Anthony Rapp, best-known as the performer who originated the role of Mark in “Rent,” is starring in a new musical that will give only three performances, for a ticket price no higher than $20 – and it will compete for attention with dozens of other shows within a couple of blocks of one another. He is, in other words, performing once again at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, or NYMF, which insiders such as Rapp pronounce like “nymph.” Its tenth seasons runs from July 8 to July 28, and takes place mostly in the many theaters on 42nd Street west of Ninth Avenue, primarily the new Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street) but also Theatre Row (410 West 42nd) and the Pearl Theatre Company Performance Space a block away (555 W. 42nd).
Rapp has been involved with NYMF before – it’s where he presented his one-man show “Without You,” and several years before that, where he performed in a show called “Feeling Electric,” which eventually won the Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, having changed its name to “Next to Normal.”
Begun in 2004, NYMF has been fertile, presenting some 350 shows – 85 of which, say the organizers, have gone on to further productions, including title of show, Yank, and Altar Boyz.
“It’s very important,” Rapp said at the press preview on July 2nd, which offered a glimpse (one song each) for about a third of the 24 full productions that will be presented this year, with a few others thrown in: The show Rapp stars in, “The Water Dream,” by Shawn Cody, is being called a staged reading. “NYMF gives a platform for writers to take their show out of their living room and put it in front of an audience,” Rapp says. “You still have to raise money to do it, but not on the same scale as Off-Broadway.”
I asked Isaac Robert Hurwitz, NYMF’s co-founder and departing executive director, whether the people involved in the festival could tell which shows would go on to greater glory. “If we knew which ones would be the hits, there’d be no need for our festival,” he replied.
There is page on the festival website that allows theatergoers to find shows by genre (comedy, drama, “dramedy”), type (full production, concert, “free developmental reading.”), venue, date, title.
Below are videos of the performances at the preview, some of which also include brief interviews with the performers. Rapp is not the only well-known performer who is involved in a NYMF show this year. Darren Ritchie (Les Miz, Millie, Dracula, etc.) is in Standby (his video below includes a brief interview with him), and Chad Kimball (Memphis) is in Julian Po. The descriptions are abbreviated versions of what are on the festival’s website.
“What If” from Julian Po
“Julian Po is determined to end his life at the sea, until he finds himself stuck in the smallest, strangest town in middle America”
“Brave” from The Water Dream
“After being dumped by his brilliant girlfriend, struggling writer Colin (Anthony Rapp) is visited by terrifying illusions from his childhood. Can he confront tragedy, embrace imagination, and defeat the dragon who haunts his dreams — in time to save his real life?”
“Too Busy Running” from Marry Harry
“Chef Harry wants to leave his family’s failing restaurant but doesn’t want to break his dad’s heart. Sparks fly when the landlord’s daughter, Sherri, sees in Harry the potential man of her dreams”-
“Let Me Be Your Cyrano” from Crossing Swords
“When the boys of St. Mark’s join the girls of St. Anne’s to present “Cyrano de Bergerac,” three friends get more of an education than they bargained for.”
“Whatever” from Legacy Falls
“the on- and off-screen drama of America’s favorite daytime soap opera..”
“Nothing But The Truth” from Standby
“Five strangers meet in an airport standby line and must decide among themselves who deserves to get on the next flight. They soon realize that this is no ordinary airport and their meeting is by no means a coincidence”
“Jabali” from Volleygirls
“Years ago, world-class volleyball player Kim Brindell choked and became an Olympic joke. Now she’s been assigned to coach the Ladyhawks, a team of wide-eyed, misfit, high-school girls who can’t seem to win a game”
“Come With Us” from Dizzy Miss Lizzie’s Roadside Revue Presents ‘The Brontes’
“Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell (Bronte) trade Victorian repression for rock-and-roll expression”