Live from NYMF – Vol. 2

This blog is a part of The Directory of Contemporary Musical Theatre Writers, found online at www.contemporarymusicaltheatre.com.

________________________________

The New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF)New York Musical Theatre Festival opens today with 25 new musicals in full production. If you missed our first NYMF blog you can read it here.

For this blog we asked our guest bloggers to share their show’s road to NYMF and the changes that are happening in their rehearsal rooms. With only 120 hours allowed for rehearsals, things move very quickly. The version of the show that winds up on stage often looks quite different from how it began. David and I can certainly vouch for that with Searching for Romeo! As music director (David) and director (Laura), we’ve worked with our writer, Brian Sutton, and seen songs cut (2), characters added (1), and a radically rewritten Act Two. But it sounds like we’re not alone. It’s all part of the process of creating a new musical.

We are thrilled to have guest bloggers from all aspects of NYMF production: writers, composers, directors, music directors, actors, and producers.  Let’s find out a little more about our featured shows and bloggers:

BAYONETS OFbayonets_of_angst ANGST

Blogger – Rick Kunzi (Book/Music/Lyrics)
 

How did the idea of your musical come about? About 8 years ago, while I was writing my first musical (Brunch) my roommate Justin Zeppa was finishing a comedic screenplay about the eccentricities of the American Civil War titled Bayonets of Angst.  Four years later, I picked up the script with the idea of adapting it for the stage as a musical.

Have there been any large-scale changes to your production since your show was chosen for NYMF? One of the fascinating aspects of our production is that 7 actors play over 40 different characters throughout the show. Originally, we had an 8th character track but decided to trim it down to 7 and load the other actors with a few more characters, just for good measure. So far, it’s really streamlined the production.

What do you hope to take away from this festival experience in terms of the shape of the show? The Ford Studio is a very small space in comparison to most Off-Broadway houses.  The challenge of putting a full scale production on a smaller stage has given us the chance to re-envision this show as an intimate circus of comedy.

For more information and tickets, click here.

clonedCLONED

Blogger – Tom Wojtunik (Director)

How long have you been involved  with the show and what attracted you to the musical? Last summer I was invited to direct a presentation of the musical for NYMF’s reading series, for which we won an award. I’ve been attached to the piece ever since. I laughed out loud so much the first time I read it, and the script kept surprising me, which is why I said yes in the first place. Once I started to hear it out loud last summer, I realized that the writers had succeeded at something that is pretty rare: a genuine, door-slamming farce musical.

Have there been any large-scale changes to your production since you’ve been involved? We did cut one actor track–it forced us to solve a major problem in the storytelling another way, and I think the audience will be delighted with the result. Over the past year, we charted out the structure of the show and went through it with a fine tooth comb, and in that process solved (I hope) a lot of logic issues. Since rehearsals have started there have been lots of little changes.

For more information and tickets, click here.

COMING OF AGEcoming_of_age

Blogger – Jon Provan (Book/Music/Lyrics, Producer and Musical Director)

How did the idea of your musical come about? I remember the moment when I realized I wasn’t a child anymore. I woke up one morning and noticed something was missing, but I wasn’t sure where it had gone. I always wanted to explore that feeling, to figure out what had happened, to understand what growing up really means. That journey led me to Coming of Age.

Give a specific example of how the director, musical director or cast has positively influenced the shape of the musical. Our director, Ryan Pifher, has been tireless in his work to find the humor and the sorrow in this piece. He brought the concept of the “doorway” to the show. Growing up is a series of leaps forward, steps over thresholds into new versions of yourself. Ryan made doorways an integral part of our set design and staging, and I can’t imagine Coming Of Age without them. They create the perfect metaphor for the phases of human life.

For more information and tickets, click here.

FABLE  10402577_408786742593980_849561766335271415_n

Blogger – Harrison Kaufman (Book)

How did the idea of your musical come about? Chris (Anselmo) and I graduated high school and while we were told we’d be looking back on these times fondly, and would relish the lessons we’d learned, we actually realized we didn’t learn any at all.  We realized that we have to figure things out on our own, and high school did very little to prepare us for that.

Have there been any large-scale changes to your production since you were selected for NYMF? Absolutely. We’ve rewritten the show so many times I have over 300 hundred individual pages of script that I’ve written (duplicate drafts not included), when the show requires only about 70 pages of script per draft. Chris also has about 40 or so songs written.

Give a specific example of how the director, musical director or cast has positively influenced the shape of the musical. Having so many heads in the room on a creative level can be disconcerting, but has somewhat ironically ultimately given the show an increasingly specific voice—for which I am very thankful.

For more information and tickets, click here.

