In the 16th annual New York Musical Festival, or NYMF, new musicals are inspired both by tall tales and true stories: A Native American sharpshooter who became a silent film actress; an infamous lynching of a teenage boy; 18th century women forced into exile in Australia; two 19th century women who circumnavigated the world — those are all true stories. Abducting zombies and alien lizards that want to conquer the Earth — those are among the tall tales in the festival, which runs from July 8 through August 4.
There are 30 new musicals this year, but critics are only permitted to review the ten labeled full productions, from which we can infer that the 11 “readings” and the nine “concerts” are all works in progress. But my experience with NYMF — which has showcased more than 400 new musicals since 2004 — is that even the full productions hold more promise than polish (even the dozens that eventually landed Off-Broadway, and the four on Broadway.)
Check out NYMF.org to learn more about all of this year’s offerings.
Below are a sample of songs, either recorded at a Broadway Sessions concert I attended at Laurie Beechman Theater or lifted directly from the NYMF website. Within each category, they are listed chronologically by first performance.
Inspired by the true story of 1920s Native American sharpshooter and silent film actress, Wanda Savage
Eve is kidnapped by zombies, but saved by a thoughtful one.
In November 1889, Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland set off in opposite directions on a history-making race around the globe to beat Phileas Fogg’s fictional record from Around The World In Eighty Days.
Teenage Irish sisters Alice and Mary are forced to make the treacherous crossing from London to Australia in 1789. Inspired by the story of the 25,000 women who would become the “mothers of Australia.”
A “zany satire of energy politics”
A musical based on the true story of Chicagoan Mamie Till and her son Emmett Till, the black teenager infamously lynched in 1955 for whistling at a white girl on a visit to relatives in Mississippi.
A gay man still reeling from the AIDS crisis is brought out of his grief-stricken solitude by Lady, who may be a hallucination, and a young escort named Chance.