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Festival of New Musicals

2012 Festival of New Musicals

The 24th Annual Festival of New Musicals was held in New York City on Thursday, October 11 and Friday, October 12, 2012 for a select audience of NAMT members, producers and other musical theatre industry professionals.

NAMT's Festival is the premiere industry event, which brings together theatre industry leaders to discover eight new musicals in 45-minute presentations. According to American Theatre Magazine, “It's an industry-only event, and it happens for only two days, but it makes a major impact in the world of musical theatre.”

“The Festival will provide an opportunity for our members and industry audience to get to know some of the most exciting voices writing in the musical theatre today, whose work we believe will add to the musical theatre canon in the years to come. As we culled the Festival from 158 submissions to the eight shows we will present this October, we wrestled with many of the questions we all face in our day-to-day work as producers, artists and administrators in organizations large and small. We asked questions about craft, passion, audience, innovation, diversity and balance.  For those of us involved in the Festival, the opportunity to support these eight extraordinary writing teams and to help spark opportunities for their work is a true gift."

Heather Schmucker and Kevin Moriarty, Co-Chairs

The Festival is only open to theatre industry professionals and major donors to NAMT. We define an industry member as anyone currently working professionally in the theatre who can aid in the development of the shows or writers we present. If you have any questions about this policy, please email branden@namt.org.

NAMT was honored to return to New World Stages for our 9th consecutive year to present this year's Festival.

Book by Jason Schafer
Music by Arthur Lafrentz Bacon
Lyrics by Harris Doran

Ideal Cast Size: 6
Ideal Band Size: Flexible
Style: Post-apocalyptic fairy tale in F minor

It’s always cold and nothing ever grows. A cloistered teen cellist must find a real live rose in order to thaw the frozen heart of the rebel punk next door. An eclectic score ranging from Broadway to classical to rock beats within this wickedly demented, post-apocalyptic fairy tale for grown-ups.

This will be the premiere of Bleeding Love, which was a finalist for the 2012 Richard Rodgers Award.

“The committee loved Bleeding Love's boldly theatrical setting, colorful characters and eclectic score. A truly unique piece, Bleeding Love manages to be compelling in its storytelling while also being utterly unique in its plot and tone.”

  1. Bleeding Love's small cast of six and big theatricality make it equally workable as an intimate production with minimal technical requirements or as a grandly realized spectacle.
  2. Bleeding Love’s boldly theatrical setting, like steam punk art or the work of Tim Burton and Edward Gorey, finds fun and poignancy within the gothic, the bleak and the macabre.
  3. Bleeding Love’s dynamic score ranges in style from Broadway to classical to rock. Influences include Sergei Rachmaninoff, Leonard Bernstein, Lucy Simon, The Killers and Courtney Love.
  4. Bleeding Love’s story takes place in a world full of fear and danger—it’s always night and it often snows, blood is shed and flowers that were dead become less dead—offering innovative directors and designers the chance to collaborate on many potentially sensational bits of stagecraft.
  5. Bleeding Love’s post-apocalyptic fairy tale nature provides terrific opportunities for colorblind and even cross-gender casting.

"NAMT was an extraordinary experience that put Bleeding Love out into the world in the most high caliber way possible. From the NAMT staff, to the extraordinary cast, to the incredible exposure we got, the NAMT experience is like no other and has changed our lives as writers and the future of Bleeding Love."

-Harris Doran, Lyricist, Bleeding Love

Nicolette Hart in performance and writers Harris Doran, Jason Schafer and Arthur Lafrentz Bacon in rehearsal for Bleeding Love. Photo by Ric Kallaher.


Book, Music & Lyrics by Justin Levine

Ideal Cast Size: 10-16 men
Ideal Band Size: 6-12
Style: Dark Comedic Caper

A rousing band of repressed 17th-Century Englishmen, led by the radical Guy Fawkes, plot to bring their tyrannical monarch down with a bang! Inspired by the 1605 Gunpowder Treason Plot, Bonfire Night is the story of 13 Catholic radicals who conspire to blow up Parliament on Opening Day in an effort to kill King James and Britain's entire governing body.