10257506_632017230199659_4457417224283826225_oMADAME INFAMY

Bloggers – Joe Vigliotti (Book) & Carlos Armesto (Director)
 

How did the idea of your musical come about? Joe answers – Many years ago I came across a book on Sally Hemings because I had always been fascinated by the myth of her. After I finished the book I thought this would make an incredible play, but always felt that she would need a “sister voice” in solidarity. Many years later while I was in living in LA, I treated myself to the movie Marie Antoinette. It left me with a lot of questions so I picked up the copy of Antonia Fraser’s “The Journey.” Viola! What I found was not only an incredible detail of a fascinating life but I found my sister voice to my first love, Ms. Hemings. Madame Tussaud was the added jewel that cemented the fate of this musical coming to fruition. I had a woman who was present at the time that both these women lived in France. She observed people and could have possibly known both of them.

How long have you been involved and what attracted you the musical? Carlos answers – I’ve been involved with Madame Infamy since the end of April, when Joe and his team made me the offer to direct it for NYMF. I was struck by the surprising tale of these two historical figures – one we think we know everything about, and another that is barely reaching the public consciousness.  I couldn’t believe the parallel stories Marie Antoinette and Sally Hemings had, and how they were both prisoners to their own worlds.  I was moved by how their need to make a mark was supplanted by those around them, and was excited to manifest that story on stage.

For more information and tickets, click here.

RESCUE RUERR_Day

Blogger: Stacey Weingarten (Concept/Book)
 

How did the idea of your musical come about? I wondered about the origin story of my dog, Rue– IE, her life before I adopted her. I don’t know anything more than a few clues (she was found on the street in WV and brought to a pound, then saved by the Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue and brought to NYC to find a “furever” home)… but she’s so wonderful, I couldn’t believe she was in a shelter where she would have been terminated if not saved in time. I like to think maybe a Fairy Dogmother really did guide her to me as she does in our musical. (Hey, I don’t have any proof to deny it, do you?) Give a specific example of how the director, musical director or cast has positively influenced the shape of the musical. The energy in the room is so warm and giving, it’s been an incredible process learning about the characters and the plot with this team. Since rehearsals started I’ve been editing the script– even though it had already undergone some revisions after our first-ever production at the NY Children’s Theater Fest in April (some of our actors have returned to the cast for NYMF), in rehearsal the actors have been graciously putting up with additional changes day-to-day based on getting to see what works and what doesn’t in the room. The opportunity to try new things on its feet instead of on the page is invaluable. I’ve also found that working with such phenomenal actors (comedic timing to spare!) is especially helpful for developing the more physical moments in the show; we’ve even arrived at some of such moments through improv– notably physical comedy — since it simply doesn’t read the way it plays.

For more information and tickets, click here.

searching_for_romeoSEARCHING FOR ROMEO

Blogger: Brian Sutton (Book/Music/Lyrics)
 

How did the idea of your musical come about? Probably partly my work as a college professor of English: I deal with Shakespearean plays regularly, and I’m also aware of “revisionist” literary works that revisit classics from a new perspective, usually the perspective of an outsider. I had vaguely gotten the idea already, but when I was making an eight-hour car trip alone, the idea for the show just kind of took hold and wouldn’t let go. When I got to my destination, I got out my notebook and wrote down everything I could remember. I started the first draft later that week.

Have there been any large-scale changes to your production since you were selected for NYMF? Yes. The first draft of the script didn’t even have Lady Avare, a character who is now the antagonist and the central character after the main romantic-comedy couple. We revised extensively–cutting material, dropping one song, adding another–during the 2012 Green Bay production. We revised more–dropping two songs, adding a reprise medley as a finale, expanding Lady Avare’s character, etc.–for the 2013 NYMF Developmental Reading. For this production many new songs were added, many old ones cut, major revisions to the ones that have been kept, reduction of roles of Romeo, Juliet, and Friar Lawrence, focus more exclusively on the central couple (Rosaline and Paris) and their antagonist (Lady Avare), raunchy material decreased although not entirely deleted, middle portion of second act entirely overhauled.

What do you hope to take away from this festival experience in terms of the shape of the show? Well, I’m trying to make it as good a show as it can be, and I’m hoping it’ll have a theatrical life after the festival.

For more information and tickets, click here.

thesnowqueen-nymf-artworkTHE SNOW QUEEN

Blogger: Haddon Kime (Music/Lyrics)
 

How did the idea of your musical come about? In the fall of 2012 my collaborators Rick Lombardo (book and lyrics) and Kirsten Brandt (book and lyrics) started looking for an alternative to “A Christmas Carol” and “A Christmas Story” to program for San Jose Repertory Theatre’s upcoming 2013-14 season. Not being able to find the high energy, family friendly, fairy tale with an attitude offering they were looking for, they decided to adapt their own. Kirsten at that point re-discovered a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale she had read as a child entitled “The Snow Queen.” Our rock musical adaptation of “The Snow Queen” and Disney’s “Frozen” opened the same day. November 27th, 2013.

