The Broadway Blog’s editor Matthew Wexler recaps Icarus at the New York Musical Theatre Festival and shares the NYMF Awards for Excellence.
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.
NYMF 2013 AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE
Excellence in Writing (Music): Ira Antellis, Julian Po
Excellence in Writing (Lyrics): Omri Schein, Gary Goldfarb: Master Escapist
Excellence in Writing (Book): Joe Slabe, Crossing Swords
Excellence in Direction: Igor Goldin, Crossing Swords
Excellence in Choreography: Richard Stafford, Castle Walk
Excellence in Overall Design: The Awakening of Angel DeLuna
Kacie Hultgren, set design; Lee J. Austin, costume design; Zach Blane, lighting design
Outstanding Orchestrations or Arrangements:
Larry Pressgrove, The Awakening of Angel DeLuna
Outstanding Musical Direction:
Micah Young, Crossing Swords
Outstanding Ensemble Performance:
The cast of Volleygirls (PJ Adzima, Susan Blackwell, Juliane Godfrey, Benjamin Howes, Jennifer C. Johnson, Charles Karel, Julia Knitel, Gerianne Pérez, Allison Jill Posner, Dana Steingold, and Allison Strong)
Outstanding Individual Performances:
• Onalea Gilbertson, Mata Hari
• Steven Hauck, Crossing Swords
• Michael Thomas Holmes, The Awakening of Angel DeLuna
• Natalie Joy Johnson, Natalie Joy Johnson: Full Bush
• Jared Loftin, Gary Goldfarb: Master Escapist
• Jillian Louis, Marry Harry
• Luba Mason, Julian Po
• Patty Nieman, The Awakening of Angel DeLuna
• Darren Ritchie, Standby
• Lynne Wintersteller, Castle Walk
Most Promising New Musical:
Volleygirls (book by Rob Ackerman, music by Eli Bolin, lyrics by Sam Forman)
Theater for the American Musical Prize:
Crossing Swords (Book, music & lyrics by Joe Slabe)
“Best of Fest” Audience Prize:
Volleygirls (Book by Rob Ackerman, music by Eli Bolin, lyrics by Sam Forman)
Take a peek at songs from Volleygirls