Bonfire Night was presented in 2007 at The Robert Moss Theater at the Playwrights Horizons Theater School at New York University and had a concert reading in 2010 at New York Stage and Film at Vassar College.

“The combination of 17th-century British politics, contemporary design and modern music makes Bonfire Night a bold new musical, mixing complicated ideas about terrorism with very funny character-driven comedy.”

  1. Justin's biggest musical influences while writing Bonfire Night include the Rat Pack, Frank Loesser, Nelson Riddle, Frank Sinatra, Tom Waits, Kander and Ebb, Nat King Cole and Cab Calloway, to name a few.
  2. In addition to being a jazz-filled romp through the Gunpowder Plot, Bonfire Night aims to shed light on unanswered questions that still arise 400 years later, such as the relationship between government and terrorism.
  3. Bonfire Night is a holiday that is observed in England to this very day. It is celebrated by setting off fireworks and burning Guy Fawkes in effigy. For some, it is a celebration of an evil plot averted, while for others it is the lamentation of a great plan gone wrong.
  4. Bonfire Night lives in a world where Ocean's Eleven meets The Usual Suspects.
  5. Justin had the idea for Bonfire Night while taking a class in dramaturgy. The class wasn't so much fun, but the result was well worth it.


Chris Hoch, André De Shields, Bryce Pinkham, Santino Fontana and Jeremy Morse in rehearsals for Bonfire Night. Photo by Ric Kallaher.

Music & Lyrics by Ben Clark
Book by Beth Turcotte
Inspired by the book by Cathy Day

Ideal Cast Size: 7 Principal, 6-8 Chorus
Ideal Band Size: 6
Style: Folk Rock Musical

Meeting an elephant can change a man’s life.  The Circus in Winter is based on the novel by Cathy Day, where legend and lore collide under the big-top filled with disheveled hustlers, death-defying acrobats and a dreamer named Wallace Porter searching for redemption and grace.

The Circus in Winter is the culmination of a three-year immersive learning journey that started at the Virginia Ball Center for Creative Inquiry at Ball State University. Fourteen students under the guidance of Beth Turcotte, Professor of Theatre, spent an entire semester writing and composing this musical inspired by the novel by Cathy Day. It premiered as a concert reading in May of 2010 with subsequent performances at the International Circus Hall of Fame in Peru, Indiana and Drury Lane Theatre, Chicago. In the fall of 2011, it was fully produced at BSU and selected for the American College Theater Festival. In the spring of 2012, The Circus in Winter won 11 awards at the ACTF/Kennedy Center Awards including Outstanding New Work.

The Circus in Winter will introduce NAMT members and industry professionals to Ben Clark, a talented young writer and a new voice who has created a nuanced, moving and appealing score. Early in its development, The Circus in Winter tells a highly theatrical story with innovative production opportunities that captivated the committee.”

  1. The Circus in Winter team is searching for passionate development and producing partners and is open to all levels and opportunities for development.
  2. The Circus in Winter was developed as an immersive learning project at Ball State University. The unique and remarkable birth took on a life of its own and now is led by Ben Clark and Beth Turcotte as it attempts to realize its full potential.
  3. While there are many locations throughout The Circus in Winter, there is no need for scenic elements to be interpreted literally. Designs should be suggestive, minimalistic and fluid, morphing from location to location, and there are no blackouts except where indicated.
  4. Caesar, the elephant, is intended to be a life-size puppet, full of lifelike qualities yet expressionistic in design.
  5. The band should remain onstage throughout the duration of the story as fully integrated storytellers.

