshnikov Fellowship; he holds a B.A. from Harvard University and an M.F.A. from Tisch/NYU.

DANIEL MATÉ (book & lyrics) He is also the composer-lyricist and bookwriter for The Longing and the Short Of It (Barrington Stage Company, 2009, William Finn dir.; ASCAP Foundation Musical Theatre Workshop, 2010, Stephen Schwartz dir.) Daniel's work as a composer was included in the York Theatre's NEO (‘New, Emerging, Outstanding') Concert. He runs a successful custom gift song service ( and teaches songwriting to young people. Daniel received a 2010 Jonathan Larson Foundation Grant for music and lyrics. He lives near Sunset Park, Brooklyn, home to many charming slugs.


Related Articles

View More Off-Broadway
Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You

Before you go...

Like Us On Facebook
Follow Us On Twitter
Follow Us On Instagram