Not the same old song and dance
With a lineup that covers everything from Bloomberg to Gutenberg, the New York Musical Theatre Festival could be the big break for offbeat musicals
Special to Newsday
September 3, 2006
"The festival has built-in legitimacy and built-in publicity, and we're already talking to producers about a commercial run."
At least, that's the hope of festival contenders. Celebrating and satirizing such wide-eyed aspiration is "Gutenberg! The Musical!" In the self-referential vein of "[title of show]" and "The Drowsy Chaperone," "Gutenberg" is presented as a fictional backers' audition for a thoroughly wrong-headed musical about the printing press. Co-creator Anthony King says the show was inspired by his experience as an intern at Manhattan Theatre Club, where he sat through reading after reading of mind-numbingly ill-conceived material.
Many musicals take years to develop, and the festival includes its share of long-workshopped shows. "White Noise," on the other hand, has had a swift genesis. Conceived in December, it was given a public reading in May and will enjoy its professional debut toward the close of the festival. "I don't think that a musical should take six years to develop," says Ryan J. Davis, its director and producer. Davis was a videographer and grassroots organizer for Howard Dean's presidential campaign, and the show's bookwriter and composer, Joe Drymala, was a Dean speechwriter. "If the concept is strong enough," says Davis, "the momentum is going to carry the show forward."
"In some ways, our show is about what everyone's hoping will happen to their shows."
'Go-Go' to 'Screams'
All tickets are $20 and available through Theatermania.com. All addresses are in Manhattan.
GO-GO BEACH. A musical fable in the style of the '60s beach-party movies about surfers and flower children. Book and lyrics by John Wimbs, music by Michael Shaieb and Brent Lord. Sept. 14-23, 37 Arts Theatre, 450 37th St.
GUTENBERG! THE MUSICAL! A pair of wanna-be musical writers present a backers' audition for their historically inspired but thoroughly wrongheaded new show about the invention of the printing press. Book, lyrics and music by Anthony King and Scott Brown. Sept. 22-30, Sage Theatre, 711Seventh Ave.
HAVING IT ALMOST. Five women in their 40s, stranded at JFK Airport, open up to each other about their lives. Music by John Kavanaugh, lyrics by David Goldsmith, book by Goldsmith and Wendy Perelman. Sept. 13-17, New World Stages, 340 W.50th St.
KINGDOM. A behind-the-scenes tale about the controversial underground gang The Almighty Latin King & Queen Nation, with a hip-hop/Latin rock score. By Ian Williams and Aaron Jafferis. Sept. 13-23, TBG Theatre, 312 W. 36th St.
THE SCREAMS OF KITTY GENOVESE. A musical about Genovese's notorious 1964 murder, which occurred near her Kew Gardens apartment while neighbors ignored her screams for help. Music by Will Todd, libretto by David Simpatico. Sept. 26-Oct. 1, Theatre at St. Clements, 423 W. 46th St.
SMOKING BLOOMBERG. When the New York City smoking ban ruins the business of a Korean dry cleaner, she seeks revenge on the mayor. Music, book and lyrics by David Cornue, Sam Holtzapple, Warren Loy and Chris Todd. Sept. 13-24, Theatre at St. Clements, 423 W. 46th St.
WHITE NOISE. A racist teen vocal group takes America by storm. Book, music and lyrics by Joe Drymala, with additional songs by other writers. Sept. 18-30, TBG Theatre, 312 W. 36th St.
'The Screams of Kitty Genovese,' (Newsday/ARI MINTZ)
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Notable deaths in 2006