"When I was an undergraduate student first conceiving how to make a musical stay afloat in development, my peers and I began looking into the new musical festival scene. In that range of opportunities, few compare to the NAMT Festival. The cast we were able to work with would not have come together if it weren't for the members of our team, assembled mostly by NAMT, who assisted us in making the jump to the big leagues, as it were. The venues for rehearsal and performance were top notch, and as far as getting people to see your show, the people who really need to be there show up because NAMT had the ability to market these readings with broad strategies and confidence in the work of their new artists."

-Ben Clark, Composer & Lyricist,
The Circus in Winter

Steel Burkhardt and Sutton Foster in The Circus in Winter. Photo by Ric Kallaher.

Book, Music & Lyrics by Kirsten Childs

Ideal Cast Size: 6
Ideal Band Size: 4-7
Style: Musical Comedy

Funked Up Fairy Tales—a collection of delightfully twisted urban fairy tales for sophisticated children and grown-up kids—welcomes you to the world of Titania, Faireetheeya and Magikwanda, teenage fairies with attitude. They wag their heads and suck their teeth as they turn things upside down to pass their Fairyland Academy exam. Will they pull through with flying colors and earn their Happy Ending Crowns?

Funked Up Fairy Tales had a workshop production at Barrington Stage Company (August 2007), a staged reading at The Sundance Institute Theatre Lab at White Oak (December 2007) and a staged reading at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Ernst C. Stiefel 7@7 Reading Series (2009).

“The committee loved the humor, energy and contemporary score of Funked Up Fairy Tales, which will appeal to children and adults of all ages with its good spirits and hip sense of humor.”
  1. K-Pig, the original Funked Up Fairy Tale story, is adapted from a story (“The Pig Prince”) by Straparola, the 16th-Century Italian writer who gave us Beauty and the Beast and Puss In Boots.
  2. I see the show as a melange of styles—elements of a traditional storybook world, infused with modern day trappings.  A set and a design scheme that suggests a land where grandeur meets hardcore, where Versailles meets the trailer park, where Charles II meets Christian Louboutin meets Fubu.  A place where the audience connects their real world with their fantasy.
  3. The energy, verve and undaunted spirit of my three heroines comes directly from the energy, heart and undaunted spirit of all the brilliant, sweet, funny, bold, shy and opinionated students I have had the pleasure of accompanying to the theater in TDF’s Open Doors program. This program connects theatre professionals with a group of 8 NYC high school students for a year of seeing Broadway shows together. 
  4. For the next stage of the show, my hope is that my fairy godsistahs Faireetheeya, Magikwanda and Titania are chanting the proper "Pick this thing up, yo!" spells as they wave their wands over producers' heads!
  5. I began to write the show a while back to have something to do while I waited for a collaborator of mine to finish the book for a musical we were working on. I’m still waiting for that book :)  All joking aside, I would love for the bookwriter to finish it, because it could be fantastic.

"NAMT 2012 was wonderful. The staff was generous and supportive, my creative team was a joy to work with, and a lot of interest in my show has been generated by this experience. Thank you, NAMT!"

-Kirsten Childs,
Funked Up Fairy Tales

Kerry Butler, Drew Aber and Kenita Miller in Funked Up Fairy Tales. Photo by Ric Kallaher.

Book & Lyrics by Itamar Moses
Music & Lyrics by Gaby Alter

Ideal Cast Size: 8 (4 men, 4 women)
Ideal Band Size: Rock Quartet
Style: Romantic Comedy

Filled with tuneful pop songs, Nobody Loves You takes audiences on a hilarious behind-the-scenes ride through reality television and into real life. When Jeff, a philosophy grad student, joins a dating show to win back his ex, he breaks all the rules and tries to blow the game wide open… until he meets Jenny. In a world where every kiss is staged for the cameras, can two people find a real connection?

Nobody Loves You received a 2011 NAMT National Fund for New Musicals Project Development Grant and recently finished its world premiere production at The Old Globe, where it also received three developmental readings since 2010.  In addition, it had staged readings at Goodspeed Musicals’ Festival of New Artists in 2011 and the Cape Cod Theatre Project in 2008.  It was part of Rhinebeck Writers Retreat in 2011.

