Thursday, June 18, 2015

15 MINUTE MUSICALS



In Los Angeles every year is the inspiring 15-minute musicals developed at New Musicals IncThere are seven musicals this year, having their world premiere on June 29, 30, and July 1 at the Lonny Chapman Theatre in North Hollywood. These musicals are a decades-long tradition at the NMI’s Academy for New Musical Theatre.

The 15 Minute Musical Project concludes each season of the Academy’s world-famous Core Curriculum of the writers’ workshop, which has been in existence for over 40 years.

For the final project of the curriculum, composers, lyricists and bookwriters are put together on writing teams and are given eight short weeks to write, revise and polish a brand-new musical written for actors whom they’ve never met before.

This year’s theme is “Forks in the Road”, so each musical is about a life-changing moment.

“It’s an amazing experience,” says ” Scott Guy, one of evening’s directors. “All seven of this season’s musicals explores a different outlook on life and how people experience it.  It’s a wonderful, wild-ride of an evening of musical theatre enjoyment.”

The creative team of director Scott Guy, music director Ron Barnett, stage manager Rita Cannon, and actors Conchita Belisle-Newman, David Crane, Shannon Martinous, and Louis Silvers will present the following three 15-minute musicals:
End of the Line (book by Howard Ho, music by Kristen Rea, and lyrics by Chris Edgar)
Can I Help You Out? (book by Weston Scott, music by Laura Wardrip, and lyrics by David Rackoff)
Fork You! (book by Lucy Wang, music by Molly Siskin, and lyrics by Shawn Ryan)

The creative team of director John Coppola, music director Ross Kalling, stage manager Angel Hernandez, and actors Melvin Biteng, J. Bailey Burcham, Elise Dewsberry, and Emma Sperka will present the following four 15-minute musicals:
Queen Hamembshaput Says What? (book by Danielle Roderick, music by Sahara S. Spain, and lyrics by Mitch Glaser)
Margot’s Blessing (book and lyrics by Lori Ada Jaroslow, and music by Morgan Hollingsworth)
Have A Nice Trip (book by Dan Margules, music by Raphael Nemes, and lyrics by Marissa Kochanski)
Half Off (book by Rich Cook, music and lyrics by Jeff King)

You can see all seven musicals on either Monday, June 29, Tuesday, June 30, or Wednesday, July 1.  The Lonny Chapman Theatre is at 10900 Burbank Blvd. in North Hollywood.  Tickets are $25 and are available at www.nmi.org. We hope to see you there!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"It Happened in Roswell" Prepares for Workshop Production at The No Ho Arts Center


As August fast approaches, excitement builds as NMI prepares to invade The No Ho Arts Center for the entire month of August for 31 straight days of world premieres, concerts, workshop productions, and cabaret. Included in this month-long musical extravaganza will be "It Happened in Roswell" by Terrence Atkins and Jeffery Lyle Segal. 

This zany romantic comedy tells the story of a hard-nosed tabloid reporter in 1947 who is stranded in Roswell where he makes up a fake alien story, only to discover that there really is an alien and it's a beautiful alien girl! It's your classic story.  Boy meets alien. Boy loses alien. Boy gets alien back. With the Army ready to turn Roswell upside down to find and dissect the "invader," what will the reporter do? Will it be the story?  Or the girl? 


"It Happened in Roswell" was selected as the First Prize Winner of the NMI's 2013 search for New Musicals. In the fall, Artistic Director Elise Dewsberry and Executive Director, Scott Guy, worked with co-authors Atkins & Segal to rewrite a new and improved draft. The process involved two in-house readings, which were directed by Scott Guy and presented by the Academy Reparatory Company. Both times, the authors were given notes and then went back in and did rewrites based upon feedback received from the readings. The result was a tighter, more story-driven show that will now open at the No Ho Arts Center on August 3rd for eight workshop performances. 

The workshop production will be co-directed by Scott Guy and Terrence Atkins.  Co-produced by NMI and House on the Hill Productions. Musical Direction by Ron Barnett. Choreography by Susanna Young. Casting by Lindsey Mixon. Cast includes:  Emerson Boatwright, Amy Bloom, John McCool Bowers, Rory Dunn, Matthew Herrmann, Nathan Ondracek, Carrie Madsen, and Julie Tolivar. 

