The 2011 Festival of New American Musicals, a five-month musical theatre festival, will be held April 1 through August 28, 2011, throughout Southern California. Marcia Seligson, Bob Klein, and Linda Shusett are the Executive Producers of the annual festival, now in its fourth year. This year's Festival includes 16 world premieres, and an additional 10 west coast premieres.
The Festival of New American Musicals is home to full productions, staged readings, workshops of musicals in progress, cabaret events, concerts, and programs that reach elementary, middle, secondary and college students. The organizers are working in partnership with over twenty Southern California performing arts organizations; each producing a new American musical during the Festival time period.
The Festival has also expanded its efforts in educational outreach to help provide increased opportunities for students whose theater programs are being dramatically curtailed.
Festival offerings include a Gala Benefit concert staging of "1776" May 7 and 8 at Sony Pictures Plaza, featuring an all-star cast of Broadway and Hollywood stars; the American Premiere of Stephen Schwartz's "My Fairy Tale", a new musical about Hans Christian Anderson at Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Santa Maria August 12 to 19 and Solvang August 26 to September 25; Eric Whitacre's "Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings" at Walt Disney Concert Hall on June 25; the World Premieres of "Lonesome Traveler" at the Rubicon Theatre April 13 to May 8; and Michael Lluberes and Joe Maloney's "The Boy in the Bathroom" at the Orange County Chance Theatre April 15 to May 22.
Other world premieres include a hi-tech update of "Alice in Wonderland" at Norris Center August 5 to 14; "Summer of Love" at Musical Theatre West, April 1-17; and the first reading of composer Adam Gwon's (ORDINARY DAYS) "Cloudlands" May 1 at South Coast Repertory's 14th Annual Pacific Playwrights Festival, and a concert of Gwon's work that same week on May 4th at the Show at the Barre in Hollywood.
Festival Organizer Linda Shusett said, "As we begin our fourth festival, we've been involved with 93 shows, concerts and events at 76 different venues from Santa Barbara to San Diego. There have been more than 1,000 performances that have been events of the festival, reaching audiences of more than 250,000. At a time when new musical theater creations are exploding in our American popular culture, we can no longer contain what began as a 2-month Festival and now covers 5 months."
Seligson, Klein and Shusett are also working closely with the Festival's two primary creative advisors, celebrated Broadway composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz, composer-lyricist of "Wicked," "Pippin," and "Godspell," and Michael Kerker, Director of Musical Theatre of ASCAP, the major organization which represents American theater composers.
ASCAP participates in the Festival with a developmental staged reading of a new musical, part of an annual series presented by the festival in partnership with ASCAP, which provides funding through its foundation. Festival organizer Marcia Seligson and Michael Kerker, director of ASCAP's musical theater division, will select the show, give it a three-day rehearsal process, and present the reading to the public, furthering development of the new work. Last year's ASCAP/FNAM reading was of the edgy, ambitious "Dani Girl." "People aren't exactly chomping at the bit to produce a cancer musical," said librettist Michael Dimond, "but we're grateful to the Festival and ASCAP for the opportunity to prove that something like this can be done."
Festival Organizer Marcia Seligson said, "At the Festival, we continue to not only celebrate the remarkable American art form of musical theatre, but also to discover and foster promising a new generation of young writers, composers, and burgeoning performers, and appreciate that the Festival and the ASCAP Foundation as well as the musical theatre community are our close collaborators."
Major educational initiatives are aimed at a diverse array of students of all ages. These include the Pacific Palisades Marquez Charter Elementary School, the Granada Hills John F. Kennedy High School and Lakewood Terrace PUC Education Complex Charter Middle School, Cal State Fullerton, and College of the Canyons, as well as the continuing FNAM Academy for Young Professionals, which supports talented high school and college performers and composers toward careers in musical theatre. A new "East Side Initiative" will bring hundreds of students from East Los Angeles schools to free Festival performances and will provide Festival shows to east side parks and schools.
The Festival is continuing its partnership, started last year with the distinguished New York Musical Theatre Festival, headed by Executive Director and Producer Isaac Robert Hurwitz. The New York Musical Theatre Festival, whose mission is strikingly similar to the Festival of New American Musicals, provides a launching pad for the next generation of musicals and their creators to ensure the continued vitality of America's greatest art form. NYMF, like FNAM, discovers, nurtures, and promotes promising musical theatre artists and producers at all stages of development, and reaches diverse audiences through vibrant, accessible, and powerful new work.
Last year the 5th grade students of Marquez Elementary School (who are participating in FNAM for the third year) travelled to New York to be part of NYMF Festival. For Festival 2011, middle school students from the largely Hispanic Lakeview Terrace PUC Education Complex Charter School will bring their original adaptation "Tempest Toss'd," fusing Shakespeare with the sounds of today to the NYMF Festival in the Fall. "Tempest Toss'd," which also performed in last year's FNAM, adapts "The Tempest" into a tale of magic, revenge and romance, told with Frankie and Annette styled beach party rock songs to Shakespeare's original text. The production highlights the PUC Education Complex' commitment to using the arts as a major tool for education.
Bob Klein said, "With our schools facing drastic cuts in arts programming, while musical theatre is flourishing on Broadway and at our major theatres, the Festival is making a concerted effort to reach out to students at all grade levels to involve them in musical theatre through specific programs this summer and year-round educational outreach activities. We've been very successful at this, but know there are many more opportunities out there for us to develop."
The Festival umbrella extends over 16 new musicals and musical events presented in area theatres as part of their on-going programming including "Summer of Love" (April 1-17) at Musical Theatre West; "Krunk Fu Battle" (May 12-June 26); at East West Players; "Thank You, Mister Falker" (May 14-29) at the Morgan Wixson Theatre; "Moscow, Cherry Town" (May 15, 18 and 22) and "The Difficulty of Crossing A Field" (June 15-18) at Long Beach Opera; "Bash'd: A Gay Rap Musical" (opening May 26) at Celebration Theatre; "The Trouble With Words" (June) at Coureage Theatre; "Twist" (opening June 14) at Pasadena Playhouse; "Jerry Springer: The Opera" (July 1-August 7) at Chance Theatre; "Sherwood Forest" (July 25-27) at Theatre West; and Amanda McBroom at the Ford Amphitheatre (July 30).
The honorary co-chairs of the Festival of New American Musicals are Schwartz, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Jason Alexander and Angela Lansbury.
Seligson founded and was Producing Artistic Director of Reprise! Broadway's Best, the leading Southern California musical theater presenting classic American musicals, from its inception in 1995 until 2005. Bob Klein was a founding board member of Reprise!, and headed the company's successful effort to market rarely revived Broadway musicals. Shusett was a producer on last year's Festival, as well as the 2008 Festival, has worked in the film business and is also a performer.
Main sponsors are the ASCAP Foundation, KUSC, BACKSTAGE, Greenberg & Glusker, and The Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.
The Festival's website is now online at www.lafestival.org <http://www.lafestival.org> .
Festival Productions and Special Events