NYMF (which kicked off July 11 and runs through August 7) has earned a reputation. From the Pulitzer Prize-winning Next to Normal (which began at NYMF as Feeling Electric) to the cult Broadway hit [title of show] to Off-Broadway’s Altar Boyz, the New York Musical Festival has proven itself as a launch pad and festival audiences can say they “saw it when….”
While catching a future blockbuster can be a thrill, the true beauty of the festival is its scope. This year, more than ever, proves that theatre continues to prioritize diversity, both in style and in storytelling. “I’ve seen NYMF shows in the past, and I’ve loved them in the past, but something about it felt very musical theatre, and the work that I’m attracted to is things that kind of break the boundaries,” says Srda Vasiljevic, who directs this year’s Dust Can’t Kill Me. “But I think the work that Rachel [Sussman, NYMF programming director] is attracted to and the shows that are selected this season, in particular, are very engaging. The stories that we’re seeing across the board this year are very representative. It’s exciting to see such diversity in NYMF programming and also diversity in new musical theatre.”
As a festival, NYMF encourages theatregoers to find that one new show they love, but also to experience an array of possibilities. “Our audiences will see multiple things, and they’re here for that experience,” says NYMF executive producer Dan Markley. “They want to compare and contrast, and some things are big and some things are small, and some things are a little bit darker, and some things are a real comic romp, and most of our audiences like that eclectic nature of it.”
Sussman works year-round to deliver a buffet of promising musicals. Her curation of young and established artists, new-age and nostalgic styles, expansive and minimalist concepts, fantastical and historic and newsworthy and familial stories, reinforce the identity of NYMF as a fertile crescent of diverse theatre and a place to ignite an appreciation for theatre some ticket buyers never knew they had.