This heartfelt and offbeat comedy is sure to make even non-believers believe in something called love. (and it illustrates that rewrites are hard work, but well-worth all the effort)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The New Voices Project

The New Musicals Initiative is thrilled to be launching our New Voices Project with the goal of helping young writers between the ages of 18-25 showcase their original work by participating in the 17th annual Stages New Musical Theatre Festival held in Los Angeles between August 23-25, 2013.

The New Musicals Initiative is the professional division of the Academy for New Musical Theatre.  ANMT is a Los Angeles based developmental company offering workshops, seminars and online courses designed to help artists develop and produce new musical theatre works.
Young writers have been submitting their promising works so they can take part in our prestigious Stages New Musical Theatre Festival. These writers come from all over the country and from prominent musical theatre programs. We are delighted to be able to showcase the future of musical theatre.
The New Voices Project will take place on August 24th at 8:30pm at the Academy for New Musical Theatre in North Hollywood.
For more information on the New Voices Project, visit us at www.newmusicalsinc.com/newvoices.

For information on our Stages New Musical festival visit us at www.anmt.org.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Academy for New Musical Theatre's Stages Musical Theatre Festival


It's hard to believe, but Stages Musical Theatre Festival will be almost twenty years old this year. This biennial musical theatre event returns to Los Angeles the weekend of August 23-25.  Featuring eight new musicals presented in concert readings, the festival will be hosted by the New Musicals Initiative (the professional wing of the Academy for New Musical Theatre) and will be presented in two locations: the Lonny Chapman Theatre (10900 Burbank Blvd in North Hollywood) and the Academy, 5628 Vineland in North Hollywood.
The New Musicals Initiative will be bringing together dozens of writers and over fifty actors to present eight brand-new shows. The schedule is designed so that a Festival Pass holder can see four shows on one day at the Lonny Chapman Theatre, and the other four shows at the Academy on the other. Or, if audience members have only one day, they can pick and choose among all eight shows, shuttling between the theatre and the Academy, which are five doors away from each other.
The shows featured at the "First Stage" (at the Lonny Chapman Theatre) will be:
<Mad Bomber- winner of the 2013 Search for New Musicals -  based on the true story of the man who terrorized New York in the 1950s by setting off a series of bombs to get back at Con Edison (written by Charles Monagan and Richard deRosa);
Vlad: a vampire's love story- a re-envisioning of the classic vampire story, with a 4-person cast, a rock score, and some plot twists you might not be expecting (written by Plácido Domingo, Samantha Domingo, and Scott Guy);
Wanting Miss Julie- a modern re-telling of the Strindberg classic (written by John Sparks, Jake Anthony, and Patricia Zehentmayr); and

Bloodline- the story of a 1920s spinster who finds herself engaged to a vampire with ulterior motives (written by Richard Castle and Clifford Tasner).

The shows featured at the "Very First Stage" (at the Academy for New Musical Theatre) are:
LA Carmen - a futuristic setting for the beloved Carmen set in a time when speaking Spanish is illegal (in development with the Latino Theatre Company; written by Evelina Fernandez, Rosino Serrano, and Richard Castle);

Over the Horizon- a collective project by writers at the University of California at Irvine, about an Iraqi blogger and the son of an American soldier;
The Max Factor Factor- an ice-cold reading of a musical about closeted gay film stars in the 1920's.

New Voices Project- a final slot to be filled by a showcase of material from brand new, young writers.
Festival Passes cost $50 and will admit you to every event in the Festival from Friday through Sunday. Single tickets will also be available  - but Festival Pass Holders will be given priority seating.
"There are only 90 seats at the Group Rep Theatre," explains the Festival's Executive Director Scott Guy, "and so it's possible there won't be seats for last-minute individual ticket buyers. To counterbalance that, we're scheduling events at the Academy a half-hour later than the ones at the theatre, so there still will be a musical to see for everyone."
Artistic Director Elise Dewsberry explains the distinction between events at the Academy and those at the theatre: "Events at the Academy showcase first drafts, whereas the ones at the theatre have all had several more stages of development...hence the word 'Stages.' We've also invited a team of writers from the University of California at Irvine to bring us a brand new musical they've been developing; we're planning a special event for young up-and-coming writers to showcase their work - the New Voices Project; and for the first time ever we are planning a special "ice cold reading" in which the cast will be handed their script and score as the lights come up and they will literally cold-read and sight-sing their way through the piece with no preparation at all. New musical theatre, at every stage of development."

