2018 New York Musical Festival NYMF Awards for Excellence

Four musicals in the 2018 New York Musical Festival tied for the most awards, five apiece: Between the Sea and the Sky, Emojiland, Interstate and Pedro Pan. Below the list of winners and nominees.


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NYMF Review Sonata 1962: A Lesbian Daughter, A Mother’s Mistake

Margaret, a widow and well-meaning mother, is dressed in pearls while making her special buttermilk biscuits for her daughter Laura, who’s back home listless with severe memory loss after her mother sent her away to be tortured.

That of course is not how Margaret sees it in “Sonata 1962,” one of the last of the shows in the 15th annual New York Musical Festival. Written by Patricia Loughrey and Thomas Hodges, the musical takes us back to an era when suburban housewives baked with Crisco, watched Jackie Kennedy give a White House tour on a black and white set, shopped at the Green Stamp store in town, and believed the family doctor that their daughter’s lesbianism was a mental illness, but one that could be cured.
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NYMF Review Between the Sea and Sky: Two Sisters Lured and Trapped by a Mystery

“I am tall when I’m young but short when I’m old. What am I?”
That’s the first of the three riddles that Sam (short for Samantha) poses to the mysterious woman in white in order to free her sister Emily from the woman’s clutches.
“A candle,” the woman answers in triumph.
What’s not as easily solved is the riddle of “Between the Sea and Sky,” a musical written by an Australian named Luke Byrne being presented in a competently directed (and lovingly lit) production as part of the New York Musical Festival. Byrne’s music is impressive in its variety and appeal – from a classical-sounding art song to 1930s song-and-dance number to funky jazz to sea shanty, many suggesting the mysteries and allure of the sea. His lyrics are largely straightforward if undistinguished, except when he tries for the lyrical; then they’re incoherent. But his book is all over the place — an over-flavored stew of young adult novel, mystery, Grimm’s Fairy Tale, satire, even a primer on Shakespeare’s The Tempest – and winds up making no sense at all.
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Twelfth Night Review: Shakespeare as a Popcorn Musical

I compared Shaina Taub’s musical adaptation of “Twelfth Night” to a party and to a variety show when the Public Theater presented it in Central Park over Labor Day weekend in 2016. The unusual production featured a cast of professional actors mixed with some 200 New Yorkers from community groups from all five boroughs, as part of what the theater calls its Public Works project.
The show was evidently pleasing enough to enough people that the Public has brought it back as one of the Delacorte’s two major summer offerings, running now through August 19th. Read more of this post

NYMF Review ’68: A Musical about the 1968 Chicago Convention and the Limits of History


Before the musical “’68” begins, newspaper headlines are projected on the stage, marking some of the tumultuous events in the year 1968 — the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr and Robert F Kennedy, campus protests and city riots across the United States….and the events surrounding the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

But, despite the title of their musical,  which is an entry in the New York Musical Theater festival, librettist/lyricist Jamie Leo and composer Paul Leschen focus on just one of those events; the NYMF program bills “’68” as “inspired by the volatile events of the 1968 Democratic Convention and their place in history and our future.”
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NYMF Review Emojiland: 😎

“Emojiland,” an entry in the 2018 New York Musical Festival, is set inside a smart phone, with the resident emojis facing a “textistential” crisis —  the phone is due for a software update. That’s in the first act. In the second act, they face a virus.

A dozen talented performers, including Broadway stalwarts Lesli Margherita and Josh Lamon portray Smiley Face 😀 and Angry Face😠 and Worried Face 😟 and Weary Face 😩 and a whole raft of icons I’ve never used before, nor knew they existed — 📻🙄💂‍♂️💀ℹ🤓😎👷‍♀️🤴👸👮‍♀️🤰🏽😘, including 💩 pile of poo. The result is a hilarious entertainment, mostly — though one is greatly tempted to call it two-dimensional.

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NYMF Review If Sand Were Stone: A Musical About Alzheimer’s

Billie is a published poet and a professor, who has been married to her husband Marvin for 25 years. She can’t sleep. She has trouble finding her things, and blames Marvin for rearranging them behind her back. She thinks it’s night when it’s early in the morning. She loads and unloads the laundry, without turning on the washing machine. She looks at her face in the mirror and feels that her nose and her lips don’t belong to her.
Billie has Alzheimer’s. “If Sand Were Stone,” an entry at the 2018 New York Musical Festival, presents Billie’s deterioration over a span of two years, and its effect on her husband Marvin and daughter Margaux. Read more of this post

NYMF Review Interstate: Trans Man and Lesbian Asian Musical Duo in a Road Trip Musical

“Interstate,” an entry at the New York Musical Festival, is about two New Yorkers who form a band called Queer Malady and tour the country: Dash is a Chinese-born trans man and spoken word poet; Adrian is an Asian-American lesbian who is a gifted composer and guitarist. The show is written by Kit Yan, a Chinese-born trans man and spoken word poet, and Melissa Li, an Asian-American lesbian who is a composer and guitarist; the two formed a band called Good Asian Drivers and toured the country.

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NYMF Review Pedro Pan: A Cuban Refugee Child Adjusts to NYC

The title of this musical, a selection of the 2018 New York Musical Festival, comes from Operacion Pedro Pan (Operation Peter Pan),  which between 1960 and 1962 brought more than 14,000 children from Cuba to the United States without their parents.

“Pedro Pan” is the (fictitious) story of one such Cuban kid, Pedro, and his adjustment to life in New York City, living with his aunt, who herself left Havana just two years earlier.

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The 10th Annual Jimmy Awards Winners!

Andrew Barth Feldman and Renee Rapp

Best Performance by an Actress and Best Performance by an Actor were presented to Reneé Rapp (Charlotte, NC) and Andrew Barth Feldman (New York, NY). See complete list of winners blow

Watch the 10th annual Jimmy Awards, in which 80 high school students from across America competed for top prize, honors and scholarships.

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