By Kathy Henderson
The annual New York Musical Theatre Festival (known as NYMF) is a three-week-long extravaganza of promising new shows, presented for an audience of potential producers, industry insiders and musical buffs. As the 2013 festival gets set for its July 8 opening night (with performances continuing through July 28 at various theater district venues), we scanned the list for 10 tuners with intriguing titles, casts, creative team members—or all of the above. For ticket info and a complete roster of events, go to www.nymf.org.
The high-profile Wonderland may have tanked on Broadway, but we’re rooting for this tale of a teenage Alice struggling at a new high school. You’ve gotta love the bio of composer/librettist Kelly Izzo, a recent SUNY Purchase grad: “She has committed herself to writing at least one song every day for the last five years and now has written over 2,000 songs.” And her little sister, Danielle Izzo, is playing Alice! (Developmental reading; July 9 and 13.)
Homo: The Musical
We like a simple, descriptive title, and you can’t do much better thanHomo: The Musical. Described as a combo of camp, cult and pop, the show centers on an alien from Planet Homo who lands in Pleasant Valley USA and boasts a score by rocker Gina Volpe and a book by Lola Rock’N’Rolla. At the helm is Obie winner David Drake, who knows a thing or two about gay-themed satire. (Full production; July 23, 25, 26 and 27.)
When a NYMF show attracts a cast of experienced Broadway actors, it’s a good sign, and Julian Po is led by Chad Kimball, Malcolm Gets, Jason Gotay, Luba Mason, Sean Cullen and Corbin Reid. In the title role, Kimball plays a man whose plan to end his life at sea is interrupted when he gets stuck in a strange middle-American town.Click here for the Tony nominee’s comments on the show. (Full production; July 8, 10, 13 and 14.)
They had us as “Annie Golden.” She and Broadway vet Philip Hoffman fret over the fate of his cute son (Robb Sapp, a former Boq inWicked), an aspiring chef who falls in love with the landlord of the family’s struggling East Village restaurant (NYMF vet Jillian Louis). Here’s hoping this romantic comedy is as tasty as its premise. (Full production; July 19, 20, 23, 27 and 28).
Hell hath no fury like a mother whose first grader gets stuck with a questionable teacher. And when the teacher is a “biker chick” played by Broadway fave Jenn Colella? Well, actually, that sounds pretty awesome! In addition to Colella, the cast of this female-centric tuner includes Tony winner Adriane Lenox, Kenita Miller and Liz Larsen. (Developmental reading; July 17 and 20.)
Spring Awakening fans may be drawn to this tale of a debutante who becomes pregnant in Gilded Age New York and the mother who will go to any lengths to maintain the family’s place in society. Speaking of Spring Awakening, Remy Zaken has a supporting role; the deb is played by Phantom vet Julie Hanson, with Mamma Mia!’s Lisa Brescia as Mom. (Developmental reading; July 12 and 14.)
Songs for a More Funnier World
Broadway vets Amy Albert and Kevin Massey are joined by Spamalottour alums Abigail Raye and Steven Strafford for this irresistible-sounding sendup of so-called “angsty song cycles.” Will Jason Robert Brown, Michael John LaChiusa and Adam Guettel don fake mustaches to check this one out? (Limited run; July 12 and 13.)
It takes an intriguing cast to whip up excitement for a musical about strangers waiting in an airport standby line: Matt Shingledecker, Jenna Leigh Green and Darren Ritchie take the stage in the theatrical debut of composer Amy Baer, who has worked with Oscar winner Howard Shore on multiple hit films. Not surprisingly, the airport isn’t quite what it seems. (Full production; July 19, 20, 21, 245 and 28.)
Hey there, Susan Blackwell! Broadway.com’s witty Side By Side host plays a former Olympic volleyball player who coaches a team of can’t-win high school girls. Who better to shape up a bunch of misfits than our Ms. B? The show’s creators include librettist Rob Ackerman (Tabletop), composer Eli Bolen (Sesame Street) and lyricist Sam Forman (a staff writer on House of Cards). (Full production; July 15, 16, 20, 23, 26 and 27.)
The Water Dream
A rock musical about a struggling writer who’s haunted by dreams of a dragon, representing his tragic childhood? Yes, please, if the writer is played by Anthony Rapp! Joining the original Rent star are Tony nominee J. Robert Spencer and Broadway vets Dee Roscioli, Brian Dykstra and Josh Lamon. (Staged reading; July 10 and 11.)