 

Festival passes may be purchased for $50 through the Academy's website at www.anmt.org

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

ANMT's Annual 15 Minute Musical Festival

Once a year, every June, like clockwork, you can hear composers weeping in North Hollywood, and threatening to call attorneys, and then kissing and making up and saying they've just had the most wonderful experience of their lives. Yes, it's time for the annual 15-Minute Musical project at the Academy for New Musical Theatre: June 24th and 25th at the Met Theatre in Hollywood. For the final project of Academy's famous writers' workshop, composers and lyricists and bookwriters are put together on writing teams and are given eight short weeks to write, revise and polish a brand-new musical written for five actors whom they've never met before.

"It's like a rite of passage," says Elise Dewsberry, the Academy's Artistic Director and producer of the 15 Minute Musicals. "We design the process to imitate a full-length show in a professional theatre: draft, rehearsal, rewrites, rehearsal, opening. It's really a wonderful experience, but it's often stressful, just like a million dollar opening night. Our writers' names are in the program, and it's important to them they write the best show they possibly can, in the short amount of time we've given them."

This season there will be four 15-minute musicals, featuring the same cast of four actors. The writers have been given a theme of Haves and Have Nots; four short musicals about inequality, and they have cooked up four wildly different approaches to this theme.

These evenings are an annual highlight of the Academy's yearlong season of developing new musicals and feature many new voices in musical theatre. Every seat in the house usually sells out.

The four shows presented each evening (June 24 and 25) are:
Gracie...from Economy Class with book and lyrics by Joel Adlen and music by David Anthony Hall..
Conception of Love with book by Robert Rosen, music by David Haworth, and lyrics by Denis McCourt
In Mysterious Ways with book by R.K. Rich, music by Brian Graden, and lyrics by Ben Boquist
Coming Out of the Cave with book by John Aaron, music by Ron Barnett, and lyrics by R.K. Rich

The cast for all four musicals is: Nikki Jenkins, Kevin Noonchester, Rachel Tyler, and Peter Welkin.  The four musicals are directed by Scott Guy, with music direction by Jake Anthony.

Tickets are $25; the performances begin at 7:30pm. For tickets, reservations and more info: www.anmt.org

Monday, April 15, 2013

Comparing GHOST and ONCE

In the fall of 2012, I was in New York City for two days, so naturally I saw two Broadway musicals.  I was struck by how much these two particular shows have in common, and yet how completely different they are.

Most obviously, each is based on a movie.  GHOST is based on the 1990 Hollywood blockbuster movie starring Patrick Swayzee, Demi Moore, and Whoopi Goldberg and directed by Jerry Zucker.  ONCE is based on the lesser known low budget 2006 Irish cult movie written and directed by John Carney.

Both are love stories in which (spoiler alert) boy does not get girl - and for equally bittersweet, gut-wrenching reasons.

Where the similarities abruptly end is in how their directors and design teams have decided to present those stories to the audience.

GHOST is a never-ending visual feast of stunning projections and visual effects that keep the audience oohing and ahhing in surprise and amazement.  At the beginning of the show, images are projected onto a huge scrim at the front of the stage - complete with the title of the show - making you almost need to check your ticket to make sure you didn't accidentally walk into a movie theatre rather than a Broadway show.  Huge scrim-based walls slide in and out to create the basic shapes for the various locations of the story, while a constant barrage of fast-moving projections adds the details.  The able ensemble contributes extra flair and color with many flashy dance numbers - augmented by larger-than-life colorful disco-style silhouette versions of the dancers projected behind them.

The score, by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard (with additional lyrics by bookwriter Bruce Joel Rubin) is that driving, showy, contemporary pop that has become very popular in musicals these days, giving the singers lots of opportunities to bring down the house with their bravado.

Despite the talent of the cast, the real star of the show, of course, is the series of visual illusions used to accomplish all of the moments we remember from the movie - ghosts walking through doors, moving objects through the air, taking over other people's bodies, and being sent over to the 'other side' either by the white light of the angels or the red glow of the devils.  Oh, yes, and a brief, almost cursory nod to the most famous scene of all with the pottery wheel (which presumably doesn't get as much focus because it doesn't take a visual illusion to accomplish it).