“The witty banter, accessible score and sweetly ironic romantic plot of Nobody Loves You charmed all of us on the committee with its wry take on the realities of reality television. It's polished and ready to be shared with an even broader audience.”
  1. Nobody Loves You is a romantic musical comedy set on a reality TV dating show.
  2. While the show is filled with humor and satirizes pop culture, it actually takes its characters seriously and asks real questions about how romance and connection are affected by our cultural obsession with being seen.
  3. After five years in development, the show had its world premiere at The Old Globe this year and received critical acclaim from The New York Times, Variety, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal.
  4. The show is a smart, contemporary comedy that looks at a timeless theme—how you find real connection in a world of forced personalities. Though it takes a look at pop culture, it is suitable for all ages. We found that audiences at The Old Globe who had never seen a reality TV show still loved and connected with the musical.
  5. While the show takes place on the set of a reality TV show, the show can be done very simply. The production at The Old Globe was successfully realized with minimal scenery, in the round and without video or projections.

"NAMT allowed us to expose our musical to a wide variety of industry professionals who never otherwise would have gotten the chance to see it on its feet and also created creative momentum for us in the push to get it ready to present."

-Itamar Moses, Book and Lyrics, Nobody Loves You

Nicole Lewis, Adam Kantor and Heath Calvert in rehearsal for Nobody Loves You. Photo by Ric Kallaher.

Book by Rachel Sheinkin
Music by Brendan Milburn
Lyrics by Valerie Vigoda

Ideal Cast Size: 4 men, 4 women
Ideal Band Size: 8
Style: Modern Fairy Tale

A young beauty is brought to a sleep disorder clinic and soon all the patients find themselves sharing a fairy-tale dream. With beguiling characters, hypnotic lyrics and a rocking score, Sleeping Beauty Wakes delves into the magical space between dreaming and waking.

Sleeping Beauty Wakes premiered at Center Theatre Group/Deaf West in 2007 (winning Best World Premiere Musical and Best Musical Direction at the LA Ovation Awards), followed by a co-production between McCarter Theatre and La Jolla Playhouse in 2011.

“The Committee loved the accessible but surprising plot and the engaging, sophisticated score of Sleeping Beauty Wakes. The committee is excited to introduce this fresh and broadly appealing work to the industry.”

  1. It's Sleeping Beauty” set in a sleep disorder clinic. No, wait, are these people fairy-tale characters or have they just lost their marbles? This much is certain: it's the story of a father gone mad with grief, his beautiful daughter in a coma, an angry clinician with a mysterious past and a hospital orderly with a bad case of narcolepsy and cataplexy.
  2. Although originally conceived as a bilingual musical for deaf and hearing actors, Sleeping Beauty Wakes is now envisioned for a traditional, hearing company of actors speaking and singing in English.  Down the road, however, anything is possible, but we digress.
  3. The members of the rock band GrooveLily, who were musicians and actors in the Milburn/Sheinkin/Vigoda NAMT 2004 Festival show Striking 12, did the same musician/actor thing for Sleeping Beauty Wakes in 2007, singing and voicing characters for deaf and hard-of-hearing actors. In the years since, the show has transformed into a piece for eight actors and five to eight musicians, and none of them is a member of GrooveLily.
  4. 40 million people in the US suffer from chronic sleep disorders, including insomnia, sleep apnea, night terrors and restless leg syndrome.
  5. We learned a lot from the last production. We feel we're about 96% of the way there, and we, along with our commercial producers, are ready to do one more round of work, hopefully at a theatre near you and yours, before bringing the show into New York.

"Once a show has been produced once (or twice) it can be difficult to find a new home for further development. NAMT has proven to be the ideal gateway to the theatre community at large, and has opened more doors for our show than I can count on two hands. We are now juggling possibilities, and we are thrilled that our show has a future."

-Brendan Milburn, Composer, Sleeping Beauty Wakes


"NAMT changed my life eight years ago - and now continues to make it better!"

