The eleventh annual New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) is around the corner and dozens of new tuners (and two Bill Clintons) are gearing up to show potential producers, industry insiders and theater aficionados what they've got. The three-week-long extravaganza kicks off on July 7 with a plethora of productions, concerts, readings and special events taking the stage at various theater venues around town. We took a look at the lineup, and here are ten tuners with intriguing titles, premises, creatives and headliners that caught our eye. For the full schedule of this year's entries, check out the NYMF website.
Full production; July 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13
A rock musical about a High School Quizbowl braniac and her controlling mother? So, it’s basically Gypsy for nerds? No? Oh. Still, count us in! This tuner follows Maggie McCutter (Mamma Mia! alum Alyse Alan Louis), who is torn between family and friendship when she falls for an opponent from a rival Quizbowl team. Appearances by Broadway funny ladies Stephanie D’Abruzzo and Jenn Simard sweeten the deal.
Bayonets of Angst
Full production; July 9, 12, 13, 15 and 16
Tony nominee J. Robert Spencer as Abraham Lincoln in a bluegrass musical comedy. Need we say more? In this show, Lincoln is joined by the last remaining veterans of the Civil War, who tell the story of the behind-the-battlefield exploits of our 16th President, General Sherman and Ulysses S. Grant. Guys, they were there. We think they know what they’re talking about. Spencer is joined by a host of Broadway names, including Once’s Paul Whitty, who probably won’t be playing the ukulele this time. We assume.
Full production July 16, 17, 19, 20 and 22
A girl in a Baghdad military base develops a friendship with her interpreter, but soon the wounds of her past are reopened. The show sounds like a great reminder of one of the best parts about NYMF: any story and any hardship can be explored through musical theater. Also, we have to admit, we got excited when we saw Hannah Rose DeFlumeri (that girl who we were obsessed with after watching her belt her face off in high school productions of Gypsy and Company) in the cast.
Der Gelbe Stern (The Yellow Star)
Full production; July 14, 17, 20 and 21
For all you Cabaret fans, here’s something that might be of interest. This enticing tuner follows Erika Stern, the feisty darling of the crumbling Cabaret scene in Germany, in her last performance in the wake of the Nazi rise to power. The one-woman show is created by and stars Alexis Fishman, who was named NYMF’s “Next Broadway Sensation” in 2012. (Here she is channeling her inner Barbra Streisand and Amy Winehouse.) This summer, she makes her off-Broadway debut in Atomic.
Reading; July 16 and 20
The historic pioneer, armed with faith, humor and a gun, comes to the stage in this new musical, starring Tony nominee Lillias White and Soul Doctor standout Amber Iman as Harriet Tubman. We’re impressed by the dynamic, modern sound that scores the story of the 19th century Moses. The cast of the reading also includes Broadway alums Jennifer Babiak, Aisha de Haas, Harriett D. Foy, Alan H. Green and Capathia Jenkins.
Mother Jones and the Children's Crusade
Full production; July 17, 19, 20, 21 and 24
Marry Harris Jones, known as “the most dangerous woman in America,” led a crusade to end child labor at the turn of last century. Now, her story will be told with a score blending classic sounds with contemporary anthems. Just take a listen to the number “The Miner’s Angel.” It’s like a history lesson and a master class in riffing at the same time. The musical features Tony nominee Robin de Jesus, as well as a handful of additional Broadway alums.
Full production; July 17, 18, 19, 21 and 24
Honestly, this is something we didn’t realize how much we needed until we heard about it. Oprah (played, impeccably, we hear, by book writer and lyricist Rachel Dunham) is back with a one-time-only episode of her show in this musical filled with gospel, Motown, rock ballads and lullabies. It doesn’t help that we now have the show’s “Who Do You Think You Are” stuck in our heads. Rumor has it that everyone in attendance gets a car.
Full production; July 15, 16, 19 and 21
Based on the film by Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner Frank D. Gilroy, this musical has already developed some clout, having picked up a Richard Rodgers Grant and the inaugural Noel Coward Prize. The show follows a handful of regular Joes who put their careers and families on hold to pursue their jazz passion. That cast is full of Broadway alums, including Wicked witches Donna Vivino, Kate Fahrner and Dee Roscioli.
Sing Me Home
Concert; July 20 and 21
Just picture it: Broadway.com Audience Choice Award winner Mandy Gonzalez and Godspell and Glee fave Telly Leung together on stage, singing their hearts out. This tuner follows Lexi Angel, a music superstar who is on the cusp of making a comeback years after vanishing from the spotlight. A familiar face visits her dressing room, sparking a hilarious and heartfelt journey.
The Snow Queen
Full production; July 14, 15, 17 and 20
No, it’s not the pre-Broadway tryout of Frozen. This pop rock adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale received its world premiere last year at San Jose Rep, and is now coming to New York. The cast includes Jason Hite from the off-Broadway revival of Bare, Cabaret’s Jane Pfitsch and Spring Awakening alum Eryn Murman. Think less “Let It Go,” more guitar riffs.