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New York Musical Theatre Festival Concludes Season 10

July 31st, 2013 Comments off

The Broadway Blog’s editor Matthew Wexler recaps Icarus at the New York Musical Theatre Festival and shares the NYMF Awards for Excellence. 

The cast of "Icarus."

The cast of “Icarus.” (photo: Chris McIntosh)


The New York Musical Theatre Festival
concluded another whopping year of new works, concerts, symposiums, workshops and readings that celebrate the craft (and challenges) of music, lyrics, dance and storytelling. As you might imagine, the 20-day festival had its fair share of triumphs and tribulations, but all should be commended for tackling such an indelible art form.

The final show I caught was Boston-based Liars & Believers’ production of Icarus. The musical tale, told through innovative puppetry, movement and music is based on the Greek myth of the same name, though this interpretation was set in an unconventional Depression-era sideshow. Nathan Leigh’s music and lyrics have soaring potential, but were somewhat limited by an inexperienced cast. Austin Auh as the title character lacked the emotional connection to the story while his romantic interest, Penny (played by Lauren Eicher) was also missing the dynamic range to help Icarus fly.

As an ensemble piece, Icarus is filled with visual splendor — so much so that I wish Tim Gunn was around to edit some of the creative team’s work. Puppetry (by Faye Dupras), costumes (by Kendra Bell) and set pieces (by Aaron Sherkow) occasionally get muddled, but there is enough genuine, organically created inspiration that you can’t help but root for this production. With more seasoned performers, Liars & Believers have great potential for telling more emotionally truthful theatrical stories.

As for the rest of the festival, the closing night party revealed audience favorites and some forerunners as to what you may see on the commercial stage in seasons to come.

Take the leap for NYMF Awards for Excellence and a peek at scenes from Volleygirls, the “Best of Fest” Audience Winner.
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