-Valerie Vigoda, Lyricist,
Sleeping Beauty Wakes


Tonya Pinkins in Sleeping Beauty Wakes. Photo by Ric Kallaher.

Book & Lyrics by Dan Collins
Music by Julianne Wick Davis

Ideal Cast Size: 3M, 3F plus 2M/2F ensemble/chorus/band
Ideal Band Size: 2M/2F ensemble/chorus/band and a music director
Style: Folk/Bluegrass - Drama

Based on the Sundance Award-winning documentary, this heartwarming musical about a group of transgender friends living in rural Georgia is, at its core, a love story between their patriarch, Robert Eads, and newcomer Lola Cola. Through a unique folk and bluegrass-inspired score, the musical chronicles a year in the lives of this unique American family as they courageously defy the odds by simply remaining on the land to which they were born, reminding us that home is where we find comfort in our skin.

Southern Comfort was a recipient of a 2010 NAMT National Fund for New Musicals Writers Residency Grant for a reading at Playwrights Horizons and a 2011 Project Development Grant for a workshop production at CAP21.  From 2010 to 2011, the show had three closed-room readings at CAP21 leading up to the workshop production in 2011, which garnered them critic picks from The New York Times, TimeOut NY and The Advocate, and a GLAAD Award for Best off-Off Broadway Production in 2012.  The writers also received a Jonathan Larson Grant in 2012 for Southern Comfort

“The down-home score and empathetic characters of Southern Comfort impressed the committee as a work that advances the art form of the musical. The musical's cast of transgendered characters are portrayed with sensitivity, warm humor and deep emotion.”

  1. Southern Comfort is based on Kate Davis’ 2001 documentary of the same name, which was the recipient of The Grand Jury Prize at The Sundance Film Festival.
  2. While the majority of the principal characters are transgendered, the narrative’s focus is on the dynamic of a group of friends and the universality of their experiences and relationships. A love story and family drama at heart; Southern Comfort is a musical for all audiences.
  3. Of the principal characters, five out of the six are transgendered. The gender casting of these roles is open to interpretation and should not be dictated by the casting in this or any presentation.
  4. The musical features a folk band (piano/acoustic bass/percussion/acoustic guitar/violin). All of these band members, except for the pianist, sing and act as secondary characters in the show. However, this is also open to interpretation, and the show may be performed with an ensemble of singers/performers who are separate from the instrumentalists.
  5. Southern Comfort’s award-winning production was presented as an Equity Showcase. We are seeking our first definitive regional and/or Off Broadway production and welcome the opportunity to collaborate as we finalize our development.

"NAMT is such an important festival for any show...new or dusted off. Bringing all of the industry together in such a way to see the 'trailer' of your show is an experience you can’t find anywhere else, especially when it’s a challenge to get theatres, producers, to see and read your work. Your show can sometimes get lost on a desk piled high with scripts and demos, but NAMT brings your musical to the forefront and puts a spotlight on it. Thank you!"

-Julianne Wick Davis, Composer, Southern Comfort


"NAMT is, without a doubt, one of the best platforms on which to present a work of musical theater to the community. In two short and sweet days, our piece had been exposed to a vast network of producing entities that even years of alternative efforts would have been unable to rival! "

-Dan Collins, Book and Lyrics, Southern Comfort


Annette O'Toole and Jeff McCarthy in Southern Comfort. Photo by Ric Kallaher.

Music by Curtis Moore
Lyrics by Thomas Mizer
Book by Thomas Mizer, Curtis Moore & Joshua Scher

Ideal Cast Size: 6
Ideal Band Size: 7 piece orchestra with options for smaller
Style: Contemporary Romance

In an original mystery/romance set against the backdrop of an infamous New York tragedy, two couples from different eras—in 1911 a Jewish seamstress and her Italian foreman, in 2011 a graduate student and a free-spirited stranger—discover what it means to risk everything you believe for love.

