Nine New Musicals Tapped New York
Ric Kallaher

The National Alliance for Musical Theater's festival hopes to steer titles to future life

With regional theaters around the country exploring the benefits of legit development initiatives, the showcase of new tuners that has helped launch the commercial lives of Tony winners “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “The Drowsy Chaperone” has lined up nine titles for the National Alliance for Musical Theater’s 25th annual festival.

The NAMT fest, which gathers several hundred legit producers and presenters from around the country to check out 45-minutes segments of the selected shows, has over the years proven a stepping stone to future productions for numerous musicals including “Ordinary Days,” “Striking 12” and current Off Broadway offering “Nobody Loves You,” all of which have played at venues around the country.  According to fest producing director Branden Huldeen, the 2013 event aims to launch the latest crop of shows into a legit landscape in which regionals, emboldened by the returning economy, begin to launch or restart new-work initiatives as an important component of increasing audience engagement.

The fest, this year including new works from the composers of Broadway alums “Mary Poppins” and “Jane Eyre,” reps one of several branches of activity at NAMT, the org with 190 members made up largely of legit producing and presenting orgs. Webinars and regular conferences — the next of which will immediately follow the upcoming fest in October — are also among the programs nonprofit NAMT undertakes to encourage new tuner development.

This year the fest once again returns to Off Broadway multiplex New World Stages, where the annual event will run Oct. 17-18. Complete lineup follows.

  • Analog and Vinyl. The new musical with book and tunes by Paul Gordon (“Jane Eyre”) centers on the owner of a struggling record store who is offered a deal by a mysterious stranger.
  • The Astonishing Return of… The Protagonists! Kevin Del Aguila, the “Altar Boyz” book writer recently seen as an actor in Broadway’s “Peter and the Starcatcher,” pens the book and lyrics of a show about a washed-up group of superheroes. Michael Shaieb writes the music.
  • The Boy Who Danced on Air. From book writer-lyricist Charlie Sohne and composer Tim Rosser, the musical follows two Afghani boys trained to dance by wealthy men.
  • Come From Away. The tuner by Irene Sankoff and David Hein (“My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding”) centers on the Canuck community that hosted rerouted airplanes during the fallout of 9/11.
  • Eastland. The show from book writer-lyricist Andrew White, the founder of Chicago’s Lookingglass Theater, centers on a 1915 boating tragedy. Sound designer-composers Andre Pluess and Ben Sussman (“Metamorphoses”) write the music.
  • My Heart is the Drum. A new work from Phillip Palmer, Jennie Redling and Stacey Luftig, the musical tells the story a young woman pursuing an education in Ghana.
  • The Sandman. Richard Oberacker, currently the conductor Cirque du Soleil show “Ka,” wrote the music for this E.T.A. Hoffman-inspired story about the nighttime boogeyman. Oberacker and Robert Taylor wrote the book and lyrics.
  • The Single Girl’s Guide. Book writer Gordon Greenberg, also a director whose Off Broadway credits include “Working” and “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well,” and songwriter Tommy Newman collaborate on a 1960s-set story about about love, marriage and everything in between.
  • The Three Little Pigs. A kid-friendly retelling of the fable that comes from book writer-lyricist Anthony Drewe and composer George Stiles, the duo behind the new songs in “Poppins” as well as recent London musicals “Betty Blue Eyes” and “Soho Cinders.”

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