Your new favorite show may be just around the corner! The 34th Annual National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT) Festival has returned to Off-Broadway's New World Stages, with eight new musicals being presented October 20 and 21. The Festival of New Musicals presents new work in a 45 minute concert format across the two-day time period, providing a platform and an amplified voice to early career theatre makers.
The Festival of New Musicals has introduced nearly 300 musicals and more than 500 writers in its 34-year history. More than 85% of shows presented have gone on to subsequent readings, workshops, productions, or tours; been licensed; and/or recorded on cast albums. Past offerings have included Come From Away, Lempicka, The Drowsy Chaperone, Lizard Boy, Benny & Joon, Darling Grenadine, Ordinary Days, Striking 12, It Shoulda Been You, Interstate, and Thoroughly Modern Millie.
"New musical development is alive and well in New York City," says NAMT's New Works Director Frankie Dailey. "If you believe in the future of musical theatre, this is the place for you. We're growing our membership and the services we supply to our artists and our members, and we are looking forward to starting a new chapter as we head into our 35th year. There are big things on the horizon, and we are so excited to return in person, stronger than ever."
Eight new musicals were selected from a pool of 480 submissions, the largest in the festival's history. Read on to learn more about each of these new shows.
Baked! The Musical, which features book, music, and lyrics by Jord Liu and Deepak Kumar, follows Jane Juang, a Chinese American high school senior who pays for admission to Harvard through a Chinese bakery edible drug empire after teaming up with her class drug dealer. The earnest musical examines the relationship between failure and self worth, set to a pop infused score. Baked! was previously produced at the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival in 2020, where it won Best Lyrics, Best Lead Performer, and Best Ensemble.
Pup! A Chew Story is an irreverent dark comedy about a three-legged pit bull and his beloved chew toy as they search for a forever home in Hollywood. With book and lyrics by Marcus Terrell Smith, and music by Robin Schäfer, a staged reading of the piece was previously performed at the Broadwater Theater in Hollywood.
Blackout, which features a book by Steven Gallagher, and music and lyrics by Anton Lipovetsky, is set during the August 14th, 2003 Northeast blackout, which plunged millions into the dark for 48 in the largest power outage in North American history. Inspired by the archives of the Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper, the show interweaves three short stories based on Greek myths; Gemini, Pandora, and Cygnus. Connection, resilience, and hope are elevated as virtues to which we should all aspire, even when the sun goes down and the darkness encroaches.
Perpetual Sunshine & the Ghost Girls is a through composed, all-female musical featuring book and lyrics by Sara Cooper and music by Lynne Shankel. Centered on the exploitation of workers in the face of a national health crisis, the score combines the aesthetics of 1920s and 2020s music to tell the story of the women who changed the face of American labor laws after being poisoned on the job by the United States Radium Corporation. Perpetual Sunshine & the Ghost Girls previously won the 2022 Richard Rodgers Award.
Get Out Alive, which features a book and lyrics by Nikki Lynette, and music by Lynette, Matt Hennessy, Clay Bail, Malcom Fong, Slavic Livins, and Zeke Macumber, is an Afrogoth autobiographical musical examining depression through the framework of an underground concert. Written while Lynette was in suicide recovery, the score blends punk, hip hop, alternative rock, and pop styles with Lynette's real life story in a testament to how it is possible to survive even the worst of places. Lynette is the first Black woman to be produced by the American Music Theatre Project (AMTP), and a film adaptation was produced during the pandemic on the south side of Chicago.
King of Pangaea, which features book, music, and lyrics by Martin Storrow, is a folk rock musical that interrogates our relationship with the past, and how we can learn to cope with the constant loss of the present moment. Inspired by Storrow's loss of his mother, the small cast musical deals head on with the vulnerabilities of the human imagination, and the painful realities that lurk on the edges of fantasy.
The Female Pope is a family musical centered on the heavily disputed (and highly controversial) rumor that Pope John VIII was actually a woman disguising herself as a man. Often referred to as Pope Joan, this musical (which features music by Heather Christian, and lyrics and libretto by Shannon Burkett) examines the lengths a person will go to in the name of learning, and the painfully sexist reasoning behind the Catholic Church's horrified reaction to the rumor.
The Pelican, which features book and lyrics by Will Lacker, and music and lyrics by Dylan Glatthorn. The Pelican takes place in The Pelican Bar, one of the final hold outs of a coastal Florida town that has been devastated by climate change. As a serious hurricane threatens to drown the town once and for all, the colorful cast of residents are forced to choose between the safety of the nearby Corporate City, or risking the storm to keep their home alive.
Registration for industry members is free and now open at NAMT.org/festival. The public can also receive passes to the festival through a direct donation to NAMT. Day-of standby tickets may be released depending on availability.