Triangle was originally commissioned in 2005 by Williamstown Theatre Festival (Artistic Director Roger Rees) as part of their LeapFROG new works program and further developed at The O’Neill’s 2006 National Music Theater Conference (directed by Robert Longbottom). Following a hiatus to pursue other projects, the authors returned to the piece in 2010 with a series of readings at CAP21 in New York and a Fall 2011 workshop at Northwestern University’s American Musical Theatre Project. Triangle was seen this August at the New Works Festival at TheatreWorks in Palo Alto (directed by Meredith McDonough).

“We were moved by the sophisticated score and interlocking contemporary and historical stories of Triangle, which melds two love stories across time. With an entirely new take on its contemporary story from previous drafts, the writers are continuing to craft the plot and structure in ways that impressed the committee.”

  1. Triangle features a cast of only six performers (in showcasing dual roles) and a highly adaptable set that can be as simple or as complex as desired.
  2. Triangle was originally commissioned by Williamstown Theatre Festival and further developed at The O’Neill, CAP21, Northwestern and TheatreWorks. With this generous time to work through the script, the piece is now ready for a fully realized developmental production.
  3. As it glides back and forth through time, Triangle has proven to connect with audiences both young and old, drawn to the sweeping romance of the past and the contemporary drive of the present.
  4. Although it's inspired by the famously tragic Triangle Factory Fire, the show has a much wider scope—filled with humor, mystery, relatable modern characters and a score that interweaves contemporary and classic elements.
  5. Plus, it’s a show with Jewish immigrants and a gay couple—a music theatre bulls-eye!

"In a world of new economics and seemingly less and less funding for the arts, NAMT is an incredibly important step in the development of new musicals, particularly from a writer's point of view. With limited resources and time at our disposal, NAMT provides one of the only legitimate ways of sharing our work with theaters and institutions that we would otherwise have little or no access to."

-Curtis Moore, Composer, Triangle

Bryce Ryness, Margo Seibert and Wayne Wilcox in rehearsal for Triangle. Photo by Ric Kallaher.

2012 Festival Committee

Heather Schmucker, American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University (IL), Co-Chair
Kevin Moriarty, Dallas Theater Center (TX), Co-Chair
Pamela Adams, formerly of Trinity Repertory Company (RI)
Joe Barros, New York Theatre Barn (NY)
Elise Dewsberry, Academy for New Musical Theatre (CA)
Mara Isaacs, McCarter Theatre Center (NJ)
Eric Louie, The Old Globe (CA)
Søren Møller, The Danish Academy of Musical Theatre (DK)
Kent Nicholson, Playwrights Horizons (NY)
Steve Peterson, Maine State Music Theatre (ME)
Peter Rothstein, Theater Latté Da (MN)
Tara Smith, Playing Pretend (NY)
Donna Lynn Hilton, Goodspeed Musicals (CT), Chair Emerita
Steve Stettler, Weston Playhouse Theatre Company (VT), Chair Emeritus

See our press archives for articles about the Festival and other NAMT programming.

For more information about these shows, please contact info@namt.org.


The Festival of New Musicals has received a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.  

NYSCA The Festival of New Musicals is made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, celebrating 50 years of building strong, creative communities in New York State's 62 counties with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Dramatists Guild The Festival is also supported in part by the Dramatists Guild Fund.




We are very pleased to thank the following sponsors of the 2012 Festival of New Musicals and Fall Conference. For information on supporting NAMT and the benefits of becoming a sponsor, please visit the Sponsorship section of our website.



Gold Sponsors








Disney Theatrical Productions



Goodspeed Musicals



Pittsburgh CLO


Rodgers & Hammerstein


Samuel French


Theatre Under the Stars


Theatrical Rights Worldwide




Silver Sponsors


The 5th Avenue Theatre






Demos Bizar Entertainment




Music Theatre International


Tams Witmark







Music Theatre of Wichita

Sh-K-Boom RecordsGhostlight
Stacey Mindich Productions
Ted Swindley Productions