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BWW Special Feature: 99 and Under the Radar; Fun-Size Musical Theatre


Welcome to 99 AND UNDER THE RADAR: A LOOK AT INDIE THEATER'S MOVERS AND SHAKERS, BroadwayWorld's new weekly series that showcases standout productions and production companies from the independent theater scene in New York City. Each week, independent producer Michael Roderick will be discussing the latest goings on in the theatrical wings, highlighting those with potentially bright futures. 

This Week's Topic: Fun-Size Musical Theatre

Continuing with new festivals that have been popping up all over, this week takes a look at a brand new festival offering opportunities for new musical theatre. Patrick Michael Wickham of Wickham Vocal Studios has teamed up with the Indie company TheatreRats to present The West Village Musical Theatre Festival. From the press release: " The festival follows the format of independent theater company TheatreRats' Chester Horn Short Play Festival, a 6-year-old annual short play event that features two series of 6 short plays - enabling audiences to see a wide variety of work encompassing many styles and genres in a single sitting (or two, should theater-goers attend both series). The West Village Musical Theatre Festival will boast new contemporary pop-rock pieces, traditional musical theater, comedies, dramas, even a dance musical.

"At The West Village Musical Theatre Festival, you will see conservatory graduates sharing stage time with Broadway performers, new directors working with regional and Broadway veterans, and established coffee house songwriters composing music alongside accomplished orchestral and movie score composers. We accepted people, not works, into the festival, and that is what makes it so new and exciting," says Executive Producer and award-winning composer, Patrick Michael Wickham."

The great thing about this is that it offers writers and directors the opportunity to try a piece out. Since the pieces are roughly 15 minutes in length, an audience gets a small taste of the work of the composer, lyricist, and book writer and the writers get to test the work in front of a live audience. This helps musical theatre writers and producers because it is less costly than a reading or a full showcase. It also allows the opportunity to see what is and is not working on a very small scale before spending a lot of money on a big production and judging by the packed houses for both series last night at opening, the project is being well received already. The style of pieces has a vast range and includes a witty hilarious piece by Michael Ruby and Robert Rokicki that deals with love for a parrot and home foreclosure, a mean girls meets Macbeth selection by Lindsey Joelle and Doug Silver that makes humorous use of the term Avatar, A couple in Rat Poison love by rising musical theatre writers Melanie Weinstein and Sarah Ellis, and even Wickham himself gets in on the act with an intense combination of dance and music choreographed by Katrina Ylimaki.

This new set of servings is a welcome addition to the Indie Theatre Community and it will be fun to watch it grow as the years go on. There are two series to choose from featuring very talented performers and directors. It would certainly be no surprise to see some of these names on the great white way in a couple of years. It's a great opportunity to see what the future projects are in the musical Theatre World and perhaps for some, get in on the ground floor.

A full list of both series can be found here.

The festival runs this weekend only, So grab those tickets here and get a bite, before it's all gone.

Read more of Michael's insights at


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From This Author Michael Roderick

Michael Roderick has produced at Manhattan Theatre Source, Theater Row Studios, Where Eagles Dare, the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre, the Red Room, the Bridge Theatre at (read more...)