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VIP ACCESS: Five New Musicals to See at NYMF

September 29th, 2011

Every month, the “VIP Access” column will serve up advice on how to make your theater-going experiences cheaper, easier and more fulfilling with inside scoop from the experts. This month, I hope you’re hungry for a new musical…

"Outlaws - The Ballad of Billy the Kid". Image via nymf.org.

The New York Musical Theatre Festival is back in full swing for another three week marathon of new shows and new voices. Navigating the calendar of 250 performances (full productions, concerts and developmental readings) can be daunting; how do you know whether you’re buying tickets to the next big hit (like festival alumni  [title of show] and Altar Boys) or a two-hour nap?  You don’t. So embrace the unknown and dive into the offerings like its a buffet at some enticing but geographically mysterious ethnic restaurant.

In that spirit, I took a look at the 25 fully-produced shows on the NYMF website and, after checking out who is involved and listening to the music samples, I selected five musicals I think might hit the spot and provide a range of experiences. (One note: I’ve seen readings of Kiki Baby, a twisted piece about a 4-year old singing sensation starring the gorgeously talented Jenn Colella, so I removed it from contention. I already know how that one tastes and the fun here is making “blind” guesses.) So, in alphabetical order, I’d pile up my plate with…

Central Avenue Breakdown: Because the jazzy score selections on the website were so ear-ticklingly infectious, I actually sat and kept listening. And listening. If this tale of 1940’s LA clubland builds on the rhythm and excitement of the music, then it could be a scorcher.

"Madame X". Image via nymf.org.

Madame X: Because co-writer Gerard Alessandrini is the mastermind behind the reliably clever and stiletto sharp satire of Forbidden Broadway. Crossing one of my favorite paintings (by John Singer Sargent) with a Douglas Sirk melodrama also sounds like camp catnip.

My History of Marriage: Because it stars Bonnie “One Day at a Timestep” Franklin! Need I go on? OK, how about the fact that the composer David Shire wrote one of my earliest music theater obsessions, Closer Than Ever?

Outlaws – The Ballad of Billy the Kid: Because it’s cute guys with holsters. Hush up. It can’t all be about the next Sondheim.

This One Girl’s Story: Because I love seeing the world from a new, very personal perspective and this tale of lesbians of color sounds like it could be a breath of fresh air. Inspired by a true story, Songwriter Dionne McClain-Freeney and bookwriter Bil Wright promise a powerful exploration of friendship, romance and courage.

Now’s your turn!  Take some of my idiosyncratic suggestions or head over to NYMF’s website and see what catches your eye. Tell me what you see, what you like, what you don’t. In the end, you can’t go wrong when every ticket helps support the future of music theater.

"This One Girl's Story". Image via nymf.org.

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