Have there been any large-scale changes to your production since your show was selected for NYMF? We have already gained so much by rewriting and continuing the development of our show for NYMF. We have rewritten the entire first 15 minutes of the show and it’s working so much better now. We have made duets out of solo pieces and have been able to rework some lyrics to make plot points clearer.

For more information and tickets, click here.

Travels---Website-Home-Image-2THE TRAVELS

Blogger: Aaron Ricciardi (Book/Lyrics)
 

How did the idea of your musical come about? I was a hardcore disciple of Laura Schellhardt, who ran (and still does run) the Playwriting program at Northwestern University. By the time I was a senior, I had taken every class that she offered, and all that was left was to take an independent study with her, and I did. I told her I wanted to write a one-person play. She told me I should write something epic and political. So I remembered a dream that I had had, about an über famous family called the Travels. I channeled my frustrations about the political climate at the time. I read a lot of Brecht and dystopian fiction. And this play was born. Four years and many titles later, what began as a zany forty-page writing exercise has now turned into this.

Have there been any large-scale changes to your production since your show was selected for NYMF? NYMF’s Director of Programming, Mary Kate Burke, has been a true advocate for me and this play. Because of her, I began this process thinking of it in terms of strengthening the written work of this show, and, consequently, 75% of the show that will be produced at NYMF this summer is either new or entirely rewritten from what was submitted to NYMF in the Fall. The show even has a new title!

What do you hope to take away from this festival experience in terms of the shape of the show? This show is not quite a musical, not quite a play, so we’ve been asking questions like, “How does music function in this show? What is the tone?” We’re all excited about where we’ve gotten, but this show is complex and unique, and the only way to really be able to tell whether it works is to put it on stage.

For more information and tickets, click here.

ValueVilleVALUEVILLE

Blogger: Donna Lynne Champlin (Director) 
 

How long have you been involved and what attracted you the musical? I became familiar with ValueVille when I voted it my #1 choice to be in the festival as a 2014 NYMF season judge.

Give a specific example of how the director, musical director or cast has positively influenced the shape of the musical. There is no doubt in my mind that we have one of strongest design teams I have ever seen at NYMF. Between the brilliance the designers brought to pre-production and the amazing work the cast is doing in rehearsals, the ship is rock solid and the crew is top-notch. I just have to pull this boat safely into shore, honestly.

What do you hope to take away from this festival experience in terms of the shape of the show? My personal goal as the director is for this production of ValueVille to be a springboard to a legitimate commercial life after NYMF, because I truly believe it warrants it.

For more information and tickets click here.

WikiMusical_Logo_LowResWeb_TransparentWIKIMUSICAL

Bloggers: Frank Ceruzzi (Book/Lyrics), Blake J. Harris (Book/Lyrics) & Adam Shapiro (Actor)
 
 

How did the idea of your musical come about? Frank answers – Blake and I got together for coffee one afternoon. During our geeked-out conversation, he told me about his idea for Wikipedia: The Musical (which later became WikiMusical). I immediately thought it was a fantastic idea; not only did it seem to have “big” creative and commercial potential, but I’d been thinking more and more about my students and how much of their day involves virtual interactions, not “real” ones.

Have there been any large-scale changes to your production since you were selected for NYMF? Blake answers – Absolutely. Part of the changes were inspired by the fact that our initial script was too fat; another part was led by the realization that we actually had to perform this thing. But the largest changes came with help from our wonderful director Richard J. Hinds. He possesses an almost innate ability to combine style and substance (both on stage and in the script) and this was invaluable to myself and Frank when it came to streamlining our story; somehow chopping pages and scenes while simultaneously making the script feel richer and more expansive.

How long have you been involved and what attracted you the musical? Adam answers: I was contacted by my manager that they were still seeking a couple of actors for the show, including one who would play a slew of characters including Santa Claus and Bill Gates. Well right away, that idea tickled me. After reading a few of the scenes and hearing a couple of the songs, I knew I liked where this show was going (a lot!) and upon hearing Santa’s opening number, “Imagine the Future”, I knew I wanted to be involved. It’s such a treat to be a part of a show that knows not to take life too seriously and to work with a team that likes to have fun.

For more information and tickets click here.

******

Check back often for updates, or follow our blog at the bottom of this page!

____________________________________

Please subscribe to our blog. Enter your email address on the top left side of the page and click “Follow” and sign up for our email list.

Visit www.contemporarymusicaltheatre.com for more information on over 180 contemporary musical theatre writers and 550+ songs, all searchable by voice and song type.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s