In ONCE, there isn't a special effect to be seen that isn't created by the singing/playing actors, with a little help from some simple but effective lighting.  The set is an Irish pub (where audience members can actually buy beer and listen to live music before the show and at intermission), and the ensemble doubles as the band.  Or, the band doubles as the ensemble.  They're all so good at both, it's nearly impossible to make the distinction.

The various locations are created in front of us by the ensemble with the slightest shift of furniture, and aided by defining patches of light.  This minimalist approach is broadly acknowledged by Enda Walsh's script, as when Girl suggests that Guy join her at a music store operated by a 'big man'....and then, as a tall man from the ensemble wheels a piano to center stage, Girl says 'Here's the store and this is the big man' and we are instantly there.

All of the songs in the score are 'diagetic' - meaning there are no characters breaking into song to express their feelings.  Instead, the characters are songwriters who are actually writing and performing songs they have written to express their feelings.  (All of the songs are written by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova who also starred in the movie.) (Make no mistake - I'm absolutely not suggesting that characters shouldn't burst into song - where would musical theatre be without that conceit?- but I do admire that this show doesn't try to navigate the dangers of combining both kinds of songs in one score.  Not that that is impossible, just...tricky...and rarely worth it.)

The multi-talented ensemble provides energetic, toe-tapping, infectious accompaniment, along with strangely beautiful choreography, and an array of colorful, eccentric and endearing Irish and Czech characters.  The music is contemporary, but haunting, acoustic, percussive, and, above all, fresh.

I would quite honestly recommend that you see both musicals as they are both highly accomplished and entertaining with great casts and production values.  See GHOST for the breathtaking special effects, even though it might leave you a bit emotionally disconnected.  See ONCE for a unique and compelling theatrical journey probably unlike anything you've experienced before.

And then decide for yourself how you weigh in on the fact that GHOST was nominated for three Tony awards (but NOT for Best Musical) and didn't win any; whereas ONCE was nominated for eleven Tonys and won eight, including Best Musical, Best Book, Best Actor, Best Orchestration, Best Lighting, Best Sound, and even Best Scene Design (too bad for GHOST that there is no category for special effects).  Apparently the Tony voters are not blinded by glitter.  Only time will tell if the audiences are.

Spectacle is very popular on Broadway today and it certainly has its place (and I really do enjoy seeing it).  But, in my mind, STORY will always win out over everything else because it is only the story that has the ability to capture not only our attention, but also our hearts.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

GOT MUSICAL!


ANMT's GOT MUSICAL - April 12 at the Colony Theatre



Love musicals? Want to hear some brand-new material from up-and-coming new musical theatre writers? The ANMT writers have a 40 year history of writing musicals! Join us on Friday, April 12th at the Colony Theatre in Burbank for GOT MUSICAL: a sneak preview of brand-new musicals in development for producers across the country.

Musical theatre writers to be featured include:
Matthew Alexander, Adrian Bewley, Richard Castle, Richard deRosa, Eric Dodson, Placido Domingo, Jr., Noelle Donfeld, Evelina Fernandez, Alan Ross Fleishmann, Mitchell Glaser, Brian Graden, Scott Guy, David Haworth, Carl Johnson, Karla Kelley, Brian Leader, Matthew Levine, Roger Love, Ann McNamee, Charles Monaghan, Cindy O'Connor, Ken Offricht, Marian Partee, Richard Plotkin, Eric Przytulski, Carl Ritchie, Jan Roper, Robert Rosen, Rosino Serrano, Robin Share, Clifford Tasner, Gabrielle Wagner Mann, Julie Weiner, Chana Wise, and Clay Zambo

The excerpts will be presented by members of the Academy Repertory Company (Noel Britton, Elise Dewsberry, Scott Guy, David Holmes, Christopher Maikish, Tedd Szeto, and Peter Welkin); and Guest Artists Farley Cadena, Allie Costa, Randy Guiaya, Tara Hunnewell, Luke Klipp, Michelle Lane, Shannon Martinous, Kendra Munger, Kila Packett, Suzanne Mayes, Matt Valle, Christina Valo, and Gabrielle Wagner; with Ross Kalling at the piano.

Showcasing the tradition of creating and writing musicals, Got Musical! takes place at 8:00pm on Friday, April 12th at the Colony Theatre in Burbank. Tickets are $10. For more information, and to make a reservation, please visit www.anmt.org and click on Got Musical!