How to Decide What to See at the New York Musical Festival
By RAVEN SNOOK & SHANI R. FRIEDMAN
Friday, July 06, 2018  •  
Fri Jul 6, 2018  •  
Musicals  •   0 comments Share This

Our guide to the 15th annual event

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The New York Musical Festival kicks off next week with a slew of tuneful offerings in Midtown. Since its founding in 2004, NYMF has helped launch more than 400 new musicals, many of which have gone on to bigger stages, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Next to Normal. This year's edition features a dozen shows along with concerts, staged readings and special events. Wondering how to choose what to see? We've rounded up 10 options for different types of theatregoers, organized by start date.

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FOR PRIDE REVELERS: Interstate
The Acorn Theatre @ Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street between Ninth and Dyer Avenues

Runs Monday, July 9 to Sunday, July 15

Road-trip shows are nothing new, but the travelers in Interstate reflect the diversity of the LGBTQ community, as a young trans teen sets out to meet his idols, an internet-famous musical duo called Queer Malady. Created by a pair of Asian songwriters and featuring Asian characters, this pop-rock tuner celebrates embracing your identity at every intersection.

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FOR HISTORY BUFFS: Pedro Pan
The Acorn Theatre @ Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street between Ninth and Dyer Avenues

Runs Tuesday, July 10 to Saturday, July 14

Inspired by Operación Pedro Pan, when more than 14,000 unaccompanied minors were airlifted from Cuba to the U.S. during the early '60s, this tuner chronicles the journey of one such child as he tries to assimilate to his new home. An exploration of what it's like to be an immigrant in a strange land, Pedro Pan is eerily timely. Plus the cast includes lots of Broadway regulars, including Tony winner Wilson Jermaine Heredia, the original Angel in Rent

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LaQuinta Prince in
LaQuinta Prince in 'Bad Ass Beauty: The Rock Opera;' photo Kim Carter

FOR HEADBANGERS: Bad Ass Beauty: The Rock Opera
The Acorn Theatre @ Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street between Ninth and Dyer Avenues

Runs Wednesday, July 11 to Sunday, July 15

In this rock-'n'-roll twist on the classic ugly duckling tale, a downtrodden dame joins a band of fellow misfits and discovers she has a powerful voice. A gritty celebration of female empowerment, with a cast that plays their own instruments -- loudly!

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FOR CAMP ADDICTS: Illuminati Lizards From Outer Space
The Studio Theatre @ Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street between Ninth and Dyer Avenues

Runs Wednesday, July 11 to Sunday, July 15

In the vein of The Rocky Horror Show and Little Shop of Horrors comes a staged reading of this sci-fi musical about inept aliens trying to take over the world from their home base in Vegas. We have high lowbrow hopes for this one.

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Corley Pillsbury and Joshua Stenseth in
Corley Pillsbury and Joshua Stenseth in 'What's Your Wish;' photo by Sarah George

FOR FAMILIES: Thicket & Thistle's What's Your Wish?
The Acorn Theatre @ Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street between Ninth and Dyer Avenues

Runs Monday, July 16 to Saturday, July 21

All adolescents weather lots of drama, but the teen pals at the heart of this magical musical need to survive Death Forest. After getting sucked into a storybook, the guys must find their way home as the bonds of their friendship are tested. Definitely the best bet for parents of fantasy-loving kids.

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FOR TEXTAHOLICS: Emojiland
The Acorn Theatre @ Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street between Ninth and Dyer Avenues

Runs Tuesday, July 17 to Sunday, July 22

Debuting on World Emoji Day (yes, that's really a thing), this musical features a dozen smartphone emojis who worry they're about to be upgraded out of existence. We realize emoji-based entertainment doesn't have a good track record, but Emojiland has great buzz (it's was a 2018 Richard Rodgers Award finalist) and a crack cast, including the uproarious Lesli Margherita of Matilda fame.

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FOR COMPLETISTS: Living History: An Inside Look at Show Time! The First 100 Years of the American Musical
The Green Room 42, 570 Tenth Avenue at 42nd Street

Runs Wednesday, July 18 and Saturday, July 21

Writer-performer Ben West, the founder of UnsungMusicalsCo., offers a concert preview of his documusical Show Time!, which chronicles the evolution of art form from the mid-1800s to the end of the 20th century. That means no Hamilton! Oh how quickly musicals are a-changing.

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FOR HAIR FANS: '68: A New American Musical
The Acorn Theatre @ Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street between Ninth and Dyer Avenues

Runs Tuesday, July 24 to Sunday, July 29

The dawning of the age of Aquarius wasn't all fun and sex games. 1968 was an incredibly volatile year filled with demonstrations, civil unrest, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. That's the backdrop for this musical about the infamous 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago that sparked a riot and got Dan Rather roughed up. The focus here is on the everyday people who took to the streets on both sides. Considering how much people are protesting of late, this tuner speaks to our present as well as our past.

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Travis Nilan in
Travis Nilan in 'Peter, Who?;' photo by Theresa Stroll

FOR SUPERHERO JUNKIES: Peter, Who?
The Acorn Theatre @ Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street between Ninth and Dyer Avenues

Runs Wednesday, July 25-Sunday, July 29

The words "Spider-Man parody" are enough to get most Marvel maniacs' spidey senses tingling. But unlike the accident-prone Broadway musical, this NYMF entry is much more faithful to the source material, even while goofing on it. The funnymen behind this send-up have been working on it for a quite a while. Here's hoping this web slinger turned singer is worth the wait.

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Jeff Davis and Randy Burd in
Jeff Davis and Randy Burd in 'The Gunfighter Meets His Match;' photo by Elizabeth Leitzell

FOR WESTERN LOVERS: The Gunfighter Meets His Match
The Acorn Theatre @ Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street between Ninth and Dyer Avenues

Runs Monday, July 30 to Saturday, August 4

Inspired by the Wild West-set stories of Louis L'Amour, this rootin'-tootin' musical comes from songwriter Abby Payne, who was raised on an upstate dairy farm. Romance, heartbreak and redemption are all on tap at this saloon as a gunslinger fights for true love. Considering the Western-themed Desperate Measures is such a rollicking smash, we hope The Gunfighter Meets His Match also hits the target.

The New York Musical Festival runs July 9 to August 5. Find the complete lineup at nymf.org.

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TDF MEMBERS: At press time, discount tickets were available for select NYMF shows. Go here to browse our current offers.

Raven Snook is the Editor of TDF Stages. Follow her at @RavenSnook.

Shani R. Friedman is a tenant advocate in New York City, and a writer and editor who covers the arts, kids, food and pop culture for Time Out, The Forward, theasy.com and others. Follow her at @shanestress. Follow TDF at @TDFNYC.

Top image: Amanda Castanos and Luis E. Mora in the FringeNYC 2015 production of Pedro Pan. Photo by Stephen A. Elkins.




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