5 Shows that Stand out at NYMF – 2016

It’s summertime, y’all!

And that means, BBQ, golf (heyo!) . . . and theater festivals!

And first up on the docket is the Madison Avenue of theater festivals (boutique shopping for us theater producers), the New York Musical Festival, the largest musical festival in the whole wide world.

(Did anyone else notice that they dropped the “Theater” from their name . . .  and are just the NY Musical Festival now?  I like it. The form is changing, and this allows the fest to be more inclusive.)

I’ve got a special place in my heart for NYMF, since it gave birth to Altar Boyz in its inaugural season.  And, well, Altar Boyz helped birth my career.

Every year, I grab the e-catalog of shows that are performing at this year’s festival, read the synopses, and choose five shows that “stand out” to me . . . just based on what I read.

And then, I list them here . . . and tell you why they stood out to me.

It’s more of a marketing exercise than anything else, but since so much of the job of an emerging producer or writer is to get the attention of producers, agents, and more, I think it’s an important one.

So, you ready?  Here goes . . . here are the five musicals that stood out to me in this year’s NYMF.

1.  A Scythe of Time

Well, it always helps when your title starts with an “A” so you get listed first in the catalog, but that ain’t what did it for me with this musical inspired by two stories by Edgar Allan Poe.  Most of the titles in this year’s festival were original musicals.  And while that’s exciting, it is also riskier.  82% of Broadway shows are adaptations.  So, when a Producer like me sees that there is a classic literary foundation as the structure for a new musical, it’s comforting.  And, well, I also just love me some Poe.

2.  Lisa and Leonardo

Yep, that Lisa and Leonardo.

I have always believed that the best dramas in history open up the doors to a world that we don’t know much about, but are incredibly curious about.  The questions around the Mona Lisa and who that woman was, and what inspired Leonardo da Vinci to paint her the way he did, have perplexed people for hundreds of years.  And now, here comes a musical to dramatize what must have been very passionate moments in both of those individual’s lives.  Don’t you want to be in the room where the Mona Lisa happened?  (Disclaimer: the Authors are current clients of mine, but that didn’t affect a thing.)

3.  Normativity

The first sentence of the description for Normativity describes the hero as a teenage lesbian.  As I read it, I thought, “Huh, there’s something that I never would have read five years ago.”  The last sentence of the description reads, ” . . . proving why LGBTQ+ storytelling is so important.”  Maybe it’s the recent tragedy in Orlando, but it is refreshing to see how, well, today’s protagonist ain’t your grandmother’s protagonist.  And we’re all going to be better off because of it.

4.  The First Church of Mary, The Repentant Prostitute’s Fifth Annual Benefit Concert, Revival, and Pot Luck Dinner

It wasn’t just the long and outrageous title that got this show to stick in my craw (although it certainly helped).  The synopsis wasn’t a synopsis.  It was written as if it was dialogue from the “Preacher” himself.  It’s starts with a “Hey y’all.  It’s me . . . ” and goes on and . . . oh just click here if you want to read it.  This description was different than all the others in the catalog, which made it jump out and grab my shirt and force me to pay attention.  When writing your blurbs you have to remember that your customers don’t just read one . . . they read many.  What makes yours different from all others?  Differentiation from your competition is the key to success in any business.

5.  Tink!

What happened before Tinkerbell was Tinkerbell?  Everybody loves a good prequel (Wicked anybody?), and since we never learn too much about Tinkerbell in any of the 147 Peter Pan treatments, a musical about who she was and what she’ll become makes me all tinkly.


So there they are!  The five shows that stood out to me.

What shows stand out to you?  Head on over the the NYMF catalog online and read all the descriptions and make your own Top 5 Shopping List.  These exercises can help you tremendously when you’re ready to write your own blurb for your show.

And while you’re there, get tickets to a NYMF show.  Or several.

New musicals are what our business is about.  And who knows, maybe you’ll see the next Altar Boyz!  🙂

(Subscribe to the blog to make sure you don’t miss my “10 Shows That Stand Out At The Fringe” . . . which is coming up soon – and so much harder to choose, since there are so many dang Fringe shows!)


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.